So what was different? How come this run sucked so much less than my 20-miler? Well, I couldn't say for sure, but I think several factors were at work:
- Weather - today was just a beautiful day. Aside from the 15mph wind out of the SSW, it was perfect marathon-running weather. Spring has sprung - I started my run out at 45º, and finished at about 65º. I did make the mistake of wearing my long CW-X tights (the Insulator ones) - I really didn't need the insulation after the first couple of miles. But I still felt comfortable for most of the run. And now that flowers and trees are blooming, there are so many wonderful and beautiful things to look at to make the time pass more quickly. Oh how I love seeing the magnolia trees in full bloom!
- I stuck to my fueling strategy like white on rice (or brown on brown rice). During my 20-miler, I lost my appetite early and consequently, didn't eat as much as I should have. Today, I told myself I would eat 2-4 Sharkies every 2 miles (with an appropriate amount of water) whether I wanted to or not. I did, and it helped.
- I carbo-loaded the night before. I didn't really do this properly for my 20-miler - I had some homemade pizza, but not very much. Last night, I pigged out on Penne Rosa at Noodles & Co. Yep, pasta is the distance runner's best friend. Well, that and anti-chafing creme. Anyway, I'm happy to see that there are Noodles restaurants in Cincinnati - I know where I'll be eating the night before the marathon.
- I don't know if this made any difference, but I added raisins to my pre-run oatmeal, for a few extra calories and carbs. '
- I just came off of a recovery week. It may have been a half-marathon race last weekend, but 13 miles is still recovery. Before my 20-miler, I hadn't had a recovery week for 3 weeks. I was tired.
- I didn't plan an insanely hilly route for today. Maybe that makes me a slacker. I could've run a route with 1000 feet of climb, but I decided that it was more important for me to finish this run feeling good, than to finish it feeling an inch from death. I needed a confidence boost. So I planned a route with "only" 580 feet of climb. I still think that's plenty. And I still included Bishop Hill, because a long run just isn't a long run without Bishop Ave hill!
So without further ado, here is the BIG RUN:
Isn't it nice how I planned Bishop Hill right smack dab in the middle of the run? And then I still ran negative splits. Take THAT, Awful 20-Mile Run From Two Weeks Ago! *kick punch*
I think the most important thing about today's run was that it made me feel ready for my marathon. I finally feel like I can do this. It's only 4 more miles than what I ran today. I can do that.
So now, I begin my taper. Marathon day is just over 3 weeks away. Oh, the taper won't be easy. My coaches will make sure of that. But the long runs will be shorter so I my muscles have plenty of time to recovery from today's run. Then, as the theory goes, I'll be running on fresh legs for the marathon. What I'd really like is to run on Kenyan legs for the marathon... but that would be weird, wouldn't it?
Peace. Love. Train.