20 Going on 22


When I look at the Blue Ridge Marathon elevation course, I feel lucky I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I don’t see how I would train for it if I lived in the flat lands!

I debated doing a 20 miles trail run for a while. But ultimately I realized it would end up being way harder than the marathon itself (at least the one I had in mind), and I need to keep my legs for the race. So my last really long run of the marathon training would be on road again. I decided to go up the same way I did my 20 miler but add an extra hill after it to simulate the Blue Ridge Marathon course. This is how it turned out:
The elevation gain isn’t as much, or as steep but I think it gives me a good feel on how I will feel on race day. Now I did not have 22 miles scheduled on my training plan, nor did I plan to run that long. I was thinking about running somewhere between 20 and 21 miles, especially since I had additional elevation. Well it turns out that the road mapmyrun was showing me going to Patton Mountain Rd was not one. Nope, it was a steep driveway, and it stopped. So I pretty much ran an insane uphill for nothing other than training purposes.

So I had to go around the mountain. Patton Mountain Rd played with me again. I was at a fork, to the left I could see a dirt road to the right a real road. Now mind you I was in a fancy million dollar residential area up the mountain so by logic I figured the dirt road was a driveway. Nope again. I ended up on town mountain road (not where I wanted to be) having to back track my steps and ask directions to a nice dude with a smartphone. Well that road was hard to find, but it was so worth it. It was gorgeous, lines with rhododendrons, pine trees and other trees and the dirt was a nice rest on my joints.

Because of the detour I rerouted my course and went straight to the next hill. Let me tell you. I walked! Not all of it, but I walked several sections. I’m glad for this run ultimately because it made me realize that in a marathon, there is a time for running and there is a time to walk and give a break to the legs. I plan to walk some parts of the marathon course with no shame.

Even with the detour my run turned out to be 22 miles. Am I glad I took extra water or what? I was pooped by the time I got home. As I started walking I could feel some painful cramps (or was it just the lactic acid build up) hitting my legs. I took just long enough to put some gatorade and ice cubes in a container and sipped it as I cooled off. I followed it by a cold leg bath and a recovery smoothie (banana, frozen blueberries, GU recovery powder, greek yogurt). And took the rest of the afternoon as an opportunity to sit on the deck and do absolutely nothing productive thank you very much.

Breakfast 2hours prior to running: sesame sprouted bagel, almond butter, banana, honey.

Run fueling: 1 GU Roctane, 1 handhelf waterbottle, 1 water amphipod, 1 Gu Brew amphipod

Stats: 22.05mi, 3h32’17”, 9:37 pace

Gear: Drymax trail socks, lululemon skirt, brooks shirt

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20 Miles and Getting Lost Is Worth the View

When I commented for a chance to win an entry to the Blue Ridge Marathon. I though my chances were limited but I figured why not? When I received the email that I won an entry I thought “Shit! I’ve got to train!”.
I wanted to run the marathon. But I wasn’t sure I could. My longest run had been 15 miles and months ago and while I somewhat maintained half marathon level I also had to take some breaks and was actually in the middle of Christmas vacation, at home, in France, eating my weight in French food.

So I approached this a little differently than my half marathon. I didn’t tell as many people that I was training for it to start with. I also took the approach that I would train and see where it would take me. I have to say, the training has been going fairly well. Oh I’ve had unpleasant runs, don’t doubt that. But so far my body seems to handle it well.

My training called for one 20 miles run on week 4. However I spoke with a running friend who told me she followed the same plan and felt it would have been better with two 20 miles run. At that point I had limited options to add it, but it sounded sensible. So on week 5, I replaced the 13 miles run by a 20 miles run. My first ever.

I’ve also done most of my long runs on trails because it’s something I enjoy more and find more challenging. However the Blue Ridge Marathon is a road race. I knew I needed some long road runs to test my body and my gear. So I mapped a course going from West Asheville to downtown, then up the hills behind the Grove Park Inn going back by way of Montford. I packed gels, water, Gu Brew and directions and went my merry way.

It was a beautiful day and the run would have been a great run had I not gotten lost. Ok not lost lost, but unable to find the road I was supposed to take. Lesson learned: when exploring new routes, can’t hurt to drive them first! I had to call my husband for directions, like me he thought the road would be easy to find. It wasn’t. In the end he directed me a different way. While it got me back on the loop I did miss some of the elevation I was counting on. But I did have a beautiful view over downtown Asheville so I can’t regret it too much.

But overall it was a good run. So much easier than my 18 miles trail run. Less elevation changes helps! I did really wanted some cold water in the end. I almost stopped in fact, but with only 2-3 miles to go I just pushed it all the way back home. I surprised myself in finish in 3h 10mns 19s. One minute faster than I ran 18 miles.

Recovery included a smoothie with GU recovery, greek yogurt, frozen raspberries and a splash of juice. I realized it’s hard for me to eat solid food after a long run beyond 16 miles. I also plopped myself in a cold bath for lack of icy creek. Given that I still pulled an 8h shift at work after that I felt pretty happy with myself.