20 Miles: Proving #iwill

Running can be as much mental as physical and sometimes, it is the mental training, the determination to persevere, that makes the real difference.

We all run for different reasons. Some of us may share the same reasons to a degree but what motivates us, what pushes us, what makes us dig deep and prove things to ourselves can differ.

I am happy to say that this weekend while I was out proving something to myself so was one of the runners I coach. Her determination is still making me grin ear to ear and I trust her pushing herself a bit further as I know she is listening to her body at the same time. I am proud of her. And I love that both of us, in this final training weekend before taper begins, were out there proving what we can do and fulling engaging the mental side of training. Yes, I have been coaching this lovely lady to complete the Maui Marathon! I can't wait to see her at the start and again at the finish line. And she just may beat me there! Only time will tell.

But in all reality, finish times aren't everything. Yes, I have a big goal. I really want to break a 4:20 marathon. Where my training runs have been and my recent race performance has shown, it is a goal fully within reach. Will I get there on September 22nd? I wish I had 100% confidence and perhaps I need to work on building that up the next three weeks. I want to get there. I will push myself to get there. There are just so many unknowns on race day and I have a bad habit of not racing my marathons as well as my training shows I could. I will get better at that.

One thing that is making me feel really good though is crossing one more 20 miler off my training list. I recruited dear hubby to run with me. He recruited his son to watch darling daughter. It was all good and off we went! We had a choice - hot run or hilly run. We chose hilly. It was closer to the drop off point for darling daughter and just made sense. Plus, I did some hot runs in Texas so I don't think I needed the warmer temperature training. And hills at elevation won't hurt that hilly section come race day. That hot and flat stretch....that is the second half and that is where my mental training is the most important.

20 mile elevation profile
Not only was I determined to run 20 miles I was focused on testing a different fueling strategy. I learned earlier that just applesauce to go wasn't enough. I needed more fuel - either more calories of fuel or a different fuel profile. I didn't have time to test a million scenarios so I opted to incorporate some of the traditional gels I had been using with fuel that is more natural in my mind. The night before the run I put two applesauce to go in the freezer. Come run morning, they were nice and frozen and I tucked them in the back pocket of my CamelBak Marathoner vest. In the reservoir I added two VegaSport Hydrator packets to the 2L of water. In the front right pocket I tucked away two VegaSport Endurance Gels (raspberry). I was set and ready to go!

My plan, fuel every 4 miles. Knowing I can run a good distance with no fuel and that I didn't feel like I was crashing until the end of my 18 mile run, I started with applesauce. The applesauce at the 4 mile mark was still cold and a wee bit icy. I loved it! Next gel, applesauce, gel. For the run on Sunday, I may have been able to skip that final gel at 16 miles and made it to the end. I wasn't feeling like I was running out of steam but I wanted to run and fuel according to plan. And I did discover that the gel is a bit harder to stomach at 16 miles than 8 miles. Good to know. And that 2L of water? I sucked it down to the last drop by the end of my run. Another good thing to know. I do plan to wear my vest during the marathon and will anticipate going through aid stations for additional water for the final 10K or so. The only question I need to answer is do I want to carry an additional Hydrator packet and refill the reservoir partially with my sports drink of choice or just go with what they have? I am leaning to #2. What are your thoughts?

The 20 miles went well and I did feel strong. At the end my legs were beginning to feel the hills and it did cast a bit of doubt on how I could run an additional 6.2 miles. But the thing is, come race day the up and downhills will be done and over by mile 13 and then things flatten out. And it is race day! With other runners, aid stations, support, adrenaline, fun, fun, fun! You can't forget about the impact that those elements can have on a run. And most importantly - my mind - it needs to stay focused, positive, in the mile it is in, and not dreading Front Street!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for an amazing run on Sunday.
Daily Affirmation: My faith allows me to achieve my running goals.


  1. I say figure out a way to divvy up your hydrator and put it in the cups of water the last 6.2. M and stir with your finger so you can continue on without being slowed down for very long with what you know works for your body. :-)

  2. way to go!!! getting to 20 and still feeling good is HUGE!!

  3. I need to practice a bit more with my nutrition on the run. I had a terrible 32k/20m run last weekend and I think it may have been that I was low in glucose. So this week I plan to take in more and start a bit earlier so I never get to that 'running on empty' stage. Fingers crossed it'll work out better.

  4. Way to go Erica. Always inspired when I read one of your posts... so happy for you that it is all coming together!

  5. I would bring your drink of choice. Then you don't worry about an unknown causing GI issues. I got surprised with HEED once, after being told it was Gatorade. Not cool, man. Not cool.

  6. If "go with what they have" means water, then fine. If "go with what they have" means other sports drink, I'd vote no. Why mess with what you know works? Possible alternatives:

    1. Switch to water, since the end will be near anyway.
    2. Ever use a handheld? Maybe stash a small handheld in your pack, if there's room (or in one of the vest pockets). You can even stash it empty, or just with dry powder inside - then add water at an aid station when you're ready to use it. Adding to a handheld is way easier than to a pack, and even a volunteer who knows nothing about packs can help you refill a handheld.
    3. If you'll have a support crew on the course, try to arrange a hand-off: Plan to exchange your pack for a handheld at 18 or 20 or 22 miles. As a back-up plan in case that fails for any reason (since connecting with someone is never a sure-thing), you can always take the time to refill your own pack.

    Anyway - long story short, I would vote for what you KNOW!


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