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Monday, April 29, 2013

Last 20 miler and taper.

Finally, a beyond perfect day for running long!  Saturday morning my friend Lisa and I started out at the top of Buckskin Road in Pocatello and ran a mostly downhill route that took us back towards my house in Inkom.  The sun was shining and the the temperatures were cool, but perfect ~ 40's when we started.  There were a gazillion runners out there working their way down Buckskin, and who could blame them?  By the time we reached my house, we had gone a little over 15 miles.  Lisa needed to be finished, so I drove her back to her car then came back home and set out on my own to do another 5 miles.

When all was said and done, I did a tad over 20 miles with an average pace of 10:18 min/mile.  I got a little sunburned and a nice, big blister on one of my toes, but I felt it was a great run to peak my marathon training.    In the past, I have done runs up to and over the full marathon distance during training, but considering the issues I've had with my back, I am feeling good having done 2 good 20 milers and several 4-hour cardio sessions that mixed running with spinning, etc.  With the marathon 3 weeks away, I will start my taper.  This weekend my long run will be 12-13 miles, then the next week I'll bring it down to 8 or 9, then the Saturday after that it will be race day!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

14.5 miles in the rain.

It's been another week of erratic weather: sun one minute, rain and wind the next.  Yesterday I had planned to do a long run of about 20 miles with my running buddy, Lisa.  After it had rained all night and was still pouring at 6 am when we were planning to go, we agreed that a run of that distance in the rain just wasn't something either of us wanted to do.  So instead, I went to the gym with my husband where I did a spin class.  I took my running gear with me and figured that by the time the hour-long class was over, there was a possibility that the rain may have cleared up enough for me to run home from the gym.  After class, I changed out of my sweat-soaked clothes into my running outfit, then took off for the long run home of 14.5 miles.

It was still really windy and raining, but the temperature wasn't too bad at around 45 degrees so I figured I could handle a little rain.  My run was a tad on the slow side, as I battled a head wind and tired legs right from the start.  My hamstrings and back were bothering me too, but I was determined to continue with my "push through anything to get it done" attitude.  There were moments during my run that the sun would shine briefly through the clouds, and those moments were just enough to keep the enjoyment level up on my run and helped me make it all the way home.

The rest of the day I nursed sore, achy and cramping legs, but today I'm feeling a lot better - except for my back. :(  One month until the marathon and I'm really hoping for some great weather next weekend.  I'd like to get in at least two more 20+ milers before I taper.

If not, I will just do my best with where I'm at when the day comes.  I had a wonderful phone conversation with the friend I will be running the Ogden Marathon with in May.  He was supposed to run the Boston Marathon last Monday, but decided not to run it at the last minute because he'd been sick and was still recovering.  We agreed that at this point in our lives, our focus should be on enjoying the long run and the opportunity to spend time together.  Neither of us is going for a PR on this one, as we've both been dealt a few stumbling blocks during our training the past few months.  Taking the pressure off helps me look forward to this marathon with a renewed sense of excitement.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Running: it's more heart than legs.

Lately I've been contemplating what drives some of us to run for recreation, and more particularly, to run long distances.  I've come to realize that in order for someone to be willing to put their body through the tough physical demands and mental and emotional frustration that often comes with long hours of training, there must be a unique desire to achieve something greater than what has yet been achieved.  For most dedicated runners, it's more about the intrinsic rewards received than it is about making physical changes to the body or just getting in a little exercise.  Sometimes those feelings of satisfaction come from an individual run, sometimes they come from a season of training that culminates in a race.

I feel I've been somewhat sidelined during my training for this marathon.  My focus has been a little blurry, my thoughts a little scattered.  For a time I became distracted with various other goals, some of which conflicted with a hard-lined marathon training plan.  When I was forced to deal with a back injury a few of weeks ago, I started to feel even more discouraged and my love of running waned.

On Saturday, despite the fact that at most I had run 6 miles at once for almost 2 weeks, I decided it was time for me to go long.  I put a few new songs on my mp3 player, geared up and hit the road at 6:30 am.  For the first 15 miles, I ran alone.  The weather was fairly calm: 45 degrees, mild winds.  I breathed deeply, ran easy, and soaked in the mountain air and sky around me.  I thought about how much I used to love getting out for a nice, long run on my own.  I never really cared much how fast I went.  I just went.  Around mile 13, I started to feel a few drops of rain and the wind starting to pick up.  I called my friend and trainer, Misty, who was planning to join me for the last few miles of my run.  I let her know it was starting to rain, but she didn't care.  She met up with me as I reached mile 15 and together we ran the last 5 miles, rain blowing sideways, pelting our faces as we tried to carry on a conversation.  When we reached our destination (the gym, which was at 20 miles total for me), we were both drenched and my legs were completely fatigued, but then I looked at my 6 months pregnant friend with her post-run glow, dripping wet hair and giant smile on her face, and I heard her say, "I love running in the rain!"  I was flooded with those familiar feelings of gratification.  I had run 20 miles, and I felt surprisingly great.  As she and I stood in the hallway near the weight room where my husband was working out, she said something to Chris about how wet, cold and tired I must be after running so far, to which he lovingly replied, "She brings it on herself!"

Yep, that's right.  And now I remember why.  Now I remember why I love running so far and so long that it feels as though my legs may give out at any moment.  I cling self-righteously to my reasons for giving myself black toenails, hamstring and calf twitches, ravenous hunger pangs, wind and sunburned skin (some days!), blisters and potential cramping in pretty much any, unpredictable part of my body ~ I love to run long!  There really is nothing else that compares with the feeling of accomplishment after keeping your legs on the move for so many miles...and the motivation comes from the heart.

In response to the horrific tragedy that occurred at the Boston Marathon on Monday, I have seen a lot of posts on Facebook showing support and offering condolences to the runners, victims and their family and friends.  One of quotes that stands out to me the most was one that said, "If you're trying to defeat the human spirit, marathoners are the wrong group to target."  Well put.  In the end, we will all run on.