Monday, July 16, 2012

Terrific Ten

WHOOOOO! My first foray into the double digits was a success! I took advantage of the blessedly cool 85 degree weather in DC on Saturday morning to tackle my new personal distance record. I started rather later than I had planned on since our varied states of packing make food preparation an exercise in McGuyver skills. I had a slice of peanut butter toast (after using my finger as a knife), packed up my water bottle and shotblocks, and headed for the door.

Bikers rule!
Not for the first (or last) time, I didn’t really research my mileage before -hand very thoroughly. I had a vague idea of where I wanted to go, but trusted mostly to the signage in the Rock Creek Park and my strong knowledge of the mileage around my apartment to triangulate my distance. I kind of like this strategy, because it keeps me mentally engaged through the whole run. I’m constantly thinking of how far I’ve gone, and adding up the various tidbits of distance information I pick up along the way, like trail signs, timing, and known distances. I ran:

2 miles from my apartment to the zoo – the first two thirds of my regular morning run
1.7 miles from the zoo to Beach Drive – via information on a trail sign at the intersection right after Pierce Mill

1.5 miles to the ranger station out Beach Drive (which is closed down for bikers and runners on Saturdays, yay!)
Turn around
1.5 miles back down Beach Drive

1.7 miles back to the zoo

2 miles from the zoo to my apartment
= 10.4 miles in 1:58:26

I’m discovering that I like to keep my long runs a little on the long side. I already know that the marathon I picked is a Boston Qualifier, which almost certainly means it will be long. I also don’t really trust trail markers or Map My Run to get my mileage right, and I’d rather be safe than sorry. Not necessarily knowing where I’ll go beforehand is really freeing for a control freak like me, and I’m really proud of myself for being able to let go like this. It’s a welcome break from all of the other over-planned aspects of my life right now. I’m sure I’ll have to do more planning when I’m running in strange cities, or when my mileage starts getting long enough that I can’t count on trail signs and familiar territory to sustain my full distance. For now, I’m really enjoying it.
A map of the Zoo, via the National Zoo website. I run by th petting zoo with the cows and donkeys.
I was also proud of myself for staying on pace and finishing in under 2 hours. This included 2 water breaks and a bathroom break, since I’m learning to just let my watch run. Anyway, I’m still going to need those “breaks” during the marathon, so why set my pacing up for failure? I want to just feel great about finishing, so I’m trying to keep my expectations as reasonable as possible. I don’t think there’s much sense in running my first marathon for a goal time, though under 5 hours would be great.
As for the run itself, I thought the first 3 miles really sucked. It was hot, and I was instantly sick of running and just felt stiff and icky. Luckily, there were lots of people out running as well, and I got lots of encouraging smiles and waves from them. This is probably a sure sign that I looked miserable, but it succeeded in making me feel better. My first water break was just over 3 miles in, and that’s when the run started to turn around. I had a very fast  and fun mile 4, 5, 6 and 7. I took shotblocks at mile 4.5 and mile 6.5. They tasted great, but it was really hard to get the package open with how sweaty I was. I will definitely remember to rip open the package before I leave home next time! Overall, I think I just need to remind myself that it’s okay to start slower for long runs and remember that the fun almost never starts until after mile 4. I remember someone telling this to me once a few years ago and thinking that I would never be able to run more than 4 consecutive miles. Ahhhhhhh, perspective. If only I had listened.

Just like usual, the last 2 miles were brutal, mostly due to hills. I think it also means that my pace is good though – I don’t like finishing these longer runs with lots of fuel in the tank. I always find myself wondering how I will possibly handle the next week’s long run while I’m tackling that last hill. 12 miles next week seems insurmountable from the middle of that stupid hill. I guess we’ll just have to see!

So now, an uncomfortable confession: I get pretty sick right after I run more than a few miles if I’m not extremely careful of what I eat. And sometimes, even then… It would appear that my gut just really protests being bounced and shaken around for two hours. Since part of the deal with this marathon training is getting to know and fuel my body better, I’ve been experimenting with how best to prevent the violent rebellion after each long run. I had a glass of Tang right when I got home, and danced around the boxes in our living room to cool down, and stretched in the shower, so far so good. I had another glass of water while I got dressed, but knew I was going to need more calories before we left to hang out at a friend’s house. About an hour post-run, I had a small salad with almonds, dried cherries and feta. And immediately regretted the decision. In the grand scheme, the whole episode only made us about an hour late, but it still pisses me off that my body should be so upset with me about doing things that are good for it. I like running, but the long runs take a large enough chunk out of my day without adding an additional two hours of being chained to the bathroom. I’ve toyed with my diet, and the only thing that seems to keep it under control is just not eating for a few hours after a long run, which makes me cranky, because I’m HUNGRY after those things. Smoothies do seem to be better than real food, so I’m sticking with them for now and hoping that my body just adjusts as time goes on. Grrrrrrrr.

Photo: So, this just happened.... omnomnomnomnom
And then I ate this, and lived happily ever after.


  1. Awesome work! We are out of town this weekend, so I'm long-running Friday night, prob from the office if you want to get together.

    You aren't taking advil or motrin or anything by any chance after you run are you? It took me about two years to put two and two together that those WILL put you on a chain in the bathroom following a run. Tylenol is easier on your stomach.

    Also, don't forget about beer! The perfect liquid carb (I'm being totally serious).

  2. hmmm - Advil! Who knew?! I haven't been taking anything, but I definitely won't start.

    I totally tried the beer thing after my 6 miler on Monday, and it rocked. Not only was the pain easily ignored, but my tummy felt great! haha.