Post-Bataan Hodgepodge

The thing about a big event like Bataan is that even after it’s over and I’ve talked about it non-stop, I still want to talk about it! Today I’m offering you a salmagundi of all the Bataan related topics that I didn’t get to yesterday. Feast and be merry!

Race Prep & Ensemble

  • I wore exactly what I planned to wear, and I’d say it was 85% successful. Biggest win was the hat. I thought it might bother me or fly off, but it stayed on, and I loved it. Wearing two SPIbelts was clutch. Why have I never done that before? Double the storage and it didn’t weigh me down or bounce obnoxiously.

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  • I should have gotten gaiters! Everyone told me I should, I agreed that I should, and then I just didn’t. All me to smh at myself. Not much sand got in my shoes, but the sand that did was destructive. Even with stops to shake out my shoes and eventually change my socks, the sand still managed to blisterfy me pretty badly.
  • Another failure y’all warned me about: sunscreen. I took a big bottle of the good stuff and went to town before the race. I was so thorough. I’m talking the eyelids, backs of ears, I was the sunscreen queen. Except for the part where I didn’t put any on my arms because I was wearing long sleeves before the race! D’oh! I didn’t realize how burned I was until I got home. I think the cool breeze during most of the race distracted me from the sizzling of my flesh.
Can you tell where I was wearing my spare hair ties?

Can you tell where I was wearing my spare hair ties? The redness goes all the way up to the middle of my upper arm. A nice farmer’s burn, if you will.

Fueling

  • Before the race, I ate a bagel. Normally I go for toast, but sadly, toast is not portable. I ate my cinnamon raisin circle of deliciousness in my car while killing time.
  • During the race, I carried 1 bottle of Nuun, a baggie of Swedish fish, and a baggie of goldfish. I had no clue how that would work out. The verdict: excellent! Hat tip to everyone who suggested taking something salty. The goldfish were the best thing I ate! Well, besides a cookie at mile 24. Excellent choice by that aid station.
  • Aid stations were almost exactly every two miles and all of them (that I recall) offered bananas, orange slices, mystery sports drink, and water. I took water and oranges at quite a few. My tummy never complained.
  • This misting station at mile 10/18 made me very happy:

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Fellow Marchers

  •  It was really inspiring to see many people wearing signs or shirts for someone. We are removed enough from World War II to put out of our minds what that generation experienced, which we shouldn’t do. I read a book by a survivor earlier in the month. The book was just okay (and I wouldn’t recommend it), but even so, I was blown away reading the first-hand account of Bataan and the POW camps. I also listened to multiple podcasts on the subject. I almost feel like I can’t learn enough about it – I had never even heard of Bataan before this. If you aren’t familiar with the events, I urge you to read about them or listen to a podcast. I’d be happy to make suggestions!
  • Although it’s a silly sign, this one may have been my favorite:
I can relate.

I can relate.

  • Remember the people I met before the race Paul and Buck? (They were the ones who protected me from the wind.) I didn’t see them after the race started, but I checked out their results. They finished in 7:10. Pretty good if you ask me, and if I recall correctly, faster than they did it 3 years ago.

Post-race & Recovery

  • After crossing the finish line and drinking in my runners high, I started heading for my car. Except, my car was nowhere to be found. I remembered very clearly where I was parked in relation to the start. Too bad the finish was in a different spot. Every building on an Army post looks like every other building, cars were everywhere, I was turned around, and I was probably also disoriented from fatigue. It took me a good 30 minutes, maybe more, of wandering around aimlessly.
  • Once finally reunited with the Gold Nugget, I completely changed my clothes. I packed a bag of fresh stuff and my race shirt for this very purpose. The best part was the extra water bottle that I had. I was able to rinse of my nasty feetsies.
  • 1 point for my mother-in-law: she suggest that I buy a bag of ice (for the inevitable ice bath) from Sonic. For $2.50, I got me 10 pounds of the stuff and I didn’t even have to get out of my car. Oh-la-la!
This last about 5 minutes.

This last about 5 minutes.

  • I’m sore, but it’s not terrible. I don’t feel like I’m substantially worse off than I was after any of my other full marathons, other than my feet. My feet are so jacked. Damn you, blisters! I’d go for a short run just to see how everything feels if the thought of stuffing my toes into running shoes wasn’t so repulsive.

If you have any questions about the race, the prep, the post, throw it at me in the comments. I’m not kidding when I say that I could talk about this all day long.

Sprint to Bataan: Oh Crap!

In two days I will be running/marching/walking/limping/crawling my way through 26.2 miles of sand/wind/hills. I can sum up how I feel about it pretty simply: I am not prepared.

Remember when I said I was loosely going to follow Hal Higdon’s 4 weeks to Marathon plan? Well, I kept it reallllly loose. I wasn’t doing the best job staying on top of my running, and then I took a week’s vacation. My running nose-dived to a total of 4.5 miles last week. You’d thinking running a marathon a month ago would have me raring to go and totally ready, but a person can lose a lot of endurance in a month’s time. Gulp. The good news is that, yes, I did run a marathon a mere month ago. I know that I am capable. My body, however, is no longer in endurance mode. I’m going to have to really dig deep on Sunday.

I’ve tried to figure out what I’d advise me to do if I wasn’t me. Would I encourage me to drop to the half? Perhaps.

The course

The course. The half totals 14.2 miles and is just the lower loop.

That’s still an option. The split between the full and the half is at mile 8. It can be hard for me to be completely honest with myself mid-race, but if I’m sucking or hurting by mile 8, I won’t attempt to continue for the full. Knowing me, though, if there’s no injury, I’ll keep going, however slow that may be.

Y’all offered such awesome advice last week, that I’m feeling strangely (inappropriately?) more confident this week. Since there’s a not much more I can do physically (other than hydrate and carb load), my best hope is to get my mind right. That’s the biggest challenge with races like this, right? Mind over matter.

My goals:

  • Time: There is no time goal for this race, other than to finish before 8 pm when the course closes. I might even strap my Garmin to my SPIbelt, so I can’t see it. I’ll be going the distance, however long it takes.
  • Strategy: I want to listen to my body and respond accordingly. It won’t be any fun if I get injured. I’m still planning to run the first 7 miles and play the rest by ear. The challenge will be to make good decisions in the heat of the moment (not my forte!).
  • Attitude: Thinking about the meaning of the race- honoring those who marched at Bataan, those who were POWs, those who perished. This is a race about others, so I want to encourage my fellow marchers, display gratitude toward the volunteers, and thank the survivors.

Every time I check the race website my stomach starts to hurt, a sure sign that I am nervous! This one is going to be a doozy, y’all. Wish me luck!

Run Less, Run…Slower?

My review of the Run Less, Run Faster program!

If you’ve been around for a while, you’ve heard me go on and on about RLRF. I trained 2/3rds of the way through the program last year for a race I didn’t end up running. (I abandoned ship when I realized that running a marathon the week before moving internationally wasn’t a great idea.) I made it all the way through the plan in the train up to the EP Marathon.

A quick refresher (or intro for those not in the know). RLRF has you completing 3 runs a week:

  1. An interval run (repeating sprints of distances between .25 mile and 1.25 miles)
  2. A tempo run (4-8 mile runs with fast middle miles sandwhiched between an easy warm-up and cool-down)
  3. A long run (between 7-20 miles at marathon pace + so many seconds)
A portion of the RLRF training plan.

A portion of the RLRF training plan.

All the runs are pace specific, and the program instructs you to aim to run them as closely to those times as possible. It should be comfortably difficult, which I found to be true of almost every single workout. They were a challenge but not impossible. You are also supposed to complete cardio cross-training (swimming, cycling, ellipticalling, rowing, whatever) twice a week. I don’t much like other forms of cardio, so I would do yoga and walk my dog instead. Not exactly what the plan suggests, but it’s what I wanted to do. This was my only real deviation. I followed the running workouts to about 95% accuracy. There were a few missed or shortened runs, a few times that I threw my pace out the window, but mostly, I did as I was told.

With all that you, you’d think that I would run faster. Did I? No. Sunday’s marathon was 5 minutes slower than my PR, and 8 minutes slower than what I was training for. But but but but but this in no way reflects on the plan. I felt totally prepared in terms of my training. My 18 mile and 20 mile runs were both cake, and I know I have a faster marathon in me. <–That right there is the problem.

Interval run, run less run faster

Notes for a particularly tricky interval run.

The book specifically warns against aiming for a finish time that is faster than what you are capable of at the time (they have a pages and page of charts to help you figure out what time goal is appropriate). The authors point out that runners have a tendency to get hung up on arbitrary goals. Damn you, tantalizing round numbers! (I was training for 4:22, but tried to reach for 4:15 on race day.) I read that part of the book thinking, “Yes, this is logical. I should set a realistic goal based on my current abilities and run an evenly split race. I should ignore the round numbers.” But then I didn’t.

I think my downfall, if you will, was three-fold:

  1. The 5 miles of downhill at the start of the race gave me a false sense of myself. I felt so good that I kept pushing the pace until I gased out. Even if I hadn’t pushed it, a 1,500 foot elevation drop at the start of a distance race makes even splits tricky.
  2. I didn’t show up to the starting line with the intention of running the paces I’d trained for. I didn’t just want to finish, I wanted to smash my PR! Instead, I got smashed.
  3. My plan (fueling, hydration, walk breaks) was abandoned from the get go. I don’t even have a reason why. Endorphins? Foolishness?

When pepping me up prior to the race, a few friends told me, “run your race!” I thought, “yes, yes I will!” In my brain, though, that meant, “I’m going to go for it! I’m going to run the hell out of it!” instead of probably what they meant “run the way you trained. Run your pace. Don’t be stupid!” Whoops.

Would I recommend RLRF? Yes! Absolutely! The book is loaded with more information than you’ll probably ever need (how to train for an Ironman, how to BQ, how to stretch, how to cross-train, and on and on and on), and the plan is sound. It is scientific, it is specific, and it is effective. You know, as long as you don’t blow it on race day.

Where my other RLRF peeps at? What other training plans do y’all love? After only running 3 days a week, I’m not sure I could go back to 4 or 5.

El Paso Marathon Race Recap

I’m not a big fan of suspense, so let me cut to the chase. Yesterday I ran my 3rd marathon. It was hard. I went out too fast. It got hot. I got tired. But I managed to pull out a finish time that I am proud of: 4:30:20.

The Garmin don't lie!

The Garmin don’t lie!

Now for the fun part – details!

The race is point-to-point, starting at the top of the Franklin Mountains and winding it’s way through Fort Bliss all the way to downtown. I was late to the only other point-to-point race that I’ve done (one must allot extra time for transit to the start!), so I woke up crazy early (3:00 am) and arrived crazy early (4:30 am) in order to ensure that my butt would be on that bus with plenty of time to spare.

I spent the 90 minutes that I had before the race started alternating between waiting in line for the porta-potties and staying warm on the bus. It was a cool 50-something and windy; nice for running, not so nice for standing around in a tank top. Eventually the sun rose and it was time to start.

During mile 1. I love a good sunburst picture.

During mile 1. I love a good sunburst picture.

  • Mile 1: 9:06
  • Mile 2: 9:19
  • Mile 3: 9:23
  • Mile 4: 9: 38
  • Mile 5: 9:36

I loved the first 5 miles. They were completely downhill, so what’s not to love? I decided to not worry about time during these miles and instead run at whatever pace felt comfortable. Fewer than 400 people were attempting the full, so it wasn’t too crowded. It was still cool out, and the views were gorgeous.

  • Mile 6: 9:33
  • Mile 7: 10:26 (my first walk break)
  • Mile 8: 9:40
  • Mile 9: 9:48
  • Mile 10: 10:06 (another walk break)
I love running!

I love running!

You’d think it was a good thing that I didn’t take a walk break until mile 7. In reality, this was poor planning. Those first 5 miles + adrenaline had me feeling good. So much so that I took my normal approach (walk every 4 miles, fuel like clockwork) and instead had a “just wing it” attitude. I also decided that “just PRing” wasn’t enough. I wanted to aim for a sub-4:15 finish. That meant a 9:45 pace. Seeing as this isn’t my first rodeo, I should have known better. Alas, I did say that I wanted to push myself and not run conservatively. Besides, I felt so good. What was the harm? {Foreshadowing!}

  • Mile 11: 9:59
  • Mile 12: 9:50
  • Mile 13: 9:46
  • Mile 14: 10:07

The wheels started to fall off around mile 14. I could already tell that my body was tired. (To bad I didn’t run the half! I had an awesome entire first half!) The previous 13 miles + plus the rising heat + my poor pacing + my lack of following the fueling/walking plan had taken it’s toll. Even though my pace was still decent at mile 14, I know myself well enough to recognize when my running is taking a downward turn.

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  • Mile 15: 9:53
  • Mile 16: 10:57
  • Mile 17: 10:39

Miles 11 through 17 were all on the same road with almost no turns. Turns, in theory, are annoying and dumb. A straight road sounds great. Except that it was so empty. No spectators, no pretty scenery. Nothing to distract me from my dwindling energy. Mile 17 was such a welcome sight. That was where we entered Fort Bliss. It was also the location of a Walking Dead themed water stop complete with people acting like walkers (seriously scary), an old RV, and volunteers with plastic cross-bows. The woman who high-fived me here was an angel in an earth suit. She gave me pep in my step, and I actually started to get a second wind. (As much of a second wind as one can expect after 17 miles of running.)

  • Mile 18: 10:12
  • Mile 19: 10:43
  • Mile 20: 10:40

I went from walking every few miles, to walking every other mile, to walking every mile. Thankfully, I passed my friends’ house during this portion of the course. Knowing they’d be there kept me in motion and was another much-needed boost. I was joking with the volunteers and feeling happy. Even though the middle miles had been hard, I was surprised at how quickly I had found myself at mile 20. Only a 10k to go.

I did not take this picture. I was too fatigued at this point to even unzip my spibelt.

I did not take this picture. I was too fatigued at this point to even unzip my spibelt.

  • Mile 21: 11:18
  • Mile 22: 10:47
  • Mile 23: 11:57

We were outside the confines of Fort bliss and headed downtown. By this point, my body felt better. Some aches and pains from earlier in the race had subsided. Unfortunately, my determination started to waver. I’m sure all the people around me at this point looked as pitiful as I did. Jogging, hobbling, walking, certainly not running. A few fellow runners cheered me on. I cheered them on. I told myself that I could go slow but I had to go. I’d run to an intersection, then walk to the next one, then run again. I’ve never walked for too long, but I also didn’t run for too long at this point. It was an internal push-and pull from here to the end.

  • Miles 24: 11:29
  • Mile 25: 12:19

The 4:30 pacer passed me around mile 24. I tried to stick with her, but I couldn’t hack it. I knew my goals were long gone before I got to this point, but it still sucked to literally see my goal fly by. All day long, friends and family had been texting me. During mile 25 I was really hurting, so I took some time to read through all the messages. Oh man. Waterworks. I told myself that I shouldn’t cry and “waste my hydration” :) but I couldn’t help it. I was overwhelmed (and exhausted) and so touched. I knew I had to keep going, even if it was slow.

  • Mile 26: 10:36
  • Final .2: 2:24 (10:04 pace)
Photo courtesy of Julie. This is my last bit of effort after I realized the timing mat under the blue awning wasn't actually the finish and I had to keep running.

Photo courtesy of Julie. This is my last bit of effort after I realized the timing mat under the blue awning wasn’t actually the finish and I had to keep running.

The last mile. Finally! I knew Julie was waiting for me at the finish, so I gave it everything I had. I felt like I was running an 8:00 minute mile. Haha! I also realized that I could still come in under 4:30 if I hustled. It was just too late, and I didn’t have anything left in me.

My stats:

  • 26.26 Finish time: 4:30:20
  • Average Pace: 10:18 per mile

I made some mistakes at this race. I went out too fast, I didn’t follow my plan, I let the mental demons beat me down. It wasn’t all a loss. I did some good things, too. I ran the tangents like a pro, I cheered on fellow runners, I thanked as many of the volunteers and spectators as I could, and I ran with other people in my heart.

Remember when I said in my goals post that this race wasn’t just about me? I was thinking of a few people in particular. My mantra during training and one race day was: For Ben, For Micah, For myself.

The words that kept me going.

The words that kept me going.

I tried to channel Ben‘s positivity. (I wasn’t entirely successful, but I like to think he would have laughed at all the snarky jokes I made on the course.) From Micah, I tried to embody his determination and his wife Linzi‘s strength. Maybe my time doesn’t reflect it, but I was successful in this endeavor. I wanted to quit over and over and over again during this race. Every time I considered it, I thought about their family. How they haven’t been able to quit and instead they’ve pushed harder. Finally, I ran to prove something to myself. To prove that I could set my sights high and dream big and go for it, which is what I did.

When I finished, Julie was there to greet me. I immediately told her, “Don’t ever run a marathon!” However, on my drive home I saw some people out running, and I thought, “I love doing that.” That meaning running. For me, that also includes marathoning. Crazy as that is. So at the end of March, I’m doing another one! This one will be a little different. It’s the Bataan Memorial Death March. The terrain will be difficult, I’m sure the heat will be even worse, and there will be no time goals. In fact, I’m predicting that it will take me twice as long to finish as this one did. I’ve got four weeks to rest, recovery, get back in gear, and do the whole shebang over again!

Goooooooooals: EP Marathon

It’s race week, race week, race week. (Not quite as catchy as the “Friday” song, is it?) I’ve had goals in mind during the many months that I’ve been training, but I generally like to wait until the big day gets closer before I make those goals public. You know, so my utter shame in not even being able to attempt certain goals is only witnessed by me and not all of Internetsville. Now that training is mostly over, I might as well spill the beans.

Time Goals

Sprint to the finish! (One of the photos I took at the aquathlon last year.)

Sprint to the finish! (One of the photos I took at the aquathlon last year.)

  1. Finish before the cut-off. This is the cheesy part where I tell you that I respect the distance. I do. If it’s crazy hot (oh, please, no) or windy or typhooning, if I trip at mile 2 (new fear), if I get a stomach virus, if the stars don’t align, then I just want to complete the race. Marathons are hard. Finishing is a big deal.
  2. 4:22 (a PR). I ran Big D two years ago in 4:24. The Run Less, Run Faster plan that I’ve been using has me finishing in just over 4:22. I’m not feeling super confident, but I did follow the plan pretty closely. Plus, a PR after months of training would be so sweet.
  3. Sub-4:15. It’s only a little bit faster than 4:22, but it means each mile needs to be 15 seconds faster. That seems so fast in my mind! This goal is definitely a stretch, but I’m going to go for it anyway.

Strategy

epm_elevation

  1. Control what I can, let go of the rest. That means hydrating and eating well all week. Completing my final runs and keeping my legs fresh. It also means, taking a deep breath and accepting things like weather. All I can do is take care of the things I have control over.
  2. Use the hills. I’ve been thinking about the elevation chart the entire time I’ve been training. There’s no point in being conservative when you are given the gift of running downhill. I’m going to gauge my perceived effort so that I don’t go too fast, but my aim is to go fast downhill.
  3. Push myself. In most of my previous races, I’ve aimed to “run smart.” (Makes sense. Who wants to run stupid?) This time around, I want to be less cautious and more daring. I run the risk of bonking. I also run the risk of earning an awesome finish time. I’ve got to push myself to get it.

Attitude

Still smiling at the end of Big D. I'd like a repeat of that!

Still smiling at the end of Big D. I’d like a repeat of that!

  1. Be thankful. I always feel better when I thank the volunteers out on the course. I also want to take the time to recognize how lucky I am that my body cooperates with my dreams. Especially if I don’t make my time goal, I don’t want to get hung up on what didn’t happen; I want to be thankful that I can at least try.
  2. Have fun. There’s no point in torturing myself for 4+ hours; I need to enjoy it. I want to high five people, cheer on my fellow runners, sing (in my head only – I won’t inflict that on others), and smile.
  3. Remember that it’s not just about me. Sure, it’s mostly about me (isn’t it always?), but I’ve trained with other people in mind. I’m going to be thinking of those people on race day, and I hope I do them justice.

Did I miss anything? Any other goals I should include?

EP Marathon Training: 6 Days To Go!

You read that right. The race is less than a week away. I’m glad it’s almost here. I’ve certainly been training long enough. But I’m also scared. When the race is in the far future it’s dreamy, almost like wedding planning before you’ve set a date, all possibilities and color combinations. Now it’s reality. It’s no longer about imagining what could be but making things happen. Which is exciting, yes, but scary, too.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, last week -

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Weekly Stats:

  • Total miles run so far during training: 313.95 (19.75 this week)
  • Interval run: 5 x 1000. Tough, especially with the strangely warm weather. But I battled through each interval.
  • Tempo run: 6 mile “short tempo.” I didn’t hit my fast miles exactly on the nosey, but I was trying to take what I learned from last week’s ugly long run and apply it to my running. When I went into the wind, I pushed as hard as was reasonable without depleting myself entirely. The last mile was my fasted. I was happy when I finished. Mission accomplished.
  • Long run: 8 easy miles. Tossed my pace out the window and just ran. It was glorious.
  • Cross-training: 60 minutes of yoga, 72 minutes of walking
  • Geronimo’s miles: 4.75 miles – a huge week for him!
  • Power jam: “Flashdance…What A Feeling” by Irene Cara (“Take your passion and make it happen!” I like to sing/scream that line.)

Last Long Run

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My 8 mile long run was supposed to be at marathon pace, but I decided that I’d rather just run for fun. Geronimo ran two miles (a big distance for him these days) before I dropped him off at home and headed back out on my own. I listened to the radio on my nano, so it felt more informal. Less long run, more happy jog. It was just what I needed. Whatever was getting me down last week and making it impossible to run did not make an appearance this week. It’s a good thing because I’m plenty nervous as it is without a bad run getting in my head.

Geronimo was down for the count after his two miles!

Geronimo was down for the count after his two miles!

Weather Woes

I know that the calendar says February, but El Paso has not gotten the memo. We’ve had above average temperatures all week, and that’s what is in the forecast for next week, too. The high yesterday was 81. 81! It’s a lovely temperature when you want to go on a picnic or a walk or swimming. Not so much when you are running. Right now the race day forecast has a low of 43 and a high of 69.

That poses quite the conundrum. The majority of my training has been in cold or cool weather wearing pants and ear muffs and jackets and gloves. I have no clue what I’m going to wear or how the heat will effect me. The one thing you can say about the weather, though, is that it is completely out of anyone’s control. All I can do at this point is try to be smart (hydrate hydrate hydrate) and wait to see what happens.

Time to start thinking cold thoughts!

(Because one pre-marathon post isn’t enough, I’ve got a lovely selection of running related musings for you all week long. )

EP Marathon Training: 20 Days To Go!

Do you smell that? It smells like taper time! That’s right folks, yesterday I ran my longest training run (20 effing miles), and we are officially in taper mode. Confession: I actually didn’t realize the race was only 3 weeks away until a few days ago. My friend is training for Cowtown, which is the same day as the El Paso Marathon. She mentioned on Instagram something about only having to hang in there for 3 more weeks. I read that and thought, “She’s so silly! She’s got 4 weeks left like me. Oh, wait! Crap! 3 weeks!” That’s a pretty good look at how my brain is functioning these days (aka poorly).

Weekly Stats:

  • Total miles run so far during training: 270.7 (36.6 this week!)
  • Interval Run: 10 x 400. Short interval but lots of ‘em. I think this was too hard to do outside. Treadmill for my next interval run.
  • Tempo Run Mid-distance run: This was supposed to be 10 miles at marathon pace. Instead it was a test of my will to simply run 10 miles. So that’s what I did. I ran ‘em. Slowly. Begrudingly. Suckingly. (That’s totally a word.)
  • Long Run: 20 effing miles.
  • Cross-training: yoga and walking.
  • Geronimo’s miles: 3 this week! That’s high for him. I lost track of his total though. Womp womp.
Mama's little running buddy!

Mama’s little running buddy!

Indoor running is the only ingredient in a misery pie

Way back in 2012, around the time that I ran a kick ass PR at the Austin Half Marathon, Stephen also ran a PR half marathon, but on a treadmill. He likes to brag about how his half is faster than mine. I like to point out that his PR doesn’t count because it wasn’t a race. Besides, the treadmill run involved no crowds, no terrain issues, and no hills (unlike my PR half). Let me state for the record, I take back everything I’ve ever said about how his 13.1 miles on the treadmill was easy or didn’t count. It does. Oh it does.

This week, I ended up having to do my tempo run of 10 miles at the gym. I got myself into the mind frame ahead of time, I talked it up, I went to the gym feeling good. Then I got on the treadmill. That’s when the fun ended.

I just couldn’t get into it. I couldn’t turn my mind off. I had forgotten my towel, so I couldn’t cover up the distance I had run so far, and it was driving me crazy looking at the tiny numbers grow incrementally at a snail’s pace. There was a spinning class going on, and they’d left the door open, so I could hear the instructor over my headphones. A tall gentleman on the elliptical in front of me was blocking my view of the TV. I just was not feeling it. 2.5 miles in, I was already taking a walking break and texting Stephen things like, “I’m dying.” I made it to mile 3 before getting off the treadmill. I couldn’t do it.

But I didn’t want to quit. I had to get the miles in. My body felt fine. I knew I was capable of running the miles. Just not like that. So I switched to the track. Can we all agree that 11.3 laps equaling a mile is Ludacris. I managed three miles with no idea of my pace before I took a break.

track and treddy

Back to the treadmill. The spin class was over, I got a better machine, and I upped the speed every quarter mile. It was a drain, but I managed to eek out 3 more miles.

Back to the track. The last mile sucked, but I trotted it out.

Is this payback for remarking last week how easy double digit runs have become? At this point in training, I’d prefer a clean, strong 10 mile run. Not one that I have to beg myself to finish with each step I take. I left the gym feeling really crappy, but I’m trying to look at it in a positive light: I didn’t quit. Oh, how I wanted to. Maybe what I needed was some mental fortitude. That’s definitely the takeaway from this run.

20 effing miles

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I originally planned to do my long run on Saturday. The idea was to invite people to run bits and pieces with me, so I wouldn’t be out there for so long alone. Our scramble for deployment kind of messed that up. In the end, I ran on Sunday, and I ran every mile alone. (Well, except for the two miles I ran with Geronimo.) Thank goodness for good weather! It was long and it was slow, but I managed to fight my way through all 20 miles.

It helps that I broke it down bit by bit. I ran 2 miles with Geronimo, a 4 mile out and back, and a 5 mile out and back. (See, that doesn’t even sound like 20!) I didn’t let myself think about how many miles were left until that number was really small. Instead, I focused on how many miles until my next Swedish Fish or until I turned around. That kept me from getting overwhelmed or bogged down and the miles, for the most part, flew by.

Happiness in the form of a post-run grape cream slush (extra grape!).

Happiness in the form of a post-run grape cream slush (extra grape!).

I’m not going into the taper feeling super confident, and I don’t know why. I’ve done almost every single run on the plan. I’ve hit almost every single pace goal along the way. I guess, despite the two under my belt, the marathon still intimidates me. All I can do now is nail these last three weeks, try not to go crazy, and continue to pump myself up.