Long Run Training (and Long Post!):
10 Miles: First foray into double digits! Shockingly doable if you run at a nice, slow steady pace. I remember seeing our classmate Chris waiting at Mile 6 for us with some CountryTime lemonade in his Camelbak at mile 6. CountryTime lemonade has never tasted so much like nectar from the gods! Tried using Gu for the first time while running. Super bizarre to eat something while running! I quickly realize 2 things happen after long runs: I can't walk very well and I can't think very well, which makes Saturday studying difficult. I also learn the essential skill of lying on the floor and putting your legs up against a wall after the run to reduce soreness the next day.
12 Miles: My usual running buddy is out of town, so I run with the speed demon above who ended up finishing a full 40 minutes faster than me in the marathon. She slowed down and I sped up a little, so it was a little bit harder but good to know I could run faster than my settled upon 10 min/mile pace.
Mid-week 10 Mile run: I should note here that all of our long runs are normally on Saturday mornings, and they start and end at school, which happens to be situated uncomfortably (for us) on the highest point in town. So once you leave, no matter which way you come back, it's uphill.
[conversation with my running buddy, S, on the ending uphill part of this run]
S: I have to stop.
Me [channeling Erica]: No, you can do it! This is the training part that makes the actual run easier.
S: No, I have to stop. I'm gonna throw up.
Me: Oh. Yeah, we can slow down.
14 Miles: I remember feeling strong at the end. And being amazed by that. Also, starting to like Gu, which is worrisome.
10 Miles: Note to self: Don't ever attempt running 10 miles the afternoon after your birthday party which raged until 4am, especially if you have wildly decided to go ski/hiking that morning.
Erica told me to tell her when 10 miles became 'easy'. Today was not that day. Ouch.
16 Miles: Oh, 16 miles. This is the point when I hit my mid-training lull. 16 miles fell over spring break and was up to us to run. I waited until the second weekend to do this long run, but every run I did between the 14 and 16 miles was HARD. Even my 8-mile run around beautiful, bustling, glorious, springtime Central Park when I went to NY was I-must-have-rocks-in-my-legs, I'm-forcing-every-step, WHERE-THE-HELL-ARE-MY-ENDORPHINS hard.
So, my designated day to run the 16 rolls around, and it's raining. And cold. And I'm running the first 10 by myself. Luckily, I've conscripted my friend Annie (with her new shoes) training for the half-marathon to join me for the last 6 and I've just bought a small, waist CamelBak to carry my water and Gu, which I am super stoked about trying out, otherwise this run might not have happened! So I stock that up, layer up against the cold (back to hat, gloves, everything...did I mention it was spring break?!), put on my ipod, and my bulky raincoat because I figure it's one thing to run in the rain without a coat but it's another thing to run in the rain without a coat for 2 hours and 40 minutes.
About 20 minutes into the run, I realize it's not actually terribly cold (probably mid to high 40's), it just feels cold compared to the weather we had been having. But now I'm stuck wearing my hat because I forgot a ponytail holder and I'm sweaty and trudging along with a camelbak and a bulky raincoat with pockets stuffed with directions and my phone and gloves. Needless to say, this did not break my streak of bad runs. At 9.5 miles in I call Annie and ask 2 favors: I need a ponytail holder and a t-shirt stat. When I get to her house I shed my layers, hat, raincoat, and finish the run about 5lbs lighter!
This run was key for me though. This was the moment when it was hard, it had been hard, conditions weren't great, and there was nobody there to make me do the run except myself. I consider this run when my real training happened.
16 Miles (again): It turns out we did run 16 as a group after spring break. And this rekindled my love affair with running.
18 Miles: Now these distances just start sounding ludicrous, right?! That means running for 3 hours at my pace! This one was great though because the last mile and half of it was straight up Main St. (remember those bronchospasms?!). Well, who's laughing now Main St?? Huh? I can run straight up you without breaking stride after 17 miles! No wheezing, no nothing. Bring it. Goal 2: check.
10 Miles: Our mid-week run the Wednesday before our 20 mile run was 10 miles, which I thought sounded crazy. But you know what, 10 miles, after classes, before studying on a random Wednesday afternoon, no big deal! So bizarre! But 10 miles had finally become easy, and I told Erica so.
20 Miles: I hadn't hit the wall yet, but was told it could come anytime after 18 miles, so I wondered what 20 had in store. My running buddy was having some foot trouble so wasn't running, but I once again convinced Annie to run the first 13 with me. Poor Annie, I ended up telling rambling stories about Africa between miles 10 and 13 to keep us distracted. She was a trooper though. And luckily, a lot of the last 7 were on the bikepath along the water just like in the marathon, which is so beautiful. Also my friend's sister was visiting and she jumped in with me along the bikepath, which was amazing.
Again, the last mile and half was uphill, and I'm not gonna lie, it was hard. Weird, weird muscles get called into play when you run that long and you get tired and sore in your hipflexors or where your hamstring inserts into your gluts or your pelvic floor muscles?! And my knees were just burning with anger at me for most of the 4 months of training, but you just.keep.going. And you know what, there was no weird, abrupt 'wall'. It just hurt for longer, but it didn't get any worse. So I guess this 'training stuff' really works! I noticed that each long run, the distance I could actually RUN (as opposed to letting my legs go on automatic and not really having control over them) was longer and longer.
So, 20 down. Last long run before the marathon. Bring it.
6 Miles: Ok, ok, I know that's not technically a long run. But one of our classmates couldn't make the 20 mile run on Saturday, so we concocted a relay of sorts to help him run his on Monday. So I ran the first 6 miles with him and Erica and Mayo AT THEIR PACE, which was about 8:20 min/miles and it was totally FINE! I could run and talk and it wasn't hard. So, Goal #3 accomplished...now all that was left was Goal #1: Finish Marathon.
Stay tuned for Tapering, The Marathon, and Post-Marathon. :)