13.1 miles. my own half marathon.
i set my alarm clock for 7:30, and it performed its duty well as i flailed and swatted at it so that it wouldn't wake up everyone else in the house. the weather called for a rain today, but probably not until later. as i lay in bed, i listened closely for any rain-type sounds but was pleased to hear none. i put on my running clothes and bodyglide and went downstairs to have a little something to eat. i turned the tv to the weather channel and was delighted to see that not only was it was already 49 degrees, but judging by the radar, i shouldn't be seeing any rain for quite a while. cool.
i drove out and dropped water at the 4-mile, 7-mile, and 10-mile points of the course, just as i had planned when creating the route. i'm going to carry GU and a couple of salt tablets with me. it was overcast with a slight southerly breeze, aka: a beautiful day to run. i returned home, finished up my toast with peanut butter, drank some water, and put my shoes on.
on virtually all of training runs, i made a conscious effort not to push it too hard. i didn't want to burn out and have it become a chore. but today would be different. i was planning on pushing it as much as i could today. i want to see exactly what the final result of these last six weeks or so of consistent running would bring.
i toed my homemade starting line and pushed the start button on my watch as the imaginary gun went off in my head and i began my journey. the first 8 miles or so is a course that i've run many times in my life so obviously i'm very familiar with it. miles 9 and 10 include a very long hill that i've never run before, and the last two miles are those same neverending rollers from last week's run. the second half of the course is definitely tougher than the first. i knew i'd need to finish the first half in 55 - 57 minutes to have a chance at 2 hours. i started out and tried to run just a little faster than i usually do. i've been running for so long at my "comfortable" pace of 9:15 - 10:00 per mile that i had a hard time judging what my pace was for the first mile. i hit it in 7:56. i knew there was no way that i could maintain that, so i consciously slowed down. mile 2 was about 8:45. that's more like it. i needed to maintain a 9:10 pace to finish under the mystical goal of a 2 hours, so averaging 8:30 - 9:00 miles was good for now. since the second half of the course is more harder than the first, putting some time in the bank now was necessary. i hit the 4-mile water stop feeling good. i only walked a few steps as i didn't want to choke on the salt pill. i was trying not to waste time at the stops. during last week's 12-miler, we probably wasted 4-5 minutes dillying around. mile 6 presents the steepest climb of the day, and i felt good going up it. i hit the halfway point at 57 minutes. good. i'm right where i want to be. but just as i was congratulating myself for a great first half, i started to feel a blister develop on the arch of my right foot. that's just what i need... i haven't had a problem with blisters up until now. so why now?? with over 6 miles to go? sheesh. oh well, i'll have plenty of time to heal.
the water stop at mile 7 came just in time. i was starting to feel thirsty, which again, i normally don't do. obviously, i was pushing my body harder than it was used to and it was telling me so. i was running hard enough - just up to the point where it started to feel like i was really working. and my body was responding wonderfully. my form felt good. my legs felt like they were bouncing, with my joints, tendons, ligaments and whatever other thingamadoobers all happily playing along.
i entered unknown territory as i started the long climb up US40 to thorpe road. it started out pretty steep, and it was long, but it wasn't as tedious as last week's long climb up the other side of this hill on US40. at the corner of thorpe road and US40 i had my 10-mile water point. i looked at my watch, and it read 1:25, so i knew i was close, and i couldn't afford to walk at all here. i reached down and grabbed the water bottle i had left earlier without really breaking stride at all. i carried it with me for almost a half mile as i drank down all eight ounces. i hit the 11-mile mark at about 1:35 and felt pretty good about the time, but knew it was 2 miles of neverending constant rolling hills home. this stretch seems to take forever and i started to worry that i wouldn't make it. i really pushed it hard over those hills and my blistered foot began to hurt in earnest. finally the hills gave up and i turned the corner into my neighborhood with 1:55 on the watch. with only a few hundred yards to go, i finally felt sure that i had done it. i slowed down a little to enjoy the last segment of this journey. i threw my arms up as i crossed in front of my driveway at 1:57:55. i don't know if any of my neighbors saw me or not, but hey, they think i'm nuts anyway so who cares.
it's 12 hours since i finished, and aside from that huge blister on my right arch, i'm no worse for wear. my knees hurt for a short while afterwards, but that went away quickly. obviously i have some leg soreness, but nothing that i wasn't expecting.
it's really amazing how quickly the body can respond if it is properly treated and trained. a scant six weeks ago i was almost 25 pounds heavier and could barely run three miles in 35 minutes. i trained hard, but more importantly i trained consistently. i ran 5 days a week EVERY week. i increased mileage every week. (i know you're supposed to take a "recovery" week every 4 weeks or so, but since i knew from the beginning that this would be only a short term project, i skipped that.) i kept a journal of my eating habits. anyone who wants to lose weight needs to do this. holyhamsandwiches, does this tell a story. i logged everything i stuffed into my mouth for six weeks, and doing that really makes you think about all those forgotten calories that are consumed every day. what an eye opener.
all in all, i'm totally thrilled with today's performance. my body responded beautifully to the challenge i gave it. i can't wait until i'm recovered and can start running again.
good job, me! heh.