I’m 46 years old, training for my 12th marathon, the 2010 Boston Marathon, to be held on April 19,  following a 16-week training schedule. Since I spend a lot of time nursing my back, hip and foot aches and pains, I’m not sure how many more  of these races I have left in me. But, I’ll give it my best shot, and if I qualify for Boston again, I’m sure I’ll trudge through another cold winter. Follow me as I put one foot in front of the other. Some of you may recognize this blog title from an Oscar nominated movie.

Others, like myself, may use the term to describe their 20-mile training runs. Well, at least that’s what my “leisurely jaunt” on Friday felt like from miles 10-14. Only I could add, “With a Gust” to my training run title. I took off late Friday afternoon so I could get my first (of three) 20-miler run on the books and enjoy my weekend. Even though a storm was blowing in and the trees were swaying back and forth (a bad sign, by the way), I knew Saturday was predicted to have rain and I didn’t want to postpone the inevitable until Sunday. Not to mention, I had a massage appointment scheduled for Saturday morning, and I wanted to feel as if I’d earned my pleasure. Off I went — I started out running a good 8 miles with the wind at my back. Doesn’t everyone feel like an Olympian with a strong tailwind pushing them along their course? Plus, I got to run most of the first segment of the run with Jodi, and our conversation helped steamroll me ahead. Bear in mind, however, that after 7 miles, I looked down at my watch and exclaimed, “Oh my gosh. I have only run 7 miles and I feel like I’ve been out here all afternoon. I still have 13 more miles to go.” (Jodi offered, by the way, to pick me up in the adjacent town over if I wanted to run the entire 20 with the tailwind. I politely declined because I would have felt like a wimp). Time for the hills

After I left Jodi, around mile 8, I started heading East and towards the hills.

I find that it’s important to integrate hills in my training. I think it’s a mental thing, but I’d like to help the torture helps me on race day. Plus, I like variety in terrain. Since the Heartbreak Hills in the Boston Marathon start around mile 16, almost 2/3 of the way through the run, I try to mimic the race terrain as best I can when I train. So I turned up this road where one finds the trail head of one of our favorites, called Big Bertha. (It’s deceiving because the hill has a blind top. This one’ll kill you!)

Today,  however, I passed on Big Bertha and stayed on the street. Looking up the road, it didn’t seem too bad. I thought to myself, “How hard can it be?” (Did I mention the head wind?)

The paved road turned into a dirt road and continued to climb up.

Should I mention the wind again? Gusts of up to 40 mph were hitting me in the face when I was running up. The bad news is that the wind was so loud, I didn’t hear the car than almost ran over me when I was running around this curb.

At one point, I stopped and walked, got some water, and psyched myself up (excuse the pun).

It was nice to see some horses. After all, a girl can get lonely on a 20 mile run.

At last I got to pavement. “Ah,” I thought to myself, “I must be near the top.” Then I saw that road sign with a twisting arrow pointing…..you guessed it….up. Even though the last part of the climb was brutal, I knew I was at the pinnacle. I was back in familiar running territory. I love the view of going down (even if the wind was still blowing me around). Until you get to the bottom and see another torturous climb – up! Once I re-entered civilization and ran back down into the city, I knew I was home free. The almost the end — I was at mile 17 , my legs ached and I was tired, but I knew I could knock out 3 more and be sitting in my living room with a beer in my hand soon. (And I FINALLY got to turn away from the head wind). I find that turning the music really loud for the last 2 miles and singing out loud helps to drown out the pain. Of course passersby probably think I’m nuts; but hell, they’re already been to happy hour and mine is about to start. And it’s not just going to be happy hour. It’s going to be happy weekend, because my first 20 mile training run is complete.

How did others fare on their long runs? Check out their advice, habits and experiences: Here’s a mother-of-three’s take on running 20 – a LOT faster than I’ll even think about running. Dena mutters to herself when running twenty miles solo (and while thinking of a new title for a book on running marathons).

Melinda Hinson