Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The road to 26.2 - 9 miles

Well, last week's long run started off well, and ended with a $16 cab ride and a bag of frozen pees on my knee.  Quite the let down after the last long run.  I had a friend staying with me for the weekend and knew it would be tough to run my scheduled twelve miles and then play tour guide all day, so when my Friday night dinner plans fell through I decided to get my run finished that night.  I was excited about this idea, as I hadn't done an evening long run, and it would be the first Saturday I can remember for months that didn't involve an alarm clock.

I ran down the West Side Highway, enjoying the sunset over Jersey and the view of the Freedom Tower lighting up as I got closer to the financial district.  I'd reached Battery Park when I hit six miles and turned around.  It was soon after the outside of my left knee was bothering me.  I took a few walking breaks but mostly ran and just tried to go at a slower pace.  By mile seven it was really bothering me so I stopped to try to stretch it out but nothing really felt good.  I kept going, taking more and more longer and longer walking breaks.  I walked almost all of the eighth and ninth miles.  Running was not an option unless I wanted to be in pain, and it wasn't a good pain that you push through.  Even walking was uncomfortable.  After a lot of contemplating I finally decided to hop in a cab when I saw one around 20th.  Walking another 50 blocks just seemed brutal.  My feet were hurting at this point also from favoring my knee.

The cabbie was nice enough to drop me off and wait while I hobbled up to my apartment to get my wallet (obviously he wanted to get paid, but a lot of cabbies would complain; he was really nice.)  My doorman offered to give me cash but I just hustled up to my place to grab my wallet.  I paid the nice man and then hobbled to the grocery store for some frozen peas, and took it easy for the rest of the night.

Walking all over the city the next day wasn't exactly ideal, but it wasn't too bad unless I was going down stairs.  (Subways, Highline...ouch.)  After talking to a bunch of runners, and doing some research, I'm pretty confident it's an issue with my IT band.  Luckily I already own a foam roller so I can focus on rolling out both bands every day.  This week I'm taking it easy and giving my knee a break.  It's tough not to run since I'm in the routine, and I hate falling behind in training.  Mondays have always been a work out day, even before training, so it felt strange to skip it.  Obviously I'm grateful I'm still 9 1/2 weeks from the marathon, it could be so much worse.  It's just too bad this is the week I'm resting because so many of my friends are out of town and I have nothing on my calendar after work.  Normally my weeks are so busy trying to juggle training, seeing friends, and it seems like there's always an out of town visitor, or someone's birthday dinner, or some other obligation.  This week, nothing.  Oh well, like I said, I'm just grateful it's not close to the marathon.

Running the GW, my first double state run

Last week I ran a midweek run across the George Washington bridge.  This was my first time on the GW bridge (on foot) and the run was fantastic!  The time of day was perfect (no filters in these pics) and the views of the city and the Hudson River were spectacular.  Twilight is my favorite time of day to run.  I love seeing the buildings slowly light up.  As usual I was overwhelmed with gratitude to live here, and for my healthy body that allows me to run.  I remember thinking during this run, I will never not be a runner.  I dare anyone feeling sorry for themselves to go for a run and still be unhappy.

Despite confusion getting off the bridge (running a mile out of the way down an off ramp and back) and rolling my ankle, it was still a fantastic run.  The bridge, as well as the other four miles were quite hilly so I was beat when I was finished.  This run was my first one wearing my charity jersey(?) and also using a sweat band.  I have been wanting a sweat band since I was training for my half and finally remembered to buy some.  I didn't love it as much as I thought I would.  It was nice to be able to have something to wipe my face with, but my wrist got claustrophobic.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The road to 26.2 - 14 miles

Also known as, the best run I've ever had in my entire life.  I had a 12 miler scheduled and I was nervous, as usual.  Yes, the 10 had gone so well, but that was two weeks before.  Maybe I got lucky.  Twelve is practically a half marathon, and that's something people totally train for.  I did my best to prepare, and it completely paid off.
My alarm went off at 6am and I decided considering the rain and cooler temp, I didn't need to jump out of bed, and slept another 30 minutes.  I finally got up and took my time getting ready.  I finally was running about 7:15am.  I ran to the park, crossed it at 72nd, and made it to the top of Summer Streets at Park Avenue.  It was only 64 degrees and with the rain it was definitely feeling cooler than pretty much every other run I've done in the last four months.
I made a conscious effort to jog at a leisurely pace since now I knew I was supposed to tack on an extra 1-2 minutes per mile for the long runs.  I was surprised when I hit my first mile and it was 8 something minutes. Hm, weird.  Fluke.  I obviously don't trust my app 100% when it tells me the min/mile, but the total time is accurate, and the mileage is pretty much on.  When I ran my half marathon the mile marker on the course almost always matched exactly to when my app was telling me I passed a new mile.
Anyway, as I ran down Park Avenue, feeling fantastic, mile after mile I was hearing that I was averaging a little over 8 min/mile.  I was floored.  I didn't see as many water stations as I had the week prior, when I was running Summer Streets in the opposite direction.  The truth is, I wasn't exactly looking for them either.  Last week it was so hot and humid, and I had actually felt thirsty, but this week, not at all.  I had Gu Chomps for miles four and eight, and usually when I eat these I'll take a little walk break to give myself a minute to rest and also make it easier to eat, but I was just feeling so great I didn't want to stop running.
I made it down to the end of summer streets and had to get a little creative through side streets to make it over to the West Side Highway.  I was thankful I lived in the financial district for three years, so I was familiar with the streets.  When I was jogging through, making my way west, there were not a lot of people out, and it was raining a little harder than it had been the rest of the run.  I realized it was slightly chilly, but I just felt so great.  I was so incredibly happy.
I finally made it over to the highway running path and started heading north.  I could not get over how amazing I felt.  Around mile ten I thought to myself I really almost feel like I could run the whole dang marathon right now.  I had to stop at a bathroom, which was a first, and really frustrating.  Luckily I could pause my app so it didn't keep the clock running.  I know if I were in a race the clock would continue to run, but I just wanted to keep my running pace w/o the bathroom break.  Oh well.
Funny how the mind works, at about mile 11 I started to feel the aches and pains and felt myself slowing down, mentally knowing I only had to run 12.  I had already decided that I was going to keep running past 12 because I wouldn't have quite made it home, and I figured I could pass my furthest distance run of the half marathon.
When I got to where I should have cut off the highway to go home I was at about 13.5 miles.  I decided to keep running another quarter mile, then run back, so I could make it an even 14.  That last half mile definitely felt longer than any other 2-3 miles that day.  It just seemed to drag!  By the last couple miles my feet and knees had been hurting, and I wanted to be done.  It had rained probably 11 or so of the miles, and my clothes were completely stuck to me.
I was so so happy and felt so proud of myself.  I couldn't believe it when I looked at the clock after I passed the half marathon point and realized I'd cut over 10 minutes off my half time!  I'd wondered if it would ever be possible to get under a two hour half marathon but it seemed crazy to me.  I finished my 14 miles in just under the time it took me to run my half.  I'm sure I'll never run that quickly again (and shouldn't for these training runs) so I have to pat myself on the back a bit this time.
The rest of Saturday I felt relatively good.  When I would sit for a long period of time my knees would hurt when I got home, and after getting a manicure and pedicure that afternoon I had to walk down some stairs and I was really in pain in my knees, but otherwise felt great, and feel really great today!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The road to 26.2 - 7 miles

I wonder if I'll ever get over long run anxiety.  Any run longer than five miles makes me nervous and anxious. Last Saturday was a cut back week so my "long" run was only seven miles.  I was still nervous.  Friday night I stopped by a sporting goods store and bought some more Gu Chomps and I can't even tell you how delicious the watermelon chomps were the next day.  I could eat them as a snack.
Summer Streets is happening right now, which is awesome.  Three Saturdays this month they shut down about five miles of Park Avenue and it's open for runners, bikers, roller bladers, etc.  There are tons of pit stops along the way with different activities like a rock climbing wall, ziplining (I really felt like stopping to do this) and bike rentals, all free.  There's also water stations along the way.  It's very well organized.
Laura had suggested I incorporate Summer Streets into my long runs but I completely forgot the first week.  Thankfully Brenda reminded me so I could take advantage last weekend (and will this weekend as well.)  I decided I would take the train down to the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge, run that, which ends right at the bottom of Summer Streets, and run all the way up to 72nd to the east side of Central Park, and then cross over to go home.  What a pain it was to wait for a train so early on a Saturday morning.  From the time I left my apartment, waited for a train, and then schlepped to Brooklyn, it had been forty minutes.  I thought to myself, Seriously?  You're about to run home from a place it just took you forty minutes to get to???  I think the commute was actually more painful than the run.
I felt like I was going pretty slow, and, I was, however in typical fashion the second half of my run went much faster than my first and I finished in just over an hour and ten minutes.  I just found out, however, that I should be running at a much slower pace during my long runs, than my weekly runs.  On one hand, that makes me feel a little better when I feel like I'm going so slow, on the other hand, I don't want to lower my 10 min/mile average goal because then it makes the run longer...
It was definitely cool to run up Park Avenue.  When I was in lower Manhattan I just felt like I was in a race or something, but it was especially cool when I got into midtown, since it's always so busy.  It was neat to run around Grand Central and finish up at the park.  I thought mileage wise I'd have to run all the way home but I hit my seven mile mark just as I got to the park.  I let myself walk home so I could have a cool down, and it was really nice to walk through the park in places I'm normally running.  I also realized how much bigger the park seems when you're walking vs running.
This weekend my mileage goes up to twelve and from now on until the week before the marathon, my Saturday runs will be double digits.  It seems freaking crazy.  And it seems freaking crazy that I'm running twelve miles and nine weeks from now, when I run twelve again on a Saturday, it will seem short.
I have to mention my socks in the above photo.  I've always run with regular socks, however was given a Nike giftcard after running my half marathon.  It was fun to shop around the store and look at buying things I otherwise wouldn't if it was my own money.  I hate spending money on running clothes/gear, for some reason.  I decided to try out these socks, and I LOVE them.  I wear them for every long run, and I will definitely be buying more.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The road to 26.2 - 10 miles

I don't have the commitment or time to write about every run, but after reading up on Chloe's training for her marathon a few years ago, I decided I would at least write about my long runs.  The shorter weekly runs are typically about the same.  Sometimes a run is difficult for some reason, or sometimes I have a really great inspiring run, but for the most part they're predictable.
I've been feeling a bit behind in my training.  Part of me feels like training for a half first wasn't a good idea.  I was so nervous about the race, so I was pretty faithful in my training.  Then, the race ended up being so fantastic, and not nearly as difficult as I expected.  I think this, along with my two weeks of down time, maybe gave me too much confidence and I lost a bit of momentum.  At this point I'm really not running more, mileage wise or times per week, than I was when I was training for the half.  I guess the only difference at this point is the weather.  It is definitely more hot and humid than when I was training for the half.  However, on the other hand, I also feel like I've gotten a lot more comfortable running in the humidity.
I've been running slower on average, and I'm not sure why.  My regular mid week runs have felt more difficult than they did in the past.  It's really bothered me, making me feel like I've digressed.  I was really nervous about my ten mile run this last Saturday.  I was supposed to run nine miles the weekend before and was just feeling exhausted from weeks upon weeks of travel on the weekends and a hectic work/social schedule during the weeks.  I'd gone camping and we cut out early because of bad rain, and I was just over the idea of trying to get that run done.  I finally found a bit of motivation and told myself to just do six.  I ran the loop in the park and it was pathetic.  I felt like I'd run nine, but only ended up doing 6.3, and took a lot of walking breaks.
So, I felt like if I could get this ten miler done I would feel like I was caught up after feeling behind for what seems like the first four weeks of training.  I made a point to really prepare.  I had a yummy pasta dinner for Friday night, got to bed early, and was good about hydrating Friday.  I'd gotten some different kinds of supplements.  Up until this point all I'd ever used were the Gus, and I hate them.  It takes a lot of concentration to not gag when I eat them, so for this run I had some energy jelly beans, and some Gu jelly blocks.  I have sort of wondered if these were like placebo pills.  I don't really feel a difference.  I mean, yes, I'm getting the runs done when I take them, but I don't really notice a different feeling.
I got up early and headed to the West Side Highway and planned to run downtown five miles and then back.  I ate the jelly beans first (I thought I was supposed to take them mid run, but the package said before activity.)  Like usual, the first 4 miles sucked.  It's so hard not to think, "Wow, two miles done....I have to do that four more times."  I stopped at pretty much every water fountain I saw to have a sip of water.  I feel like this is something that really helps me out.  I can't exactly pinpoint this as helping me through the half, but for some reason I feel like it was the best advice I got.  I have two running belts for water, but I've yet to try them out.  The less I have on me, the more comfortable I am running, and strapping on a belt just doesn't seem appealing.  I keep meaning to try it out on a shorter run but I always forget.
After my fifth mile I ate the Gu jelly blocks and they are hands down my favorite energy booster.  I will never have another Gu again!  They were gummies were delish!  I also think they definitely made a difference because on average each mile in the second half of my run was ten seconds quicker than the first half.  My very first mile was 9:20, which made me happy because that is about my usual, however, every mile after that was a little slower.  I was happy when things picked up after my fifth mile and I was able to get my complete average back down to under a 10 min mile.
I felt so good when I was done with this run.  I felt like I had my groove back.  This weekend I cut back to a seven mile run, but then after that every long run is two digits until the week before the marathon when I cut back to eight.  Scary.