Saturday, August 31, 2013
Running to Inspire, not impress
Well, I have just about made it to race day. Having made it through the (often) dreaded 20-mile training run, I am now officially in tapering mode. At this point, I have done all that I can to get to prepare for race day, and that is reassuring. Unlike most runners, I look forward to the tapering period. It's kind of like a mini-vacation.
Yesterday's 20-miler went well, for the most part. We have had a major heat wave the past 10 days or so, and yesterday was one of the hottest days I can remember in my lifetime. I got up around 4:45 AM to have time for some breakfast, caffeine (chai latte'.....I can't do coffee), and energy chews.
It was a bit strange leaving the house in the dark, but also a nice change of routine. I live a couple blocks from the Grinnell College campus, and the central campus is well-lit with street lights and its perimeter is an exact mile. I set out with the plan to run 3-4 laps around this area until daylight appeared, then I would venture elsewhere.
It was already warm and humid, at 5:40AM, so I knew it would be even more muggy when the sun came up. The first few miles felt great. I didn't have any stiffness or fatigue (despite the early hour), and I was surprised to see the daylight getting brighter every few minutes. After just one lap it was substantially brighter, by the time I finished the third lap daylight had appeared. I decided to run out to a park, which was a mile down the road, and do a couple laps on the bike/walking trail. That put me at 6 miles, so I headed back to my house...7 miles. I grabbed a quick glass of water and reassured the youngest daughter I'd be back in a bit to take her to school...I may be a marathoner-in-training, but I am still (more importantly) a mom, and I refuse to compromise that role.
I ran a quick 2 miles and returned to the house. I grabbed some Gatorade, and made a peanut butter/rice cake to eat while enroute to her school. It felt good to know I already had 9 miles done, and that I was almost to the halfway mark. The school drop-off took about 15 minutes, and before I knew it, I was back on the road...heading out for a 6-mile segment.
This part of the run, was definitely the hardest physically, but more so mentally. By then, the sun had risen and it was really hot and sticky. I was on a 6-mile out and back route I have run several times this summer. I have run it on every one of my long runs in some combination with other routes. There is some shade in the first 2 miles (and in the final 2 returning miles), but those 2 miles in the middle are on the open road in the sunshine. These 2 miles are on a some-what busy road, so I usually just run alongside on the gravel shoulder and stay completely off the pavement. I could really feel the affects of the gravel and dirt yesterday. I could feel my feet slipping and sliding, so it took more effort than usual to keep my balance. I made it out to the turn-around, mile mark 12, and headed back into town.
Despite the heat and extreme humidity, I was able to keep a consistent 10-minute pace. Upon reaching the 14-mile mark, though, I could really feel some fatigue creeping in on me. I was such a sweaty mess, my shirt was really starting to annoy me. It was a tech shirt, but with the humidity preventing most of the dampness from evaporating, it felt like a heavy wet blanket. For a brief moment I considered just quitting after I reached mile 15 because I was feeling so miserable......then, instantly I thought, "NO! Don't even think about stopping, you'll have to do this all over again if you don't finish 20 miles today!" So, I allowed myself to have a few quick walk intervals, then finished the 15th mile. I headed back home for a bit to grab some more Gatorade. I considered changing into a clean (dry) shirt, but decided against doing so...I won't have that option on race day afterall.
So, I headed back out to finish the 5 remaining miles. It was progressively getting more hot and humid., but I pressed on. I was relieved to have those previous 6 miles done, and only having 5 remaining miles didn't seen so daunting. I probably looked like a lunatic because I kept zig-zagging back and forth on the street to stay under the shade of the trees. Miles 16, 17 and 18 felt alright...still on pace. During the final two miles, I did allow myself a few more walking intervals. I figured it if was race day, I'd do the same. This kind of heat (and humidity) is no place to prove your heroism (or stupidity)...if you don't respect it and slow down, you could collapse and not be able to finish at all. I finally made it back home, all 20 miles were finished! My finish time was 3:22. Even with several walking breaks, I still averaged around a 10-minute pace.
So, how do I feel about yesterday's 20-miler? I'm disappointed that I had to walk a few times, but I am very proud of myself for doing 20 miles! I have to keep reminding myself that these are training runs. These runs are there for us to train ourselves to not only run farther and farther, but also to run when we don't think we can go one step farther. I can not control the temps or weather on race day, but I can control choosing to train in ALL conditions. Come race day, this 20-miler in the extreme heat and humidity will be worth every step.
Could I have pressed on and ran 6.2 miles farther yesterday? Probably, but I would have a needed to walk some, no doubt. When the actual event takes place, there will be crowd support and fellow runners and water along the route...all of which, I believe, will make those final 6.2 miles more bearable. Physically, I really didn't notice any muscle fatigue, and I don't have any soreness or stiffness today. I'm really liking this recovery!
So, onward! Three weeks until the Quad Cities Marathon!