Monday, September 17, 2012

CARA Ready to Run 20-Miler Recap

Yesterday morning I set out before dawn to accomplish another personal distance record. I ran the CARA Ready to Run 20-Miler. It also marked the longest run in my training plan prior to the Chicago Marathon on October 7.

Going into the run, I felt pretty confident. After doing the miserable 18-miler in North Carolina two weekends prior amidst searing heat and humidity, I knew this wouldn't be nearly as grueling. However, I had started feeling some groin pain during the Chicago Half Marathon last weekend. It had persisted all week, leading me to forgo one of my weekday training runs (sorry, Erin) in the hopes that it would dissipate. Come yesterday morning, it was nearly undetectable while walking. However, I was concerned how it would respond to 20 miles of running.

I should just carry a personalized first-aid kit with me everywhere I run.

As usual, the 5:15 AM wakeup call followed by a big bowl of cereal and a couple big glasses of water and orange juice. While getting dressed, and per the suggestions of my fellow bloggers, I put BodyGlide on the hotspots on my feet. I also caked about 3 inches of BodyGlide onto my thighs and other areas.

Once again, Adam voluntarily got up at another ungodly hour of a weekend morning to graciously drive me to the starting site (THANK YOU!!!!!).  There was a surprising amount of traffic at that hour (probably all the other marathoners-in-training that were also headed to the run).

Since this run was considered a fully-supported training run and not a race, it was not being chip-timed. However, we were all assigned to pace groups. Adam had picked up my race packet for me and informed me that I had been placed in pace group #2, starting at 6:30:30 AM (the run started at 6:30 AM). I had thought for certain this was a mistake, as usually only the super-elite runners get such early starting groups. This had me visualizing myself getting run over on the course, with running shoe footprints embedded into my back.
The Road Runner, moments before leaving you in the dust.

I had emailed CARA to ask that I be placed in a slower (MUCH slower) pace group. Much to my surprise, they indicated that pace group #2 was for the 11:30 run-walkers, which was actually correct for me. Allrighty, then! This would probably be the only time ever in my life that I'd get to start a run at the front of the pack. So I enjoyed it!

Things were pretty uneventful for the first few hours. The temperature was in the low 60s and the sun was rising over the horizon as we were underway. My pace group was fairly quiet, with the exception of two guys who were chatting about their running experiences. I chatted a bit with one of the leaders and with another woman named Julie, who was training for her fourth marathon. She shared stories about running the San Diego Marathon, where they have uniformed Marine soldiers run with you during the last mile to the finish line. How awesome!
It must be so inspiring to finish a marathon alongside something like this!

Unfortunately, my groin was aching almost within just a couple miles of starting. It wasn't too bad at first, but the aching slowly kept getting stronger and stronger. I kept praying that it would hold up. I was very fearful that I'd experience an explosion of pain at some point. I tried to keep my footsteps as light as possible to reduce the shock of impact.

The members of my pace group gradually started falling back. I wanted to stay with the pace group leaders as long as I could.  Up until about mile 14 I was able to, although it began to take more and more effort to do so. Finally around mile 14 I decided to just continue at my own pace. But I think I was one of the last one or two group members to fall behind.
My groin pain was still increasing, but the miles were counting down. I kept telling myself that in training it didn't matter how long it took to cover the distance, just that I covered it.  I also kept telling myself that after today, I would have three weeks of taper time to focus on rehabbing.  The last few miles I began walking more and more just to alleviate some of the aching. I was tired, but the aching was actually more prevalent than my fatigue. 

We reached Promontory Point at about 55th Street, and had a northern view of the city skyline. It gave us some perspective on how much distance we had covered.
Those tiny little city buildings in the distance?  Those were only about the 10-mile mark (i.e the halfway mark) between where we had started and where we currently were. 
The picture doesn't even do it justice.
Almost throughout the entire run, my Garmin had said that my distance covered was anywhere from 0.08 miles to 0.13 miles higher than what the course mile markers indicated.  When my Garmin beeped at 20 miles, it was kind of hard to believe.  It felt great crossing the finish line shortly afterwards.  What a relief!

The next three weeks will include reduced (i.e. "tapered") mileage before the final push on October 7th.  I'd never heard such welcome words as I did on the bus ride home, where one of the CARA leaders told us, "Welcome to your taper!"
Barring my injury issues, I do feel like I am capable of adding 6.2 more miles to what I just accomplished.  And now the huge focus is physical therapy.  During these next three weeks, I plan to up my yoga workouts to three times a week or more.  I also plan to do tons and tons of squats and lunges, as well as foam roll like my life depends on it (which, at this very point, it does).
Would it be too graphic to describe these babies as human muscle-tenderizers?

A few final training notes:
  • No chafing or blister issues in the usual hot spots.  Caking on obscene amounts of BodyGlide worked!  However, I did develop some first-time chafing from my Cho-Pat knee straps.  So I know now to use BodyGlide there, as well.  I will be a full-body BodyGlide blob by the time that all is said and done.
  • I usually use GU for refueling.  But, I tried a Clif Shot energy gel for the first time yesterday since the Chicago Marathon will be handing those out on the course.  I have to say that I like the consistency of GU better.  But otherwise, no issues with the Clif Shot gel.
  • I nearly forgot to take my salt capsules during the run, save for my pace group leader reminding us.  I'll have to work on remembering to take them in a timely manner.  Too bad race spectators never hold up signs that say, "Remember to take your salt capsules!"  They only ever hold up signs that say things like this:

  • I am not sure if I'll bring my MP3 player with me on marathon day.  I didn't use it at all yesterday, nor did I use it at all during my 18-miler.  On one hand, it would be nice to have it just in case I need the mental boost it'll give me.  But on the other hand, it takes up a lot of room in my iFitness belt which could be better used for other things (like wads of Kleenex).  TBD.
  • After I got home, I became a bottomless pit of hunger.  Nothing, and I mean NOTHING could fill me up.  For the rest of the day I sat on the couch doing my best impression of a human vacuum cleaner while simultaneously watching football with Adam.  And I seriously think that yesterday I could have outdueled any, and I mean ANY of those NFL linemen in an eating contest.

It is unbelievable that the Chicago Marathon is less than three weeks away now.  Almost a year's worth of training is finally reaching its conclusion!  In less than three weeks, I'll be here:
I'll be at the very back of the pack, of course, at the point where you can no longer tell where the crowd ends and the buildings begin. But nevertheless, I'll be there!!!

Bring on the madness!!!


  1. Sounds like you were in a much better mental place at the end of this run! And, yes, 20 miles makes you HUNNNGRY!

    I'll make you a sign for mile 18 that reminds you to take your salt capsules. How about that?

    1. Thanks, Erin! And oh my gosh, I am already realizing how difficult it is going to be to stop eating at this frenzied pace once the marathon is over. Yikes!

      A sign at mile 18 about salt capsules would be awesome. =D You are so considerate!!!

  2. I'm so happy this run went well for you. You will do amazing in Chicago in less than 3 weeks :)

    I think the yoga will help your aches and pains and get you in tip top shape for October 7. Im also glad you figured out body glide and nutrition for your long runs. It will make a world of difference in a few weeks :)

    1. Thanks, Xaar! You and your partner will do amazing in Chicago, too! You're going to be able to run for fun and just enjoy the atmosphere! Congratulations again on Fox Valley!

      By the way - I wanted to say thanks for your tip on taking salt capsules while running. They really do make a difference, as well!!!

  3. I'm glad this long run went better! I felt the same way about those clif shot things. Blech. I will be bringing my own gu's - the marathon is painful enough without the taste of grossness in your mouth!

    1. Thanks, Sara! Yeah, I am contemplating just bringing my own GUs for the entire marathon, too. It was tough to swallow those Clif Shot gels (literally). Congrats to you too on completing the 20-miler! I wish you a very speedy recovery from your leg pain!!!

  4. So glad this went so well for you! And that body glide helped (along with lower humidity).

    If you made it through 20 without it, I would recommend leaving the tunes at home marathon day, especially if you are conserving space. It is SO LOUD that for the majority of the race, it is hard to hear them anyway...


    1. Thanks, Bobbi! Congratulations to you too on your Fox Valley 20! It sounds like you had a blast!

      Thanks for the tip on leaving the tunes at home, that makes sense regarding the crowd being so loud. More room for other gear, ahoy!!!


  5. Congrats on your new PDR and first 20-miler! I am so happy your groin pain was somewhat tolerable. How is it today?

    And yay for no chafing (except the knees, lol). I was so surprised I did not chafe AT ALL from the 50K. I used a TON of vaseline.

    I agree with Bobbi about the headphones - I could not even hear mine when I put them in in the later miles at Chicago!

    Less than three weeks! YAY!!!

    1. Thanks, Kim! Groin is feeling a little better today, although still sensitive. However, my PT said that it's not something that I need to be very worried about, so that made me feel better.

      Your tip was spot on about using so much Vaseline or BodyGlide that you couldn't possibly chafe!!!! And that is awesome that you did not chafe at all during the 50K!!! So sorry to hear about scraping your knee, though. =( How is your knee healing up since the race?

      Less than three weeks! Yay!!!

    2. So happy it is feeling a bit better and your PT thinks it is going to be okay!

      My knee feels itchy and bruised. If that makes any sense. LOL. I am ready for it to heal, already!

    3. I totally understand the feeling of itchy and bruised. I've experienced that before in the past with a big leg scrape that I once got, it is not a pleasant feeling! I wish you speedy healing!!!!!

  6. Glad to hear your run went well!! Three weeks!! OMG!!!!!!!

    1. Likewise, so glad to hear that your run went well, too! THREE WEEKS!!! The countdown has begun!!! We're not going to know what to do with ourselves and all of our free time after the marathon is over. =D

  7. Yeay! Way to go! I love reading your running recaps because you really have THE best attitude! This is it. You did 20, and now you just need to taper. Hopefully you avoid the taper crazies. (I got them bad training for my first but not so much for my 2nd.) At this point it's all mental. I'm so excited for Chicago! You are going to rock it!*

    1. Thanks so much, Amy! You totally understand about the taper crazies because I am SO paranoid now about losing my conditioning, getting injured during the taper, etc., etc. It really is as much a mental battle and mental training as it is anything!!!!

  8. Congrats on completing the 20 miler. I like the picture of the skyline way off in the distance! :-)

    1. Thanks, Pete! I wish I'd known you were out on the lakefront path that morning, I would have looked for you! Congratulations on your highest training mileage week!!!

  9. WOW 20 miles is a huge accomplishment...congrats!!! At this point I'm sure your body will experience some minor aches and pains so don't worry quite yet! I actually experienced groin pain before too and couldn't figure out why. It still happens sometimes. Hope it goes away for you! Foam rolling = cure-all so you're doing the right thing :) Enjoy that taper!

    I haven't tried Gu but I LOVE the Clif Gel Shots. I heard the GUs kick in quicker but I prefer Clif's minimal and more natural ingredients. Plus, the chocolate Clif shot tastes like choco pudding!

    1. Thanks, Irina! You experienced groin pain, too, eh? Did you do anything in particular to try to alleviate it?!? And foam rolling is indeed the cure-all. I don't know how runners survived before the foam roller is around.

      It's good to know that their ingredients are more natural, because I do get a little anxious about all the chemicals that must be in GU! The chocolate Clif shot does taste like choco pudding, it's a nice pick-me-up when you're tired. =D

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