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Sep 15, 2013

What's in a 20 miler?

For those of us that run marathons, you know what's in a 20 miler.  Yes, it's likely different for each of us but it's always fulfilling regardless of how good or how bad you feel when you finish.

To me, it's all about the journey.  Sure, I like to go fast but I usually reserve that for my races.  Just like in a marathon, it's a great way for you to see the city you live in.  I think most people that don't run really miss out on a lot of stuff in the community.  We, as runners, get a great perspective of things in the city.  Sometime it's a great trail, other times it's a Metropark and unfortunately, at times, it's just the neighborhood in the dark.  Regardless, they all give you a unique perspective of your surrounding area.

Yesterday, my running buddy Kevin and I went for a 20 mile run.  For the most part we ran on the Paint Creek Trail - an incredible resource in the Northern suburbs of Detroit and in our backyard.  It's a great run but you also need variety in your long run(at least I do).

I went back to take a look at my 20 mile runs and where they were.  In my running experience, I've run a total of 14 runs over 20 miles including the four marathons.  That's 10 training runs of at least 20 miles.  Here's what I found out:

  • My first 20 miler was April 24, 2011
  • I did two 20's for my first marathon, Bayshore Marathon
  • I did three 20's for my second marathon, Detroit Marathon
  • I did one 20 for my third marathon, Flying Pig Marathon(but thought I did two?)
  • I did two 20's for my fourth marathon, Grand Rapids Marathon
  • I've run two 20's for the current training program for Indy(and have 2 left).
  • My times have been from 3:00:29(20.01 miles) to 3:32:59(20.72 miles)
I've also run the 20 miles on various places including Macomb Orchard Trail, Paint Creek Trail(6 times), Stony Creek Metropark, a run around Otsego Lake in Gaylord, and a run along Mullett Lake in Indian River.  Both Paint Creek Trail and Mullett Lake was on trails so the theme is that when I'm running 20 miles, it's mostly on trails(7 of 10 runs on trails).  For me, it's much less stress on your body plus you rarely need to worry about cars.

Here's a few pictures from today's 20 miler.  We started at the duck pond in Rochester at around 7am with temperatures in the 40's.  The nice thing about running early is you get to see the sun coming up over the steamy water.  The Paint Creed trail starts right here.
Rochester Municipal Park aka Duck Pond - Rochester, MI
Maybe a few miles into our run and we saw a hot air balloon.  We don't see them that often around here so it was a nice surprise to our run.
Hot air balloon
About 8 miles into the run, there's a really nice pond which is close to Lake Orion or the end of the trail.  If you are a runner/biker in the area, you know exactly where this is.
A cool pond
For this 20 miler, we decided to run a little into Lake Orion instead of stopping at the trail but it was getting fairly busy by the time we got there.  We did get to see this cool drain coming from Lake Orion into the river which I had not seen before.

After that it was a quick loop through downtown Lake Orion and we headed back to Rochester.  I didn't end up taking any more pictures until I got back into Rochester where we passed the park and kept running to get our additional two miles in.  There's a nice overpass that the city dressed up near the river by Rochester road.  There's even a fountain built into the wall below.

Then as we came back the same way, you can see the flowers the City has along the bridge.  It's really very nice for a run and I have not seen this since it was all built out.  We also caught up with Janet from Miles Fly By and ran with her a couple miles and chatted.  We also saw Matt, her husband from Faster Than a Turtle, earlier who was flying by us on the trail getting ready for his next half marathon.  Both Janet and Matt are running the Romeo to Richmond Half the next day.
Janet near our finish at about 19.5 miles
Finally we made it back to the park to complete our 20 miles.  Another 20 miler was in the books.
Guess why they call it the duck pond?
It was a perfect day for running and a long run.  I love the weather this time of year in Michigan when it gets cooler.  We ended with temps in the high 50's.  What more could you ask for?

 Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!


  1. I used to ice skate on lake Orion back in the late 80s. Brings back memories. Nice post!

  2. Exactly as a runner you see things you never would have seen driving or even biking. It is an awesome way to take in your surroundings! Nice run. Beautiful pictures!

  3. I love the long runs. Nothing better than enjoying the sites during long training runs.

  4. I don't know when last I ran a training run of 20 miles, but I run in KM and 32km is a long way, so I stop at 30...

    1. Well I'm beginning to think 18(30km) is long enough but also keep in mind you are running much, much tougher terrain too.

  5. Thanks for letting me join you guys for a few miles. You're very right about seeing things on runs that you probably wouldn't see otherwise. One of the many things to love about running! Nice job on your 20 and on your solid week of training in general.

  6. I love 20 milers and on the road it is one of my favorite distances.Just enough for a good test but it's done just before the hurting starts.