Sunday, October 4, 2009

Now I'm tired...

Lots of people ran marathons this morning, so I hear....hope it was a great time for all!

Myself, I didn't run a marathon. I did do a long Sunday morning run, though, 15.75 miles it turned out to be. I wasn't quite sure how far I wanted to go. I had 12 set as my minimum, with some inclination to go as far as 15 miles, if I felt up to it and my route accommodated it.

After last week's (relatively) bone-chilling damp weather, today was refreshingly sunny, though cool in the morning (warming to, well, warm, in the afternoon). I went out a little past nine, after fueling with coffee and a piece of Fresh Pear Cake.* I wore a Victoria Marathon long-sleeved running shirt and a Victoria Marathon windbreaker on top of it, with gloves that I took off after about five miles. I felt comfortable in this level of clothing and didn't feel too hot even by the end, near noon, thanks to taking the gloves off, I think.

I had a route through Marysville that I had run a few times last fall and winter, but hadn't done it for months. The last time I was out that way I was running much slower than I do now, even for long slow distance runs. There are some serious hills in this route, so I was a little unsure about how I would do, pacewise.

Now, to be clear, this was going to be a slow run, no tempo efforts at all. I did that on Friday and my legs deserved a break today. I was determined not to care about my pace, whatever it might be. But still, I was curious...and there was a little bit of desire for redemption from my slower days.

So off I went, north on State Street. I felt okay. My lower back and hips were a little achy, as they had been since yesterday. We drove over to Eastern Washington yesterday morning (several hours in the car), did a couple of things on the cabin (well, Rod installed some blinds) and then I rode my bike for seven miles on the gravel roads. Harder than it sounds, believe me. There were some really difficult hills in the first few miles. I was scared to go very fast on the downhills, so there was almost no carry-over back up the other sides. Even after I finally got the hang of things (and the hills evened out a little), there were washboard sections of road that jarred every part of my body from my teeth south. When I finished, and crawled off the bike, I felt like a cripple. Then there was the long car ride home... pain city.

But luckily today, though I could still feel it in my back/hips, I didn't feel hampered running, at least not much. I even finished the first mile under ten minutes. I pretty quickly settled into about a 9:30 pace (sometimes faster), with mile 5 coming in at an unplanned 8:55! I think that happened partly because of a downhill stretch, and partly because there was another woman running just ahead of me and I was unintentionally using her as a pacer. She must have been going about a 9 minute pace.

After mile 7 I stopped at a grocery store to use the bathroom, and once I hit the road again I met up with the Big Hills. That portion of the route gave me my slowest miles, 9:52 and 9:47. I feel lucky that I even broke 10 minutes in those miles, since I saw some 11's on the Garmin at some steep points!

While I was at the store for the potty stop I had bought a Luna cookie to fuel after mile 10 (thought I'd have half then and half after 13), but as I approached mile 10 I didn't feel hungry at all so I decided just to save it and eat it when I was done.

Around mile 10 I was starting to feel tired and kind of ready to be done. Of course that was not even an option from where I was at. So I just plugged on. I figured once I got past 12 miles I could reevaluate my distance...I also knew that once I passed 12 miles I would probably have more motivation to go the full 15, since I'd only have three left to go.

I had a bit of a dual concern going on. On the one hand, I wanted to be done. On the other hand, I wanted to tweak my route to make it my desired distance (whatever that might be) without leaving myself in the position of having to run too much extra just to finish!

So at about 12 miles I cut over to Jennings Park and started running back up 164th east, past the Y and back to 67th (a main road I had started out on). I figured taking this diversion would get me to 15 miles by (or before) my ultimate destination of Safeway and Starbucks. Even though I was tired at this point, and my hamstrings were crying, I was still maintaining about a 9:30 pace or better. I had to work a little bit at it but not too much.

Finally, I was on Grove heading west and starting mile 15. About halfway through I really began to feel the energy of getting near the end. I decided to try to up my effort to the last few miles of a half marathon--not a finish line sprint, but a final kick. A slight downhill helped. I managed to pull a sub-8 pace for the rest of that mile, with a final time of 8:40!

That took me to the intersection of Grove and 51st, which was not the location of Safeway. That was still more than half a mile away. I reverted to my easy pace of 9:30-ish for the final bit. I had told myself that I was stopping at Safeway, no matter what the number I would not run any further. But I was so close to 15.75 that I did run to the end of the parking lot to round it off. Then I stopped.

Since I've read many times that chocolate mile is good post-run recovery food, I got a nonfat mocha from Starbucks instead of my usual skinny hazelnut latte. I sat at a table outside (unfortunately in the shade, not sun), and ate my Luna cookie while I drank some of the mocha, before I walked my final halfish-mile.

So why, you may wonder, would a half-marathoner bother with a 15-plus mile long run? Answer: Carl's Junior Burger for lunch! A decadent treat that I would usually never allow myself. But the run allowed plenty of calories to waste on a mega-burger, still leaving enough for a good dinner (and some Dreyer's Slow-Churned ice cream!) tonight.

I also do have a bit of compulsion to keep testing myself by increasing the length of my long runs. I don't know whether I will go past 16 miles, though--that is my current max. For one thing, I don't know if I can really commit the time it takes for a longer run. When I am allowing time for a long run, I allow an hour for every five miles. Even though I always run at a faster pace than that time would allow, I also take bathroom stops, water pauses, and sometimes have to stop for lights. I find that the 5 miles per hour allowance ensures that I finish within my estimated length of time, instead of running over a lot (which can cause all kinds of anxiety, for me and sometimes others who are expecting my return).

This also allows me to do a long run in the morning, without getting up at the crack of dawn, and still being done by noon or earlier. Theoretically that leaves the whole afternoon to do some sort of activity or even get something productive done! (Or go out to lunch and then spend a couple of hours lying on the couch. Whatever works.)

Final numbers:
15.75 miles, 2:27:57, 9:24/mile average pace.

Individual miles:
9:57, 9:28, 9:19, 9:22, 8:55, 9:10, 9:27, 9:52, 9:47, 9:23, 9:20, 9:14, 9:35, 9:25, 8:40, and .75 mile at 9:27 pace.

*I had another similar recipe that used almost exactly the same ingredients but only a cup of oil and two eggs. I was torn whether to use the lower calorie was tempting but I didn't want to risk messing up the result. I ended up using just a bit more than a cup of oil (just filling over the line in the measuring cup) (and I used a combination of extra light olive oil and canola oil, not Wesson oil as the recipe says) and using two whole eggs and a bit of extra egg white. It worked fine, and next time I would be comfortable with the one cup of oil, though might keep the extra egg white. I also used whole wheat flour for one of the three cups of flour; it wasn't noticeable in the finished product (in that the finished product was deeelicious!) I used walnuts rather than pecans for the nuts. Also, when the recipe refers to "a little bit" of powdered sugar, you need more than a little bit to make enough icing. I'd say at least a cup and add the milk a little at a time, to get a pourable but not too thin icing. The icing is optional, but it adds a nice glaze and tastes good!

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