A 20 Mile Saturday

WordPress has a filter that catches spam comments on your blog, and they don’t get posted. Occasionally, I read them. Most of them are hilariously composed. Here’s one of my new favorites:

Excellent web site. Plenty of useful info here. I am sending it to
some pals ans additionally sharing in delicious.
And of course, thank you on your sweat!

Oh, so close. That made sense for a while, and then….crash and burn! Although, I’d like to say, you are very welcome for my sweat!


Now, about those 20 miles. They were pretty great. Not very eventful, but I had a good time. I didn’t take any pictures on the run (guess I got my fill of that last week), so for the most part, I’ll have to try and paint a picture with my words. 🙂

I was out the door and running by 6:45 AM. It was tough! I don’t like to get up before 6 AM on the weekend, but I also like to take my time getting ready. It was only with Jeff’s help (he filled my camelbak), that I managed to get out the door only a couple minutes later than my target time.

I’ve been having a smoothie for breakfast on long run days, and it’s working quite well. I don’t like to eat immediately when I wake up, but I’m usually thirsty; the smoothie works well dealing with both of those issues. Also, it’s really easy. I’ll just have to figure out a way to do this on race day when I’m spending the night before in a hotel.

***I interrupt this post to bring you a smoothie recipe***

  • 1/2 Frozen Banana (I have a bag of frozen half bananas in the freezer)
  • 1 Cup Plain Soy Milk
  • 2 Ice Cubes
  • 2 TBS Peanut Butter
  • Pinch Cinnamon (if you like cinnamon)

Put it all in the blender and blend. The ice tends to make it a little icy. If you don’t like that, try a smidge more smilk instead.

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Pre-run smoothies go best when served in a pint glass from your last half marathon.

***Now back to our regularly scheduled blogging.***

Even though I say my run was uneventful, I did try out a few new things. First, I ate and drank more than usual. I brought enough gel to have one every 45 minutes, and I forced myself to actually follow that plan. For water, I made myself take one extra sip every time I had some.

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Birds-eye view of my gu pocket. I look like a pack mule when I run. Full pockets and a camelbak. I’ve never been one to travel light. 🙂

This fueling plan had two consequences. One was that I felt better at the end of the run than I normally do. Those last few miles weren’t easy, but I felt less like I was running on fumes. So that’s good. The other consequence was that I ran out of water at around mile 17.

At that point, I went into a convenience store and bought the most refreshing gatorade I’ve ever drank in my whole life. I only had a credit card with me, and there was an $8 minimum, but after I offered to have the attendant charge me for 4 gatorades, he just let me pay with the card anyways. I was very grateful, but honestly if I had had to pay eight bucks, it would have been worth every penny.

Over the last 3 miles, I carried the bottle and drank the entire thing.  I really think it gave me a little extra burst of energy (remember the gummy bear show on the disney channel where they would drink gummiberry juice and get a burst of power…that’s how I felt) Now, I’m planning on getting another one next week, and trying to figure out how to get some on race day.

The other new thing I tried was taking less walk breaks. I usually walk the first 0.1 of every mile, but this week I walked only while I was eating gu (and later, drinking gatorade). I was nervous that this would lead to some pretty tired legs, but like I mentioned before, I felt strong at the end of the run. So, I’m happy with how that went, and plan to stick to that plan for the rest of my long runs and the race. I ended up w/ a faster average pace than normal (even including the gatorade stop where I did not pause my watch – once I start it, I never pause it during a run), and I didn’t notice any adverse effects. Another win!

Overall, I’d say it was a pretty productive run.

How much do you eat/drink when you exercise? Do you remember Gummiberry juice? Do you pause your watch at all on long runs? And, as always…thank you for your sweat, guys and gals!

 

10 miles – A photo diary

I’m behind on some posts (my last Scavenger Hunt post, a recap of August), and I’ve had some other half written posts in the works for quite a while (a camel bak review, a Throwback Thursday race recap), but you’ll have to wait for those because today I have a photo journal of my long run!

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It was just barely cool enough (high 60s) to try out my new “knickers”.

 

This week, as a step back week, I covered 10 miles. I did a different route than my normal long run, and even ran down a new street. I tried drinking more water than usual and taking a gel more often (every 45 min), but I have no idea whether that made a difference because I normally make it about 15 miles before I start to fade. At the very least, I didn’t suffer any adverse effects from the added fuel, and that’s good to know.

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Ready to go! Yeah, I wasn’t terribly excited.

I took a picture at every mile. This means I don’t have pictures of some interesting stuff, but it should give a more fair view of what I see on my run. I was a little surprised that I got some fun things in almost every picture. Especially if your definition of fun is a loose one. 🙂

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Mile 1: Park + Ocean

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Mile 2: Check out that greenery. Contrary to what everyone and their pumpkin spice lattes are saying, it’s not fall yet.

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Mile 3: I’m not really sure what this building is, but I like the fountain.

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Mile 4: Looking back where I came from.

At mile 4, I took my first gel, salted caramel gu. It’s pretty good, as far as this stuff goes, and I like the picture of the yeti on the front. I didn’t take my usual walk breaks this week, but I stopped to snap a photo at every mile, and walked while I ate my two gels so it wasn’t really too much different from the norm.

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Mile 5: Cool little gate on a street I had never run down.

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Mile 6: Stone Eagle.

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Mile 7: The sun is officially out, and I think it actually felt nicer out than when it was hiding behind the clouds. Good.

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Mile 8: Me running down a residential street.

I took my second gel at this point, chocolate cherry clif shot gel. This is the one with all the caffeine. It is also delicious. Last week I had 2 gels over 19 miles, today I took 2 over 10 miles. I was hungry, so I don’t think it was too much, probably too little last week.

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Mile 9: More ocean views. I see the ocean a lot on this particular route. My kind of run.

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Mile 10: Finally a run where I finish before arriving home rather than the other way around. Running past my front door to finish up is the worst!

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Finished! I felt like a watch photo would be fitting, of course, the screen is not visible. At least I didn’t drop my phone while taking a left handed photo.

And there you have it. That was my 10 mile run! There’s nothing like marathon training to make 10 miles feel enjoyable. And I’m still on a pretty intense runner’s high. (Don’t believe they exist? You should have seen me dancing around and jumping up and down while we cooked pancakes.)

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Bonus photo: crazy hair! And looking a lot more excited than pre-run!

I hope you all are having a good weekend. Have you ever made a photo journal? Aside from this one, I took a series of photos of an all nigher I pulled in college (to complete schoolwork), and those photos are pretty hilarious. That was back when I had to use an actual camera to do it. 🙂

 

Do other people do 19 mile long runs?

Since today was long run day, I hit the road for a 19 mile run. It seems like an odd distance to me, you hear a lot about “the 20 mile long run” and even the 18, but rarely (if ever) have I seen someone talk about the 19 they ran. Also, I’ve seen a lot of training plans that jump directly from 18 miles to 20 miles. What’s up with that? Are other people not running 19. I’ve basically made up the long run mileages of my training plan, so I’m curious what other people do.

Anyways, my run went pretty well. My legs seemed to be on board with the whole thing pretty much right from the start, and I continue to be elated with the mild temperatures this summer. My glutes (or something nearby) and hamstrings have been feeling pretty tired all week, and that’s how they felt this morning, too. Aside from that all was well. It’s pretty exciting to think how good my legs are going to feel for the first part of the marathon when they’ve been nicely tapered. (That sounds weird. Like I’m getting my legs surgically modified to fit perfectly in tapered jeans.)

I spent the first 6(ish) miles getting into a groove. I was searching for some stragglers on my scavenger hunt list and listening to an audiobook (Dark Places by Gillian Flynn), so I was pretty well entertained. I reached the top of my steepest hill right before 6 miles and the downhill that follows is where I tend to really start feeling good. The next 7 miles flew by, bringing me to 13.1 miles at around 2 hr 25 min.

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I really like this part of my run. The view helps me ignore the hills, at least.

After I reach 13 miles, my brain tends to get a little fuzzy. I have an extraordinarily difficult time keeping track of how many miles I have left to run, and simple subtraction (19 – 13 = 6) can easily get messed up. Today I missed a turn that I take on a regular basis. And not just any turn, this street I forgot to turn down is one of my favorite parts of the run. I ran a quarter mile passed (past? which is it?) it before I realized…oops! My thoughts were something like “Wow…I’m feeling really good for 13.5 miles, and I’m still pretty sharp, I can even do math – I have 5.5 miles left….wait a second…..I’m not supposed to be here…”

I turned around so I could run down Pickman & Neptune Streets (my two favorites), and by the time I was back to some louder, more difficult streets I’d reached 15 miles. The point where things start to hurt a little. Like a switch turns on.

“What, your legs are starting to hurt? Let’s run up this really hilly street. It’ll be fun!”

The next 4 miles were pretty much just a countdown. I still felt pretty good for a while, but it was getting hot, and I was excited to finish up. While my legs were still hanging on at 16 miles, my brain had completely checked out.

My inner dialogue:

  • 15.85 miles: “Sweet! Almost at 16, and then only 2 short miles to hit 19…no, 3 short miles.”
  • 16 miles: “Woo! only 2 miles until 19! No, 3 miles, 3 miles…”
  • 16.2 miles: “2 miles, 2 miles….Seriously, brain?! It’s 3, come on.  Just stop looking at the watch.”

At that point, I started focusing on the ground so I wouldn’t hit any uneven spots and trip, and that task kept me sufficiently occupied until well past the 17 mile mark.

I had purposefully sent myself out on a run that I knew would end with me crossing the bridge to Salem, and pretty much immediately turning around to cross back over. Even though I knew it was coming it was still a very, very sad thing to actually have to do that. The timing ended up working out so that I got a walk break immediately upon reaching the top of the bridge. The walk break then ended as soon as I had finished the downhill portion. No fair! It was difficult having to start running again only to turn around after a tenth of a mile and climb back over, but I know (hope?) it’ll be good training for late hills in the marathon.

18 miles plus bridge = 😦

Despite my pitiful face in the picture above, it was really a great run. I can’t believe that with step back weeks and tapering, I only have 3 more long runs before the race. I mean, it isn’t until October 26th for goodness sake!

Next week is a step back week, so I’ll probably go for 10 miles. I’m going to try to keep my pace in check because these last two long runs have really done a number on my legs. I suspect I’m running them too fast (11:14/mile average pace, around 9:50ish on the running portions), but it’s not easy to slow down when I’m having such a good time.

Have you or do you plan to run a 19 miler? Anyone else have huge brain farts towards the end of long runs? And what are your tricks for keeping the “S” in LSD? (LSD being Long Slow Distance)

 

Eleven

This weekend was the 3rd long run in my “maybe I’m going to run a marathon” training plan. And, it went great! The first two (8 and 9.5 miles) were very difficult, but this one was awesome. Don’t get me wrong; it was still exhausting, but this 11 miles somehow felt much much easier than the 8 mile run I did two weeks ago. There were only a couple of sections at the end of the run when I wished I was done, but I didn’t stop even when I had to run past my front door in order to bring my final total up to 11 miles.

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View from the top of the bridge.

I’ve been running portions of my long run route from marathon training last summer – starting out the same way, but cutting off miles at the end according to the distance I need for that day. Last summer I thought it was really fun to add on sections to the run every week and see how the route changed over the summer. So far, I’m liking doing that again, but I’m in a bit of a tough spot.

My route has 3 different sections, and right now I run the entire first section and am increasing the distance I run on the second. Here’s where the problem comes in: this second section starts with a “giant” bridge. It’s not an exceptionally steep or long climb when I look at my Garmin elevation profile (the liar!), but it is always a challenge for me. And right now, I am crossing the bridge at the end of my run. Last week, I crossed the bridge, turned around and came right back – ugh! This week was a little better – I had about a mile before I ended up crossing back over. But, both times, getting up and over the bridge was SO HARD.

I know that I could change around my route so the bridge is earlier in the run or not in it at all yet, but part of me thinks that the giant hill in the final mile of my run is probably good for me. And, it’s only going to get better with time. As I add more and more miles, the bridge will eventually be closer to the middle of the run than the end. And I’ll have more miles after crossing it before I have to make the return trip.

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Can you see the bridge in the distance? That’s the bridge I’m talking about.

I’ve been run/walking my long runs these past few weeks. For the 8 and 9.5 mile runs, I would run a song, walk a minute, repeat. Very precise, I imagine. But this week for the 11 miler, I ran for 0.9 miles and then walked 0.1 mile. And I LOVED it. I did this for two reasons – I ran with an audiobook instead of music, and I wanted longer sections of uninterrupted running. I was a little nervous about how I’d feel at the end of the run, but I ended up averaging a faster pace and feeling less tired than I did on the first two runs. (Just to be clear, I don’t think this change in run/walk strategy contributed to me feeling better, but at least it didn’t have a negative effect).

The new strategy, mentally, was a huge boost. I was able to get into a better running grove on the run sections, and I averaged an overall faster pace than the previous two runs – which made me happy. Also, I kind of inadvertently started thinking of the run as an interval run, and counting down the running portions gave me a little boost.

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From the bridge, at night.

I have one more little bit of news before I wrap this up: I SIGNED UP FOR A RACE! It’s called The Bridge & Back 10k. There was no map on the website, so I don’t know the exact route, but I know where it starts and I know that at some point we run across the bridge – the one I’ve been yammering on about – and then eventually we run back. Hooray!

I tend to shy away from summer races (heat makes me slow, then I do bad and get disappointed), but I made an exception for this one. It’s right by my house, and my friend is running it! And, it’s her first, I think, 10k!! And we’re going to have a sleepover the night before. How awesome is that?! Also, it’ll be my first race as a 30 year old! Great things all around.

Note: I didn’t start out with the intention of putting all bridge pictures in this post, but once I realized it, I couldn’t help myself. Foreshadowing! 🙂


 

Anyone else love running races on roads you train on? Isn’t it funny how an 11 mile run can feel easier than 8 mile run? Do you run/walk/ride across any bridges? 

#100HappyDays – Days 1 – 7

Last week, I told you all about my 100 Happy Days Challenge. Here’s how the first week went:

Day 1: Running 11 miles before breakfast. Running makes me happy, obviously, especially Saturday morning long runs. I don’t know what it is, but there’s a great feeling about finishing a long run first thing on a weekend morning. I think it’s that I feel so accomplished, even if I do nothing the entire rest of the day.

Day 2: Reading in bed. I love reading, and there’s something even better about waking up without an alarm and spending a little time reading in bed. Good thing the weekend has two days, so I can spend one morning on a long run, and one sleeping in and reading in bed.

Day 3: Visiting with an out of town friend. Today was a happy day. I got to have lunch with my friend from high school, Fay, who was in town to see the Veronica Mars movie. I also met (apparently for the second time.) her grad school friend who also lives in the area. We all had lunch (including milkshakes) and then hung out at the nearest Irish Bar for some drinks to celebrate St. Patrick’s day.

Day 4: Getting a package. I love getting mail! Who doesn’t? I get excited to check the mail every day; who knows what’s going to be there? I’ve been lucky enough that people have recently sent me surprise food-filled packages in the mail, but the one that I got today was one I ordered myself – from Amazon, filled with necessities – two 24 packs of energy gel and a 4 pack of steel cut oats. 🙂

Day 5: Grilled Cheese for lunch. I made it all the way to day 5 before using food as one of my happy things! I’m sure this won’t be the first. It might not even be the only time I mention grilled cheese. It’s one of my favorites.

Day 6: Running outside on the first day of Spring. It was a short run, but good news, I didn’t suck at hills, and it smells so nice outside, not at all like sweaty gym smell! Hurrah!

Day 7: I passed the first actuary exam! Next up, job search and test 2, but for now I’ll just be happy that this one is behind me. It was a lot of studying and relearning calculus, and I’m glad all the hard work paid off. Man, I really like math. 🙂

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1st Seven Days!