This week was week 10 and the plan called for a 20 mile long run. Yup. Pretty serious stuff. Particularly in light of the challenges I’ve been facing. But since I was going away on vacation, I had to turn my Sunday Long Run into the Road to Boston FLR 10; a solo Friday 20-mile Long Run.
For some reason I thought we were leaving for vacation Friday afternoon. But we had booked our flight for Saturday. Either way, I was not going to get in a 20-miler over the weekend. So I spent three hours and forty-three minutes running 20 miles by my self on Friday. I had the day off.
Running 20 miles is a challenge under any circumstances. Running twenty miles by yourself is a test of will power and endurance. I’ve run long distances like this by myself before, but not with an injury and a mondo knee brace.
I managed to loose track of time and didn’t head out until almost 11:00. There was plenty of time since I had the day off, but I had started the day planning to start my run around 9 or so.
Starting the Road to Boston FLR 10
When I headed out I wasn’t sure how the knee was going to hold up. I had my new brace on, but I wasn’t certain how that would go. Even with it, my knee has tweaked a few times on shorter runs.
My running belt was bulging with supplies for a long run and two 9-oz bottles of sports drink. I was loaded for bear and would have felt pretty foolish running back down my street after 10 minutes.
I did my warm up jogging the streets in my neighborhood, checking to make sure all systems were a go. And they were.
I headed down Spring Street and managed to cross The Fellsway, Highland Ave and Commercial Street without using a walk light. Traffic was a bit lighter around Noon that it often is on a weekend day at the same time.
I picked up The Northern Strand Community Trail in Malden just after crossing the Malden River. My watch chimed mile 2 shortly thereafter.
From previous runs I knew that the end of the trail would be mile 10. The only way to get home would be to run those same miles all the way home.
I made my way through Malden center and once again managed to avoid using a walk light. Down the street from Malden High The Northern Strand turns back into a pedestrian path. Wide and well paved.
While the Trail crosses many streets, each crossing is well marked and has signs with flashing lights that are activated when you enter the area. And drivers stopped for me at each crossing. Really awesome.
All the way out to the turn around I had a great run. My knee and back didn’t really bother me beyond what you would expect from a run.
For fuel I had two Snicker’s bars and took my first chew around mile 3 and my second around mile 6. These are great for energy as they are packed with sugar and as the ads used to say, “packed with peanuts”.
I’ve been using these candy bars for fuel because I know they wont upset my stomach and they tend to stick with me. Gels are just syrup and there’s nothing there to fill up your belly.
When ever I run Boston, by the time I get to Wellesley I’m starving. And all the way through Wellesley I can smell all the grills cooking burgers and dogs. My poor stomach just growls!
The end of The Trail
The first few times I ran The Strand it was still gravel in Saugus and until the past few years, it ended at Central Street in Saugus.
Now The Strand goes all the way to Lynn where an old rail road bridge spans Bennett Street. I didn’t spend a lot of time checking it out, but if a bridge is growing weeds and shrubs, it may not be structurally sound.
There is a path through the weeds, but I’m training for Boston. I can’t take a chance and fall through a bridge into traffic. Or even worse, twist an ankle.
I turned around with a smile and knew I was committed to 20 miles now.
At this point in the run I was beginning to feel a little tired. But nothing hurt and I had fueled and hydrated properly. Everything went to plan and I was having a well executed run.
My miles were all between 10:37 and 11:27. Nothing crazy, but I was on a 20 mile run by myself. And the longest run I’ve been on in quite a while.
As the miles clicked off I kept getting closer to home and still felt pretty good.
The rest of my miles were pretty close to eleven minutes until my last mile.
As I made the last turns to home I realized that I was going to be short of 20 miles if I just went home. After all of this, there was no way I was going to miss the mark!
I ended up running the two side streets in my neighborhood and circled around the cul-du-sac at the end of my street to get to 20.02 miles. Between the fatigue and all of the turns, that last mile was twelve minutes even.
I spent the last 0.02 miles walking and finding the button on my watch to end my run.
Completing a twenty mile run on my own without incident was a real boost in confidence. Twenty isn’t 26.2, but I’m pretty sure I can finish this thing now.