I did it.
I crossed the threshold.
For the first time ever, I saw a two in the tens digit of my miles on my GPS watch. And it felt amazing.
There was plenty of anxiety building up to this run. While I had managed my 18-miler after a week in Vegas and no running, the looming 20 felt different: it signaled a point in my training that said if you can do 20, then you can run a marathon.
I have heard that 18 miles is when marathon runners start to hit the wall; mile 20 is when the wall begins to tumble down. At that point, only 6 miles remain before completion of a full marathon. Only 6 miles. If you can run 20, then those last remaining miles (apparently) are nothing.
So Saturday became the ultimate test: how would my legs handle three hours of nonstop running? The answer, amazingly well!
As I ran with two other women in my training group, we kept talking about how we had ten miles to go, and then only ten miles back. Only, only, only. We paced the first ten miles on the Capital Crescent Trail slightly above a 9 min/mile pace, then on the ten back, we revved up the pace and managed to average miles under nine minutes. Even with the infamous Calvert Hill to tackle in the final mile, we never slowed down. We kept moving and powered upwards, taking only a beat to stop at the peak before a green light signaled us to keep running across the street.
Everything was in our favor on Saturday. The sun, not yet up when we began the trek, opened itself through the clouds and shimmered through the trees of the trail we paced along. A rain shower from the evening prior left fallen leaves wet and scattered along the path. Though they didn’t crunch under our sneakers, their presence signified fall‘s official status. There was sweat, of course, but the cool air and the autumn breeze made it a picture perfect (cliche) day, made even better by what was achieved all before 1030 AM.
In less than three hours we had completed 20 miles. The accomplishment another example of how you can surprise yourself with your strength and power. Here I am, a woman with a running career (if you can even call it that) less than two years old, and I have four half marathons and a 20-mile PDR under my belt, and in less than three weeks I will be running the streets, hills and sights of D.C. and Virginia en route to finish my first marathon.
On Saturday, I completed 20 miles; the next time I see a number that high on my watch will be October 26. I can barely contain the excitement.