Each long run is an entry into uncharted territory for me, and I always wake up these mornings with a feeling of dread. I won’t be able to do it. It will be very hard. How will I manage such a long distance? All of these thoughts swirl in my head each time I embark on a long run.
I usually try to map out a course on roads mixed with our local trail system to get me to the allotted number. It’s boring running endless loops in our park, no matter how pretty it is. But today I didn’t really feel like dodging traffic and cars so I decided to carve out as much mileage as I could on our trails and just repeat it as many times as I needed to.
What I’ve been doing is parking my car somewhere that I will pass multiple times during the run so I can stop for hydration and fuel rather than carrying a water belt. I have one, but I drained it on my eight mile run a few weeks ago. I knew it wouldn’t be enough for these longer ones. So today I packed two big water bottles, a GU gel (first time to try this), and a towel to leave on the front seat and mop off with each time I stopped.
I started out in a flat area in the park. Even though it was chilly this morning (50 degrees), it took me less than half a mile to start sweating. Fortunately I had guessed this would happen and ditched my jacket in the car quickly. From there it was a four mile out and back on our trails before I got to my car for a water stop.
I was feeling pretty good, but still wondering how I would make it if I was only one third of the way done. I took just a few sips of water, and went for the loop around our lake. In exactly one mile, I was back at my car, but I bypassed it to add a little mileage before I stopped again. This put me at 5.6 miles, nearly halfway, when I stopped again for water and a GU gel.
I’ve never had the GUs before, although everyone says they are the best. I liked the caramel flavor I chose, and downed it with some water. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be any better than the M and Ms I used on my last long run, but I was willing to try.
At this point I needed to exactly repeat the route I’d done before and add a little extra at the end. And I honestly felt really strong until around mile 9. It was then I had to start doing the mental pep talks: Just make it to your car and then you can stop. I started doing the endless math in my head of how many miles would be left when I got there.
It was 10.24 miles in on my RunKeeper when I stopped for more water and to stretch. 1.76 miles to go.
They were, of course, the worst miles of the run. I don’t know what would have happened if I’d just kept going, instead of stopping at my car, but I just felt so much more tired afterwards. But I don’t think I would have made it without more water, so it’s kind of a moot point. I allowed myself a few very short walk breaks for the last loop around the lake and then did the final plod towards my car.
Literally plod. I felt so heavy for that last half mile, like I was just plodding and hitting the ground so hard with each step. My feet were killing me. I knew I was chafing in all sorts of places. But I was determined and I honestly felt better in this last mile than I did for my 11 mile run last week. It might have been the flatter course, the cooler temps, the GU gel or a combination of all three, I don’t know. Maybe it was because I was slower throughout the run, but I felt better today than the last time.
I heard the blessed beep indicating “Workout Complete” on my RunKeeper and slowly shuffled towards my car. I’m sore, and chafed, and blistered….but I did it.
The scale paid me back for my debauchery on Sunday. I drank WAAAAAAAAY too much at a Memorial Day party, and despite having run four days in a row, including that morning, the damage was significant. I probably didn’t eat enough either, which you would think would be good for the scale, but it left me feeling so awful on Monday, I ate my way through that day too.
Honestly, the damage could be a lot worse, it’s only up the smallest amount of 0.2 lbs. But I was hoping for a loss this week, and it just goes to show you that you can blow a pretty stellar week of choices with a day and a half of not caring. Here’s the thing though: last week I was upset at my gain because I didn’t understand it. I had made pretty much good choices all week and the scale rose. This week, I know exactly why the scale did what it did, and I own those choices. I’m not upset about it. It’s exactly what a deserve, so I’ll take it.
Current Week: +0.2 lbs
Total Weight Left To Lose: 10.8 lbs
Today’s run needed to be five miles, and after a slow to rise morning, it was time to face the music and get out there and get it done. I did a “vanilla” five miler yesterday with my dog, meaning, I didn’t try to do anything special with the run (other than minimize my dog’s need to stop, smell and pee on everything).
Today I wanted to do a hilly run. After my four miler last week where I used the big hill in our park and pushed myself, I noticed I definitely saw some improvements in both stamina and speed. Everyone tells you that part of training needs to be “hill work” along with “speed work” so today I set out for the hill again.
I left my house at about 7:45 and needed to be back by 9:05 or 9:10 at the latest to get my son to his 10:00 appointment on time. I don’t know if that pushed me a little bit as I started, but at the five minute mark I was a bit faster than I normally am (then again, it could have been that I didn’t have the dog).
I went up my street, and turned the corner away from the park. This is all uphill, about 70 ft climb. After that, I went down another side street towards the entrance to the park that is furthest away from my house. I needed to clock in miles as well as hills. After the bit of the uphill, at about the mile mark you get a serious downhill. I love this part, but just as you get to the park entrance, you hit the first big hill. A quick fifty foot climb left me out of breath as I entered the park, but I didn’t walk.
Into the park, I enjoyed the super flat drive for about half a mile before I started the loop around our little lake. This is hillier, but nothing huge. I felt a little winded at this point, I was about half way done. But I kept on keeping on, reminding myself that the big hill was still in my future, that this was nothing. A loop around the lake, a few rolling hills and then it was time to tackle the Big Hill.
The Big Hill is about 3/4 of a mile long and a 100 foot elevation climb. I surprised myself with being able to run the whole first section of it; it was either less of a climb to start than I remembered or maybe I have improved, not sure. But finally, I had to slow to a walk and start mapping out trees to stop and start at. I did four intervals of running and walking as I made it up the hill, allowing myself a little bit of walking at the top.
From there I had about .75 of a mile left to get to five miles, but surprisingly, even though I had walked some of the hill, I was on par with yesterday’s run in terms of time. I continue to be amazed that sometimes “easy” runs are actually harder or slower than supposedly “harder” runs. I jogged out of the park, looped the nearby (and thankfully mostly flat) neighborhood, before making the final turn towards home.
I made it home by 8:50 and had plenty of time to cool down and shower before leaving for my son’s appointment. 🙂
Today I did speed intervals on my treadmill for today’s training run.
It was rainy here this morning so I resigned myself that I would do today’s four miles on the treadmill anyway. But then I was thinking that treadmills are really great for keeping track of and forcing you to a certain level of speed. So I decided that I would create some intervals after an initial warm up.
My normal pace for running four miles outside would tend to be around 5 miles an hour or perhaps 5.1 or 5.2 for most of the run. I tend to run slower on the treadmill, I’m not sure why. I would probably have maxed out at 4.8 or 4.9, crawling up to 5.0 for some, but not all of the run.
Today, after half a mile, I decided to do two minute intervals. I did my slow run at 4.7 mph, and then after two minutes, I upped it to 5.5. I told myself I would do the speed for two minutes, and then the slower jog for two minutes. I talked myself into upping the speed by a tenth of a mile each time until I hit 6.0. Once I hit 6, I told myself, I’d dial it back a tenth of a mile again in two minute intervals until I got back to 5.5.
The 5.5-5.7 intervals were fine. Definitely a bit challenging, but doable. 5.8 was the breaking point. I made it to 1:45 and then had to stop. I had to give myself thirty seconds of walking to get back in the game. After that I told myself I’d do 1:30 intervals from there on out. Which I did, until 6.0, where I only made it 1:15.
From there I did two minutes of jog, 1:30 of run until I made it back down to 5.5. That took me nearly to my allotted four miles, which worked out perfectly.
I wouldn’t say I am a fan of the speed work, but I will admit it made the time on the treadmill go much faster, literally and figuratively. Literally in that my four miles were done several minutes quicker than they would have been done otherwise, and figuratively in the sense that I never got bored because I was always thinking about getting through the next interval. I definitely did feel a sense of accomplishment afterwards, though. I can see the benefit, for sure.
Tomorrow is supposed to be five miles, and it is supposed to be rainy again. I might try hills on the treadmill with the incline in the same type of way tomorrow. We’ll see.
I truly don’t get the scale.
On Monday, I weighed in at my bootcamp class for our weight loss challenge. It showed exactly what I expected after what I considered to be a great week: great food tracking, two long runs (10 and 11 miles) and an overall sense of being in control of my food intake and activity level. Down nearly three pounds, woohoo.
This morning, just two days later, I stepped on my scale and it is up 0.4 lbs. How on earth is that possible?
It’s not even like I ate Chinese food yesterday or am expecting my period or any nonsense like that. I had a great food day yesterday. I ate homemade pancakes (whole wheat, made with applesauce not oil) with peanut butter for breakfast, an amazing hard boiled egg and veggie wrap for lunch, and whole wheat pasta (just a small amount) with sauce and two small meatballs and a huge salad for dinner.
I’ve been eating more veggies, less processed food, drinking less wine, more water and exercising more all freaking week.
This is one of those weeks where I just have to trust the process, know I am doing the right things, and assume the scale will respond in kind next time (as it did Monday; I know I haven’t gained three pounds since Monday!).
I need to write more posts about my half marathon training. It’s getting surreal, these double digit runs. They are amazingly hard for me, but I am doing them. I have to plan out when my next one will be….it will be twelve miles. I am nearly there, to 13.1, which I can’t even really believe. A few weeks ago seven miles seemed impossible. I need to write more about these runs and the training as I get into this last month before the race.
Current Week: +0.4 lbs
Total Weight Left To Lose: 10.6 lbs
I cracked the double digits today. What I mean is, I ran (well, mostly) ten miles this morning. I’m not posting this to brag or anything even remotely like that. But for me, for a person who has never been athletic, who was the manager on the track team because she couldn’t run, who has been overweight for most of her adult life, this is a big thing. I never, ever in a million years thought I would ever type the sentence “I ran ten miles today” and it would be true. But I did. It wasn’t pretty. It took a long time. I had to walk some of it. But I did it. I ran ten miles today. I didn’t want to say anything about it, but it’s a really big deal for me. I didn’t change the world, I know it’s a first world thing, but it still means something to me, the chubby girl who got the “participant” ribbon at Field Day. I ran ten miles today.
**I posted this to my Facebook page today, hesitant to do so. The outpouring of support was so overwhelming that I cried. It would be weird not to mark this milestone on my fitness blog too. Today was a big day for me.**
Down a bit this week, which is good. Of course you hope for more, but alternatively, any time there is a holiday of any sort, I’m grateful to still lose (Mother’s Day) anything in the course of that week.
Overall not much to say about this week. I started another weight loss challenge at my bootcamp classes, so I am still feeling the fresh motivation of starting that. There are some new people involved this time, so hopefully the competition with them will keep me a little more honest than last time.
I did feel good about my back to back races over the weekend, and went back out yesterday for another training run. From here on out my Tuesday runs (unless I have to mix them up due to weather or weekend plans) are supposed to be four mile runs. I took the advice of my friend the marathon runner and decided to make my short runs a hill run. There’s a trail near my house that includes a very steep hill. I ran to it, down it, around a lake, and then back up it. I couldn’t run the whole thing (especially not after three miles plus in) but I did it as an interval session. I turned that big hill into three intervals of running and walking (it probably is about a third of a mile long). In the end, I ran more than I thought I would be able to. Next week I think I will do the hill twice and cut out some of the flatter parts of the run so I get more hill work.
I am trying to really be aware of food for fuel as I up my mileage and training. I am finding myself more tired lately and I am sure it has to do with the increase in miles. I know exercise is supposed to give you more energy, but does that end somewhere when you are pulling long runs? I don’t know. But I am going to have to do some more research about it because I really am noticing a difference.
Otherwise, just plan on plugging away this week.
Current Week: -0.4 lbs
Total Weight Left To Lose: 10.2 lbs