Saturday, March 13, 2010

Long, hard run

Apologies in advance...this is going to sound like a race report and look longer than one. It's just one of the toughest runs I have ever done and I felt it deserved some space.

Running in the rain was the easy peasy part.
Add to it, winds gusting at 30 mph and a temperature in the low 30s.
Throw on a 2-bottle fuel belt for good measure.

If you are attempting a long run in these conditions, and like me, haven't run too many 18-milers in your life, things could be pretty uncomfortable.
But of course, when you are training for a marathon, you have to be prepared for any kind of weather. Last year, the second loop of the NJ Marathon was run by most people in blinding rain (not me, I ran the half marathon and narrowly escaped the onslaught). This run would prepare me for the worst. I did alter my expectations a tad...a 9:10 pace instead of 9:00 pace was achievable, I felt.
On DH's suggestion, I lovingly wrapped Frank the Forerunner in plastic and tied the ends with rubber band. He may be waterproof, but I am taking no chances!

I got to Johnson Park at 7:15 and started running solo. The group would get there at 9 am, and I could use the moral support for the last few miles. I made the mistake of not wearing gloves when I fleece gloves would have gotten thoroughly wet anyway. I ran along the roads in the park and in the Rutgers campus, guessing that the towpath would be swampy and in no condition to run. By Mile 2, my fingers were frozen; whipping out the water bottle from the belt became a herculean task. By Mile 3, I had stepped into so many puddles, my feet were soaking wet.
It helped to break down the run into mentally manageable parts.
3 1/2 miles to warm up
3 1/2 miles back to car, wear gloves, fuel up with shot blok, get rid of fuel belt. Using the little girls' room meant the agony of peeling away wet clothing with my frozen talons; so I just took off.
4 miles within the park; return to car, stomach some chocolate GU and meet group
7 final miles with group
I ran in my new (once-used) Nike capris. Hallelujah...they are light-weight, breathable and felt snug...I have never felt this comfy running in the rain!

As I expected, the first 3 1/2 miles were hard because I was not warmed up. The next 3 1/2 miles were torture, because I was running into the wind. Whew! The areas without tree cover were the worst...little droplets of water felt like missiles on my face. I tried to picture my little brother fearlessly clambering up precarious cliffs in winter, in the face of much stronger winds. That helped. So did my new mantra, "I am made of sterner stuff".
The 4 middle miles in the park were a little easier. There were plenty of trees and the wind was not as nasty. The canal was overflowing in many spots and I was a little concerned that the park may be flooded before we completed the run.

The GU got my juices flowing again and I was ready to tackle the last 7 miles. Even so, I have never been happier to see the group...I definitely needed the company. I was told by the hardier runners that the towpath was in pretty good shape despite the rain, so we decided to tackle the towpath route. I ran with John, who though much faster than me, soldiered on beside me despite my occasional nudges to go on ahead and leave me in the dust. The pace was of course, a lot faster than I would have accomplished alone. The conversation kept me going and I noticed that we were running at 8:30 per mile, often less (a teeny bit faster than planned, as you can see). The amazing thing was, I was able to keep up my end of the conversation without any trouble. Granted, my teeth were chattering so it wasn't much of a conversation, but still, not too shabby, eh?

I slowed down a bit when I felt a little tug in my inner leg, near the ankle, but after a while, it was gone. I find the towpath tricky because of the pebbles on the path...some of them are large enough to do serious damage. Less impact overall due to the softer surface, but you could twist an ankle or get sore feet. The wind made the last 3 miles tough, but by that point, my mind felt stronger...less than a 5K to go!

We completed 18.30 miles in'll never guess the time...2:35:07 (8:28 per mile)!!! What? What? What? (as Randy says on American Idol...OK, I am 35 and I watch that show!).
A little soreness in the knees and right shin but I feel A-OK after an ice bath, hot shower and plenty of nourishment.

Wallowing in my own filth

And I am of course, lolling about in compression socks now.

Last week's activity:

Total mileage: 43.30 miles

Monday: 750 yards swim and 4 mile recovery run (after half marathon)

Tuesday: 6 miles easy

Wednesday: spinning, core work

Thursday: 8 mile progression run (1:06)

Friday: 6 miles easy (including sprints)

Saturday: 18 miles (2:35:07)

Sunday: R&R!!!!!


Marlene said...

AWESOME job pushing through a run that was tough in SO many ways. I have an 18 miler on deck tomorrow and it looks like the same weather that you had. Ugh!

Enjoy the recovery!

Anonymous said...

Wowsers! You r truly a superwoman today! You can just sit back and enjoy the weekend!!

ajh said...

That sounds like an amazing effort that turned into an impressive run with an awesome time! Good for you! I think a lot of miles in the rain is the hardest thing going. I had wind today but no rain.

Abby said...

What a run! Awesome job - you're going to kick butt at Jersey!

Erica said...

oh man- way to push through. I HATE running in the cold. My fingers are always frozen and I hate the feeling afterwards when it takes like 2 hours for your hands to warm back up. I have those capris- don't they rock? Hope you're enjoying yourself tonight after the hard work

Heather said...

Nice job on the run! I had a cold and windy 18 miler yesterday too.

Cute capris!

lindsay said...

great week, and nice long run! it feels good to get those done - especially under less than ideal conditions. boost of confidence, for sure. :)

lauren said...

oh wow. cold and rain and wind? that is the worst possible combination for running and I definitely would have quit earlier. You completely rock and are so super fast! I think I need to follow your weekly workouts so I can get faster!

X-Country2 said...

Awesome run! You earned that ice bath chica!

Beth said...

You are ready for anything the marathon throws at you now! Way to go! You did a great job of mentally breaking up the run and hanging in there and you ended up running so fast. Yeah!

Anonymous said...

The Capris are super cute. Glad they worked out so well for you in the rain. Amazing job on the 18! Hope you enjoyed your rest day.

Heather @ Side of Sneakers said...

Way to push through a hard run! And fast too!! :)