Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Confidence Booster

As race day lies only a month away, I was in serious need of a confidence booster. So Saturday, I layered up the winter running gear and make the early trip to join my TNT team in their weekly long runs.  I have been staying away from long runs and focusing on interval/strength training due to some knee issues, but was in desperate need of some serious time on the trail and completing at least 10 miles. I started out telling myself I would run as much as I could and not try to push to the 18 miles that the other full marathon runners were going to run.  My last long run was in November when I did the Annapolis Half Marathon and since then, my training has been short high intensity running intervals and strength training, with a few 8-10 mile runs sprinkled in during the weekends.

So while I set my expectations low and told myself to be completely satisfied with completing 10 miles, I had a small voice in the back of my head that said...GO FOR THE 18!!

It was not the best day for a long run. The weather was in the low 30s and the were intermittent rain/snow showers all morning. Thankfully, I have mastered the art of layering and I was sufficiently warm throughout my entire run. I am so thankful for the warm winter we are having and thankful that I did not decide to train for a marathon during the humid months of a DC summer!

The other thing that made this run a little bit harder for me was not having any music. I am a fan of really loud, fast music to pump me up during my runs! For me, it helps the miles go by faster and I find it a bit easier to pick up the pace when one of my favorite songs starts to play. I am so in love with all the Pandora workout stations that now exist.  They are great for running! Since this run was with TNT, they encourage you NOT to wear headphones while you run.  Not only is this a safety thing, but part of the experience of group training is getting to know your fellow runners! I have never been one to talk to someone while I run, but I found it quite enjoyable to chat with the coaches during different sections of my run. Not only did it give me access to some one-on-one time with our running coaches, but talking while you are running is a great barometer for your pace. If you find it hard to catch your breath and talking is difficult, you are likely running too fast for a long distance run.  So I was a bit worried about not having my music to zone out to, but it ended up working out just fine. I had some miles of just quiet time with my thoughts and a few miles running with coaches and fellow teammates. GO TEAM!

The first 10 miles really flew by and I kept a great 10 min mile pace. I took a short break at mile 11 to grab more water and stretch and started up again.  I rarely felt the need to stop and take a break, so I was confident my pace was just right and my legs were just cruising along. I kept anticipating the knee pain to start but as I watched mile 13 tick by on my garmin....no knee pain to be found! All those squats and lunges were paying off.

As mile 15 came, I started to feel a few aches and pains. Both knees were feeling a bit sore, but not hurting and my ankles were starting to bother me. None of the pain was enough to stop running, rather just looking at my garmin in amazement of how far I had already gone and that was enough to push myself to just try one more mile! Before I knew it, I was at mile 17 and knew it would all be over in 10 mins. I am always so amazed at the energy I am able to summon up for the last mile. The last mile is my favorite! Not because it is the last mile, but because all the pain seems to go away and I get this burst of energy to run as fast as I can! And when that mile is finished and I can't breath and I can't feel my feet,  I know that I had a good run!

So there you have it...my first 18 mile run! It felt fantastic to finish and gave me the confidence booster that I need to stay focused for the remainder of my training. Plus, it was a great rehearsal for me to gage how I will fuel myself for race day. I have never worked out for that amount of time, so having a few workouts that last 3+ hours will help me determine how to hydrate and keep enough calories going in me!

The next long runwill be a 20 miler and than I will start to taper my long runs down while still keeping up high interval and strength training during the week.

I know I have said this before, but running really is an incredible thing. It may not be the best or most efficient workout but it is something that anyone can do and something you can work at to get better. If you would have told me 5 years ago that I would be running 18 miles in preparation to run 26.2, I would have laughed at you! Me??! No way! Now, I find myself itching for my next workout.

So training is going well and fundraising is going well too!! Thank you to all for your support and donations! Please help me get to 100% by donating today!
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