Saturday, February 20, 2010

Adventures in hills, snow, and potholes

I'm going to try to put together a coherent blog entry today, but be forewarned - I'm still a bit delirious from today's fourteen miler. It shouldn't have been a big deal. Only two miles longer than last weekend, and last weekend was fine. But I made several mistakes today that ended up hurting me later on in my run. So what have I learned from today?

1. Don't go out too fast. To be fair, I wasn't really sure what "too fast" was, since this was my first really long run outside, on a hilly course. Up until now, I'd been running indoors on a flat track, or moderately inclined treadmill. I seriously underestimated the increased difficulty of the hilly route we had chosen for today. Whoops. I should have known better - I ran this route many times training for my first marathon. But it has been over 3 years, and apparently time has made me forgetful.

2. Don't try to make up for lost time. Somewhere around Mile 1, I was fiddling with my iPhone (I use it to run the Nike+ and play music), and apparently dropped my glove. But I didn't realize it until I went to put my gloves back on. So I had to turn around, run back about 1/4 mile (uphill!), find my glove, and then run back. I should have just done this at the same easy pace, but for reasons I can't explain, I felt the need to "catch up". Catch up to who? Nobody. Even though my husband and our FAST friends were running too, they were all far ahead of me since they run faster. So I knew I couldn't actually "catch up" with any of them. Nevertheless, I picked up the pace once I got my glove. I should have just kept the pace slow.

3. Don't try to "power through" the tough hills. Not sure what I was thinking here. I should have slowed down on the hills, to keep my heart rate down. Instead I tried to hold pace. I don't think I was very successful anyway, but I still should have been slower. The long run is not the time to battle against the hills. They always win.

4. Don't panic when things don't go quite according to plan. I made a wrong turn around Mile 8. I was supposed to turn on High Point Dr and instead I turned on Fox Point Dr. I realized my mistake shortly after I made the turn, but it was already too late to go back and run the road I had intended to run. So I did some quick mental math and determined how far I needed to run on this new "uncharted" road. It should've been fine. But for reasons I cannot explain, I sped up during this segment. I guess I thought I needed to "catch up" again. But as we have already discussed, there was nobody for me to catch up to. I think there should be a medical term for this... Running-Induced Irrationality (RII).

5. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!! Okay, I already knew this. But when it's cold outside, you just don't realize how much fluid you're really losing. I stopped for water/gatorade three times during this run. It wasn't enough. If this had been a half-marathon, there would've been at least 6 water/gatorade stops and I would have stopped at almost every one. Today I made my first water stop at Mile 6. Not good. Next time we are going to have to be more strategic about our placement of water bottles along the route.

So what did all my mistakes mean? Well, the last few miles were extremely challenging. My heart rate refused to go down to an acceptable level (I like to keep it below 160, and on this run I was routinely in the low 170's). I struggled through every step, willing my legs to move. It shouldn't have been that difficult. The good news is that after a good lunch and lots of water, I'm feeling pretty good. Nothing hurts in a bad way, I'm just a bit stiff and tired.

Let's hope I remember all these lessons on the next long run (next weekend is 16 miles). I want to finish feeling good rather than feeling completely drained.

Oh, and one of the advantages of running outdoors is that I get to use my GPS. So below is the data from my Garmin watch, including a map of my run. Note the elevation graph in green. Total climb, according to the Garmin, was 900 feet. This may actually be hillier than the Flying Pig will be. So I guess if I can run this route, I can run The Pig. I will be ready for those hills!

The GPS map doesn't show (1) hills, (2) snow or (3) potholes, but rest assured, there were plenty of all three of these things along the entire route. And all three of them make for a challenging run. I also think they increase the risk of RII (Running-Induced Irrationality).

I'd like to take a moment to give huge high fives to my training buddies today: my husband, Matt, and our friends from FAST, Niki and Marc. They all did a great job today. For Matt and Niki, it was their longest run EVER. WAY TO GO GUYS! :)

Peace. Love. Train.

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