Choosing 20 Miles over Zero

After a 20-miler-gone-wrong last Saturday, my decision making attitude thought it was all figured out. It’s just not there, whatever “it” is.  Or so I thought. So I was ready to admit, and accept, and move on with. No Marine Corps Marathon this year? Fine. Great. No big deal!

Who does that affect? No one but me.

That decision was all good during the post-run endorphin-less fatigue. I wanted to be done at 10 and I called it a day at 15. Choosing not to extend that in-the-moment exhaustion to 26.2 miles? Awesome. Relief!

The problem(s)? Well, those turned out to be way too easy to pinpoint. Sunday-Heather was much more rational, logical and reasonable than Get-this-run-over with-NOW-Saturday Heather. Hmm.

Choose to be sore

With a little more pep in my step, a little more sleep in the bank and a lot more reason in my brain, I realized that I’d never be okay with just not running. This training cycle has been an interesting one; I’ll save you the mental ups & downs (yep – these legs, muscles and feet are 100% okay). Either way, I always come back to knowing that not only do I want to do this, but also that I can.

I can choose to behave like I’m training for a marathon. I can choose to prep for each long run. I can choose how the day will go – for better or worse – and I can choose to run 20 miles, instead of none.

Today, before getting some work done in the morning, hopping on a conference call and then jetting out of DC and into New Mexico (hello, 5 hours of flight time!), I chose to give 20 miles another chance. 

It meant a 4:30 am wake up call (9:00 pm bedtime – fine by me!), some creative looping to rope in run-buddy Stacy for 5 miles on the Mall (hi, Sunrise Lincoln!), and some music to keep distractions and attention-to-exhaustion at bay.

sunrise reflecting pool

Aside from this being one of the hilliest routes I’ve created to date (which is sayin’ something, when you live in Northwest DC…), all went according to plan! I kept my pace nice n’ easy, chatted it up with Stacy and soaked in the sunrise to let those middle miles fly by and then looked up Wisconsin Avenue. I really don’t have a clue what my logic was thinking there, and holy whoa that was exhausting, but I made it.

9.27 20miler elevation
We call this one “illogical”.

I chose to keep this MCM thing going, pass my own test and let the miles get their checked box! Happiness, all around.

Sweaty run gear

Yet another 80* day = sweatastic run-gear, well used and abused.


What are you choosing to do this week/end? What’s holding you back, or pushing you forward?

7 weeks down and 5 to go – I’m lookin’ at you, MCM!



Filed under marathon, MCM, running, running hills, training

14 responses to “Choosing 20 Miles over Zero

  1. Does exhaustion count as something that’s holding me back?

    That said, I’m glad you’re still doing MCM. It would be pretty awkward if we tried to cheer for you and you weren’t there.

  2. I’m so glad you pushed through! I’m sure you’re not regretting THAT decision what so ever 🙂 You’re going to be awesome in the MCM. Good luck with the final steps in training! you can do it!

  3. love the end of your run “up wisconsin.” I can SO relate – even on those 5 mile run days when the last 2 or 3 are up that darn HILL (ahem, mountain). Keep it up.

  4. Way to get back in there, and especially to run the 20 miler before a flight! The mental games are definitely the toughest to overcome.

  5. Way to get back out there and get the 20 done. Amazing what our minds can do to us, in both positive and (unfortunately, sometimes) negative ways.

    Hard to believe it is so warm there still! We’re near freezing in the mornings lately and warm-ish (but nowhere near 80) in the afternoons.

    Have a great time in NM!

  6. Way to get ’em done, girl! Have an awesome weekend. The mental battle in distance running is an important piece to it all.

  7. haleyriegel

    So glad you posted this! I have been fighting off a cold for 2 weeks and the weather in Ohio has been pretty crappy, so it has been a struggle to find the motivation to get in my last long run! I have my first marathon in 3 weeks, and tomorrow is my 22-miler. I have been dreading it, but this post has definitely lifted my spirits!

  8. I am running a 10 mile race in the morning and then planning to take Oakley out for 4-5 miles later in the day. Right now, my insane schedule, lack of clean clothes, no food in the fridge, and a sore throat is getting in the way of my desire to run tomorrow…but whatever, going to push through and get on with it!

  9. Jody

    I’m training for the MCM also. A few weeks ago I was slated for 16 miles. I didn’t eat the best the night before, and didn’t make it past mile 4. I went to bed early last night, and woke up ready to take on the day. I headed out to Roosevelt Island and ran into DC, around the monuments, past Gravely Point, and back. 17 miles complete, and I was proud of myself. In all honesty, I was losing a little bit of my motivation. Thanks for the pep talk 😉

  10. jos

    Glad to hear you gave the 20 a chance. I think a PR-half depleted the body so the 20-miler was not feasible. Glad you took off a week to recuperate! Keep healthy! Every long run will never go as planned. But just take it week by week. You’re almost to MCM! I am so excited for you.

  11. HIGH FIVE rock star! Your training stories never fail to blow me away. I am so impressed by how strong you are mentally and physically. Giving yourself a challenge in there too! Way to go, Heather!

  12. Illness and life events and commuting and … well, seemingly everything is holding me back right now. On the other hand, my gut and my heart are telling me to modify rather than change my race plans. It sounds like yours are doing the same. There’s a huge difference between a failed training day and a failed training cycle—kudos to you for having the insight to know the difference!

  13. Pingback: When Four More Miles Sounds Doable | Dietitian on the Run

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