The number 20 has a lot of positive connotations in my book.
It’s the perfect sized bill to stash in your pocket for a long-run emergency. It’s the age after which it’s no longer appropriate to wake up spooning a jar of peanut butter. It’s the number of questions it takes to guess which item your friend is picturing that’s larger than a breadbox.
It’s the birthday at which we threw the best darn party a November baby and her friends could ask for.
From the maximum field of the Kentucky Derby to the international calling code for Egypt (thank you, Internet), “20” as a figure is good for a whole lot of things.
What it’s not good for, I’ve decided, is weeks’ worth of marathon training.
Let me put it a different way. Begin training for a 26.2 mile race FIVE MONTHS before you’ll actually toe the starting line, and you’ll maybe start to go a little bit crazy. Jack Torrance crazy. You know: All run and no play makes Anne chase you around a snowy hedge maze with an axe. The usual.
When I first committed myself to this 20-week running schedule, it didn’t seem so unbearable. By stretching the length of training from the more tradition 16 or 18 week plans to a full 20, I would be able to squeeze in more races, more pull-back weeks, more two-a-days and more overall training. It sounded like the perfect plan.
And it was, at least at first. But once the sun started to rise later and I found myself running 6 days a week in the pitch black cold, I started to itch for the finish line. Fast forward to this week, when dozens of well-meaning friends have reached out to wish me luck in the NYC marathon on Sunday – which I’m not running – and it’s like salt in the wound. My race, which I started training for in early freaking July, is still nearly four weeks away.
Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised that I’m all of a sudden feeling sick and tired of this dammed training cycle. This, my friends, is my peak week – or the week in which I run my longest long training run all season long. Tomorrow, I’m waking up early to log my last serious bout of athleticism until I arrive in Philly. And it’s only appropriate that the number of miles on my schedule is none other than our man of the hour: 20.
And while I’m positively dreading tomorrow’s long run, at least I can take comfort in the fact that when it’s over, I get to put these last 17 weeks behind me and spend my final 3 weeks doing something I do extraordinarily well: tapering.
The end is in sight, folks. Let the carbo loading begin.