Friday, October 10, 2014

Long Run 22 Miles

I woke up Friday morning to temperatures in the 40's and strong winds. What a day to attempt my longest run yet- 22 miles. 

Each week I upload my running data to my Garmin Connect profile and my coach takes a look at it. I shared with her my questions and concerns from last week's 21 mile run and asked for advice on how to approach this week's run. She suggested I make this into another loop run and gave me ideas for how to think through each loop.

I had prepped my running pack and bottles the night before so all I had to do once I got home from taking the kids to school was finish the last few things and head out the door. I've played around with this routine over the last few weeks and discovered last week it was mostly mental that was messing with me getting out the door. I've tried rushing- felt rushed but trying not to rush the first few miles. I've tried being chill, wiping down counters, sweeping, etc. before going out but then struggled to feel in the moment at the beginning. This week I focused on quickly getting necessary things done and then getting out. This worked for me. 

As I mentioned, the wind and the chill was bracing but I have no idea at this point what the weather will be like on race day. So, I beat my chest a few times, slapped myself into warrior mode and headed out. At least that's how I felt. I was guessing that once on the trail and gravel the wind wouldn't be as bad but first I had to get away from the suburban neighborhoods where the wind whips harder.

I stashed my water bottle in the usual spot. I think I've figured out my hydration (and close enough nutrition) for the race. In one bottle is a regular mix of Tailwind. In the second bottle is a slightly watered down mix of Tailwind. I will probably carry a small plain bottle of water in the back of my pack also. Nutrition is a combination of gels, chomps, Honey Stinger waffles and dried blueberries. 

For my first loop I was to start out slow. "Slow to the point that it feels too slow." The second loop was all about finding a groove and feeling like I could run forever. The last loop would be all about imagining how I wanted my last loop of the race to feel. And NO negative thoughts. This was the key for my entire run. I would not let myself question why or how. I would make smart decisions. Having to make decisions doesn't mean I'm uprooting all the work I've put in. I've got to learn that.

About a quarter of the way through my second loop, a friend drove past and once he recognized me, gave me a huge grin. I took that smile and plastered it on my face. I smiled goofy for the rest of my run. Forced or real, I made it stay. No negative thoughts. 

My planned route had me run the hilly gravel roads east of town then dip into the forest preserve for a mile or so of grass and single-track trail. Knowing I will blog about each of these long runs, I always wonder what kind of pictures I'll take and what kind of story will be crafted from each run. I've debated before about taking a video during my run but have never done so, until today. This video is from the back trail at the top of the preserve where I run. I took it with my phone and unfortunately, it might make you a little woozy. Next time I'll see if Ben will let me borrow the GoPro. 

I had debated about not showing you it but my favorite part might be the wall of rain I noticed in the distance at the end. When I saw it, I thought "Bring it!" Might as well add pouring rain to the mix of wind and chill for the next twelve miles but it never came my way. 

While the sun attempted a breakthrough during my first loop, the wind pushed a tight blanket of clouds over it and I didn't see it again. The wind was calmer in some places, to my back in other places, while in my face throughout another section. I kept my layers for the whole run and didn't feel cold although later I noticed my thighs and mid-section were red from the cold and I had to almost immediately jump into a warm shower to turn my chattering lips back from blue to red.

My plan had me running 22 miles for this, the longest of my runs, training period. Last week, when I decided to go for 21 miles instead of 20, I somehow came up with then going 24 miles the next week. I could break it down how it went in my head for you, but let's just say at the end you would be confused. The short story is that I fixated on 24 miles although I gave myself permission to stop at 22 miles if my body didn't feel up to the task. 

I made it to 24 miles! I felt victorious. I felt like I pushed through the imaginary ten miles to go ceiling I created. I remembered how I didn't celebrate last week in going the furthest I had even run, so I celebrated. I was tired but not beat up. And I was definitely hungry! I downed a smoothie and took a nap and forced my sister to bring me a hot mocha, full caff, when she dropped off her kids for the weekend.


Next week is 14 miles. It sounds wonderful.   



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