10 Miler in the Heat Race Recap

This Saturday I ran the Fort Bliss 10 Miler in the Heat!

Beautiful race morning!

Beautiful race morning!

I loved this race when I ran it last year, and I had high hopes again for this year. I like the 10 mile distance, I like running on post (because it’s oh-so-flat), and I knew that lots of my running buddies from Wear Blue: Run to Remember would be there. On this particular day my training plan called for 16 miles. How was I to fit in 6 extra miles and run the race? Simple: I woke up at 4 am and ran for an hour before the race. I don’t exactly have a reputation for being an early riser. This training cycle has completely changed that. While I don’t wake up at 4 am every day, it feels like no big deal when I do. 5:30 am wake-ups now feels downright luxurious.

When that 4 am alarm went off, I stumbled out of bed. Toast was eaten, body glide was liberally applied, and I made my way to Fort Bliss for my six pre-race miles. I’ve grown to love these quiet early morning runs. I spent a lot of time wondering if every car I saw contained someone whose Friday hadn’t ended yet. I kept my pace as close to 10:30 as I could per my plan. I was amped up about the race, so it was hard to keep myself slow. My attention to my pace was obsessive, but six miles later, I was back at my car and feeling pretty good.

Splits:      10:23 —> 10:30 —> 10:30 —> 10:20 —> 10:27 —> 10:27

I spent the next hour prepping for the race. I hit the restrooms, got my packet, put my timer on my shoe, and mingled with the WB crowd. Shortly before go-time, I started to feel hungry. I had been snacking on gu chomps, but I think my body would have appreciated real food, even just a little. I don’t normally pause for an hour in the middle of a long run; you live, you learn.

10 miler _ wb1

Finally, the gun rang out and the race was on!

It was really, really hard to not run any faster than 10:30. I didn’t like people passing me. (My ego!) Plus, I had been waiting around for an hour and felt antsy. Still, I knew the smart thing was to take it easy and aim to be on pace. (“I can’t be something I ain’t: smart.” A little Newsies quote that sums up how I feel when it comes to running!) I tried to remind myself that it was going to be a long 10 miles, and the race wasn’t a sprint. I even tried to convince myself that I’d do the passing at the end. (Pay attention, kiddies; that’s foreshadowing!)

  • Mile 1: 10:30
  • Mile 2: 10:26
  • Mile 3: 10:28

Three miles in, I realized that the course had been changed from last year. No biggie, but it involved going up and over the dreaded bridge. Oh, the bridge. We have a complicated relationship. I know hills are good for me but that doesn’t mean I like them. And I ran that damn bridge twice during my early morning 6 miles. There was no way to go but up and over, so up and over I went! I actually felt really confident and ran that part kind of fast. Whoopsie. And in what felt like no time at all, I was already halfway done with the race.

  • Mile 4: 10:23
  • Mile 5: 10:11

10 miler _ wb

I still wanted to pick up the pace, but the deal I made with myself was to wait until the last three miles. The sun had been hiding behind the clouds up until this point. Now its heat was bearing down on me. There was no shade. There was no escape. Just hot hot hot heat heat heat. It was about the time the heat was getting to me when I saw a fellow Wear Blue friend heading back in the other direction. She shouted to me, “Amy, you are at mile 12 for the day! You are awesome!” Thank you! That was so what I needed to hear at that moment. I took my time through the next water stop, tossed water down my neck, and went back to pounding the pavement full throttle.

  • Mile 6: 10:28
  • Mile 7: 10:16

Back up and over the bridge for the fourth time for the day. During these final miles I felt the competition between my will to go fast and my body’s desire for rest. I didn’t feel weak or like I had overdone it. I wasn’t tired exactly. I think it was just the fatigue of a long run and a day that started at 4 am. Nothing that I couldn’t handle! I aimed to progressively speed up. I pushed it, and my body cooperated. For the most part. With only 1.5 miles to go, I felt a weird side stitch. I never get side cramps like that! It felt not good. I briefly walked. It didn’t go away. I figured  if I couldn’t make it go away and I the race still had more than a mile left in it, the best thing to do was run my ass off. So I did.

  • Mile 8: 10:09
  • Mile 9: 9:57
  • Mile 10: 8:55
That Texas heat!

That Texas heat!

I passed 8 people in that final mile. Yeehaaw! That slow and steady approach paid off! Stephen met me at the finish. (He timed his arrival at the gym for his workout with my finish.) It was awesome to have him cheer me in. I saw afterwards that he sent me encouraging texts during my final stretch. I’m choosing to believe that the good vibes were absorbed into my body a la osmosis even though I didn’t read the messages until afterwards. I took my time calming down after the final sprint. I felt noticeably better than the previous week when I was low on salt. *Knock on wood* it seems like things are going my way!

My race stats:

  • 10 mile finish time: 1:41:53
  • Average pace: 10:11 per mile

With that, I’ve got a brand new PR and less than 50 days until the Twin Cities Marathon! I only have two really long runs left (18  miler and 20 miler) and a handful of shorter long runs. I feel like training is wooshing by at hyper speed. This is really happening. (<– is that the lamest sentence of this entire post? Quite possibly.) Yeah, it has taken me months to realize that I’m marathon training. Now if I can just keep it together a little bit longer.

Twin Cities Marathon Training: 56 Days To Go!

The Twin Cities Marathon is less than two months away! For once, knowing that a big race is so close doesn’t make me want to puke. (My normal reaction is trepidation, stomach in knots, hot waves of anxiety.) I don’t feel completely confident. In fact, I just had a really shitty run. (More on that soon.) But I do feel strong. I know my training has been on point.

Running, biking, rowing.

Running, biking, rowing.

I’m following Run Less, Run Faster, which has some pretty intimidating workouts. Every single run distance has a specific pace to hit. This week included a 15 mile long run, a 6 mile tempo run, and an interval run with twelve 400 meter repeats. Plus cross training! Each run has me feeling doubtful beforehand and totally badass afterwards. Multiple times a week I get a big confidence boost from finding the workouts easier than I expected. I’ve done the plan before, so what’s different this time around? I think it’s twofold:

  1. I’m following the plan with fidelity. I’m doing the intervals, tempos, and long runs. I’m doing the cross training. I’m not negotiating.
  2. The paces are just right. When I trained for the El Paso Marathon, I went against what the book advised and trained based on my reach goal. This time around, my goal is more conservative and appropriate to my current capabilities. Amazing how that makes a difference!

All of my long runs have been fabulous…until yesterday.

Fort Bliss at 5:30 am, when my run started.

Fort Bliss at 5:30 am, when my run started.

The run itself was good. I hit my goal pace every single mile. I didn’t take a walk break until mile 12. (Usually, I stop every 4 to 6 miles to take my fuel; I find it’s more efficient than trying to eat and run simultaneously.) At mile 12, I made my way back to my car so I could participate in the Wear Blue circle. Training makes it hard to make the meet-ups these days, so it was a nice treat to be there for it.

About the time we took our group picture, I felt like I was being held down by nausea. It was a sudden and strong urge to expel everything from my body. I walked around, I took deep breaths, I took a knee, I talked myself down. I only had three miles left; not running them wasn’t an option. So I ran. I took it easy and I felt perfectly fine…until I finished. That same sense urgent puking walloped me again. I drove to the nearby gas station (just a half mile away), to buy a cold water. The line was 8 people deep with one cashier. The wait was excruciating. I opened the water while I waited in line to pay. I felt worse. I considered walking out, but I had to fork over the dollar I owed before I could leave. So I waited. I felt worse. I waited. I paid. I left.

A great group + me trying not to toss my cookies in the picture.

A great group + me trying not to toss my cookies in the picture.

I felt sick for over an hour. The fact that my run was good was no consolation. I didn’t care so much that I felt sick to my stomach as I felt frustrated not knowing why. I wondered what it meant about me as a runner, about training, about my ability to complete the race in two months. Swirls of doubt clouds! I did what any modern runner would do: I took it to Dr. Google. I came across this article. Hallelujah! Answers!

The symptoms described matched me to a T. I’m a salty sweater and for some reason, I took that to mean that I was dehydrated. In reality, I don’t need more water. I need more salt! I never ever would have guessed this. I drink a lot of water. Twice in the last week I drank more than 100 ounces in a day. Water is just my jam. And salt has not been on my radar. It is now! I treated myself to some extra salty Chipotle for lunch, and I’ve been adding it to everything I’ve eaten since. I’m crossing my fingers and toes that this nips the upset tummy/dizziness/feeling like walking death thing. Considering how exactly my symptoms match those described for over-hydration, I have zero doubts this is it. There is relief in answers!

It’s crazy to me that I only have 3 runs remaining on the plan that are farther than the one I did this week: 16 miles, 18 miles, and 20 miles. There are step back weeks in between and the dreaded taper at the end. But that’s it! The cycle is flying by. Hopefully the salt issue is now caput. I guess we’ll see when I run 16 miles (10 of which will be part of a race) next week!

Twin Cities Marathon Training Update

I’m already five weeks (!) into marathon training, and I’ve hardly written about it at all.



Like I have previously, I’m once again using the Run Less, Run Faster program. (This method combines two sessions of cross training per week with one interval run, one tempo run, and one long run. I’ve written about it more here if you’re interested.) Let’s take a looksee at how these past few weeks have been:

Week 1: A strong start! I nailed the interval and tempo run, and felt solid on my 8 mile long run. I actually added this week because I knew I’d be on the road when training was supposed to start. I’m so glad I did this! It was a mental boost to start off on the right foot.

Week 2: Kick butt interval run, shortened treadmill tempo run (I was out of town in Dallas for a work conference and had to squeeze it in), sucky 8 mile long run the night before we left for our big vacation.

Week 3: Interval run on a treadmill at the Grand Canyon, Tempo run on a treadmill at Zion, and no long run. I did two really long hikes, though. Does that count?

Week 4: 6 miles of hills in Moab, 10 mile long run, 4th of July 5k.

The view on my Moab run. What a treat!

The view on my Moab run. What a treat!

This week

Interval: I was kind of dreading the interval run. It was 5 rounds of 1000 meters. 1000 meters is .62 of a mile. It really bothered me (probably to an irrational level) that .62 makes for every uneven numbers. I prefer my intervals to be even, like .5. (OCD much?) I worked out all the math before the run and wrote it in a note on my phone. This made it so I didn’t have to do any math on the run. Because I was not excited about this work out, I did it first thing in the week. I’m so glad that I did because I destroyed it! I kicked off the week on a high. I felt awesome, the intervals, for the most part, went by quickly. I hit my goal pace or very close to it every time. Success!

Tempo: The tempo run was rather simple. One warm-up mile, which I ran with Geronimo, 4 miles at 9:07, one cool-down mile. This was my easiest run of the week. I was able to zone out and really enjoy myself. The gorgeous El Paso sunrise didn’t hurt either.

Geronimo. Checking out the sunrise or refusing to pose for a picture mid-run? You be the judge.

Geronimo. Checking out the sunrise or refusing to pose for a picture mid-run? You be the judge.

In fact, I’m finding that I love waking up extra early to run. I’m not sure what will happen when school starts. My school day is very early (I usually arrive around 6:45, and the first bell is at 7:30), and I just don’t think that I have enough time to run, shower, etc. and be at work as early as I like. Hrm.

Long run: 11 miles. Part of me feels like I should be running farther by now. The other part of me (the smart part!) is saying to trust the plan. So that’s what I did this morning. I headed out the door by 5:30, I followed the prescribed paces exactly, and I ran 11 miles. The humidity nearly about did me in. I think it should be illegal for it to get to 90% humidity here. I live in the desert! I didn’t sign up for humid weather! I was sweating a lot, and I was very hungry by the end.

Obligatory phone on the ground timer pic.

Obligatory phone on the ground timer pic.

Cross-training: I got in two hours of yoga, 1 hour on the stationary bike (11 miles!), and 30 minutes on the rower (I hit 5k!) I’ve never been so consistent and focused on cross-training ever. I don’t feel any difference in my running now, but I’m hoping I’ll see long-term benefits.

I’m still working out my fueling. I’ve been using the Waterlogged app to keep tabs on my hydration. I love a good graph! Pre-run, I usually eat pb toast, and that’s working well. My issue is more with what to eat during my run. I’ve tried an assortment of chomps, chews, and beans. I like them, but I don’t love them. On my most recent run, I finished feeling hungry. That won’t do! I’ve used gu in the past, but my stomach isn’t a fan any more. I also did the Swedish Fish thing, but I’ve eaten so many, I don’t know if I can bring myself to eat any more. This will definitely take time and trial and error. (Feel free to throw any suggestions my way!)

I’m also thinking about the logistics of race day. I booked my hotel in Saint Paul! That makes it feel much more real. I’m anticipating that there will be a fair amount of time from when I leave my hotel and to when the race starts. I want to replicate this at least a few times in training. (I didn’t think about it during El Paso Marathon training, and it threw me off on race day.) My plan is to drive across town for a few long runs. That extra time driving to my destination will be as close as I can get to the waiting around on race day.

Overall, I feel solid. I wanted to throw myself completely into training this summer, and I’ve done that. I have fallen back in love with speed work. I’m enjoying cross-training, which is a totally new phenomenon for me! I go back to work a week from Monday (yes, already). I know that will throw a wrench in things, but I know that my foundation is strong. The biggest challenges will be fitting everything in and giving up napping! At this point, though, I’m too determined to be defeated.