Long Run Friday - 21 Miles Done!

Today was my final 20 mile run for marathon training.  Yes, that's three 20-mile runs for training.  Because I'm just that nuts.  This is the plan I use.  The first 20-miler was quite a disaster and the second 20-miler was my favorite 20-miler of any marathon training year.  Today's run was almost as good as the previous 20-miler.  I can't figure out where the miles went.

The course: Similar to the first 20-mile run I'd ever done, I started at Lake Harriet.  The course today was similar to that first 20-miler, but I used the Cedar Lake Trail, Kenilworth and the Greenway instead of running straight through downtown.

Parking: turned out to be the biggest challenge of the day.  There's tons of free street parking all around Lake Harriet.  I couldn't park there 'till 6am.  I have no idea why I remember that so I spent last night looking at a map of the neighborhood trying to figure out where I could park before 6am.  There's several one way streets there and it's a very busy neighborhood.  Planning ahead helped because it only took a couple minutes to hunt down a suitable spot and park the car.

Run: Similar to the last time I had a building plan.  I started out in the dark and wound up cursing the street lights because they actually just shone in my eyes and made it harder to see.  I ran 5:00 and walked 1:00 for the first seven miles.  My first couple miles were terrifyingly slow but I had a talk with myself about not panicking and I improved as the run went along.  Miles 8-13, I walked 60-90 seconds per mile and ran the rest.  Miles 14-17 I ran without a planned break.  After mile 17, I ran with my running crew.  We ran .5 miles, and then walked a minute.  That part of the course just flew by.

After the run, we had some time to have popcorn and enjoy Lake Harriet, include tons of school kids.  I was actually impressed with the number of kids out on the lake, including what looked like half a school's worth of kids on bikes.  They had their own little peloton going.

Important lessons learned: Trust my strength and training.  I figured this out after mile 2 or 3, remembering my previous 20-miler.  It's okay to go out feeling strong.  Not fast.  But it is okay to be moving. The first couple miles I was all "go slow, conserve energy" but I got a little too slow and then got discouraged and also a bit stiff and uncomfortable. 
Trust my running crew and let them distract me.  Because running with another person at the end of these runs is just the best idea in the world.  That part of Lake Calhoun that I hate running, I can barely remember running it other than talking to my crew.
Take Pictures.  I took tons of pictures today.  Early on I took them during my walk breaks, and this route has some wonderful sites. When I got to downtown and along the river I stopped a couple other times to snap some shots.  Then at mile 17 I had a bit of spare time on my hands while the crew was looking for parking, so I took some really creative shots there.

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