Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day 33 - Only 55 Days Left Until the London Marathon


Amazing day, in several ways. Today I ran further than I have ever run before, 22.5 miles. That is seven 5Ks. I keep going back to July of last year and my run alongside the Bow river in Calgary. I was only a mile into the run and realised I better turn back because I was running out of steam. 22.5 miles wasn’t imaginable.

Nor was the thought that I’d be covering over 500 miles of pavement, grass, gravel and dirt in a little more than six months time. Today, I passed the 500 mile mark since beginning back in July.

I also remember thinking a sub 9 pace would be great but happy just to finish somewhere in the mid 9 range for my half or just finish the race without taking any stops to walk.

Where I’m going with all of this? It astounds me the limitations and short sighted vision we place on ourselves. Even when I set goals, I sometimes find myself doubting the eventual outcome. “Can I really do this?” “It is only a few weeks away, I’m not really convinced I’ll get there” etc.

This whole experience reinforces my belief in setting goals beyond conceivable reach. My overall level of confidence is strengthened each week. For me, it’s been about taking the larger goal and breaking it down into smaller, easily identifiable and knowingly obtainable goals. The progression that takes place from the time you start until the time you arrive at the end, is self inspiring.

Now, a little about the actual run.

The weather was great and it was early enough in the day that I was expecting to finish with the sun still up. I enjoy White Rock Lake so I decided to run a similar route to where I ran my 20 mile run two weeks ago. I had to add some distance to it, so I decided to run my #2 spot through SMU and Highland Park.

At my exit from the neighborhood, I quickly got a sense for how the wind was going to be. It was moving strong at 10+mph from the South. The first few miles went well, no leg pain, feeling good about being out, focused on good form, little worry of time, just running. It wasn’t until around mile 11 that I started to realise how much of an effect the wind was having and starting getting a sense for my level of fatigue. I had been running South for an hour and half. This was also the first time I checked my watch. Normally when I keep my watch out of site, my pace suffers – which I was fine with today because my focus was on completing the distance not my finish time. I was surprised to find that I was clocking around an 8:30 pace. This would have been fine on a day without wind but I would soon discover the consequences.

Miles 12-14 took me back in West to North direction, although the wind was mostly cut out of the picture. It was either blowing me sideways each stretch I came to that was close off the lake or non-existent when I was hoping for a push from behind. I also ran out of water at 11.5 miles and starting to feel de-hydrated towards mile 14. Last long run, Elise missed me at the lake and resulted in several miles without water before I ran into a gas station to re-fill. I was getting very close to my exit from the lake and hadn’t seen her yet. I was getting a little worried. Just before my exit, there she was with our puppy and a big gallon jug of orange Gatorade. I was happy to see all three. Elise was sick and I was lucky she was able to come bring me anything. I felt bad for her having to trek out to the lake but was in serious need of liquids.

I also started to experience my first of many painful leg cramps. I’m guessing it may have had something to do with de-hydration but could have also been my diet over the weekend. Either way, it was making every stride difficult. I do not like stopping for any reason during a run, especially on my long runs. The leg cramps were too much and I say that with confidence. I continued to run when I thought it couldn't get worse, it then got worse, still I continued to run until I though surely this is as bad as it gets, my body then revolted and demanded I stop to walk for a bit. So I did. I walked for a couple of minutes and then ran as far as I could before I had little choice but to stop again and walk. This continued for the last 8 miles and every time felt like one of those moments where it might be best to quit. I'm glad I kept going.

I had the end in sight on the last two miles and just kept going straight through to the house. Mixed thoughts and feelings when I reached the apartment. Glad to have it over, whimpering, pumping with adrenaline after completing my longest run to date, ready to go out and do it again (stupid me), whimpering again, staring at the stairs up to our third floor apartment in disgust, felt like I made it to the summit of Everest when I reached the top of the stairs, then collapsed in the front hallway of my apartment where I stayed for the next 20-30 minutes.

Elise, although sick, was great. She came over immediatly with Gatorade and a Clif Bar, she had been waiting on me. I had her exchange the Clif Bar for some Clif Shot Rocks (22g Protein). I'm trying the Shot Rocks as a suggestion from Kristen. They seemed to work well. Eventually, I made it to the bathroom and started an ice bath. I climbed into the ice batch and wasn't sure which was worse, the ice bath or running 22.5 miles. I hung out in there for about 20 mins and took a shower. My legs had finally stopped cramping, glad that was over.

Looking back on it, I acted like such a baby. I need to tough it up for the future. I still have 3.7 miles to add on and significantly reduce my overall time. I am hoping the wind had a big role in the difficulty of today's run; otherwise, I need to step it up two or three notches with my training. Can't afford any mistakes, injuries, etc. from now until the race.


1 comment:

  1. I've been waiting for this post!!! I have so much to say!

    Congrats on the P.R.! It's amazing what we think of as "un-achievable" and yet, we still achieve it.

    Also, another thing that I do know from experience, and have heard all of my elite runner friends say really works for them, mustard packs help with cramps! It does sound like your cramps were induced by dehydration, but it never hurts to throw one in your spy belt, and try it on the next run?!

    Glad you like the shot rocks!

    Ice bath?!?!?!?!??!!?!? I have some serious fears of this! Did it help?

    It sounds like you're working out all the kinks for the big race. Learning what does and DOESN'T work...

    I hope your recovery was speedy and you're legs are fresh for the next week of training! -- Will you actually reach the 26.2 mile mark before the marathon? Some schedules don't call for over 20.

    Way to go!!!!