Sunday, July 26, 2009
This week I got back on track with the training schedule. Tuesday’s run, just 3.1 miles, felt much longer. I started out right after work and had hoped to set a PR for a training run. Instead, it turned out to be one of my longest—about 31 minutes and some change. I was hurting more than usual—hips, thighs, and ankles. After the run, I spent a good deal of time stretching. For a short while after the stretches, I felt great. But by the time I got home 30 minutes later, everything was hurting again. I got some dinner, grabbed a bag of ice, and spent most of the evening moving the ice from point to point. I should have just sat in an ice bath.
On Wednesday, I did some strength training at the gym for 45 minutes, then headed to the chiropractor.
Thursday I took an extra day of rest. I have been icing my aching legs twice a day and popping aspirin. And taking stretch breaks throughout the day. The stretching does help, if only for a few hours.
Friday morning I walked 43 minutes before going to work to make up for Thursday. Ice packs again at work. After work, I ran 3 one-mile repeats. Between the milers, I walked 1 ¾ laps and stretched. I was pleased with my times: 9:13, 9:09 and 9:23. If only I could run that fast out on the road. I had to take a bathroom break between miles 2 and 3 and discovered I had my shorts on inside out. Maybe that’s the trick for a faster pace.
Saturday was my rest day—at least from exercise. But there was plenty of work to do to prepare for our vacation. I surveyed the fridge to determine what we would be eating for the next couple of days so that nothing perishable would be left. I warned DH that we were probably going to have some strange meal combinations. He said he was game. Then I made my packing list: clothes, toiletries, food, bikes and gear, books, books on CD/tapes, games, ice chest, electronics and chargers. Why can’t there be a uniform design for chargers? And a list of do’s and don’ts for the house/dog sitter. And a list of things that have to be done before we leave: stop the mail, pick produce from the garden and distribute to neighbors, stop at the bank, pay some bills, buy some groceries, and on and on. There is always a list of last minute projects that make the time leading up to vacation hectic.
I love that feeling when V-day is here and we get into the car and start driving down the road and let out a collective sigh that vacation has officially begun. We both feel lighter at that very moment. I’ve noticed that we’re more talkative and the conversation is lighter, too. Gone are the conversations about our frustrations at work or the troubled economy or national issues or talks about how or when we’re going to sink some more money into the house to fix the driveway or the roof or the deck. It’s only happy talk when we’re on vacation.
Saturday’s run was in new territory—14 miles. The longest run so far had been 13.1 back in March. Knowing that I was about to cross another benchmark was both exciting and scary. This was going to be more a mental challenge than a physical one. So to make sure I wouldn’t have any excuses, I got all my gear ready to go Saturday evening. Filled the Camelbak bladder with Gatorade—2 cups regular, 2 cups low cal, and 1 cup water—then put in the fridge. Filled an extra water bottle half full and placed it in the freezer. Laid out my clothes and packed the ShotBloks, a ClifBar, and a ball cap in my gym bag. Everything was ready to go. DH was getting up early to go into the office and I told him if I didn’t jump out of bed with him, to please kick my sorry a*#@ out of bed. I wanted to run first thing before it got hot.
I got up about 5:30 a.m., had breakfast, walked the dog, and loaded up the car. It was an overcast morning and on the cool side, but still humid. Yesterday was miserably hot and humid in the afternoon. By 7:15 a.m. I was at the trail and on my way. I had the trail all to myself.
The run started at mile marker 5. It was an easy run and I was enjoying the sounds of nature, the crunch of my shoes on the gravel, and the rhythmic sound of my breath. It must have rained early in the morning, because I could hear water dripping from the leaves. There was a little mist over the river, too. The filtered light was very pretty and everything was so green. Around mile three, a bird’s song caught my ear, and I looked up to see if I could find it and saw the coolest spider webs—maybe 8 or 9 of them, woven between the branches of a dead tree. They looked like they were just floating in the sky. Wish I would have had my camera.
At mile marker 1 I turned around and headed back up the trail. I deliberately left my ipod at home. I wanted to focus on the trail, my running form, and enjoy the quiet. Just past mile marker 2, a slight drizzle began. I heard more than felt the intensity of the rain increasing. There was enough coverage from the trees that not until it started to pour did I feel the full force of the rain. It was refreshing and felt better than running in the threat of rain. But it only lasted about 20 minutes.
Along the trail I kept my eyes out for some deer or turkeys, but I didn’t see anything other than the ubiquitous groundhogs, chipmunks and squirrels. There is never a shortage of them.
The original plan was to run four miles down the trail and back, then three up the trail and back for a total of 14. At mile 10 the aches in my right buttock and thigh were becoming intense. So I started counting my steps as I ran (about 1100-1200 in 8 minutes), planning dinner, anything to distract me from the discomfort. I was re-considering my running plan—not to cut it short—but to build in a cool down at the end that wouldn’t have me back-tracking to my car. I figured I could run 4 miles up the trail and 3 miles back and walk the last mile to the car for my cool down. At the time, it sounded like a brilliant plan. It wasn’t, but I didn’t realize that until I had finished the 14 miles. From mile marker 5, I ran to mile marker 9—another 4 miles bringing the total to 12. Then I headed back. At mile marker 8 (13 miles), I checked the watch to compare my time to the half marathon—I was about 8 minutes slower, but felt that I had plenty of energy left for the last mile. Instead of feeling like I wanted to collapse, I felt energized and exhilarated knowing I had conquered the mental and physical hurdles. I was about to run farther than I had ever gone before. So I lifted my knees a bit higher and ran the last mile in just over 10 minutes, and still I hadn’t reached the point of exhaustion. It was wonderful!! Total time: 2:40:14, ending at mile marker 7. I couldn’t wait to get home and call DH.
Just a few minutes into my cool down walk I spotted raspberries and blackberries along the side of the trail. Nice treat! The raspberries were good, but the black berries needed to ripen a bit. They were big and black, but not real sweet. Many times during the walk I stopped to stretch, but the bugs were eating me alive anytime I stopped, so the stretches didn’t last too long.
Just as I came up on mile marker 6, the light bulb went on. My car was parked at mile marker 5. I had run too far up the trail before turning around. Oh, well, this would be a really long cool down; no harm in that. By now, a few cyclists were on the trail. What a site I must have been. Hair was still soaked from the rain and it curls and frizzes like crazy; clothes were soaked, too. And my shoes, socks, and even my legs had streaks of mud on them. I wanted to shout—I’m okay, I just ran 14 miles! But I didn’t. I probably looked crazy enough without confirming it for them.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Sunday I dragged my sorry butt out for the scheduled 12-mile run. By the time I talked myself into going, it was almost 11 a.m. and 69 . I should have been finishing, not starting.
This week was very short on training. Tuesday was the only day I ran and it was less than 2 miles. The motivation to run just wasn't there. Training was beginning to feel like a chore, like something I was being forced to do. And when that happens in almost any part of my life, I rebel. " I'll show you who's the boss around here," is my attitude when I'm being told to do something--even when I'm the one doing the telling.
First I had to find a route. I didn't want to run on the rails-to-trails. It was about time I took the long runs to the streets. I tried the SparkPeople's mapping program for the first time. The out-and-back route came in at 11.59 miles. When I measured the route by car, it came to 12.1 miles. Better to have the run go long than fall short.
Leg cramps are always a problem on long runs, so I filled my Camelbak about 3/4 full (it holds 2 liters) with ice water and carried a small bottle of Gatorade and a baggy with a Luna bar, Shot Blocks, and Sports Beans. The Cambelbak felt a little heavy, but I knew that I wouldn't be able to finish the run if I wasn't hydrated.
I followed the 8:1 run/walk pattern for the entire run except about the last 1/2 mile--that was a full out run all downhill. Hydrating on the run was great; I could really tell a difference in my energy level. But mid-way on the back road, I had to pee. There was plenty of woods on either side, but it was level with the road and most of the trees had poison ivy climbing their trunks. I continued running, trying not to bounce too much. Finally an area that looked like it would provide enough cover came up and I took the desperately needed break. When I got back on the road, my ankles began to itch, then my calves, then my arms, etc. But within a few minutes all of the phantom itching went away. I did not have poison ivy. But I was sweating it for awhile.
There is a long, straight stretch of road that is almost level leading up to the turn around point. Seeing the signal light at the intersection gave me a tremendous boost of energy. Almost half way there and I was still going strong. I figured it would be just another one or two 8:1 intervals and I'd be there. Distance can be so deceiving--it was more like 3-4 intervals. That was one long stretch of road. When I reached the half-way point, I realized I was almost out of water.
I passed a restaurant featuring pizza and ice cream less than a quarter mile before the turn around point, so on the way back I stopped in and bought some Gatorade and poured it in the Cambelbak. Then I asked if I could top it off with some water. The guy was so nice--he took me over to the soda machine and said I could fill it with ice or the ice water--as much as I needed. He asked what I was doing and I told him I was training for a marathon. He thought that was great and wished me luck.
The heat was getting to me a bit on the way back. A couple of times I felt like I was having hot flashes. Huge waves of heat would roll off me and then I'd be chilled for a moment. Chafing was also starting to be a problem. The inside of my upper arm occasionally rubbed against the Camelbak and it rubbed against my neck a bit. Next time I'll wear short-sleeves or buy another vest for the bladder. Nathan makes a light-weight running vest that will hold a small bladder. The vest has pockets in the front which would make it a lot easier to reach the food.
For awhile, around mile 11, I was barely shuffling my feet up the inclines. When I reached the crest of the last hill I practically danced like Cloris Leachman on Dancing with the Stars. . I stretched out my legs and let gravity pull me down the 1/2 mile hill. What a rush!!! I finished up at 2:11:48 (10.92 pace) and continued with a 15 minute cool-down walk. The soles of my feet were sore and my hip was aching, too. I drank almost 4 liters of water/Gatorade on the run and ate the Luna bar, SportsBeans and half the ShotBlocks with no stomach distress. Carrying the extra weight of water was worth it. Not a single leg cramp.
The attempt at a post-run ice bath failed miserably. You start out with cool water and gradually add ice until you're up to your naval in ice water. Then you sit and shiver for 20 minutes while drinking a cup of tea or hot chocolate. It's not pleasant, but it does make my legs and hips feel much better (is it because I can't feel anything?). Well, I started out with the water a little too warm, so I added more cold water and began adding ice. The ice melted quickly, but wasn't cooling the water enough. So I dumped the entire bin of ice in and stirred--kinda like making a martini in the bathtub. Had the water been high enough, the girls could have floated and been the olives. The water never got ice cold; just cold enough to make me uncomfortable. I stayed in the tub for about 5 minutes, but finally gave up.
Looking back on the week, I feel like a kid that got away with playing hooky from school. I had not kept up with the training during the week, yet still had a great run. But I know that if I keep that up, I will get caught. So today I'm back on track with a 50-minute walk and tomorrow I will do the 30-45 min. run.
You can bet I'm looking forward to this Sunday's run--it's only 6 miles. I'm trying to decide if I should extend it to 6.2 miles and run it as if I was racing or if I should just enjoy the shorter mileage and run it as usual. If I run it as a race, I can use the time to project what my half marathon and marathon times might be. I'll just have to wait to see how I feel next Sunday.
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