Saturday, September 29, 2012

Week 18- Twelve Miles

Today's run was a short one.  Compared to last week's 16 miles, today should not have been any problem, and it really wasn't.  It was, however, an educational run.  Allow me to set the story.

After last week's 16 mile run went so well, I wasn't too worried about this one.  In fact, after receiving word that many of my running buddies would not be there for various reasons and that one of my buddies was even dropping back to the half, I was tempted to skip.  I wanted the sleep, and the past few days had been particularly stressful.  Because I wasn't too worried about things, I didn't stress so much over what I had for dinner on Friday.  While BBQ and mashed potatoes had been planned, somehow I ended up with just a slice of cake.  I was aware this might not be the best thing, but oh well!

When I woke up this morning, I was hungry.  I mean, I was really, really hungry.  I was nauseatingly hungry.  Luckily my pre-run fuel plan is pretty easy to grab and go, so I scarfed my breakfast down as well as a mini bagel, and I headed out to meet my team.

My Wednesday running buddies were there, and since I didn't have my usual Saturday buddies, I figured I'd run with them.  Recently, my long runs have been in the 11:00-12:00 minute/mile range.  This is slower than what I'd like to go, but it does allow me to go longer runs.  My half marathon pace was 10:52 min/mile.  My last Wednesday run (with these same people) was 11:07 min/mile.  The first thing I noticed was how fast we were going.  Our average pace in the end was 10:37 min/mile.  The next thing I noticed was how much shorter our SAG stops were.  Instead of taking long breaks to really stretch out, have a cup or two of Gatorade, and nibble on some pretzels or gummy bears, our stops were usually quite quick, with us grabbing a drink, and a handful of pretzels and eating them on the run.

My thought through most of the run was: I wish my other buddies were here.  No offense to the girls I ran with today.  They were great.  However, I was much more tired.  The run was much harder.  I thought I would spend most of this blog ranting about how much I hated my usual buddies not being there and how important it was to keep some sort of routine.  These things are true, but there's another truth too.

I loved it.  I loved running at a faster pace (although I'm uncertain I could sustain that for an additional 14 miles).  I loved finishing at an earlier time.  I loved how I felt about myself when I was done.  I loved discovering that I haven't lost the pace I started with.  Not only that, but running at a faster pace was somewhat more enjoyable for me.  In fact, at the very end, I got into such a groove that my pace increased, and I ran ahead of the girls I was running with. 

Now, I'm not saying I'll run like this every time.  I do enjoy my longer SAG stops.  I enjoy running with my usual buddies.  Oh, and I really enjoy proper fueling prior to a run.  Heck, I don't even know that I could keep up that pace for longer mileage.  However, I do know I may just push myself a little more.  I know that my body is capable of so much more than it's gotten credit for.  My run today was hard, but not impossible.  While I may not push so hard on every run, I enjoyed learning what my body could do.  I can't wait for it to show me what else it can do!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

MTT Week 17- Sixteen Miles...

...and a bit of a recap of the past few weeks.

Hello all!  I know I never blogged about MTT week 16, and I'm sorry.  I've just been so very, very tired (more on that in a moment).  The truth is that week 16 was amazing simply because it was such a non-event.  Let me explain.

Week 16 was a 10 mile run.  My thought process was, "Ten miles?  That's nothing!"  I still can't believe I thought that.  As we set out on the run, one of my running buddies wasn't there and the other wasn't feeling so well.  She ended up walking after about 5 miles, and I went on ahead.  My pace was a little faster than usual because it was cool, and I felt fantastic.  When I was done, I felt great.  I wasn't really sore, I was a little tired, but nothing too bad, and I was happy.  Running ten miles was actually easy.  What an amazing feeling!

This past week, however, has been anything but easy.  Monday night I started feeling kind of icky.  Tuesday morning, storms were setting in, so I decided to hit the gym and swim instead of running 3 miles.  By Tuesday afternoon, I felt miserable.  My nose was runny, my head hurt, and I just wanted to lie down.  I went to bed early that night and hoped I'd feel better the next day.

Wednesday, I was still a bit sniffly, but I felt OK, so I went out for an 8 mile run (again, no big deal!).  I felt great at first, but within an hour after the run I wanted nothing more than to go back to bed.  The rest of the day I felt miserable, and I even took some cold meds that night (side note: I hate taking medicine.  I don't feel like it helps me get over anything faster and coming off the meds feels worse than if I just suffered through the sickness.  I'm all about hot tea, rest, and soup.)  Thursday was by far the worst day.  My eyes were watery, I couldn't stop sneezing, and I'm pretty sure I had a few mild temperature spikes.  That said, my whole thought was that I needed to be better by Saturday, so I could run 16 miles with the group.  Fifteen miles was excruciating.  I did not have any inclination to do 16 miles on my own.

Yesterday, I felt a little better, and I improved even more after a bit of a nap under my desk during lunch.  When I woke up this morning, the first thing I thought was, "Can I do it?"  My nose was still runny, but not too bad.  I felt a little congested, but nothing terrible.  I was unbelievably tired, but I figured I'd be OK.  I put a few tissues in my fuel belt, put some fuel gels and a snack bar in a treat pouch (by the way, a dog treat pouch attached to a running fuel belt is genius!), and headed out the door.  Off to meet the group I went! 

I can't say the run was easy.  There were numerous hills, the sun was bright, and I was tired..  Having to blow my nose every mile didn't help either.  That said, there were also a nice breeze, and the views were stunning.  Oh how I wish I'd had a camera!  On top of that, I had a better fueling plan.

While the run was in no way easy, it was 1000 times easier than the 15 miler.  At the end, I even found myself cheering and encouraging my running buddy.  Of course, those cheers were kind of cheers for me too.  I did take another ice bath (frigid), and I'm relaxing a little bit, but I feel much better than I did two weeks ago. 

Can you believe it?  In another 10.2 miles, I'll be a marathoner!  I'm over half way there!!!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

MTT Week 15- Fifteen Miles

Hey, guess what.  I have a secret.  Running is HARD!  OK, so maybe this isn't so much of a secret as common knowledge, but I thought it would be good for people to know. 

Today I ran 15 miles!  This is 1.9 miles farther than my farthest run ever, and boy did I feel those extra 1.9 miles.  The run started pretty normal.  I was back with the training team and with my running buddies.  I was back in my old shoes since my new ones aren't quite broken in yet.  I was well-rested, well-fueled, and ready to go.  Off we went!

Things were fairly easy for a while.  We chatted and laughed, I listened to one of my running buddies tell stories about her work I talked about how things are at the kennel (busy!).  I hit my groove fairly quickly, and I was relaxed and happy.

Around mile 10 I started to feel tired.  OK, so I was tired before mile 10, but it wasn't until mile 10 that I started wondering how long it would take before the run was over.  No big deal.  It was hot, I was tired, and I'd just run 10 miles.  I was two-thirds of the way there, and I knew I had more fuel in me.

At mile 12 I really, really, really wanted to be done.  I actually felt this way during the half marathon too, but it wasn't as bad, and I was only 1.1 miles from the end.  Today was much warmer than at the half, my buddies and I had stopped to use a bathroom, and I was tired.  At this point, though, I was four-fifths of the way done.  I knew I could do it.

The last three miles were excruciating.  My legs hurt, my feet hurt, my fingers hurt, my hair hurt.  One of my buddies had stopped to walk, and I kept praying the other one would, so I would have an excuse to walk too (my competitive nature would not allow me to walk when she was still running).  I prayed for a red light, so I would have to stop for traffic.  I prayed for the God to send a freak thunderstorm so I'd have to seek cover.  I just wanted this run to be done. 

The last mile was the longest mile I've ever run.  I can't really call what I did running.  It was more like a shuffle / hobble combo.  My running buddy and I continued this until we reached our finish.  OH WHAT A GLORIOUS SIGHT! 

Upon finishing, I would have happily chopped my legs off.  I was in pain, and my legs were the source.  I had to do something, so I took my shoes off, and a giant blister was revealed.  Although not the source of the pain, I wasn't too pleased to see it.  I hobbled across the parking lot and flopped into my car.  Oh to sit!  This is why chairs were invented!

When I got home, I drank a nice, cool glass of chocolate milk (so refreshing!) and then I did my next brave thing for the day.  I grabbed a 10 pound bag of ice, filled my bath tub with cool water, climbed in, and dumped the ice in.  Yep, I took my first ice bath.  For all those wondering, yes it's cold.  After the 15 miles I just ran, though, it felt quite nice.  I can see me doing that again.

So, here's the verdict.  I just ran 15 miles!  I so very pleased.  As hard as what it was, and as much as I wasn't sure that I'd be able to finish, I did finish.  Not only that, because I pushed through and finished 15, I know that I'll be able to do 16, 17, 18, and more.  I only have to run another 11.2 miles before I've completed a marathon, and I have the confidence I'll be able to do it.  Here's to two more months of training!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

MTT Week 14- Ten Miles

This week was a downshift from last week's half marathon, and a preparation for next week.  Due to the holiday, there was no group run, but a SAG was available if one chose to use it.  In addition, a few routes were laid out, so people could run through the city, hit the mileage targets, and not get lost.  Last week, I made tentative plans to run with one of my running buddies.  Well, all that went to hell in a hand basket!

With as busy as what this week has been, I did not get a chance to look at the routes laid out, but I figured my running buddy and I would discuss it.  I texted her yesterday, and apparently her plans had changed, so I was on my own this week.  No big deal.  I've really enjoyed my buddies, but I've missed the long, contemplative runs on my own.  I decided to ignore the resources that were available to me and instead plan my route as I went and end up at the kennel.  It was only 10 miles.  It should have been fine.

First, it's amazing how, after running with other people for a short time, it's so difficult to motivate yourself on your own.  I had to set my own pace instead of letting my competitive side take over.  I had to think through my thoughts and try to convince myself to not stop when I wanted to.  I had convince myself to not call a cab (luckily I didn't have my phone or any cash).  Really, not having a buddy was not the worst thing in the world, but it definitely made things harder.

Second, weather was not really on my side today.  There was plenty of cloud coverage, but things were just hot and sticky.  I was probably slightly dehydrated going in too (good for cool weather, not-so-great for hot weather), so that didn't help things.  I had the hardest time staying hydrated, and I just wanted something cool and wet, and the Gatorade in my fuel belt wasn't cutting it since I'd only just filled the bottles this morning and they were room-temperature. 

Third, I'm one of those people who often doesn't listen to good advice.  I bought new running shoes last week.  I should be wearing them for short runs only right now.  I should be giving my body time to adjust to them, especially since they're EXTREMELY different from my last shoes.  However, with all my previous shoe experiences, I wasn't running long distances, so my transitions were fairly easy.  Instead of doing as instructed, I decided that, having worn my shoes for the past two runs, I'd be ready to wear them for my 10 miler.  BIG MISTAKE.  Admittedly, the run started off much better than the last two runs did.  And, admittedly, the pains I'd been feeling from my old shoes (sore hips, tight back) were much better in the new shoes.  However, my legs have obviously not adjusted to these shoes.  I couldn't find a good stride, I felt like I was wearing lead on my feet, and I just wanted to turn around and go home.

Needless to say, this was not one of my best runs.  At one point I actually thought, "I hope an ambulance doesn't drive by, because I'll be mortified if they stop to see if I need assistance." 

The route I made up wasn't bad, but I ended up shortening it just because I wanted to be done.  I ended up running about 8.6 miles...close, but no cigar.  However, I will have to keep that route in mind for the future.

By the time I reached the kennel, where my run ended, I had slowed to a walk.  I just couldn't run anymore.  I'd taken my fuel belt off, because it was too hot around my waist and I needed to cool off.  I walked into the kennel, drank a bottle of water, and sat on the floor.  Eventually, I got up, drove home, and showered, only to come back to the kennel to work.  I'm tired now, but luckily Saturdays are shorter days!

So, for various reasons, this was not my best run.  I'm going to do a few things to change this in the future, though.  First, I'm going to take time to break in my running shoes!  I should not assume I know better than the experts.  Second, I'm going to focus on hydrating better.  I'm not necessarily dehydrated, but I often forget the effects of a hot sun and physical exertion.  Third, I'm going to try to get a few shorter runs in by myself.  I cannot and should not stop running merely because I have no one to run with.  That's one of the reasons I love running!  I love the alone time!  I just need to remember how to self-motivate, and  few shorter, speed-focused runs may be just what the doctor order.

Next week is a long run, so we'll see how things go from there!