22 Miler: Try, Try Again

This week’s long run ended on a high note. I got the mileage in that was on the training calendar – but more importantly, walked away with some confidence (physical and mental) that hopefully will help me in three short weeks.

But it was pretty close to being a wash.

My plan was a 22 mile dress rehearsal. Practice eating beforehand. Practice fueling and water during run. Wear clothing I plan to wear for race day. Basically do everything I can to simulate race morning – to see how I feel and make sure the food choices don’t upset my stomach.

The morning started off great – some coffee and a quick stop at the local bagel store.


It was 16 degrees (with windchill) and I’m still battling a hacking cough, congestion and cold so I decided it was going to be a treadmill run. Plus, I’m over winter and the thought of 3+ hours in the freezing cold (and wind) sounded absolutely awful to me.

By 9:30am, I was on the treadmill ready to watch the Hunger Games while mindlessly logging the miles. My legs were shot though. I did a lower-body strength workout on Friday and could barely walk up and down the stairs. Every step I took was painful.

I stopped the treadmill at 1.7 miles, convinced myself to get back on but only made it another 1/2 mile. 2.2 miles and I was done. Mentally, I just couldn’t wrap my head around 22 miles on the treadmill. It seemed SO long to me and the thought of running another 20+ miles on tired, sore legs was too much for me.

I was pretty annoyed and frustrated with myself. I took a hot epsom salt bath and tried to figure out when I could give the 22 miles another try. My husband was leaving for a week long work trip, so I knew the run would have to be on the treadmill. Three+ hours with the boys, our dog and our new puppy (more on this tomorrow!!) didn’t sound appealing at all and I knew it would be tough to get it in.


Around 12pm, I looked outside – it looked like a beautiful spring day. Temps were around 36 degrees, it was sunny and the wind was only around 10-12 mph. The thought of running outside made my heart flutter. After a chat with my husband, I decided I would give the run another try.

I decided to run ~8 miles, return to house to drink water and take a gel, then run another 8 miles. That sounded manageable to me. I have an 8 mile route that I frequently do on my easy runs. After those 16, I would come inside and head down on the treadmill for 6 miles (because my husband had to leave for his trip). Which also sounded manageable.

So that’s what I did. And it was a pretty freakin’ amazing run. Ran 100% blind (although I peaked at my splits during the first water stop). The splits were much faster than I felt like I was running. My legs hurt and were sore from start to finish. Every step hurt. But they weren’t tired from the miles. The pace felt comfortable and relaxed. The weather was gorgeous. And I felt more energized and excited with every mile that ticked by.

I ended up running 10.3 and then 8.2 miles – made it 18.5 outside and then finished up with a short and sweet 3.5 miles on treadmill.



  1. 8:08 (slowest of day)
  2. 7:53
  3. 7:53
  4. 7:49
  5. 7:49
  6. 7:44
  7. 7:45
  8. 7:44
  9. 7:50
  10. 7:46
  11. 7:39
  12. 7:36
  13. 7:38
  14. 7:35
  15. 7:45
  16. 7:48
  17. 7:48
  18. 7:40
  19. 7:29 (.5 miles)

18.5 in 2:23:38 (7:46 average) outside
3.5 miles in 27:06 (7:45 average) on treadmill
22 miles (7:46 average)
24.2 miles total for day

As always, I try to take note of what worked, didn’t work, lessons learned, etc from each run – especially the long runs. Despite not eating anything other than the bagel early in the AM and then some brie cheese (so random and not necessarily best for running – but it was before I decided to try the run again), I didn’t feel like I was running on empty. I took two gels (miles 10.3 and 18.5) and had no stomach issues.

This run taught me a few important lesson:

– I run MUCH better with no watch – when I just run. If I have access to my garmin’s splits, I spend 90% of the run staring at the pace, obsessively checking it every 30-60 seconds. I know myself – the moment I start to see the pace slow down, I go into panic mode and it throws off the rest of the run. I run stronger and faster when I have no idea what I’m running and when I take cues from my body. Excluding the first and last miles, the splits were within 18 seconds of each other. That’s pretty consistent for 16 miles over hilly terrain. I’m 95% certain I will run Boston either completely watch-free or change the display so I can only see the total time (I did this for NJ last year and it worked really well for me).

– BREAK the run up when I get tired. This worked like magic yesterday. My plan for Boston is to think about the 4 or 6 mile route by my home when I get tired. I know every crack, every bump, every hill for those miles. When things get tough, I will visualize those routes and tell myself that it’s just another loop that I always do at home.

– Even though my legs hurt, I was able to maintain ~7:45 pace. I hope to be able to pull from this run on race day. Even if I get tired much earlier than I hope or plan, I will use this run as motivation that I can maintain a 7:45 pace even when my legs and quads are toast.

– I am stronger than I think I am

Bring on Boston.

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    10 thoughts on “22 Miler: Try, Try Again

    1. I am so excited for you!!!! The PR is right there – you just have to reach out and grab it.
      You’ve done the work, you’ve done the mental prep (I need to buy that book!) and the hay is in the barn.
      Now gooo! Fly like the wind! We’re rooting for you!! :)
      Natalie recently posted..Weekend RecapMy Profile

    2. First of all, your pup is adorable. Second, congrats on an awesome run! I am so impressed you are planning to run without being able to see your pace – I wish I could do that, I just don’t have the guts for it and am too scared. Redeeming a bad run is such a great feeling, especially on the same day!
      Beth @ RUNNING around my kitchen recently posted..Bayshore marathon: week 8My Profile

    3. Great job Michele! You should be proud of yourself, especially for the consistency there. Your points at the end can help a lot of people. So many people think the Garmin is how they know they are running the right pace, but if you just run, your body will tell you what it wants. We try to post about this often to remind runners, but realistically, it is something you just have to learn yourself….and may have to learn a few times! Your persistence will pay off!
      Runners Connect recently posted..How to Train for a Success in a Tough MudderMy Profile

    4. AWESOME AWESOME job!!!!!!! I LOVE breaking my run up…it really helps!!! Your puppy makes me want to get another puppy (at least at this moment it does) :). You almost ran a marathon PR for a training run….that is AWESOME! You totally go this!
      Jen@milesandblessings recently posted..Oh Happy Day!My Profile