My training program has me running at least two 20 mile training runs. Due to upcoming vacations and time spent at a higher altitude…my training schedule got a little bit flip-flopped in the upcoming weeks. It had to happen. While I don’t doubt I could rock out 20 miles in Boulder, CO or even Denver, CO…I don’t know of any places to rock such a run out in, nor do I know if my body can adjust to that high altitude in order to hit the required paces. Therefore…I took some liberties with my training schedule and bounced things around. Never hurts…keeps it interesting.
That being said…this meant that yesterday was my first ever 20 mile run. Believe me, it can seem a bit daunting. But I was feeling good that morning. My legs felt strong. There was a light breeze…and 20 miles felt like nothing. Now…how many people can honestly say that. It was run with Harry and Linda…part of my running group…and I kept it at my Long Slow Distance pace. I was so surprised with how good I felt at the end of the run itself. I probably could have kept going for a few more miles. That is the best feeling in the world. It means I’m training right. Just the boost of confidence I needed.
This week ushered in some gorgeous morning weather that made my runs really, really enjoyable. Nothing like waking up in August to 57°F and low humidity. Loving it. Seriously loving it. And what that meant was that I was really feeling good on my running this week. The difficulty and mileage went up…but I just rolled with it. I even did good on the extras I’m doing to better myself. And, I can actually see results. And that is the most fantastic part.
Let’s take a look at this week…
Sunday ushers in what I like to call my “Whatever My Legs Feel Like” training run day. I just go until I don’t want to go anymore. I always keep it under the previous day’s mileage…just normally run it a little harder. My Long Slow Distance training runs on Saturday help with endurance. These Sunday runs…they’re a chance for me to see what my legs can do while still recovering from the previous run. If they aren’t feeling the run, I stop. It’s that simple. I did a grueling 17 miles on Saturday in high humidity and rain, testing out new shoes and socks. There were many breaks on this run, as two of my fellow runners were keeping a more deliberate pace in the distance we were covering. So, on Sunday, when I headed out, I had no intention of running 14.3 miles…but I did. I can’t tell you what possessed me to go that long after a hot 17 the day before, but the morning felt good and I got out early in order to beat any of the sun for most of the run. I stayed off the hills as well, but really enjoyed being out and about. I clocked my 14.3 miles in 1:51:41…which felt good. It really did. I think I was smiling at the end of it.
Monday morning put me back on my revamped training schedule. I start almost every run these days in the dark, so that doesn’t even factor in now. Amazing how that happens. I am missing my earlier light in the morning, but I just strap on my headlamp and reflective gear and get it done. On the weekdays…that’s the norm for me. I was out the door at 4 a.m. to log 7 easy miles. The temperature was in the high 50s, which felt amazing. But as I was running, my left shin started to bother me. I was concerned it might be shinsplints, but it turns out I have a bruise on my shin and my compression sleeve was just hugging that area. Figures. I managed to get through that 7 miles with negative splits. And, as always Monday is also the day of the Daily Double…so after work and a quick bite to eat, I was heading down to my running store for the Monday fun run. There were six of us there, two (Laura & Amy) were heading out to do their run/walk routine on the scenic loop. So the remaining four of us (Mike, Joe, Ellen and myself) all headed out to run the Scenic Loop at Cherokee Park. Because my calf muscle on my right leg was being finicky (I blame breaking in new shoes on a 17 mile run) and my shin was bruised and bound again in compression sleeves, I wanted to take this run easy and stick with the group. And I did. Up until Ellen stopped for water and said she would catch up. Mike and I went on ahead…and we ran back to the store. Ellen never did catch up, but I think Joe stuck with her. As we were waiting on the light to change to cross over Bardstown Road, Mike said to me, “You’re so fast. And that’s not a bad thing for a runner.” It made me feel good! Honestly. And as I made some gluten-free chocolate chip cookies as a reward to my fun run group, Ellen said she could have a cookie if she didn’t start walking on Dog Hill. And she didn’t. So she got her cookie as a reward. Another 3.3 miles logged on Monday.
Tuesday, as always, is my cross-training day. And this Tuesday really was no different from the previous ones. I resist the urge to go for a run…despite really wanting to do so. And I hit the gym before work. This time…I was on the Arc Trainer for 45 minutes, set it for Program 4 – Pike’s Peak. And I did this at Level 5. I managed 2.36 miles, which isn’t bad given the changes in incline, resistance, and the intervals that it puts you through. Afterwards, it was the rowing machine. I bought gloves to wear when I do this one, which definitely made rowing so much easier. I have a love/hate relationship with the rowing machine. It works everything, but it can be just as boring as the stationary bike or treadmill. I usually end up glancing around at the others on machines…or focusing intently on my form. Anyway, I managed 1.19 miles in 10 minutes on the rowing machine. I hit up a few strength machines to help build up some muscle. After work, it was time to circuit train and that was a challenge after the gym…but it had to happen. The circuit training felt good to hit up after a long day at the office, even if I really didn’t want to tackle it. The fact is…I did.
Wednesday was speed work day. With classes back in session, my track workouts had to move to the treadmill. BAH! I hate that blasted machine. But…when speed work and pacing day comes along, the interval speed work has to be monitored properly. And this was no easy session either. I got up early and got to the gym right as it opened. This morning called for a 1 mile warm up, then 3 x 1600 meters at Marathon Pace with 2 x 800 meters at an easy pace for recovery. Then I finish it all up with a 1 mile cool down. I did just as I was instructed and rocked out these 6 miles in 47:21. Not too shabby. I kept my warm up and cool down slower than usual to allow my muscles to get warm, and then finally relax. I ran the marathon pace part slightly faster…and then the easy recovery at an easier than normal easy pace for me. So, I think in the end it all balanced out. I felt like a rockstar though when I finished it up. After work, it was the second day of circuit training. I’m trying to keep it so my roommate and I blast through the circuits at least 2 times a week. More if we feel the need. But twice a week seems to work. We were both feeling the previous day’s workout so I think this circuit was done a bit easier than the prior day.
Thursday is my crazy-busy workout day. That morning I got up to log my 7 easy miles, which were, in fact, faster than Monday’s 7 miles. How I managed that on legs that were tired and sore from speed work and circuit training, I’ll never know. But…I did in fact manage it. Maybe it was the amazing 57°F weather that morning. Maybe I was just feeling good. I felt like my legs were really having to push on this one, but somehow…negative splits happened again. That was the confidence I needed going into the gym afterwards. I pushed through 45 minutes on the elliptical, dialing in 9.13 miles. Then, the dreaded stationary bike was next…and in 10 minutes I hit it up with 3.89 miles. So bored. I was trying to actually take it easy on my run and gym routine, because on this particular Thursday, the BlueMile Brew Mile series was wrapping up with its final race. Yep. I was able to make all 5 of them. Love running races for charity and getting my roomie a free beer at the end of it. So, this BlueMile Brew Mile was at Against The Grain over by Slugger Field. It was the sight of the first one that we ran this year too. Came full circle for sure. Anyway, I donned my Wonder Woman outfit for this one and we headed out for the mile run. I even convinced a co-worker of min, Justin, to come out and do it too. He used to run cross country, so he agreed. I knew this wouldn’t be my best mile…so I just kept it comfortably hard. I knocked it out in 6:55, which isn’t too bad. I’ve had slower and I’ve definitely had faster during this series…but it was fun. And I lost Justin on the hill coming back up to round to the finish line. He did manage a sub-8 minute mile though. Proud of him. Trying to get him to come out for the Monday runs.
Friday is the dreaded, but necessary, rest day. As usual, I took myself out for a brisk stroll in the morning. Why? Because I need to do something in the morning or I might go insane. This Friday, I logged a 3 mile walk in 34:42. Not bad. I was wearing (or attempting to wear) a fuel belt that Harry brought for me to try, since it had four bottles. But…it didn’t quite fit me. BUMMER!! So, I have a purchase I need to make at the race expo in two weeks at Disneyland. It was another gorgeous morning in the high 50s. The walk was just what I needed.
Saturday was the long slow distance pace…for 20 miles. Not just the furthest distance I have run yet…but also…the first time 20 miles even came into the picture. Was I nervous? Not really. I was pretty stoked to be gearing up my marathon training to hit that 20 mile mark. It was going to be myself, Harry, and Linda leaving at 6 a.m. on Saturday to hit 20 miles. But Harry had a route picked out…and, man, was it ever gorgeous. Linda was running a little more deliberately than I was…so Harry tended to rotate between running with me, then falling back to run with her. I took to the streets in Louisville, running to the Second Street Bridge…then across it. Man…that has to be one of my favorite runs ever. That bridge, when you catch a breeze like I did that morning, just gets you to that happy place. I wasn’t quite 4 miles in and I felt like I had reached that runner’s high. It was an amazing run across the bridge. And when I got to the other side, I waited on Harry and Linda. When they caught up, we headed to the Falls of the Ohio, then ran the flood wall. I pulled ahead here, too, running at an easier than normal pace, but taking the lead and running until the yellow line on the trail ended. I waited for Harry and Linda there. Harry took Linda and I off the beaten path briefly to show us a log cabin. Very cool! We refilled water bottles, then took the path through the parking lots…instead of back out to the road and down a mega-steep hill. We ran this road all the way out to Hwy 62 in New Albany. I gave a wave in the direction of my home as we came up to the road and stopped to turn around. Harry said he was off by a mile so we’d have to make that up somewhere. I was good with that. We started back, and instead of turning to immediately head back over the bridge, we hit up Jeffersonville’s river front where lots of restaurants are. We ran through a neighborhood, just over to the border of Jeff Boat. And…then…we came back to the normal route. We refilled water bottles again, then it was time to hit the Second Street Bridge and head back. Once again, I hit that bridge and every part of me just wanted to GO! Runner’s high for the second time. It felt awesome. I just took off and when I reached the other side, I paused and waited. Linda was heading back to the store, but Harry and I had about a mile to add on. So…he took me over to the Statue of David, which stands outside Louisville’s famous 21c Museum Hotel. This gold statue is 30 feet tall. Amazing. We used this as a photo op, then continued to make our way through the streets of Louisville. When we got back toward Baxter Avenue, Harry told me that if I wanted to take off to do so, as he was running another 20 miles on Sunday, so he needed to conserve some energy. I took him up on the offer and for the last 2 miles…I ran my pace…my speed…even passed up Linda at one point. And when all was said and done…I hit 20 miles in 3:01:59. Not too shabby. Not bad at all. And the reward to everyone who ran that Saturday was Paleo Cinnamon Glazed Pumpkin Donuts that I stayed up late and baked. Everyone complimented me on how delicious they were. Total and epic win!! And, despite not really wanting to do so…I did down my Arbonne Chocolate Protein Shake after the run. My stomach wasn’t wanting it, but I knew my body needed it. Later that day, I scored a pair of Vibrams for $20 on sale at a local running store. They were even the ones I wanted. TOTAL WIN!! Don’t you worry…I have no intention of ever, EVER, EVER running in these. I got these to walk around in and build up some strength in my feet. My podiatrist might have a stroke if he knew I was wearing them…but he’d definitely have a stroke if I ever ran in them. Not risking tearing my plantar fascia again. That totally sucked last year. I stick to the shoes that my feet need when it comes to running. These…are to hopefully build strength in my tender feet. We’ll see. At least if they don’t work out…I’m only out $20 and not the usual price of $100.
Things that I’m learning…I’m craving fruit more and more each day. I get cases of the RUNchies on runs and definitely on those higher mileage days, get RUNgry. A lot. It amazes me how fast my body burns through the fuel I give it while out that long. I also can tell that these longer, slower runs are helping me with my speed and endurance. When I focus on speed, I can feel the renewed strength in my legs, and the power. And I know a lot of that comes from the endurance I’ve built, running easier, running farther, and just…minding my form and everything else.
Already looking forward to seeing what I manage this coming week in my training schedule. Another flip-flop ahead…but for good reason. More on that…next week.