Thoughts During a 20 Miler

A few weeks ago, I ran my first 20 miler in almost two years.  The last 20 miles I ran was during the Phoenix Marathon in February of 2015.

Thoughts during a 20 miler

After deciding marathons weren’t for me and taking 18 months to enjoy 5ks, I entertained the idea of the marathon (see past tense there).  Heck, at this rate I might entertain the idea until I’m 70.

So two weeks ago now, I set out with my friend, Angela to attempt 20 miles.  Our only goal was to get 20 miles done.  Thinking out loud, there was no pace or time goal.  Heck, I could slog 20-minute miles for the last few and be happy it was done.  Luckily, Angela was the same way (or at least pretended).  Angela is currently training for the Philly full in just under one month.

So with that…we were off!

The first few miles went by easily.  Of course they did, I’ve run 3 miles in almost all of my training runs.  We caught up chatting, amusing about life and our day.  It was humid but not too bad.  17 more didn’t feel too bad.

Around mile 3, I bumped my watch and set the mile markers off.  From mile 3 until the end, I didn’t know what our pace was…my only reasoning for even having a Garmin was for it to beep the majestic 20 miles!

Mile 4, I began to realize we still had 16 to go.  Omg…16…

Mile 5, I passed by my old house.  Luckily I didn’t see my previous landlords.  I think running by gave me some sort of weird energy to run faster.

At mile 6, I said: “we must be at mile 6 because I always need a bathroom stop”.  I drink so much water in the morning; I almost always have to go to the bathroom around 6 miles.  I don’t want even to think about running when pregnant…I probably won’t. I will stop every half mile.

Mile 7 and 8, made me realize we still had a long way to go.  I began questioning myself.  Would I make it to 20?  Despite taking a rest day, I still felt achy.

At mile 10, I realized: “Oh my stars,” we haven’t even gotten to the “hard part” yet.  The first 10 miles are supposed to be easy….right?  Well easy to some I guess…

Mile 11, 12 and 13 all went around a giant river.  It was easier to stay motivated because there were several friendly faces out.  Part of the path was blocked off because they were chopping down a tree.

How dare they chop down trees and block the path for runners?  What are they thinking…the nerve.

At mile 13.1, I felt accomplished. We ran a half marathon.  Is the running done?

We could quit now…minus we were no closer than 6 miles from my house with no cell phone.  Not the smartest idea to make a giant loop with no cell phone….then again running 20 miles is also not the smartest idea.

At miles 14 and 15, I began focusing.  It began the countdown of “Only 6 miles to go…only 5”.  We hit “Jakes Place” (the playground that is benefited from the race I recently did) around mile 16.

Four miles…you can do this.

Angela is much more well trained than I, and she glided effortlessly.  OMFG, why can’t I have your 20-mile perfection?

Right, because I’ve chosen to run 5ks for the last two years…

Mile 17 entered the neighborhood with multi-million dollar houses.  I wonder if I can get a few chauffeurs just to drive me home.

Only 5k left…you can do this…I remember saying to Angela: “so much happens in a 5k…let alone running 17 miles beforehand”.

During Mile 18, I began looking for the Turkey Squad.  Several turkeys hide and linger in my neighborhood.  My goal is to avoid them.  I petrified of geese and turkeys.  The absolute last thing I want to do is see them at mile 18…or 19…or ever.

Mile 19: They came out of nowhere.  The turkey squad was there.  I do not have time for turkeys, especially at mile 19.  I had no energy anyways, but the extra energy I did have was spent crossing the road and staying as far away as possible.

The last mile was the final countdown.  I was in the twilight zone.  By this point, we knew “only ten more minutes”.  Only 9…only 8.5…7.5…

Then all of a sudden, we found ourselves at 19.8.  While I’m not typically a “to the Garmin” person, I needed the trivial .2 to complete my oh so accurate GPS 20 miler anyways.  After circling a culdesac, we finished.

While I felt accomplished, I didn’t feel like I was ready or wanting to run a marathon.  Honestly, I don’t think I would have been able to run much further.

At least we look happy?
At least we look happy?

While it was a fun run and it was great to catch up with friends, it did seal the deal that I’m not training for another marathon soon.  I’m enjoying much shorter events.

Question for you: What was the last long run you did?



  1. I’m doing the same thing this weekend,not 20 miles but 16. Which will be my longest run since my marathon in January. I think I just want to see if I can still run more than 13.1 miles. If I’m not feeling it after a certain point I’ll stop. Great job getting it done!

  2. Wow, was Phoenix really your last long run? Dang! I literally just realized that it has been a year since the run that was my last no pain run before my back injury. So the last long run I did was a year and change ago. 13 miles feels pretty darn long to me right now!

  3. I try to get four to five 20 milers in before every marathon and I will be honest, I never look forward to them! I love running but not for that long 😂 Congrats on yours!

  4. Have a 20 miler planned this weekend for the Philly Full- trying to remind myself to go slow- last year I did two 20 milers and theres no way I was doing that again this year!

  5. You sure don’t LOOK like you two just ran 20! I ran 14 not too long ago, and I’ll be ramping up my long runs again and probably have a 20 by January. 172 days to Boston! 🙂

  6. Last long run was pacing a friend for the second half of his marathon. I am choosing shorter events right now myself which is why I consider a half marathon a long run! 🙂

  7. My last long run was 16. It was last Sunday (Oct. 16). I did a 12 this Sunday though so I guess that’s pretty long too. I feel like the first long run of a distance you do in a training cycle is definitely the hardest. It looks like you had a good time on the 20 though, you finished smiling and you had company for it. I cannot imagine running all 20 miles completely alone but I know people who do.

  8. Wow, I love how you go through the thinking process. It is so true that the last 4-5 miles are the ones where you really have to lock in your thinking game. And I always think about what I’m going to eat when I get home. 😀

  9. I am currently in your “take 18 months and train for 5ks” phase. Well, 5ks to half marathons anyway. I think 16 miles will be my longest training run in training for a half, and I’m not sad about that. There is, however, something very “special” about a 20 miler. The feeling of accomplishment afterwards is huge! I will kind of miss that I suppose. It sounds like y’all had a good run! That 20 miler will probably make your shorter races seem even shorter! Only 3.1 miles, or only 13.1 miles! Haha.

  10. The last long run I did was this past Sunday! I hadn’t run 13.1 since May 29th and the farthest since then was 7 miles. I had signed up for this half marathon last May and my friend was doing so I thought “what the heck, I’ll see if I can run 13 miles.” Well, turns out I can run 13 miles verrrrryyyyy slowly. On top of that, I felt like I was going to hurl from mile 1. I was NOT racing – truly using it as a long run. But it was a long way to feel like I was going to throw up. It made me want to get back out there though for 13.1… I’m with you though – I entertained (past tense!) thoughts of a spring marathon. Now I’m just trying to regain my glory days of a half marathon RACE and not long run.

  11. I LOVED this post! Running 20+ miles is more mental than anything. I always had to break it up into smaller distances in my head like running 5 miles 4 times. Sounds muchhhh less intimidating.

  12. Yesss- these thoughts are all too real. I give you major props going out and running those 20 miles without actually having anything specific that you are training for! That’s some serious mental strength right there. The longest I’ve done are marathons.. but that’s because I’m slow so I just run really really far hahha.

  13. I have not yet (in 36 years) run 20 miles, but I’d like to try some day! I’m currently doing 5 milers with a walk break in the middle, but hope to get up to at least 15K distance before the end of next year. Fingers crossed! Glad you had such a great run and avoided turkey attacks….they know it’s fast approaching Thanksgiving and they get extra testy this time of year!

  14. I enjoy the marathon distance but right now, the thought of training for Boston doesn’t sound fun. I’m a bit where you are. I once ran 32 miles at the 2014 Chicago Marathon. I had a bib and was on the course coaching runners and at mile 20 kept going back and forth. I was one sore lady that day!

  15. 20 miles is hard!! I did the 30k distance at my most recent race (it was supposed to be a marathon) and I remember going into it feeling mentally like I was gonna have a good time now that I wasn’t doing the marathon distance. What can I say…I was wrong!

  16. It’s funny- during marathon training I didn’t mind the 17-20s too much but as soon as the marathon ended, just 6 miles feels so far!! It’s funny how our mindset can shift so quickly. 20 miles is never easy!!

  17. “I don’t want even to think about running when pregnant…I probably won’t. I will stop every half mile.” LOL! I love this. The ONLY time this really affects me is when I’m on the treadmill. I did an easy 3 miles on the treadmill at lunch today and had to stop halfway through and RUN to the bathroom…but when I’m out doing a longer run, like 6 or 7, I’m USUALLY ok for the whole time. It’s so weird. I’m almost 34 weeks pregnant. 😉 Have a great weekend!

  18. last long run was 20 miles on Sunday…running a marathon that same weekend but not Philly! amazing job grinding out those miles when you’ve been training at the shorter distances

  19. But of course you didn’t enjoy it because you hadn’t been training for those longer miles! 20 miles is a really long way to run without going out and building up to it slowly. When I first start marathon training, 10 miles feels really hard and a really long way. Now – with a marathon tomorrow – it’s just my weekly run to work. 15 miles feels like a short distance. 20 miles is a great chance to explore places I never normally get to and have a real good few hours entirely for me. I love those long runs!

  20. I want to say my last long run was 15 miles. I went into my half shortly thereafter and rocked it. The. I pretty much stopped running. Between injury and anxiety, I just didn’t have it in meto run regularly. So I’ve started up again now and I’m working on a streak to get myself training again. I can’t wait to get to 20! Or even 13.1 again!

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