20 Mile Run and Making Love to the Foam Roller

This morning when I woke up, I honestly wasn’t planning on running 20 miles. My Runner’s World SmartCoach  marathon training plan had me scheduled for 20 miles so it wasn’t totally out of the question. With the first snow storm in NY yesterday and the ice/slush and cold temperatures today, though, I had resigned that I’d push my first 20 miler back to next weekend (when it’s supposed to be back in the low 40’s and no snow) if I had to. My training plan has me way ahead of schedule compare to most other plans I’ve read — I’m still 12 weeks away from my marathon — so I figured if I moved one (of the 5 on my plan, which btw, I don’t plan on doing all 5) 20 mile run back a week, it would not be a big deal.

I had only clocked 13miles in total during the week in anticipation for my 20mile run this weekend, though, and I didn’t want to totally digress my weekly mileage. So I compromised that I would run at least 10 miles today and if I felt like going more, awesome! If not, that’s OK too. And if everything felt right, I may do 20miles, but unlikely.

I prepared last night for my long run by staying in with the boyfriend, ordering food from  Trattoria Alba and watching a marathon of “Homeland” episodes….oh yeah and accompanying all that with a couple of glasses of wine (oopsy, what can I say, I’m weak). For dinner we ordered minestrone soup (OMG this was the best soup ever, if you ever go there, you must try it) and a pizza with veggies. I went to bed around midnight, a little later than I had planned, but we started planning our vacation and I lost track of time.

This morning when I woke up at 9am and saw that it was 19 degrees out and felt like 9, I was not real thrilled. However, there was no chance I was skipping my run and no chance I wasn’t going to at least attempt running outside. I met up with Kristine (aka best running buddy ever) at 10am and started our run. We ran over to the West Side, where I was pleasantly surprised that the bike path had been cleared of snow/ice. Seriously, win for NYC on this one! I was properly dressed and the low temps didn’t bother me, I felt fine. Around 60th -72nd streets on the West Side path we encountered some snowy terrain. It was my first time ever running in snow and it was definitely tough on the legs, plus I was slightly terrified of slipping.

Kristine and I ran up to 72nd street on the West Side, then back to 14th street (around 7miles) where we parted ways. Kristine had a Refine class to go to and I had some more miles to clock. Before we split Kristine asked me how far I was going to go and my response was “I don’t know, I’m just going to keep running until I stop.” Well ends up, that’s exactly what I did…but then when I did stop, I pushed on and ran some more.

I had a mocha clif gel shot around mile 7 and the next couple of miles alone (sad face) were tough. I swear up until mile 9 I had NO plans of running 20 miles. I was telling myself that I just had to run 12miles and then I could find my way home via cab, subway, or whatever worked. Somewhere around mile 9 though, I must have found that “runner’s high” because I clearly remember telling myself “Ok, I’m doing it, I’m running 20 miles today. No excuses.” See my excuse for not running 20miles was that conditions were bad, but I realized along my run that conditions weren’t that bad. I was dressed and prepared for the cold and as for road conditions — they were fine. I realized that if I didn’t run 20miles I had not valid “excuse” besides just not wanting to; which honestly, at some times in life, I do accept that as a valid excuse, but it just seemed like a cop out to me today.  It didn’t help that this image kept popping into my head:

and then this:

and finally the kicker:

Morale of the story? I really need to stop reading motivational quotes the night before a long run.

I’m stubborn, so the second I told myself I was going to run 20 miles, I was going to run 20 miles. 

Around mile 10 I was down by the Staten Island Ferry and really had to go #2 (aka “poopy”). It wasn’t so urgent that I was going to go in my pants if I didn’t stop, but in anticipation I thought it was a good idea to find a rest room. Luckily I did 🙂

Heading on past South Street Seaport, under the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge and on to the familiar East side. Unfortunately the city of NY apparently decided the East Side path was not as important as the West Side path because it was still covered in snow/ice. I had to take it slow, dodging ice spots and trying not to split and break an ankle. To the true testament of how awesome NYer’s are, though, I was not alone on the icy path and there were plenty of other runners/walkers out there with me.

I knew that if I kept running along the East River and home, I’d run out of path after 15miles. I didn’t have the motivation to turn around again, or run through NYC streets, so I decided I’d finish the last 5 miles of my run at NY Health and Racquet Club (my gym). I exited the East Side path around 20th street and made my way over to my gym on 21st and Park Ave. I completed about 15miles outside, at an avg. pace of 10:38min/mi:

OK — so having run 15miles OUTSIDE, in snow, slush, ice and VERY COLD temperatures — I was feeling pretty badass. Let’s be real, this was the first and only weekend of bad weather we’ve had in NY and the forecast shows warmer temperatures and clear skie’s ny the future. Sure I could have taken this weekend off, or taken it slow as a rest weekend; but the point is, I didn’t.

Now this brings me to the last leg of my 20mile run and the treadmill.  I had anticapated that I may need to run inside for a bit due to the cold, so I had worn spandex shorts under my tights. I elegantly stripped down to my base layer in the middle of the gym — my mom would be so proud, she really raised a classy one.

The last mile I ran outside, my legs were starting to feel heavy and my right knee/IT band (the one that almost debilitated me last weekend) was starting to feel a bit of pain. I figured the soft terrain of the treadmill would help that though — I was wrong.

Trying to finish my run with an avg. pace of 10:45min/mi (as per my training plan), I started the treadmill at a 5.6mph pace and an incline of 1.5% (to more accurately mimic the outside). After about 3minutes of running I started to get a sporadic quick pull in my IT band. I tried to slow down, but it didn’t stop the pulling. I had to stop or risk flying off the treadmill. I learned from last week that stretching helps, so I stretched. I started up the treadmill again, this time slower. I went at a 5.3mph pace, but it was still too past and the pain was starting to come on so I lowered it to 5.1mph. This time I made it 1mile before I had to stop. I took the break to walk to the bathroom (I had to go #2 AGAIN, I don’t know what was going on today) and stretch my IT band some more. It helped a little and I wasn’t ready to give up. I hopped on the treadmill again and set the pace back to 4.9mph (12:14min/mi). I ran for about an other mile at this slow pace. It was frustrating because my body wanted to go faster, but my IT band would not let me. After 1 mile, I tried to go a little after (5.1mph — really, speed demon), but my IT band was not happy with that. So, a’las I settled on a 4.9mph pace. At this point I knew that I wasn’t going to be finishing 20miles at a 10:45 pace, but I was going to finish 20miles if it killed me — see I wasn’t lying when I said I was stubborn.

If anyone else had told me this story, I would have told them they were an idiot and they should listen to their body and stop if there’s pain. Yeah, I don’t always take my own advice. Determination was trumping smarts.

Easily going along at a 4.9mph pace, paying attention to my core muscles and leg place placement, I finished the last 5miles of my 20mile run! I was THRILLED. I felt amazing, besides the whole IT band sucks thing. That last mile I was roaring to go and wanted to sprint like no other, but I knew if I pushed a faster pace, I’d just be left flying off the treadmill, flaring in pain….so at least I did one smart thing, right?

I picked up all my gear and made a mad dash (aka slow walk) to the foam roller. I got on that monster of a tube and make sweet love to it. Ok, “sweet” may not be the right word. I was definitely biting my lip and holding back screams, but not necessarily screams of passion. I rolled the heck out of my bum, hip and IT band. It was painful, but just like I had to run 20 miles today, I knew I had to foam roll or I may not be running next week at all.

After my rendezvous with my lover, the foam roller, and a little stretching, I bundled back up and headed outside. I was going to run the 0.6miles home, but after a block I opted for a nice cab instead. I instructed the cab driver to take me to 30th and 3rd so that I could pick up a whole-wheat everything bagel with egg whites before heading home. There was no way I was making food after running 20miles (on top of the fact that my cabinets are bare) and although I was not hungry, I knew my body was famished. It was 2pm and all I had had to eat so far was a Clif Bar, 2 mocha Clif shot gels, a few sips of vitamin water and 30 ounces of water. I usually eat more than that by 2pm WITHOUT running 20miles.

I ran the 5 blocks back to my apartment from the bagel place because I was still on a high and wanted to be home quickly. My building pleasantly greeted with 1 out of 3 elevators being Out of Order, so I got to wait 10mins for an elevator (always fun).

Back home I took a quick hot shower (I’m weird, I don’t like to eat when I’m dirty).  I almost passed out when I closed my eyes for a second getting out of the shower, so I kindly begged my boyfriend to get me a glass of water ASAP. I put some fresh mozzarella (probably the only food in my kitchen) on my bagel with egg whites and enjoyed 🙂

All in all, I’m glad I did my 20mile run today and I’m proud of myself. I believe any good run teaches you something about yourself, life and/or running. Here’s what my first 20 mile run taught me:

  • My mind is stronger than my body and my body’s just going to have to keep up
  • I need to stretch, roll, massage, stretch and strength my IT band
  • Running is a badass sport — come rain, come snow, come ice, come cold, come heat — I can run anytime!
  • Wine gets a bad rap, it’s pretty good fuel (in moderation)
  • If you have the COURAGE to try, you just may well succeed 🙂

I LOVE my custom made necklace from Erica Sara Designs (pictured above). This word means a lot to me and will be taking me through to the Paris Marathon 🙂

QUESTIONS: Did you run in the snow this weekend? How was your run? What did you learn from your run this weekend, or what have you learned from past runs?

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16 Responses to 20 Mile Run and Making Love to the Foam Roller

  1. ksmahoney says:

    Ohh congrats on getting out there in the cold! I’m very spoiled in South Texas with 75 degree weather… I’m impressed.
    Sara from http://www.losingtogether.com

  2. bearrunner says:

    great job on the 20!!!


  3. Allie says:

    What a story! Kudos on the 20 miles and all the adventures. I need all three of those motivational signs as my wallpaper in my apt, plastered over and over as reminders! Side note, do you like the NYHRC at 21st and Park? I just bought a month there (LivingSocial) and that is probably the one I’d go to the most.

    • Thank you! Yeah before any long run I look at a lot of motivational posters so they’re practically stuck in my head when I want to quit haha

      Yes I really like the NYHRC on 21st and Park! I feel like my membership is partially a waste, because I don’t go that often because (1) I spend 90% of my exercising running outside and (2) it’s 0.6miles away from my apartment, which just seems to far haha…but overall, yes I love it. There’s always machines available and it’s clean.

  4. DrRachelRuns says:

    I love my foam roller. I didn’t run in the snow, but I ran on the treadmill and snowshoed. I hope they decide to plow the roads a bit so I can get back out there.

  5. PorcelinaTweets says:

    Congratulations on an amazing achievement!

    I hope you are really proud of yourself because you should be! No stopping you!

    How many more 20s have you got to run?

    • Thank you!!!! I am :-)…but I’d be more proud if I could run today, but my knee/IT band is still sore

      My SmartCoach plan has me doing 5 20’s in total, but I think that’s too much for my body and 1st marathon. So I plan to do 1 every month, giving me 2 left (Feb/March and then the marathon in April).

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  12. This is old but this has been very inspiring. And also makes me miss New York hahaha. Thank you for this. I’m going to have to keep reading your blog I’m very inspired. =)

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