Sunday, March 7, 2010

A road trip, a run, and a little dude

This weekend was a bit different from the usual routine. For starters, we weren't in Peoria. We took a little road trip to visit my husband's family in southern Indiana (and soon you will see why). Since it's about a 6 hour trip (when you factor in a quick dinner stop along the way), it means we got to the in-laws' house pretty late on Friday night. I was already tired and after having a quick snack, I went right to bed. No time for any serious carb-loading. Not that I really needed it - we were only running 12 miles on Saturday morning. Ahhhhh, recovery weeks are wonderful! Hard to believe I now think of 12 miles as "short".

The alarm went off bright and early on Saturday morning and I had some breakfast (the typical oatmeal and banana), and about an hour and a half later, Matt and I set out on our run. He runs faster than I do, so after about 4 or 5 miles, he was out of my sight. No worries, though, I had my music and the fresh air. It was sunny and pleasant outside - a nice change of pace from recent weeks in Peoria!

Even though this was a recovery run, I did have a goal in mind. I wanted to run at about my marathon goal pace (for the Flying Pig Marathon, that is). That's about 12:00-12:30 per mile. Maybe I could run faster than that, but I know the Pig is really hilly and I don't want to force myself into an unrealistic goal for this particular race. The "nice" thing about southern Indiana is that it's actually pretty hilly too. So it was a decent approximation of marathon conditions.

I went into my run with a clear strategy in mind. When I tried to maintain a 12:00 pace during my 14 mile run two weeks ago, it was a disaster. Remember that? Yeah, I didn't want to relive that. Time to test a new strategy:

(1) Start slow and taper back. If I saved my energy at the beginning, I would have energy to pick up the pace later. All I wanted was for my AVERAGE pace over the entire 12 miles to be 12:00-12:30.

(2) Don't attack the hills. Take them easy and calmly.

(3) Take advantage of downhills and flat sections. Let gravity work its magic.

So that was the game plan in a nutshell. I had a water bottle strapped to my waist so I could hydrate as often as I needed. And I had some Sharkies with me for fuel. I had dressed in layers so I could peel layers off as I warmed up. I was ready to git 'er done!

All in all, it ended up being a pretty darn good run. My strategy kept me feeling strong the entire run. I was able to run a very nice negative split, averaging about 12:20 for the first 6 miles, and about 11:40 the last 6 miles. End result... an overall average pace of 12:01. I couldn't have asked for a better result.

But it wasn't perfect. I had not-so-nice words with my water bottle holder (see link above). It's nothing against the actual holder (or the bottle). It's a perfectly good hydration system. The problem is me. I have a small waist and big hips (in other words, I'm female). But I don't want to wear the holder belt around my actual waist, because it's too high up and makes it uncomfortable to breathe. I just want to wear it low on my hips, so it doesn't cut into my stomach and the bottle is easy to reach around to. But noooooo, the dumb thing was constantly migrating up to my waist, no matter how many times I pushed it down to my hips. Also, the repetitive motion of reaching around my back on the right side (because that's how you get the bottle out of the holder) ended up giving me back spasms starting around Mile 7.5. I was able to run through them, but it got a bit uncomfortable for a while there. By about Mile 11, I was this close *holding fingers really close together* to taking the stupid thing off and throwing it on the side of the road in hopes that maybe a big tanker truck would run over it repeatedly. About Mile 11.5, I finally did take it off and carried it in my hand. The relief to my midsection was immediate - I could breathe again!

So I'm not sure what I will do about hydration in the future. Water bottle belts are all the same - they all ride up to my waist. So it's not like I can just use a different product and have better results. But carrying a bottle in my hand isn't a great option either (I've done that before and it's really no fun at all). What I need is a crew that will drive around to various places on my route and hand me Dixie cups full of water and/or Gatorade. Any volunteers?

Getting back to the run... here's the run graph and map! It's hard to tell from this but it was basically an out-and-back course that started and ended in the middle.

But enough about the run! I promised I would tell you why we were visiting the in-laws this weekend. It was to meet our new nephew! Bryce was born last November, 10 weeks premature. He is a little miracle who has blossomed and grown and was able to go home in early February. Now that he's settled in at home with his mommy and daddy, we were able to go and meet him for the first time. He's the cutest, most laid-back little dude you'll ever meet. It was love at first cuddle. Henceforth, I shall be known as Auntie Em. And henceforth, he shall be known as Bryce-a-roni. When he's older, I will be sure to embarrass him thoroughly with that nickname. And maybe someday, after he's learned to walk, I'll take him to the running store for his first pair of Asics and we'll see what those long legs can do. He'll be my little cross-country runner in training.

Peace. Love. Train.

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