Saturday, August 18, 2012

A soul-crusher, a spirit lifter... and a mocktail party??

First things first - for everyone running the ZOOMA Half Marathon and 10K on September 22nd (contact me if you have any questions about registration!), there will be a "mocktail" party the eve of the race. Now, I love to get boozy just as much as the next girl, but since it's the night before a race, we'll be toasting with HINT water, and making some HINT mocktails. It's a gorgeous venue, and you'd be straight silly not to join us! Bring the whole family - races, spectators, bell-ringers are all welcome! Check out all the deets here. Hope to see lots of my friends there!

Okay, back to crushing souls and lifting spirits. I woke up Monday morning with an adorable summer cold. You know, the one that starts with sneezing fits, and then takes a quick turn into snotsville? Yep, that happened. The good news is that the cold seems to be confined just to my head, so it could be a lot worse. I went on with my planned miles, and just slowed it down as needed (I friends, have set the benchmark this week for how slow one can actually run while still calling it "running"; I dare anyone to challenge me on this).


Yesterday I went out for my first long run of the weekend; I needed to do a road run, as time didn't allow for me to drive to the woods and run. I took a full 32oz of fluid with me, as I knew it would be hot out, and I would need extra liquid to make up for the snot and sweat I was losing. The first 12 miles felt surprisingly decent; I just plodded along, doing my thang. I was definitely taking in more fluid, and my snot rocket per mile ratio was astounding. It was somewhere about mile 16ish when everything started unraveling; I felt like crap, my legs felt like lead, I was incredibly hot, and my body just wanted to be done. I tried every mind trick in the book, and then I just tried quieting my mind. Nothing was working. In comes the negotiation phase that every runner has gone through (don't lie to me and tell me you've never done this): "If you can run just ONE mile, I'll give you a 30 second walk break". "If you get me home, I promise lots of watermelon and ice cold water".. You know the drill. Then I ran out of fluid at mile 17, as I was in a spot w/ no shade and felt like my skin was going to burst into flames. Miles 17-20 felt like they took a decade to complete. Somehow I managed to still be coherent when my Garmin clicked over to 20 miles. My tweet when I came back in the house was "I think I left my soul somewhere around mile 17.. Good God that was a hard run.. BUT I finished.. And now I shall die (hows your dramatic?). I think it was a combo of my cold, the heat, and frankly, not having a gigantic base to build off of. Either way, I checked that run off the list, and I don't intend to repeat that anytime soon.

My second long run was on tap this morning, a 12 miler. I went to bed at 8:15 last night (yes, 8:15!), after pounding some cold medicine, and some Gatorade. I slept about 9.5 hours and woke up feeling pretty good. The legs were tired (duh), but I went through the motions. If I had stopped to think about it, I'm sure I could have come up with 64 reasons why to put off my run. I chose a loop that goes by 3 firehouses (because seriously, how can you have a bad run when you're running by an abundance of firefighters??) and headed out. I flipped the Garmin to the inside of my wrist, and make the executive decision to not look at it; it's not like it was going to magically tell me I was running 8 min/miles after running 20 miles yesterday. For some bizarro reason, the legs were onboard this morning. I wouldn't call them zippy, but they definitely did their part. They whined a little when I had to add on the silly little 2 mile loop to get 12, but they hung in there. It was such a stark difference from yesterday's run, and I finished the run feeling pretty strong (it's all relative....).

Despite having a less than ideal 20 miler yesterday, I'm proud of myself for getting through these runs. I'm craving some social long runs, as I've been doing way too many of these solo; however I do think that for me, it's been good to have to tough these out without anyone to use as a crutch.

And for us New Englanders, I have a feeling that this fall, we're all going to feel like rockstars after toughing it out through this heat and humidity!

Happy Training!

Monday, August 13, 2012

For the Love of Long Runs..

Anyone that's ever asked me what my favorite part of training is, always gets the same answer: "long runs". I first started incorporating them when training for my first marathon in 2004.Throughout the course of that training cycle, I fell in love with a new "personal distance record" every week. I loved learning how to fuel, learning a new level of mental toughness, and embracing the solitude.

Over the past 8 years, my long runs have become the standard part of every week where I can go and solve the worlds problems. Not to say that I don't love doing these runs with friends; solving the worlds problems can be hilarious when amongst your closest friends for hours on end. Whether alone, or falling in step with a running partner, there is something about a long run that makes you feel so alive. 

I was having an email conversation with a good friend who's running her first marathon (Chicago!) this fall. She's up against her first 18 miler tomorrow, and I had sent her along some encouragement going into the run. Her response was this: "I'm honestly NOT stressed about the run. I am constantly shocked by how much I've been looking forward to the long run days and how well I've felt during them, even. It's just incredible what the body will do if you quiet your mind and just go for it." 

And that couldn't be more true. When I was out awaiting my surgery (and then recovering) it was what I missed the most about running. Even now, a little less than 4 months post-surgery, I get creative with my schedule so I can accomodate a long run. Yes, even if that means having to take the day before and day after off. Very anti my "run-like-hell" strategy, I know. 

Friday was my birthday (what? you did not know this? Gasp!), and I wanted to celebrate my 33rd with a 33km run. Yes, I thought about a 33-miler, but then I also thought about my leg spontaneously combusting. Right, so back to 33km.  I headed out to the trails just as the sun was rising - I brought my GPS boyfriend (we've had a spotty relationship since surgery, as he likes to tell me I'm grossly out of shape), but set the screen to display HR only. I gave myself ample time, so that I knew no matter what, I wasn't going to feel rushed.  I took a deep breath, and headed off into the woods. 

I had one of those runs that just went by too fast. No no no, the RUN wasn't fast, but it felt like it ended too soon. And that's with the 93% humidity (nope, not a typo) soaking every piece of fabric, every strand of hair, and what felt like every part of my skin. Yet I didn't really notice; I was busy bounding rocks, and dodging trees. Dancing around sticks, and over bridges, I'm pretty sure I was the happiest girl around. 

And when it was over, I just smiled. Not once over the course of those hours was I tempted to look at my pace; I didn't care. When I got annoyed with the 8 million deer flies, or had a moment of "I'm tired", I just let myself have the moment, and then moved on.

When I thought about my run on the drive home, I started to panic that I've lost my competitiveness. Things such as "why the hell didn't I care about pace", and "I can't believe I didn't think about throwing in a few miles at marathon pace" start creeping into my mind. And almost instantly, I shut it down. There will be a time and place over the next 12 months for track work, tempo runs, and running at "oh my God I'm going to vomit on myself" pace.  

Until that time comes, I'm going to enjoy exactly what I'm doing: running. And especially these long runs. 

Happy Training! 

View from the early miles.. How can you not love doing this??