Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Marathon substitute

As planned (or un-planned?) I didn't run the Bellingham Bay Marathon on Sunday. Last week when I made the decision to cancel, I had high-falutin' plans of doing a 23-mile long run on the weekend anyway. Didn't happen...not exactly, anyway.

On Thursday morning I squeezed out 5.5 miles in between my nursing duties and work. Even though it was a short, easy run, by Thursday night my touchy ankle and achilles had flared up, leading to an achy, Advil-fueled night. That made it easy to allow Friday as a rest day (from running), in hopes that I would have fresher legs for running on the weekend.

I was checking the weekend weather forecast on my BlackBerry pretty much constantly, trying to predict whether Saturday or Sunday would be a better day for my long run. Originally I had intended to do it on Sunday, in lieu of the marathon...but the forecast for Saturday showed sun, and Sunday showed rain. So Saturday kind of seemed like the best day, especially with the rest day on Friday.

Had I been able to hit the road by 8:00 or so on Saturday, I might have been able to get through a 20+ mile run. But there's a lot of stuff to do when you're helping out a post-surgical patient. And it's not like you can tell him to get a move on so I can go out and run. By the time I had an opportunity to go, it was almost 11 a.m. and already 70 degrees outside. The idea of spending the next four hours running (as it continued to warm up) was just not feasible.

So I modified my plan to 10-11 miles instead, which was basically half of my original intent. I headed out and, yes, it was warm (considering that I have been used to running with temps in the 50s in the mornings!). I had eaten a light breakfast of a sandwich thin with almond butter and jam, but that was around 9:00. I was carrying some Gu's, but I had also tucked a mini-Larabar into my fuel belt for a "real food" alternative to gels. I decided to eat the Larabar after five miles, giving me something to look forward to as well as (hopefully) some energy for the second half of the run.

I hit five miles at the top of a short, steep hill and found a shady spot to stop while I ate the Larabar. Because it was so dense and chewy, I really didn't feel like trying to choke it down while running. so I took advantage of the opportunity for a short break. Even though it was fairly hot, I didn't feel it too much while I was running, since there was quite a breeze as well. But I realized how much I was sweating when I stopped at a bathroom and felt sweat flying off me like rain!

I hit downtown at about nine miles and figured I had at least a mile to go to Safeway (my final destination). I sort of wanted to make it eleven miles (while still wanting to be done as soon as possible), so I rather reluctantly tweaked my route to expand the distance. Finally, after a little bit of running around the Safeway parking lot, I called it done at 11.12 miles! My average pace for this run was around 10:27 per mile.

I got a few things from the grocery store and an Americano plus an iced tea from Starbucks, then walked the remaining distance back to Rod's (less than a mile). My ankle was feeling it a little bit, so I gave it a little bit of an ice soak by sitting on the shower chair in the tub and soaking it in cold bathwater with a few ice cubes thrown in (I didn't want to use too much of the ice as Rod needed it for his ice packs). Since I hadn't done a really long run, I didn't think a full ice bath was necessary, and that way I wouldn't have to deal with wet running clothes (well, they were wet from sweat, but that's a little different from being immersed in bathwater).

I was pretty hungry so I made myself a late lunch of leftover chicken casserole on a big bed of lettuce. No fear about the late lunch, though, I would not have any trouble eating dinner later on!
The rest of the day was pretty much laying around and watching football and feeling sorry for myself reading my book. The patient was in a kind of crappy mood not feeling that great so it was a rather rough day for me.

Weatherwise, though, it was a beautiful afternoon, especially once I was done running in it! It stayed balmy even into the evening. That changed to warm and humid on Sunday (and more so on Monday!).

To get out of the house make up for my short distance on Saturday, I decided to run again on Sunday. I got it into my head that if I ran 15.1 miles on Sunday, that would add up to 26.2 for the weekend...the full marathon distance. I left about an hour earlier than on Saturday (but I was running further, so not a huge difference in the end), and it was cloudy and a little cooler, though noticeably muggy.

This time I decided just to repeat a four-mile loop until I was done. I figured 3.5 times around wouldn't be too horrible, and it gave me an out if I wanted it. I was moving a little faster this time, and ended up with a 10:06 average pace...though that was really averaging because I know most of my miles were slower. I had a couple of "fast" miles that boosted the average.

I had a larabar and gu for fuel again, and I decided to eat the Larabar after six miles. But I found that the chewy, nutty texture was a little hard to get down, so I ended up eating two little bites at six miles, two more at seven, and finishing it up at eight (and this was a teeny tiny little bar!). I pulled out a gu at twelve miles, ate half and put it away, then finished it when I passed thirteen. There was a lot of rationing happening!

Throughout both Saturday and Sunday's runs I listened to multiple podcasts of Phedippidations. Lately I've been using podcasts to pass the time on longer runs, though I am not certain that I run as quickly as with music. I'm pretty sure I'd want to stick to music for any kind of race, even a long one.

I finished at Starbucks again and this time I bought a seven-pound bag of ice from the grocery store and hauled it back (along with a few groceries, a mocha, and an Americano--it was a hard walk!). Later I used the ice for an almost-full-fledged ice bath. The only deficiency was that I didn't close the drain tightly enough, so the bath didn't fill well, and I never fully immersed my legs. Since the achy parts are all on the backsides, it wasn't that big of a deal.

Since the weekend I've been alternating between wildly planning make-up runs and races over the next two months, and wondering gloomily whether, if I had run the marathon, if I would have even beat a 10-minute pace, and whether I've just lost all my speed. A lot of this is due to the recurring ankle ache. I refuse to call it an injury, because it is not debilitating! But I think it does slow me down.

Another example--this morning (Tuesday), 8.40 miles, 10:15 pace. Mo.lass.es. (Or should that be, Mo.las.ses....) But I am still plugging along....


lindsay said...

The running is impressive enough, hauling a bag of ice + groceries + a beverage is insane. You should have documented with a photo!

chris mcpeake said...

Great job with the running.