What Do You Think About When You Run 20 Miles?

I know I wondered this before I started running long distances myself, and I still wonder what other people think about when they’re running. I’m a super-chatty runner (shocker), so if you’re running with me, you probably know what I’m thinking. Since only Ashley had the pleasure of running with me today, I’ll let you know what went through my mind before, during and after today’s 20-miler and how you logistically do it.

5am: Alarm goes off. I don’t think, I just roll over and hit snooze. I do this multiple times until 5:55am.

5:55am: Wake up and start cursing at self. Wake up Bailey and take him out for a short walk. Come back in, change, put on running watch and SpiBelt with credit card, subway card and some cash.

6:25am: Hit the elevator button repeatedly until the elevator arrives. Leave keys with doorman and run outside and hail a cab up to 102nd and 5th Ave, where Ashley and I are planning on meeting at 6:40.

6:25-6:40: Why aren’t we there yet??? Why did I oversleep? Oh god, I hope this run goes okay. I hope this Pom Bar sits okay in my stomach. I hope everything else sits well in my stomach.

6:40-6:45: Search for my corral as the announcer counts down the minutes until the corrals closing. Accidentally head the wrong way, start freaking out.

6:47: Find my corral, find Ashley. WHEW. We chat a little bit before the run starts.

The run starts.

Mile 1: OMG, there are so many people. Why am I doing this? Why do I need to do a second 20-miler? Wasn’t the first one enough? No, Theodora, you’ll feel great after you finish it. OMG, there are so many people.

Miles 2-7: Alright! This isn’t so bad. Ashley and I are chatting, everything feels okay. Maybe I shouldn’t have worn new sneaks for a 20-miler, but it’s too late now. My legs are also a little tight from yesterday’s run, but nothing so bad that I can’t handle it.

Mile 8: We stop for a porta-potty break. I don’t have to go too badly, but I’d rather go before I do really have to go! We stretch outside, and I think that the stretching will help.

Mile 9: Where’s the gel?? There was supposed to be gel here. We run past the table, only to discover THEY ARE OUT OF GEL. Inner panic ensues.

Mile 10: Okay, fine. I’ll have some Gatorade. At least it’s calories/energy, but there’s nothing like solid food.

Mile 10.5: Ashley offers me some of her Shot Bloks. CLUTCH. 

Mile 11: SINGLE DIGITS!

Mile 12: Not much thinking going on, just running.

Mile 13: I basically just ran a half-marathon like it was no big deal…and I have seven more miles to go. I can’t believe I can do this. 

Miles 14-16: Maybe I can’t do this. Everything hurts. I’m really going to do 2 more miles after this? Oh god. Ashley’s fallen behind a bit. If I wait, I can stop running, but OW. Stopping running hurts. I can slow down a bit?

Miles 17-18: Oh thank god. I’ve been running for more than three hours. I’m almost done. It hurts, but I can pull this out. I’m going to finish! I’m going to run 2 more and do my 20! I can do it! Just think of the runner’s high afterwards!

Mile 18: OH HELL YEAH! Oh wait, two more to go. I stop after the finish line for a minute and grab my banana and a bagel and wait for Ashley. We share some of my bagel and I head off to finish my last two miles. I’m absolutely navigationally challenged, especially in Central Park, so I run to the nearest exit and ask a park ranger which way is south. I’m at Central Park North (which I didn’t even know existed), so I have to run back into the park to the next exit. I get back on the path and just pretend it’s still the race.

Mile 19: Exit! Shiny! I run down Central Park West from 102nd Street. I’m tight, sore and ready to be done, but holy crap, I just ran 19 miles. I have one more to go and IT’S TAPER TIME. I won’t have to run for hours on end (it took me 4 hours to run 20!) until the marathon. Oh thank God.

Mile 20!: I finish and look around to see if miraculously there’s someone I know that I can high five. Unfortunately, there’s not, so I call my mom for a verbal high-five. 

I get off the phone with her and start looking for a subway. The closest is the B/C at 81st Street, but the C does funky things where I need to get off. Maybe I can just keep walking? No, no more walking. I get on the C and just switch at Chambers Street.

I get off at my stop and grab a bagel and then run into Duane Reade for epsom salt, which Ashley says will help in my bath. CLEARLY, THEY’RE OUT. They tell me I can walk 4 blocks to the next Duane Reade, and I’m unsure whether to laugh or cry. I look around to see if there’s anything I can use in lieu of epsom salt. There’s not, so I get coconut water to drink and haul myself upstairs to stretch and take a regular bath. 

I lay on the floor to stretch and stick and foam roll and Bailey tries to lick the sweat from my legs. Finally, I get in the bath with some relaxing bath salts. I guess they were too relaxing, because I nearly fell asleep in the bathtub. (By the way, I finished running at 11:30. By the time I got home, ate, stretched, foam rolled/sticked (stuck?) and took a bath, it was almost 2. I ran for 4 hours. I woke up an hour before I ran. This running business takes a lot of time.) I got out of the bath, dried off, and took THE BEST NAP OF MY LIFE. I’m not exaggerating. I finally woke up an hour later and dragged myself back to the subway, back to Central Park, to meet Laurel and Lacey for an impromptu picnic. I split early because I’m BEAT.

Because I ran 20 miles this morning! 🙂

If you run, what do you think about when you run? If you don’t run, what do you think about when you exercise?

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