The 20.1 miler turned 19.1 miler turned 20.25 miler

Pre-Dawn was still just thought as I scurried out of the door Saturday Morning, already behind in my attempt to break past the 20 mile mark for the year. Actually, it would be my first run in excessive of 20 miles since March 26th, 2006 when I ran the Knoxville Marathon, almost 18 months ago. I was relying on a strong finish from my Big South Fork Trail Run from the end of September to carry me through the rigors of a 20 mile run. The Big South Fork Trail run covers 17.5 mile and I had run strong for over 3/4 of the race, the faster pace and rough terrain surely increased my stamina for a 20 mile course on a gentler, less hostile footing surface.

I started my watch at 6:46, being at the Western End of the Eastern Time Zone (it’s about 45 miles away), it’s still pretty dark at this time, when dawn has awoken in places of Knoxville. Venus (I think) was extremely bright and I briefly thought that gazing at the planetary object would be much more enlightening than this run. But there was work to be done and I only had a couple hour window to do it.

I had chartered a new course for the run in my town. Just outside of our Town is a historical district called Concord. Sitting adjacent to the river and bumped up to the railroad, Concord has been around for a while. Perhaps the first settlement in this locale until urban sprawl overtook the area. I was anxious to run through the area, even though I know nothing of the history of the area. Perhaps, there is a wiki about Concord somewhere on the web that will tell me something about what went on in this neck of the woods.

My new fashion route took me through the 4 by 5 block Concord area, weaving though the outside blocks down to the railroad and then out over the bridge towards Concord Park. I would be return a few miles later to run through the middle of Concord. This was all new to me. To get to Concord before the construction of (guess) Concord Road would have been 3/4 of a mile of no shoulder, ditch running in high grass. Now that the new extension was completely, the dangerous part of Concord Road was reduced to about 200 feet, something much more manageable. Add to that running at 7am on Saturday morning and all you have to worry about is the vehicles towing a boat heading to the boat ramp, and since I was running toward the river that wasn’t a problem.

It’s always helpful to know your course. In a popular running podcast I talked about my debacle when I started a race when I shouldn’t have and didn’t know the course like I should have to know that something was wrong. I ended up running 8 extra miles that day and at one point had gone off course and chased by a pack of rabid chihuahuas. At least they appeared that way. I knew basically what the course would entail, get on Loop Road, make a right, then make a left somewhere, about the 2 mile split, then make a right. Well, I ended up running about 0.15 out of the way, because I missed a turn. It was about pre-dawn light right now and I couldn’t make the street sign. I ended up going down a rural road that just didn’t seem right. I committed to turn back and took the next turn I could find. Thankfully, it was the right one.

Making my way down by the train tracks, there was a train running full speed in the opposite direction. My physics brain went into action thinking that the speed it was going and the mass of the train, there was a lot of momentum to stop were it to hop off the track. I wouldn’t win that battle. I pressed on.

I made Mile 4 an off road mile. BY sheer luck, the course found it’s way to the trailhead of Concord Park and for a little change of scenery, the (close to) 1 mile circular loop was a refreshing break, even though the footing was much more difficult. A very weird phenomenon happened while running in the park, I kept imagining headlights behind me. The sun was still low in the sky, but it was definitely day light. Being shrouded by the still primarily green trees, it was a little darker on the trail. At certain angles, the light would dance off the lake water, and the golden shine would carpet the ground before, giving the appearance that a car was right behind me, flashing it’s brights so that I would get out of the way. Of the three times this happened, I looked over my shoulder twice, just to make sure that no one was behind me. Sure enough, there was no one, no car, no other runner, I was alone.

Around mile 8, I was out of the Concord Area and heading to the main part of town. I regretted no stopping in a more private area as my body was ready to remove some extra weight whether I was ready or not. It didn’t care that I still wanted to run 12 more miles or that there was no real place to “do my business” especially now that the roads were 100 time busier. Then up ahead, was my answer, it was just like a real race.

My running path was right next to some development. In fact, the map I drew based on Google Images still had this area, the lone area of a horse farm. Not a new extension road, with acres of land being prepared for commercial development. Out in the distance, I saw the lone port-a-potty. Ah, at least I would have some privacy.

Probably the smartest thing that I did when constructing this 20 mile route, was to fashion the course around a gas station. The intent was to have a place to stop for drinks and eats, if I needed it. Oh, I so needed it. I stopped to purchase a Power Bar (I had forgotten my energy gels), water and an impulse buy at the counter, a banana. I took the time to side down and eat the banana. I was already 10 miles into the run with no food and only some Powerade for extra calories. That was the best tasting banana I ever had.

As I was heading out for Mile 11, a small puntable dog came running at me gnashing it’s sharp point teeth and barking up a storm. When I could tell that all it wanted to do was inflate it’s ego, since it and to the back of me instead of trying to cut me off, I started messing with it. In the 50-100 feet that it was actually behind me, I purposely slower down to tease it to think that it could perhaps take a bite of my heel. My plan was to squirt it with water if it really tried to bite me or go for the 25 yard pooch punt were it to make contact with me. The owner came out and called the dog back in, nobody hurt and the yappy dog can nap well that he chased the Big Bad Intruder off his property.

Just before Mile 13, I cut across the street so that I could be on the right side for my course. There was a guy pushing some stroller and walking 2 dogs. Now, I was across the street and the dogs were barking at me. The road was 3 lanes wide and the guy is having to calm his dogs down. Somehow that other dog must have told these mutts about me and they had a vendetta against me.

I came to a point near the 13.75 mile marker that I had to stop and decide which way to go. Since I didn’t have the map with me, I was going on my sometimes faulty memory. I knew that I had to stay on Monticello, but now I was confused. Both Directions were Monticello and it didn’t help that I knew I had to turn left onto a Monticello. Was it this Monticello or the one up ahead. Making a decision, and I looked it up later and it was the right one, to turn left here and go around. Thankfully, I had ran this neighborhood a number of times during previous marathon trainings, so even though it had been more than 18 months, I had some inkling of the layout.

Now what happens next is preventable, but I was too lazy to figure it out ahead of time, creating a temporary panic situation. As I mentioned before, the course I made was a new one, I incorporated the historical Concord area, but I did use some familiar routes and greenways in the Farragut area. When I was making the map, I didn’t map out the mile from my house to the entrance, I had done that 1000s of times. And when drawing the map, I didn’t map the 3 miles from the Old Colony Neighborhood waypoint to my house. 15.1 Miles to the Old Colony waypoint + the 2 miles in the subdivision (From my House and To my house) + 3 miles (from the Old Colony waypoint to my House)… 20.1 total miles. Except for the fact that I had double-dipped on the mileage in my subdivision and it was counting one of those miles TWICE.

Just before the Old Colony waypoint and going over the math over and over in my head, I realized my mistake. Instead of running 20.1 miles for the day, I was only going to be able to run 19.1 miles. I was pissed. I was so pissed at myself I couldn’t even use swear words at myself. How could I have made this kind of mistake? It was because I was lazy. Had I mapped out the route from point-to-point and not Frankenstein something together, I wouldn’t have made that position. You’ll see what happens when you are 16 miles into a run and your ticked off because now you have to tack on an extra mile down at the split times. Truly amazing.

So now the last 3 miles are to my subdivision and it’s mid morning. Yard Sale traffic has increased, in an effort NOT to litter, I am carrying an empty 24oz water bottle, an empty 32oz Powerade bottle and my MP3 player which no only lost it’s battery charge at mile 5 but that I lost the battery cover it somewhere on my course.

I am fortunate to have a treadmill at the house. Seeing that I was having to take over watching the kids when I got home, I figured that I could pound out a mile on the old hamster wheel. But I still had to manage the hills in my neighborhood. I had ditched a half liter bottle of water at the entrance to my subdivision. Of course, this meant that I had to carry this too for the next mile.

I got to the house only to find that it was vacant, Cris had not gotten back with the kids. So off with the CamelBak, down the stairs and too the treadmill. I set the pace for 9:45 and the elevation for 2 and I was off! The treadmill is hard enough to run when you are fresh, but try to run after you just finished 19 out in the open air… it was so incredibly mind numbing. It was like a running lobotomy… right foot left foot, right foot left foot.

After 9 minutes and about 50 seconds (accounting for the start up time), I was done with my run. I was curious to see my split times and see how sore I would be in the next few days. I seemed to feel fine, but you never know with the longer distances. I would say that I broke the 10% rule on long distances runs, but somehow 20.25 miles and 13.1 with 2 kids in a double stroller seem to work out to be within 10%.

Split Times
Mile 1 9:33
Mile 2 9:57
Mile 3.15 10:55 (9:30 avg pace)
Mile 4 10:37
Mile 5 11:43
Mile 6 9:49
Miles 7, 8, and 9 31:48 (10:36 avg pace)
Mile 10 9:26
Mile 11 9:49
Mile 12 10:00
Mile 13 9:59
Mile 14 10:02
Miles 15 and 16.1 20:28 (9:45 avg pace)
Mile 17 8:59
Mile 18 8:54
Mile 19 10:22 (in my subdivision, read: “Hills Galore!”
Mile 20 9:45 (Treadmill)

So, now that I have talked about the run, I get to talk about what I think about the run. (I’ll fix grammar and spelling later, must catch bus)

About planet3rry

I'm a husband, father and runner in the Knoxville area. I love the way that running makes me feel and how it has changed my thinking. I am always looking for the new PR whether in the 5k or the marathon