Sunday, January 27, 2008

Beating the hell out of the number 9

How NOT to handle your longest long run yet:
1. Spend the entire prior week working AND going out with friends, with moderate but steady alcohol intake and limited sleep throughout.
2. The night before, go to a party at a pub and add more alcohol into the mix, along with a healthy serving of MEAT (even though there WAS pasta on the menu).
3. Stay at said party until almost 2 a.m. telling yourself that it is rare to have the opportunity to share time engaging in thoughtful and probing conversation about a variety of scintillating topics with good friends.
4. Actually stay because you are engrossed in a drunken bout of "I Never".
5. Don't lay out what you need the night before so that you can run about cursing and stubbing your toes in the morning and then drive like a bat out of hell to get from Decatur to Piedmont Park by 8:30 am (who the heck ARE all those other people out at that hour on a Saturday????)
6. Realize as you get into the car that you haven't fueled yourself. Inhale a protein/energy bar and a lot of water and gatorade in a short span of time so that you feel bloated and like you have to pee just as you start running.
7. Feel enormously relieved as you spot the group still standing around but then realize that you can't turn and park because you are stuck at the light and panic that they will leave without you. (Even though really, even when you get there on time, most of the pack leaves without you anyway!) Honk and wave like a maniac until someone who knows you makes eye contact in the hopes that they will feel too guilty to leave without you.
8. Sprint from the distant parking spot you found to the group, arrive completely out of breath, convinced you can HEAR your body saying . . . "Oh goody, that was quick, back to bed now right?"
9. Stand around in a daze, A) not believing that you made it given that you left the house at 8:20 and B) wondering what the hell you are doing there in the first place.
10. Fail to actually look at the route that was emailed a few days ago, much less print out a copy. Take a copy from a good friend just before the run starts but then hold it in the same hand as a leaky bottle of red gatorade so that the map gets soaked with red gatorade and all the street names become too fuzzy to read.
11. Get separated from everyone else who knows where they are going before realizing that the street names have been reduced to little hairy caterpillars.
12. Figure it out anyway and thank God for the kick ass sense of direction with which you were apparently blessed.
13. Realize afterwards that had you planned your morning better you'd have been wearing the right socks and you'd have found your missing body glide and you wouldn't be sporting a blood blister that covers most of the bottom of your right arch.
14. Gross out friends, family and neighbors by showing off said monster blister because you actually feel really really proud of it, the trophy from the battle field.

And there you have it. At the end of all that, I looked myself in the eye and realized that even half of even one of those many obstacles that threatened to thwart this run would have stopped me in my tracks just few months ago. Well, that is, assuming it wouldn't have just been science fiction for me to be attempting such a thing in the first place. But had I tried such a thing back then, I would have welcomed each excuse with open arms. I would have invited each one back to my place, and settled them in around me on the couch. Excuses used to be my decorative pillows. Each one was embroidered with its version of the truth. "She's just not built for running." "She has asthma you know" "Her back is weak" "High impact activities are bad for her joints." "She's busy enough with work and family, she just doesn't have time to devote to fitness."

But this is not a few months ago. Oh I still lounge amongst those pillows from time to time, I'd be foolish to think I've left them behind forever. But now that I've discovered what I've been missing outside for all these years (and I get sad if I let myself think about how MANY years) those pillows will never have the hold on me they once did.

Yes, on Saturday I beat the hell out of my 9.38 mile run. Under some less than ideal conditions. I did a few things differently which really helped on this run. I did use gatorade and water, instead of just water. I also took cliff blocks with me. They are like large gummy cubes that you can chew or just hold in your cheek. They're made of easily digestible carbs for fueling on distance runs. This was the first distance I really felt they were warranted, now that I've tried them I really wish I'd used them on my 10K last week. Seriously, they were like rocket fuel on me. Or maybe it was a total placebo effect but either way I sure felt like I could run faster about a mile after taking them! My times seemed to prove it. Other than one tough hill in the 8th mile I was maintaining faster paces during the second half of the course than I was the first. My overall average pace was 12:28, almost 30 seconds per mile faster than my 10K race pace last week, even though this was 15K! The last time I ran with the group and did 7 miles it took me 1 hour, 31 minutes and change. This time I hit the 7 mile mark at 1 hour 25 minutes and change! Other than the blister I felt fine at the end and could have kept going. Except I was at the end and I know the risk of overtraining injuries becomes scarier the closer we get to race day. But I felt awesome and unbeatable on this 9 mile Saturday.

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