Who knew? Seems like it was just the World Wide Festival of Races! I heard (read) about it this afternoon when I was scanning my Google Reader. Both Erica of I Run Because I Can and Lindsay of Chasing the Kenyans mentioned it. Erica ran her own 3.3 mile race in her neighborhood with her daughter—they set up a water station and lap counter, so cute!
Luckily by the time I found out about this "event" I had already planned, and completed, a long Sunday run, so I got in on the festivities from the back end. Yeah, I actually "signed up" after the fact. It's amazing how close my "estimated" distance and pace ended up to my actual results! :)
So, yeah, the long run was today. Cutting to the chase, it went well, not a disaster at all. Twenty-two freakin' miles (to quote my Facebook update after I finished).
Because it was Sunday, and because I had essentially committed the whole day to this outing (no other plans made), I wanted to run somewhere different than my usual Everett and Marysville routes. I thought this up quite some time ago; I wasn't sure which long run to do it on but the longest planned run seemed best!
So the plan was to drive to Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park (about half an hour south of Everett) and get on the Burke-Gilman trail. I could run 11 miles south, then turn around and come back, finishing up at Third Place Books again. I've run on Burke-Gilman before once or twice, but only one-way, from Fremont or Gasworks Park back to Lake Forest Park. I managed to squeeze twelve and thirteen miles out of those runs, but obviously I was looking for more today.
Doing the round-trip route also allowed me to provide my own transportation. The previous times my mother drove me to one end and picked me up at the other (with a couple of meeting points along the way). I did make some plans with my mom to meet me along the way this time just for fun, but that ended up falling apart because she has a painful hand (arthritis? carpal tunnel? not yet known) that makes driving difficult. At least she knew where I was in case of emergency, but I didn't really need her along the way (as I assured her on the phone around mile 8).
I got up early this morning, around 6:30, but of course there was much to be done before I left. And I really had no intention of going out in the dark anyway. That's just a little too much to ask on a non-work day!
I started out by getting a coffee at Starbucks. Oh my gosh, I am loving their special origins coffee this week, Guatamala Mayan is the variety. I am so sad that they only have it for a week, and you can't buy the beans. I absolutely loved the Kona a couple weeks ago too. I've been getting drip coffee instead of lattes for a while; somehow I lost my taste for lattes a little. So I'm on a break. I do put half and half in...I figure two coffees with half and half have about the same number of calories as a nonfat latte, though only a tiny fraction of the calcium, of course. Sometimes, when I'm going home, I use nonfat half and half instead, but I kind of hate to defile the special origins with anything other than the good stuff! :) (I am also saving money with the drip—the first cup is about a dollar cheaper than a latte, and the second is only 50 cents!)
But I digress. I took the coffee home and fixed myself a pretty hearty pre-run breakfast. I made deluxe oatmeal with 1½ packets of instant oatmeal (figured it was more digestible than regular), about half a cup of mixed berries, half a banana, and leftover Starbucks oatmeal add-ins (half a packet of dried fruit and half a packet of nuts), plus the Starbucks brown sugar, my own cinnamon, and about a tablespoon-plus of PB2 mixed thin and drizzed over the bowl. I was just like one of those oatmeal-eating food bloggers!
I packed up my stuff for the run. I decided to try out a Nathan two-bottle fuel belt, so I filled the bottles with Nuun (half a tablet each bottle) and put a couple extra tablets in a ziplock bag. I did have a couple of difficulties with the fuel belt, though they didn't interfere with the run. First, I'm pretty sure the medium is too big. I had to pull it to the very end of the velcro to get it tight enough, and I could have had it a little tighter, probably, if there had been more velcro. Second, the pocket to put your stuff in is a little too small for me. I was barely able to get my BlackBerry in, plus cash, credit card and driver's license, my iPod, and three Gu's. It all fit so snugly that there was no way to get stuff out and in again without completely stopping and fiddling around. Worked okay for today, though. One thing I did like was the thingy to clip your key onto (what's that called, anyway?). I took my car key off its chain and I felt much better with it secured to the fuel belt.
I also packed a couple of bags. One was alternate running clothes for my mom to pick up and bring me in case it poured rain and I got soaked early on (luckily that didn't happen, as we canceled our meet-up). The other was a change of clothes for me after I finished running. I just brought that in my car, although I didn't end up using that either. I just stayed in my (very) sweaty clothes until I got home.
After all that I left home around 8:30. Or so. When I got to Third Place Books I was happy to see that the store was already open (I guess it had to be as they have a built-in bakery that serves breakfast), so I went in to use the bathroom before I left. There would also be potential potty stops along the route, though only every few miles. (Luckily, I'll say right now, there were absolutely no emergencies!)
I hit the trail around 9:15. My running plan was simple but, I think, good. I would divide the first 20 miles into 5-mile segments, so really I would only think about five miles at a time. The first five miles were warm-up. Those first few miles always seem slow (regardless of pace) and long! It takes a good five miles to get into the groove. Then, the second five miles are the "easy" miles. This is where my legs feel good and running feels (pretty much) effortless. I love those miles. The third five (10-15) are quality miles. They require a little more effort, but I should still be able to maintain a steady pace and stay strong through and past the half-marathon point! Finally, the last five (prior to 20) are endurance miles. This is where my legs practice continuing to run even as they start to feel tired.
So that would get me to 20 miles. What about the last two? The most I've done before was 20, so this would be new ground. Possibly they could be the miles of suffering (hopefully not). My optimistic plan was to put on a final kick in those last two miles and, possibly, do them at a 9-minute or faster pace! Only time would tell how it would go.
The first, and second, five-mile segments went pretty much as planned. I took a bathroom stop at Matthews Park, around 4.5 miles. At 8.25 I called my mom and we agreed to cancel her participation, due to her injured hand. By that time I was just getting into the U-District and apparently (looking at my splits) picked up the pace quite a bit for a few miles!
A word about pace. Another plan I had for this run was to slow it down to more like a 10-minute pace, mainly to get more leg time in. I ended up going faster. A lot of my miles were around 9:45, but there were a number that were significantly faster and brought my average down. It was just too hard to slow myself down from what seemed like a comfortable pace! Not just because of ego (though I have that), but also because I have this continual pressure to get done. More so in the beginning when I was trying to arrange things with my mom. It is so hard to be running when you have an external deadline (other than in a race), such as someone waiting for you.* Creates a lot of stress. That was eased when my mom canceled, but still, I wanted to be done too!
So here are the splits for the first ten miles, "warm-up" and "easy."
1 - 9:50
2 - 9:40
3 - 9:36
4 - 9:42
5 - 9:47
6 - 9:50
7 - 9:41
8 - 9:20
9 - 9:26
10 - 9:28
I turned around at 11.11 miles and started my return trip. It was also time to start my experiment in nutrition (my first Gu!). I took out a chocolate Gu and carried it in my hand for a while. I ate it at 12.12 miles and it was yummy! Like warm chocolate pudding. Didn't know at that point how it would work for energy, though I can report that it didn't upset my stomach or anything, so that's good.
I got to Metropolitan Market at 14.5 miles. This was where my mother and I had planned to meet. I completely missed it on my way south—it's really hard to see from that direction, even though it's right off the trail.
I headed in for a bathroom break. I also kind of wanted to buy something to eat, a cookie or something, but they didn't really sell many individual cookies (and the ones I like best were in boxes of 12, not an option really). I would have just given up, but...in my perusal of the bakery cabinets I saw cupcakes. And I saw pumpkin cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting. Ummm, yum!
Yep, I bought one and ate it up. So good. This did mean that I wouldn't be eating any more Gu, so my experiment in fueling did go a bit sideways.
So my stop at Metropolitan Market was a little too long. By the time I got back up I was all cooled down and had to go through another mini-warm-up! Hence my 10:03 split for mile 15. The first half, pre-Metropolitan Market, was a 9:41 pace and the remainder, back on the trail, was a 10:30 pace! I continued to feel a little sluggish for the remaining five miles, though they were all in the 9:45 range, which was not inconsistent with my earlier pace, really.
These were definitely the endurance miles, though. I could feel it a little bit in my glutes and quads, and it certainly took more effort (though not a huge amount) to maintain the 9:45 pace. I glanced at my watch a bit and it seemed to flip-flop a lot between 9:30 and 10:00 or so. I don't know if that was me or just flaky satellites!
About halfway through the "endurance 5" I passed Matthews Beach again and knew I only had a few miles to go. (I knew that anyway, but this was substantive proof!) I started playing games with my iPod. For a while I made myself listen to three songs in a row before checking the distance on my watch, then I let it go to approximately every song. I replayed a few, because I thought they were good to run to. FYI, "Waterloo" by ABBA takes about a quarter mile to run (at my pace) and the Theme from Superman goes for almost half a mile!
Here are my splits from miles 5-10 and 11-15.
11 - 9:16
12 - 9:39
13 - 9:29**
14 - 9:31
15 - 10:03
16 - 9:46
17 - 9:41
18 - 9:42
19 - 9:47
20 - 9:51
So there I was, 20 miles down and only two to go. Now it was time for the final kick. I gathered myself up and sprang forward. This was a lot harder than running a 9-minute pace usually is! Surprised about that? :) I pushed myself onward by running to various signposts, markers, and other landmarks.
21 - 8:52
Not bad, better than I expected really. Now the final countdown! I really threw myself into this one....
22 - 8:38
Yes! 8:38. I'm shocked too. I'm quite lucky, because I arrived at the stoplight for the shopping center where Third Place Books is located right before the end of mile 22, and it was on "walk." So I sprinted across the street and was able to hit the stop button right on the other side. I walked the rest of the way through the parking lot. :)
It hadn't rained at all, but I was so dripping with sweat that my shirt was dripping from the wrists (again). I grabbed another jacket from the car (in case I got chilled) and went inside the store for lunch.
Turkey, carmelized onions, and basil aoli in potato-buttermilk bread. So good. With potato chips. Also very good. And a mocha. Pretty good (I've had better). Finally, I resisted all the luscious cakes and pastries (as I already had my pumpkin cupcake), but did treat myself to a cup of soft-serve frozen yoghurt or ice cream (not clear which it was), amaretto and maple (of course) flavors. Yum again!
I was a little chilly by the time I got into the car and I cranked up the heat. After making a quick stop at QFC for a steak to cook for dinner, and my coffee refill at Starbucks, I headed home.
Then, the longest, hottest, shower ever! (Well, maybe not ever. But surely at my house!)
FINAL STATS: 22.01 miles, 3:30:38, 9:34 average pace.
*People who are not running just don't seem to fathom how long it really takes. Plus there's the bathroom break and such which add additional time. Also, I didn't reveal to my mom how far I was actually going, although she probably had some idea if she thought about the geography of my route. When she asked me I said I'd tell her when I was done. And I did. I think she now has an idea what is happening in Sacramento on December 6. :)
**My half-marathon split, at 13.1, was 2:05:37.