Week 15: It takes a village to run 20 miles

Week 15 is Peak Week of marathon training. Honestly, the novelty of running for hours on end is wearing out. Of course, there’s a lot to love about this stage. I feel fit and strong. Running 6 or 8 miles is a delightful jaunt. I can eat enormous quantities of carbs with complete moral authority. My head is clear, and I sleep like a baby.

On the other hand, everything is starting to hurt a little, most of the time. My toenails are in mortal danger, and lacing up my running shoes is accompanied by a creeping sense of dread.

The hardest thing about this stage is that it requires many hours away from my family. Week 15 called for 37 miles. We were on vacation, and I spent much of the time either running, preparing to run, or recovering from running. Sam, as always, was a hero. He served as a single parent when needed and allowed the kids to enjoy a wonderful vacation in spite of my frequent absences.

All week, Saturday loomed large, since it was the day for my 20 miler. Everyone knew I was dreading it. 20 miles means 2 full laps of Spring Island (including some detours), taking well over 4 hours at a training pace. I was braced for a long, lonely day, but my family wasn’t going to let that happen.

At mile 9, my brother-in-law, Renaat, was waiting with a golf cart filled with all the kids, cheering for all they were worth. Shortly afterwards, my sister, Susanna, met me on a bike and caught my delighted reaction to seeing her.

  Mere running in SI

Susanna’s job was to escort me to the half-way point, where the kids, Sam, Renaat and my Dad were waiting. The kids gave me hugs and high fives before running alongside me for about a hundred yards. I’ve never enjoyed a set of running companions more.Running fan club cropped

The second half of the run was undeniably tough, but Susanna came through again by meeting me at mile 17 to get me through the last, brutal 3 miles. At that point, I was basically shuffling, but she kept my spirits up and my mind distracted by a constant stream of chatter.

Mere and Sue after 20 miler

I knew that I could count of my family’s support in the race itself, but how many people are lucky enough to have a cheering section during their training runs?

Additionally, the Team Merrie Miles virtual cheering section made their voices heard this week. Our fundraising total is now $23,770, thanks to 115 incredibly generous donors. Watt and I are overwhelmed by the support we’ve received, which is an amazing tribute to Mom and a huge boost to us when we most needed it.

Happily, the toughest part of training is now in the rear-view mirror. Bring on the taper!

If you’d like to keep tabs on our progress, check out our fundraising page

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