Monday, October 25, 2010
I'm down to just four weeks until Philly! 28 days, less than a month. This is crunch week..the high mile week, the final push upward towards my virtual summit! My pinnacle of training happens this week. I have prepared, been consistent and logged the miles. Even when I feel like I don't really want to lace up, I think, it will be over in just about an hour and I can cross off another day's miles.
This was a high week in my running miles, over 46 miles run. I don't count my walks or my cool downs, if I did I would have gone over 50 miles out on my feet. That's a lot of hours on the road. The miles go up once more...to 52 this week. I hit the 10 mile marathon paced run and the BIG long run of 20 miles on Saturday, all going to plan that is. I can see the awaiting summit!
I ordered my marathon race shoes and they should be in the end of the week. I'll break them in during the last 2 weeks and then pack just them for Philly.
So as I look down the week to the longest and hardest one awaiting me, I'll draw strength from having done these numbers before. I'll relive the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment at being able to do what I have set out to achieve. in four short weeks this will all be memories that I'll relive over and over again!!
Monday, October 18, 2010
I don’t recall right off how many half marathons I have run. But I can say that I have never run one as difficult as the one I ran on Sunday! I chose the Sparkpeople name “Hillrunner” because no matter which road I choose to come back home, I have to come up hills to get back to my village. At the Bradford City Half Marathon yesterday, I more than earned my name!!!
Bradford is a small city a little more than an hour east of me over in the county of Yorkshire, UK through the Yorkshire Dales (Moors) and into “Bronte Country”. Those of you familiar with English Literature will recognize the Wuthering Heights setting by Emily Bronte. The countryside is vast, expansive, picturesque and full of hills!!
Hubby and I made the early morning trip to be ready prior to the 9am start. It was clear, cool, and crisp. Dropping off our kit bag to retrieve at the finish we made our way to the start funnel. Since he is much quicker than me I remained half way back as he moved closer to the start line. The chip timing would be very helpful as it would give an accurate accounting of my finish. My training for my marathon had being going well so I was optimistic that I could do a PB in this race. All that was going to change after mile 4!
With the sound of the start horn ringing in my ears, it only took seconds for me to cross the mat and start my ascent that I would soon learn would just go on and on and on. I was on my goal pace of 12 min/mile until in mile 3 the climb took a sharp increase. The total ascent for the first 4 miles was over 600 feet!! When we reached the 6 mile mark the elevation had already hit 1,000 feet. I kept thinking that what goes up MUST come down, eventually??!!
The crispness of the day and freshness of the air made the hilltop running spectacular and at about miles 7-8 I started to feel like my breath was returning. The panoramic views were stunning and I soaked them in. The locals dotted the rural roads and offered their much welcomed cheers of support. I relished the spotty downhill places and let my gears open up and relaxed enough so that when the road levelled off and undoubtedly climbed again I had the leg strength and stamina to keep going.
I had considered printing out a pace band to wear during the race, but after the first half I was glad that I was just depending on my Garmin to guide me. I think I might have gotten too disheartened to see the goal time I was aiming for slipping further away with subsequent miles. What looks good on paper is just that, it doesn’t take into account what will be met on the road, and these roads were incredible!
By now at mile 9 the ascent seemed to turn into a slow decent with short teasing and leg punishing uphill parts. I found my mile splits beginning to even out with being able to sprint on the downhill. Then came the cruelness of the “king/queen of the mountain” challenge part. Nearing mile 11 where the road takes a steep downhill the bottom had been equipped with a timing mat and the challenge was which ever man and woman that could make the quickest assent up the almost half mile 200 foot elevation gain would win a “King/Queen of the hill” shirt. Those who had gone before me had nothing to worry about. I inwardly chuckled as I passed over the bottom mat and saw what awaited ahead! My run had turned into a hand on quads slower paced “just get this over with” as I climbed to finally meet the timing mats pair at the top.
I pushed hard as I crested the top of the hill and along the now tree lined street I welcomed the cheers of those there to witness the final downhill run of that last 1.5 miles. I found myself running alone in full flow down the middle of the traffic free road. Those applause were for only me and I used them as fuel to enable me to increase my pace. I could feel the pressure on my toes; I told myself I was strong. I could feel tightness in my left quad; I told myself I had strong legs. I could feel the tiredness creeping into my breathing; I told myself this race would be finished in less that 20 minutes and to just continue to flow down into the park like water rushing down a hill side.
I then saw the left turn into the park and passed several other runners I had seen at the start and now were just attempting to put one tired foot in front of the other. I found new energy as I sped passed Sunday park visitors and half marathon completed athletes, and shouted a warning of “RUNNER” to alert them to not get in my way. I desperately wanted to finish strong and not collide in the final 400 meters!
I had a sneaky feeling that this race was going to end the way it had started…uphill..and I was right. The run through the park and to the very edge made it necessary to do a u turn up the other side. I dug deep into what reserve I had left and pushed on and then saw my husband poised in the distance to capture my final moments. He snapped and then ran along side to encourage me to just keep focused and I was nearly there. He told me I had done a great time on such a difficult course. He then stopped to enable me to make the final right turn along the finishing funnel and sprint to the timing mat with a finish of 2:47:07.
I was exhausted, elated, breathless and extremely pleased at my determination to not once give up during this race. Not once did I let up and relax my attack. This race was more than a half marathon to me, it was a testing ground for what I am made of. Bring on PHILADELPHIA
Monday, October 11, 2010
Six weeks, just half a dozen weeks, and my mind does a mental flip! Oh my!! There goes my stomach now. Yes, just 42 days! Geezeee! Ok, I accept those feelings and now I move past them. It's not marathon morning yet, so no need to get the adrenlian racing though my blood and mind just yet. So calming down, and refocusing on this week.
Last week the miles dipped and this week they will be about the same; near 40mpw. I top the week off with a half marathon race. This will be a new location for a half so don't know what to expect other than a bit of an uphill closer to the end. I'm no stranger to hills and I have no choice but every day to experience the undilating roads of my area. I have a longer marathon paced run on Thursday and aim at doing what I need.
I feel the training is going well. Oh there are days when I have to not even let my mental voice start complaining, to just sushhhh it and just roboticly put my running gear, shoes and watch on and get out the door. Once there, I just let my mind relax with the run before me and enjoy the time that is mine. This is my alone time, my time to let my mind wander as I put foot to mile until I reach my planned distance.
I'm watching the need for more sleep and keeping close tabs on the nutrition. With some very high mile weeks approaching these points will be a concern. Today I look down the road to my half and do what I need to prepare well for it.
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