Guess who ran 20 miles?

I did! I did! I did!  Can you believe it?  I can’t, but it’s true.  20 Miles.

I was feeling a bit nervous about this run, but I had myself convinced that I would finish 20 miles no matter what.  No excuses.

So in anticipation of this feat, last night I had a delicious carby dinner and was in bed before 10. Marathon training has made me SO cool.  Although in all honestly, I don’t usually do much on Friday nights anyway.  But I will still blame the marathon.

This morning my alarm went off bright and early at 5:30am, and I spent a few minutes giving myself a pep-talk before I could actually turn on the lights and get up.

I wanted to practice as much of the the pre-race routine that I will use on November 20th. I had my standard breakfast of peanut butter on toast with a giant cup of coffee on the side. Then there were lots of sexy activities like applying body glide everywhere imaginable and using the bathroom 15 times.

After almost an hour of these lovely rituals, I made it out the door.  As some of you may know, the weather is less than ideal here in the Northeast.  But at 6:30am today, it wasn’t even really raining yet.

So I spent a blissful hour in the Park of mainly rain-free running.  Then the rain arrived. And it arrived hard.

But I kept going.

No, of course I didn't take this picture. But it sums up exactly the way I feel about running.

I am no longer worried about the weather in Philadelphia.  I ran the majority of 20 miles in gross wind and rain, and it didn’t slow me down all that much.

My plan was to do about a loop and a half in the park and then venture onto the west side drive.  But then, I had completed almost 2 full loops, and I decided that I would just run 3 loops and then add on a bit at the very end to finish the 20 miles.

So basically, my run was very repetitive.  I ran a lot of miles, but I didn’t really go anywhere. Weirdly, the repetition didn’t bother me.  Usually I hate doing multiple loops, but today I was fine with it.

Round and round Central Park

I ate a Gu at mile 5, mile 11 and mile 16.  I have to remind myself to do this, because usually by mile 5 I am not feeling any special desire to down a weird semi-liquid gu out of a packet.  But they really are important, and I felt pretty sustained when I took them about every 50 minutes.

There were plenty of times during today’s run when I felt tired or sore.  But I knew quitting wasn’t an option, which is the secret to getting it done, if you ask me.

I also have a tendency to look down when I run, rather then ahead, which means that I always manage to miss other people I know.  Several people have told me they saw me on the road, but I never manage to see them.  Today I saw my friend Kim, but only after she had said “hey” several times.  I was also at mile 15 and not very articulate, so it was not the best mid-run meeting.  But it was still awesome to see a friendly face.

This is 100% how I feel:

So you are welcome, Kim.  I know I looked good.  (Also: can you tell that I spent the morning googling running photos?  Yeah the rain didn’t exactly make it easy to take pictures.)

Before I knew it, I had finished 20 miles.  I don’t know if I ever thought that would be possible.  I was tired and sore when I got home, but that’s nothing that some frozen peas and nutritious post-run hydration won’t fix:

What? Is it not normal to drink a beer at 11am?

And now it is actually snowing here.  I’m glad I finished my run before that arrived, because now I can lay around on my couch and drink more beer.   I hope the snow doesn’t ruin any Halloween plans.  I personally have an awesome costume, and I will wear it no matter what. (In case you care, my friends and I are being the motorcycle gang from Sons of Anarchy, aka the best show on TV. Seriously.)

I am really proud that I was able to get this done.  20 miles is the most I will run before the Big Day, and now I will officially start my taper period.  3 weeks to go!

All about November 20th

So I am running a marathon on November 20th.  This much I have said.

But I haven’t really talked about how I came to the decision to run a marathon in the first place, let alone the decision to run the Philadelphia Marathon.

The truth is, I have always wanted to run a marathon.  I grew up playing sports that involved running, and a marathon seemed like a great bucket-list type goal that I would accomplish as an adult.

Then this summer, I suddenly realized that I am an adult.  When did that happen?  I don’t know exactly, but I figured that if I don’t start accomplishing some goals, I may never even get started.

Still, a marathon is a huge goal that takes months and months of training. So, late this summer I signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon with the intention of switching my registration to the half marathon.  This way I could train for a while and see how I felt, but I knew that the half marathon would be the smart race to choose.

But then the half marathon filled up, before I ever got the chance to switch my registration. Oops.  So, suddenly, I was running a full marathon.

It took me a while to even tell anyone about this development.  I guess I was scared to say it out loud, because acknowledging it meant that I might fail.

The way I am feeling about my training progress is a whole different issue, one that I will address in another post, but for now I am at least committed to finishing this race. No matter what.

In the mean time, the race website has made it very easy for me to see exactly how many more days I have to freak out until the big day:

HOLY CRAP.

That is very soon.  Very. Soon.

It’s crazy that I have spent the past several months training for one day.  That seems like quite a gamble, and there are so many factors that are out of control.  Like the weather.  It was rainy on my run this morning (5.75 miles, average pace of 9:05), and I realized that I could end up running a whole marathon in the rain.  Or in the snow.

That would be fun.  Or maybe not.

So now that I have gotten myself freaked out about weather, I will leave you for the day. Stay dry out there.

What do you think about while running?

I often get asked what I think about while I am running.  Doesn’t it get boring?

The short answer is no.  Not really.  My mind finds all sorts of things to think about.  In fact, this morning as I covered about 7.5 miles, I spent a good long time thinking about what I think about running.

I think about how far I have gone and how far I have left to go.  I try to find a way to cut the run short.  I think about how I can squeeze in extra miles.  I think about my day.  I think about the other runners.  I think about changing my Pandora station. I think about the weather.

I think about November 20th.

Sometimes, what I see during my run can influence what I think about for a while.  For example, when I see this building:

Good morning, Met Museum

I tend to think about how I have really been meaning to come visit for a while.  Isn’t there a new exhibit that I have been wanting to see?  I will come check soon.  I swear.  It’s so close.  I really loved my art history classes in college.  What was that professor’s name again?  I should have taken more art history classes.

And so on.  You get the picture.

There is also a very special thing that happens sometimes during a run where I think about nothing. It becomes just about running and breathing and moving, and those are the most peaceful times.

So, to answer the question – I think about everything.  Also: I think about nothing.

But for now I have to get going to work.  My apologies for the super short posts recently. Enjoy your Tuesdays!

17 Lakefront miles

Well, the weather certainly cleared up here in Chicago.  Yesterday was absolutely beautiful, and I was so excited to have the chance to run along the lakefront trail.

For the first time, I actually did my long run in the afternoon.  I still had work stuff to do yesterday morning, but I had all afternoon free so I decided to get the run in then.   And it was absolutely perfect.

See? Perfect.

I headed north on the path for 8.5 miles before turning around.  It took everything in me to not run 10 miles on the way out.  I knew that I could push through and get there, but I am still having some weird pains in one ankle, and I really really don’t want to injure myself.

My pace, though slow, was very consistent.  And I actually managed to negative split, or run faster during the last miles of the run.  My average pace overall was about 10:05.  Like I said, not fast.

But I felt strong and it was consistent (except when I stopped to take multiple pictures). And like I have said many times, my long runs are not meant for speedwork.

Here are some photos of the scenery yesterday:

Pretty fall leaves

Downtown Chicago

It’s pretty strange that I spent almost 3 hours of my free time on a run instead of shopping or visiting a museum.  But this run was reassuring, which is exactly what I needed.  I am finally getting more confident that I may actually be able to complete a marathon.

Until then, I will leave you with an awkward self picture:

Totally awkward.

I may or may not have been called out by another runner when I was taking this.  You are welcome.

🙂

Confession: I don’t hate the treadmill

Greetings from Chicago!

I am here for work and have been super busy, but Chicago is one of my favorite cities in the world, so I am happy to be here.

The weather, unsurprisingly, has not been all that great.  It was rainy with crazy winds yesterday and the day before, causing the city to close much of the lake front path.  So that kinda ruined my plans for running there.

Instead, I decided to hit up the hotel gym.

Treadmills and more treadmills at my hotel's gym

But, as I said, I actually don’t hate the treadmill. Many runners think treadmills are boring and a terrible substitute for the real thing.  While that may be true, I don’t think they are always bad.  Especially when there is a TV.

So I have been spending these past 2 days logging the miles on the treadmill.  On Wednesday I did about 5.5 miles with intervals of sprints, and yesterday I did 8 at a steady pace.  My legs were still feeling a bit stiff, but pretty good overall.

But after 2 days of running indoors, I am definitely ready to actually venture into the fresh air this weekend.  The weather is supposed to clear up, so I can’t wait to finally run by the lake front.

Until then, I will be stuck inside at a conference.  I have to get going now or I will be late, but hopefully I have more blog-worthy content this weekend.  Enjoy your Fridays!

A great day for a run

It was really beautiful this morning on my run.  The temperature was in the high 50s when I was leaving my apartment, and the humidity was low.  A really great day to go for a run.

So that’s what I did.  My legs were still sore in a few places, but I honestly tried not to think about it much.

Instead, I concentrated on how nice it was out and (finally!) managed to take a few grainy pictures with my phone.

Nice views, right?  I remembered this morning that the simple act of going for a run can be really great.  Not a training run with a specific time or distance goal, but just a simple run. Sometimes I get so focused on my pace or my time that I forget to look around and actually enjoy it.

But of course, I did still wear my Garmin today.  I covered about 5.5 miles, with an average pace of 9:11.

Even though I was still sore, I was able to push through, so I think I am going to bounce back just fine.  And I’m actually glad that I was able to take a step back and remind myself to look around a bit more.  Turns out, there is some pretty great stuff to be seen.

All sorts of new pains

I have been procrastinating this post because I am not very happy with how things have gone for the past few days.

Yesterday I set out with the plan of either running 17 or 20 miles.  Sounds like a solid and specific plan, right? Yeaaaaah.

The option to run 17 miles was the responsible one, which would bring down my mileage for the week.  I have been increasing for the past few weeks, so the prudent thing to do would be to decrease my long run distance.

But then option 2, running 20 miles, was my other (real) goal. See, I want to get in 20 miles twice before I run the marathon, and as that date approaches, my weekends to do so are also diminishing.  The plan that I am following (or roughly following, sorta.) only has one 20 miler, which doesn’t seem like enough to me.  So, I really wanted to get in 20 miles yesterday.

Instead, I ended up doing 18.5 miles. Not the lowered 17 miles, which would help me preserve my body healthily, but also not the full 20 miles, which would have really pushed myself.

There is a very fine line between pushing yourself and listening to yourself.

The run started pretty normal, with me waking up at 5am at setting out for Central Park. Remember how I said I would snap some photos of the beautiful changing trees?  Yeah I didn’t do that. It was really beautiful though.

Pretty, huh? I didn't take the photo, but I swear it is this amazing.

(source)

Last week I basically just spent the whole 2.5 hours running around and around Central Park, so I figured this week I would venture out to other parts of the City.

I pretty much ran around the entire island of Manhattan:

I honestly didn’t think I would ever be able to do that.  It’s pretty amazing that New York has made (almost) the entire perimeter of the city runner-friendly.  I was surrounded by other walkers, bikers and runners the whole time, and it was a truly beautiful day for any such activity.

But the truth is, I was hurting my the end of this one.  My 18 miles last week were hard, but after I got home and stretched/iced, I felt much better.

Not so this week.  I was in pain, and it was pain that I am not used to. Soreness is something that I have gotten accustomed to from time to time with runs, but yesterday there were all sorts of new pains goin on.  Like the one behind my ankle.  Or the one on the top of my foot.  Or the tightness in my hips.  I don’t think any of it is serious, but it’s still not exactly something I want to mess around with.

I wish I would have had the ability to think ahead and stop myself at the lower mileage. (Or, truthfully, I wish I would have just pushed through the past mile and a half.)

As usual, my pace was very slow.  But I have decided to just forget about pace on my long runs, so I am not going to get mad at myself and pick apart my splits.

Today I went to the gym to run a few very slow recovery miles, and I was still in pain.  Not good.  I came home and iced my legs with frozen peas for the second day in a row, which helped a little, but I am still not feeling so great.

I am definitely going to have to back off a bit in order to recover some more. I can’t say that I am not pissed about this little turn of events.  But, I refuse to let this really slow me down. We will have to see how that goes over the next few days!