Hey, hey, hey-here it is, another week gone by. Can you believe it is August??? Truly, I cannot. I remember my grandmother used to say, “The older you get, the quicker time goes.” I have certainly found that to be true. What are your plans for August? School will be starting soon, so I am sure that is in the plans for many. I do not have school aged children anymore, nor any grandchildren. I have been cleaning out and giving away/throwing away lots of “stuff” lately. I still had unopened school supplies from years ago. I took them to work for a co-worker’s grandkids. She laughed that I still had them and said I was “funny.” Why YES I am, thank you very much!
For me, August is a pivotal month. In 13 days, I will be running my goal race, a Boston qualifier. I had originally signed up for this race last year but got injured doing landscaping. Thankfully, it was one of those races where your entry fee transferred to the following year if you couldn’t make it. I have been running my arse off and lost ten pounds in the process. I started out the year with a coach (virtual) to help me tweak my training. I had only taken 3 days off since the last marathon I ran in November which was the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, OK. It was a good start to the year. I have taken no more than 2 days off from running since November. So far, so good. My knees, specifically IT band, have been my nemesis. Strengthening my hips have certainly made a difference in the knees.
Since then, I have tried to incorporate several different training plans into my regimen. I had the privilege of meeting and running with Jeff Galloway in April of this year. I picked his brain and like what he told me, “You have already qualified for Boston, you just aren’t old enough!” I like that answer. Qualifying times have become quite strict. Boston is the Crème de la Crème of marathons-the runner’s dream. If you attain Boston, you have arrived. I bought his book and have been training to the beat of his drum, as well as listening to my body. He did instill confidence in me. So much of running is mind over matter.
and rightfully so.
Most will tell you that the “long run” is the most important training component in a marathon training program. Usually done once a week, it is recommended that they be done 3-4 minutes per mile slower than your marathon pace. The goal is endurance, not speed. Jeff’s training program has you exceed the marathon distance (26.2 miles), three weeks out from the actual marathon. Only his longest distance is 29 miles. I am kind of a rebel, and as stated previously, I mix different plans and listen to my body. It is on this premise that I will give you my recap of my long run yesterday-only it was 30 miles at two weeks out. I will try to be concise with bullet points.
- Getting ready essentials: Cooler filled with ice, bottled water, vitamin water zero, and chocolate milk (for post run protein), spibelt, run/walk timer, body glide (for those not so fun chafing shenanigans), and an extra pair of socks (just in case).
- Nearing mile one: Hey, ho- feeling GREAT! It is so HARD to run slow but I am DOING it! What is that I hear? Sounds like a cow giving birth. I round a corner to hear/see a girl on the lake/swimming beach singing (moaning?) acapella with her headphones- a horrific rendition of Katy Perry’s “Roar.”
Mile one complete, only 29 more to go. According to Garmin (a device for measuring pace/distance for my non-running friends), I ran that mile in 9:33-a respectable slow for most, but not quite 3-4 miles slower than marathon pace. It seemed slow.
- I settle into a groove, man this feels good! Working at the hospital the previous day with no running was torture I tell you! I mentally take notes on when I will stop at water fountain/ car to rehydrate and refuel. I do have my handy dandy “spibelt” on with my GUs and Salt Stick. The “Salt Stick” caps have been a lifesaver. Bye, bye foot & leg cramps.
- Whew-a 5k already! I decide to live on the edge and traverse waters (areas) I have never ran before. I go up into the campsites. One & two I have ran many times. I venture into camp three. Holy mother of pearl- a steep hill going in. At least I know I will be going down on the way out. It does afford the chance to go another two miles to which I am grateful. I stop at water fountain and suck down a GU -a delicious concoction of sugar & electrolytes spun into a gel (explanation for my non-running friends).
- Still feeling on top of the world, I make my way through some of the parking lots. Creepy guy parked at the stop sign just sitting there yells, “Run Forest, run!” I am bemused and keep running.
- I try to vary my route as the laps around the lake can get quite monotonous. As it had rained in the morning, I was grateful that it hadn’t become too humid yet and the sun was staying at bay. Mile 6 & 7 fly by. Another jaunt through the campsites (excluding #3 with it’s monster hill) I end up back at my car at mile 10. I suck down another GU and-keep going.
- I had started with a 30 second brisk walk after every mile. I continued this until I hit the half marathon length of 13.1 miles. I then converted to a 5:1 run/walk ratio. Dang it’s hard to try to conserve that energy for what you know will be a not so fun ending.
- Strategy was to take in a GU every five miles and a salt cap every hour. Water fountains became my oasis. I hate the taste of Gatorade and avoid it at all cost. In fact, I don’t even buy it unless I have too…which is seldom.
- Mile 15-woohoo, half way there!!! Still feeling pretty good (or so I tell myself). I imagine the hoards of adoring fans screaming my name on the sides of the trail and the friendly faces of volunteers at aide stations (or am I delusional)?
- Mile 18-starting to try to compromise that if I were only going 26.2, I would only have 8.2 miles to go-only. Since the loop is 3.75 miles, I do the math in my head and decide I only need to go off the beaten path a little to finish up.
- Mile 23-back at the car and mentally take note that by the next lap I will have completed a marathon. Legs are getting heavy and will is getting weak. This is when a crew or running partner would so come in handy. I decide I will push hard until then and then go with a 30/30 second run/walk for the remaining four miles.
- 26.2-4 hours, 40 minutes, and 41 seconds. Remember this is long, SLOW distance! I want to quit, but I am not a quitter. I stop by car again and take in a salt cap and some water. No GU this time.
- Legs are screaming as I hit mile 27. By mile 28 I am becoming faint of heart and will…and nauseated. I pause Garmin and give myself pep talk, “You only have two miles to go…two miles!!! Suck it up! Besides, what are your options? There is no one out here, no one to come get you. You either finish or lay down and die and have the disgusting, half eaten, decomposed remains of your body found a week later”(okay, that may be a little melodramatic). Most of mile 28 to 29 was spent fast walking.
- Mile 29- I got my 2nd (or perhaps 5th?) wind. I settled into a nice jog and was never so happy to see/hear my Garmin tick of the 30 mile mark conveniently close to my car.
Water, blessed cold water! I ran the bottle over my neck and face and guzzled it down trying to not think about how my legs were aching (damned lactic acid)! I then dug through the ice like a vagrant in a trash can to get to my chocolate milk. I sat briefly to drink it, do some stretches, and got a towel out to spread on the ground to lay on. I needed to get the legs up to drain the lactic acid. A tree works wonderfully for this.
I had just completed the longest run of my life…ever. It was a very tiring, yet satisfying experience. Jeff Galloway states in his book, “By going longer than the marathon distance, you may never hit the wall again.” For you non-runners, “hitting the wall” is the distance that you feel you can’t go on in a race-legs are mush, will is lacking. Historically for me, it has been 18 miles. That distance seems like a stepping stone now. Hopefully it will pay off in two weeks when I run the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Another thing about consistency in training is that I recover a lot faster. My hips and piriformis were a little tight last night on the left, but feel pretty good today. In the past, especially after a marathon, it was difficult to walk up and down stairs the day after. I have felt exceptionally wonderful today and entertained the idea of a short, slow run but decided to work on core instead. Don’t want to overdue it but it is hard to rest and taper for the next two weeks.
What an incredible thing this running journey has been. I have met some incredible people, mostly via social media who are the epitomy of encouragement. No one understands a runner like another runner. And to think this is really only the beginning of something incredibly wonderful. To infinity and beyond!
Until We Meet Again,