Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dress rehearsal

Today was the BIG DAY. The culmination of all my training, my long run day had finally arrived. Because I'm going out of town this weekend, Becky put the long run on the plan for Thursday. That was fine by me.

I got up early this morning, with the plan to get out the door by 7 am. I needed to be home in time to take my son to the orthodontist at 11. I figured that if all went well, I'd be done in 3 hours. If all didn't go well, I'd cancel the appointment.

After a cup of coffee, glass of orange juice, vitamins, and a bowl of cheerios, I headed out the door about 730. It was foggy and cool. I started out at about 9:30 min/mile pace. This is my goal marathon pace. I had a 24 ounce bottle of Tailwind in my hand, and 2 packs of powder in my spibelt. My biggest concern for this run was the lack of water on the route I decided to run, but I figured it would work out somehow.

Mile 1, my contact lens started to act funny. It felt like I had something stuck under it and I couldn't blink it out. I stopped at a drinking fountain and rinsed it. It seemed ok after that, and I headed on to the bike path. I don't know if it was the weather or what but my legs felt heavy. I pushed on, and at mile 3 came to this sign:

Seriously? Never one for following the rules, I decided to run past it and see exactly what kind of work was being done. I ran through the viaduct and once I got on the other side, I could see that the path had been resealed, probably the day before. Meh. I kept on running. My legs started to loosen up, but I held back and maintained that 9:30 pace. I passed a few walkers and bikers, but mostly I had the path to myself. When I got to the end of the path, at mile 5, I slowed to a walk and drank about 8 ounces of my Tailwind. I started to run again, and crossed the street into the forest preserve.
I think this was one of the parts of today's run that had me a little nervous. I've written about our local forest preserves and all the weird stuff that goes on there. Since I was running during the week, I knew there wouldn't be a lot of people around.  I also thought that maybe since it was so early, I wouldn't have anything to worry about. But as I approached the parking lot, 2 cars pulled in. One backed in, so I thought that I probably didn't have to worry about that guy--I wasn't what he was looking for. The other was pulled in head first, hopefully just looking to score some drugs or just to enjoy nature, and not to bother a 50-something mom looking for redemption on the run. I picked up the pace to put some distance between me and the cars, and headed down the road towards the path. Once I got on the path, I calmed myself down and got back on pace. I climbed the hills towards the next busy road, and stopped to wait again for the traffic to clear so I could cross.

This part of my run is a downhill (pretty steep) and then a 3 mile loop. There's usually a pretty good amount of people, and so I don't feel too isolated. But again today, there weren't many people out. I passed some guy who looked a little off, and another guy--an amputee--on crutches. That made me pause and feel very grateful for my run. After I finished the loop, I headed back towards the steep hills which this time, I had to climb. My hamstrings were starting to talk to me, but I pushed up those hills, hearing Becky telling me to "engage my glutes". Believe it or not, I started to run a little bit faster here, with splits around 9:15.

I finished my run in the forest preserve (no one was in the parking lot on my way out) and decided to stop at the gas station on the corner to use the bathroom--a real toilet, not the porta-potties I kept passing--and refill my water bottle. I headed back down the bike path towards home.

Sadly, when I got to my street, my Garmin read 16.10. Ugh. I had 2 more miles to eek out. So instead of turning towards home, I kept moving forward. As I looped around my neighborhood, I decided to finish up on a road that is a long incline. This is the same kind of hill that is at the very end of the Chicago marathon, right before you head into the finish chutes. Only a crazy runner would actually do this, but I wanted to see how much I had left in the tank, especially since my hamstrings were now screaming at me. I chugged up the hill, and turned the corner towards home. That last mile: 9:10.

When I stopped, I assessed how I felt. A little sick, truth be told. But when I looked at my finish time, I couldn't help but smile. 18.03 in 2:49:35. Average pace 9:24 min/mile. I ran the whole thing, except when I stopped to drink my Tailwind. My Garmin is set to pause when I do, so it did stop for traffic lights. I think that's ok, because I won't be stopping for those at the race!

I'm just a little proud of those mile splits!

Regardless of how I felt physically at the end of my run today (a little ill and sore), I feel really confident going into the marathon. I'm so happy that I was able to push forward and not stop to walk, except to drink. I know I'll be stopping to refill my bottle at least 2 times--that's ok. I learned a little more about fueling, and I don't think I need to drink as much as recommended--I got by with 2 packs of Tailwind for 18 miles. I never felt hungry or hypoglycemic. Of course, I did eat breakfast before I went out. But I definitely was well hydrated! The only factor that I have no control over is the weather, and that could mess with my hydration and fueling plan. If it's blazing hot, like it was 3 years ago, I will go into it knowing that I have had strong runs this summer, and not let my head get in the way. And push through it.

And yes, my son got to his appointment!

Taper time!


  1. Fantastic long run with nice even splits. I like how you ignored the "Path Closed" sign and kept on running!

  2. Yay! What a fantastic dress rehearsal long run! I am so excited for your marathon and that you are feeling confident! :)

  3. AHHH!!! Great job! You are going to have a great race. All of your hard work is paying off. Enjoy the taper!

  4. Awesome run. What a confidence booster! You are going to have a fantastic race.