Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Where the Heck Have I Been?

Wow, I just realized I haven't dropped a post on here in three weeks. For some reason, August has always been a very busy month for me, and this year is no exception. Between work, my second job, my third job and school starting, I usually have a lot going on.

Add my brother Tim's wedding this year to all of that and you have a month that has just flown by. Running wise, that was the week that hurt me the most as I didn't run for nine days in the days leading up to and counting his wedding weekend. Still, it was a great time, so I'm not going to be hard on myself about it.

Bama y'all!
My brother got married in Florence, Alabama, which as I discovered is a true jewel of a place. I wouldn't have thought so since it is tucked up in the corner of the northwest part of the state, but there is a lot of history to the town. The church Tim and his new bride Jennifer got married in was built in the 1820s and the place where they had the reception was built in the 1830s.

And then there is the music! I didn't realize that in the 1950s, 60s and 70s Florence (and the next town over, Muscle Shoals) was a hotbed of great music. Many hits from that era were recorded in Muscle Shoals, and all of the bars I went into over the weekend had live music at one point or another. It was some very interesting stuff. I love learning about the history of new places I visit, and would love to go back there someday.

The people who live there are very proud of the heritage of their town, and that was neat to see so much of that, because you don't see it all that often.

So not running for a week meant I broke my streak of having completed all 40 runs through the first 10 weeks of the training program. Darn it. The biggest loss was having not been able to do the 15-miler scheduled on Saturday.

I mean, I've missed long runs before -- lots of them, in fact -- so the mileage itself wasn't that big of a deal. It was more the mental aspect of having only gone 13 so far in the program that the jump to 16 (our run last Saturday) was a little daunting.

That's the thing about this sport, it is humbling. I've trained for seven marathons before but when the mileage starts getting this high I always get a bit nervous. No matter how many times you run this far, every run is different.

So I controlled what I controlled and made sure that I went through all of my usual routines the day before. I had a big bowl of pasta and tried to really hydrate because I'd moved my mid-week 8-miler to Thursday night, giving me just 36 hours to recover for the 16 on Saturday.

Now that the mileage is ramping up, the CARA group I run with is starting at 6:15 a.m. instead of 6:45. That means I'm out of bed and on the road by 5:30. Ugh. Really, it isn't that bad, and as I've discovered the nice thing is that once you are done, you're done! It's still only Saturday morning and you have the rest of the weekend ahead of you.

And from a training standpoint what is nice is that with the next run not being scheduled until Tuesday, you have close to 72 hours to recover. So while it's hard getting up I keep the positives in mind.

We caught another break in the weather Saturday. It was actually a bit cool when we started and while it did warm up and there was some humidity I don't think the temperature got above 75 while we were running. The other nice thing is that I think the air was pretty clean too. I'd been having trouble with allergies on my run during the week and was a bit concerned, but it wasn't that bad.

So off we went. I had brought my iPod with me in case the group broke up and I was running alone (like what happened with the 12 miler a few weeks ago) so I alternated between that and talking with the group. I'm on a techno kick right now, and a DJ named Paul Oakenfold has a weekly show called Planet Perfecto that I am downloading each week. The mix is about 55 minutes long, so it's great to run with because you just get lost in the music for close to an hour.

I had a couple of bad patches in the first half of the run but at about 9 miles I started feeling really, really good. I had been working off the strength of the group, running behind a couple of people and mentally checking out, so I decided while I felt good I was going to return the favor.

When I eased past the three other people in my group, the made a comment that if they were going to slow that I should just go ahead. Dan smiled and said "You are just cruising!" I moved in front of them and said, hey, if I'm feeling good I'm going to let you guys work off of me for a while. So I ended up leading the pace of the group for about 3-4 miles.

The run was going really well until about 14 miles, and then my hips and quads started to get really sore. By 15 miles, there was pain. That's the one thing about running this far is that there is a lot of pain involved. You just have to run through it.

I took the same mentality Saturday that I plan to use in the marathon: break the run down into small pieces so it's not so overwhelming. I decided to just focus on getting from one water station to the other, but by the time we got to the last stop with about 2.8 miles left, it was time to dig a little deeper.

In the end, I actually finished pretty strong. We had gone north on the path, so when you get to the final turn it is a hard left and then about a quarter-mile to where we finish. That's almost the same distance you have to go when you make the turn from Roosevelt to Columbus during the Chicago Marathon, so I started picturing in my mind what that will look and feel like. I have to admit that I really picked up the pace over that stretch and it felt great. I can't wait to run down Columbus on October 13th!

I haven't made it on the road yet this week, but plan on it tonight. It will be a challenge this week with the heat, but hopefully we don't have to deal with that much longer!

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