Posted tagged ‘half-marathon’

How to Mess Up a Perfectly Good Saturday Run (and ache for days afterward)

February 7, 2012

After several years as a runner, I should know that my performance on a run depends as much on my mental state as my physical state.  I should know this.  I never seem to really remember it, though.

I do my long runs on Saturday.  I wake up early.  I head out no between 6:30 and 7, so that I am finished no later than 9.  Amy respects my need to run, but I don’t want to make the whole family’s Saturday revolve around my running schedule.

I started feeling a sneaking dread about last Saturday’s run on Friday night.  I felt tired.  I didn’t want to blog.  I didn’t want to do anything.  In fact, I laid about on the couch from the time Janie went to bed until I went to bed playing the free version of Scrabble on my phone.  That’s right… I don’t care enough to buy the actual app, yet I wasted an entire night messing around with my online Scrabble opponents.

Maybe dread is too strong a word.  It was really more like apathy.  I didn’t want to do a long run.  I hadn’t run more than 5 miles a pop for more than two weeks, and I felt ambivalent at best about putting forth the amount of energy a 13.1 mile run takes.  So, I kept hitting snooze on my alarm.  Even though I knew I needed to get up and eat, so I could get out of the house on time.  Even though I could smell the brewed coffee waiting for me in the kitchen.  Snooze.

All this is a long lead in to say that, while I made decent time on my Saturday run, it was painful.  In fact, I decided to cut my run down to a 10 miler, because my right calf began cramping around mile 8 and my left quad tightened a bit more with each mile.  And my knees felt every connection with the pavement.  I am not fan of stopping short of my mileage goal on a run, but I also know running shouldn’t hurt.  Especially not in a training run.  A stubbornness inflicted injury also would not get much sympathy from Amy.

Why all the aches and pains?  Remember that apathy/dread I mentioned?  It manifested itself in tension in all my muscles, an obsession with my pacing, and a bizarre (and misguided) need to push off with my calves to gain speed.  My head just wasn’t where it needed to be, and my body responded by completely freaking out.

I am actually looking forward to this Saturday’s run.  My calves finally feel normal again (I could barely walk for two dang days), and I am excited to see what I can do out there.  And this is a much better way to approach a run.

13.1 miles.  Bring it.

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Stride Right

November 25, 2011

Since the half-marathon, I have run 3 times.

The first time, I felt like I might die.  Each step felt like a sledgehammer pounding my joints.  My left knee hurt.  I had no energy.  My calf muscles felt so taut they might snap.  3.1 miles stretched out endlessly.  As I struggled to finish the last .5 miles, I remembered that the photo taken of me during the final sprint of the half-marathon showed me blatantly heel striking.  Blatantly.  So, I thought I would switch up my stride.  Born to Run describes running with short, quick steps, of course with a midfoot or forefoot strike, so I thought I would give it a shot.  And… the running got easier.  And I got quicker.  Just for that last half mile.

I kind of figured it was a fluke.  Maybe I just changed my attitude.  Maybe I caught a second wind.  Or maybe… maybe… it was the stride?

My second run was on Thanksgiving.  I just need to pause to tell you that I never thought I would choose to run on Thanksgiving.  Running has become my idea of relaxation; it is what I do on vacation.  Weird.  Anyway, I ran four miles with those little bitty strides.  My run was pain free.  And quick.  For me, at least.  I could kind of just zone out and cruise along.  Such a huge change from that first run.

I did the third run today.  6 miles.  Might have been the fastest I have ever run 6 miles.  If not, it was darn close.  Again, I used those itty bitty strides.  I kept my feet under my hips, and I zipped right along.  Crazy how much a stride can effect my perceived effort output (something discussed in Chi Running–which I have yet to finish.  But it is next on my list!).

These new developments have cemented my decision to run the Gasparilla Half-Marathon in March 2012.  Bring it on, I say.

Universal rules are universal?

November 21, 2011

Universal rules apply to me.

I struggle with this lesson.  

For the first hour or so of labor, I wondered what women complained about so much.  4 more hours and an epidural later, I completely got it.  Turns out labor hurts.  For everyone.  Even me.

When my Iron-Man-completing-friend told me to watch my pace during my first half-marathon, to keep it steady because mile 8 would be the physical halfway mark, I truly did heed his wise counsel.  Until race day.  Then, as I began to run, I thought I would run at my 15k speed.  Surely, I could manage that speed the whole way.  Surely, I wouldn’t bonk.  Because I am different from other runners.

Universal rules apply to me. (See how I am repeating this mantra?)

The half-marathon truly was a phenomenal experience.  I covered the distance 3 minutes faster than I did during my training runs.  I pushed myself as hard as I could go.  And, let’s be honest, running 13.1 miles isn’t a small feat.  I am pleased with my performance.  And I feel accomplished.

But I did learn some things (see mantra above): 

1.  I should have run a bit slower at the outset; I could have maintained a slightly slower pace consistently throughout the race.  As it was, I had to walk in short intervals after mile 10.5.  I dislike walking during a race.  It feels like a letdown.

2.  I need to stay where my Brooks are.  I lost heart when I looked up and saw how much distance I had to cover to make it past the next landmark.  Every second counts, and every second can feel like a battle during a 13.1 mile run, so I need to stay in the present.

3.  The battle comment above denotes a problem in perspective.  Battling the pain is counterproductive.  I need to find a way to welcome it and push through it.

4.  I will train harder for my next race.  I felt confident until mile 10 because I had run that distance so often, and I knew exactly how hard I could push up to that point.  I overestimated how hard I could push for 13.1, because I wanted to be faster.  Oops.  Can’t decide I want to be faster on race day. The time for that kind of decision passed about 16 weeks before race day.

5.  I can’t sprint 1.1 miles.  Not after already running 12.  It doesn’t matter how bad I want it.  My only regret about this race is having to walk for a short stretch during the last 1.1 because I tried to sprint the whole way, and there was just not enough reserve energy to pull from.  

But the biggest lesson I learned is that I just love to run.  I know I will improve.  And I am really proud of my 2:16:37 for my first half.  And now I can try that barefoot running bit…

 

Variations on Themes

November 11, 2011

Current obsessions:
Women’s Half-Marathon in St. Pete (Nov 20th)
Barefoot running
Ultramarathoners
Vegan Thanksgiving menu
Flea Armeggedon at the Lee-Kellogg house
Seeing Amy
Jane’s antics (waving, pulling up, finding her belly)
My final long run of the taper (6 miles tomorrow)

And I Ran, I Ran So Far Away…

November 9, 2011

Tapering for the half is going to be the death of me. Flea Apocalypse 2011 calls for some quality running time, and I am stuck trimming my mileage and gazing longingly at my Brooks. Plus, I am reading Born To Run, and it is working its magic… Igniting a passion for running, seeing the art in the sport.

And dang if I don’t want to try barefoot running now. Can I even do that with these crazy flat
feet of mine?

I know one thing for sure: I am hitting the trails after this half. And I am hyped.

When a Half is Better Than a Whole (for now at least)

November 5, 2011

Today marked the last long run I will do before the Women’s Half-Marathon in St. Pete on November 20th.  And I killed it.  

I love running.  Amy swears it is an unnatural love.  But, I see running as a kind of meditation.  It keeps me focused and (relatively) tranquil.  I understand myself better because I run.  I don’t really know how to explain that, but I know for certain that it is true.

I am excited about this half-marathon.  It will be my first.  I have trained diligently, with a well-planned strategy, and I have avoided injury (except for a minor back/knee issue that got resolved quickly through chiropractic treatment).   I understood my boundaries.  I respected my body. I am a much stronger runner for this.

And I felt like today’s run was a celestial nod assuring me that I am ready for November 20th.  

Bring it.