Monday, October 26, 2009

Mission accomplished. Plus one mile.

Yesterday my super-secret goal was to do a 19-mile long run, and I am happy to say I did it. I actually ended up running 20 by the time I was done (though it took running up and down the block to bump it up the final tenth).

I was rather concerned that I would be running in the rain, since the week's forecast had been for rainy and dry weather on alternating days (the rainy ones were, of course, my running days), and as Saturday had been dry, rain was certainly in store for Sunday. But I did hear an updated forecast on Saturday night, which suggested that the rain wouldn't come until later in the afternoon, so I had some hope to cling to!

And sure enough, on Sunday morning the skies were grey, but there was no precipitation in the air. There was even enough hint of a break in the clouds that I packed sunglasses into my waist pack (but never needed to use them). Since I didn't expect rain, I decided not to wear my rain jacket (which, I can assure you, does not keep out real rain), but did wear a hot pink running jacket so I would be more visible to cars.

Since I was going long, I stuck two fueling options in my pocket, a packet of Sports Beans and a tube of SweetTarts green apple, and filled my water bottle with Nuun.* I left around 9:30 a.m., which was early enough to call morning, but late enough in the day to allow a little sleeping in (till about 8:00), and make sure it was fully daylight out. Breakfast was coffee and a piece of pear cake (maybe a questionable choice because of my stomach difficulties over the past few days, but I don't think the cake exacerbated things, and it is so good!).

I promised not to talk about potty things, so I'll just say that I took an Immodium before I left, and it worked. After seven miles.

So, nineteen miles in Marysville...that's a long ways! I pretty much planned to take the route I have done in the past for a long run, just adding some on the end as needed. I decided, though, after the first seven miles, to change it a little, by continuing north for another mile or so, then doubling back before going down to Sunnyside, and finish up the mileage by doing loops around the outside of Jennings Park as needed.

The hardest part of the route (well, before the last few miles) was that extra bit before I turned back. This is where I encounter my longest, steepest hills, and there is no shoulder, and the road turns sharply so I can't see oncoming cars and they can't see me. All in all, it is a frustrating segment. However, on my way back I got to go back down that long hill!

I know that my pace for long runs is probably too fast. (Probably? It's too fast.) My average pace for the whole distance was 9:32, and most of the individual miles were in the 9:30 range; a few of them slower but a number faster as well. I can say that I am not trying to run at this pace, I am just not preventing myself. And as any runner knows, it's hard to look a gift pace in the mouth.

But I am definitely planning on doing at least one long run at a significantly slower pace, no faster than 10-minute miles (maybe slower), so that I can make the run longer in time as well as distance.

My half marathon distance split was 2:04:38 (which was almost the same, just a little faster than on my long run two weeks ago). I started to wish I was done a little sooner this time, though—probably starting after mile 12! That would concern me a little more had I not managed to continue to keep my pace up. So I guess that is one good thing about the too-fast pace. Actually, I suspect that part of the reason I kept the pace up was because I knew (or my legs knew) that faster would finish sooner!

I suspect that part of the reason the run was a little bit harder than it should have been was because I have been feeling a little bit under the weather for the past few days (see previous posts), though I have not been actually sick. Anything under fifteen miles really should not be hard for me (crazy as that sounds). I have done so many runs that were twelve to fifteen miles long. That is definitely my base. All these longer runs are explorations into new territory.

I had not gotten into my fuel yet, by the half marathon point, because I felt shaky enough in the gut to not really want to put anything in me. But around fourteen or fifteen miles I decided to break into the Sports Beans, and I ate about 2/3 of the packet, washed down with some water from the water fountain at Jennings Park (should make a note, this is a good place to refill my water bottle too).

The rest of the run was all game playing, to trick myself into keeping going and not dwelling on how much further I had to go (fourteen miles and I still have five left? Sheesh!). I kept calculating and recalculating how many times I had to go around Jennings to make the distance (without going too far). I finally settled on two complete loops (which took me to 17.5 miles), and the remaining distance would be made up by my return trip.

Of course I got into the landmark game. At first it was just running to the next turn (which was quite a distance), but in the last few miles it was mailbox to mailbox, tree to tree, etc. And by these last few miles my body was starting to talk to me. And it was not saying anything good. There was a lot of profanity involved. My legs were getting heavier and it was work to make them continue running.

But amazingly, my pace did not suffer significantly in these more difficult miles! Excluding my "bonus" mile and the final official mile (which was downhill and faster), my times for miles 16-18 were 9:27, 9:37, and 9:33 (this was the uphill one). Mile 19 was 9:19. (Wow, is that a coincidence or what?)

Somewhere in those last few miles I finished the package of Sports Beans (I think it was my reward for getting to my final turnaround point, and the top of a hill). Then I "flew" back down the hill. (My tiredness was a factor; normally I would be sub-nine going down the hill without even trying.)

And there I was. Nineteen miles done...but I was still nowhere I needed to be. My usual practice in Marysville is to finish at Safeway Starbucks then walk back, but I didn't fancy adding even the extra walk and I really didn't feel like a latte. I would have gotten a Vivanno (a good post run fuel and reward), but again, there was that extra .7 mile walk I would be facing.

So I decided to go directly to Rod's house (still almost a mile away). I thought I would run as far as 47th and Grove, then walk the rest of the way. But when I saw that I was already to 19.67 miles by that point, I decided to suck it up and finish the 20 miles. I walked across the two street at the intersection, then picked up the pace again. Since I was still a little under at the end, I jogged down the block and back again until I saw Garmin click over to 20.00. The end. (That final mile, by the way, dropped to 9:48. Apparently I was already in rest/recovery mode).

My final splits for the whole. 20. miles:

1 - 9:57
2 - 9:26
3 - 9:26
4 - 9:32
5 - 9:23
6 - 9:13
7 - 9:30
8 - 9:40
9 - 10:03 (this was up the steep hill for the first 3/4; the last 1/4 was downhill, otherwise the split would have been much slower!)
10 - 9:07
11 - 9:26
12 - 9:29
13 - 9:22
14 - 9:52 (uphill or just tired? don't know)
15 - 9:28
16 - 9:27
17 - 9:37
18 - 9:33
19 - 9:19
20 - 9:48

Total: 20.00 miles, 3:10:52, 9:32 average pace.

When I was done, I was DONE. I ate a banana and mixed up another bottle of Nuun to drink. I really wanted to lie down for a while but I took a shower and Rod made a hearty lunch with fish, white beans, and a brown & wild rice blend. I ate a pile of rice. Then I had to go take care of my parents' cats (they're out of town), so rest was still on hold.

Finally at home I laid on my bed and watched two episodes of Brothers and Sisters on my DVR before having dinner a delicious turkey sandwich and the rest of my Kabocha Squash Soup. And for dessert...

I was going to finish by writing about my very sucky run in the rain this morning, but I'm out of time so I'll have to do a short post later on.

*I've been carrying Nuun instead of plain water on all my runs, even though it certainly isn't as important this time of year as it would have been during the summer. But almost all of my runs are over eight miles, so I figure it can't hurt to get a little electrolyte replacement in me.

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