My marathon training plan called for a long-run of 18 miles this past weekend. Not gonna lie, that is a lot of miles. Especially if done alone.
So far in my training, I haven’t ever gotten lonely or bored while running. Well that all changed last weekend when I ran my 17 mile long-run. It wasn’t loneliness, per se… but I remember thinking how nice it would be to have a buddy to run with. Just someone to talk to.
Enter: the beauty of racing – in particular, half-marathons.
This past Saturday, I took a different approach to my longrun. Instead of running the 18 on my own, I ran 5 miles as a warm up, and then hopped on over to Uptown to take part in my 5th half-marathon, the YMCA’s Corporate Cup!
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But then again… running 26.2 miles is not exactly what most people would consider a walk in the park. To run that type of distance, you have to train. And that involves running a lotta miles on the weekends.
So to make my 18 miler more exciting, I woke up super early (read: 4:45AM), ate some grub, stretched, checked the weather (hello, subfreezing temperatures…nice to know you exist in March), popped on a few layers of running clothes and headed out the door.
It was a gorgeous morning. Not a sole outside. Just me and the chirping of the birds. I used to run all the time at 6AM, but even at that early hour… I’d see people out getting their own runs in, or driving to work. It was nice to have the road to myself. By the end of the run, the sun was rising, and everything felt just so peaceful. My legs felt super fresh, and I was super excited to get to the start line of the race.
When I arrived back home after the first 5 miles, I refueled some more and logged onto the computer to check the start time of the race (yeah, prrrrobably should’ve looked that up the night before… meh, details shmetails). My efforts to type on the computer were pretty hilarious. My fingers were absolutely frozen, so it took me a while to type in the correct URL for the website.
Actually, let me present to you “Exhibit A” – my G-chat conversation with a buddy of mine, Troy, who was also running the race.
6:20 AM Troy: ooolohhhhh yea its race day!
6:22 AM me: I’MS OP UPUMPED!
6:22 AM me: andn so ocold! my hands awnre frozenk
6:22 AM me: jjust ran my 5 warmup mlles haaaa
6:22 AM me: promise i’nm niot drunk
6:23 AM Troy: I was wondering how many drinks you had
Troy is a ballin’ runner and just ran his first marathon ever this past Fall with a time of 3:30… Pretty amazing! His goal for Corporate Cup was to run it under 1:30, and he did! He clocked in at 1:29:40. Pretty dang amazing, if you ask me.
Anywho! Ryan offered to drive me Uptown so I could have time to refuel between the end of my 5-mile warm-up and the start of the half. I can’t express how grateful I am to Ryan – he is so supportive of my running and how much time and effort goes into training for the marathon. (Seriously, all you non-runners who date runners… y’all are amazing!)
Ryan and I were able to make it uptown without any effort at all – didn’t run into any road closures for the race, which I am still kind of surprised about! The race started right on time at 8AM with both the 5k and the half-marathon starting at the same time.
Because my legs had felt so fresh on my warm-up, I told myself to just settle in at a pace that felt comfortable to me, and if I felt like slowing down or speeding up… to just go for it! So that’s what I did for pretty much the whole race. I listened to my body, and I ran faster if I felt like it, and slower when I didn’t.
I started out the first 3 miles around an 8:30-8:50 pace, and I have to say, it felt great. I wasn’t pushing at all. In fact, the effort I was putting forth didn’t feel any different than the effort give when I run my super-slow solo runs (yes, I truly am that slow…) around my neighborhood. It’s kind of neat to know that if I want to, I can pick up the pace a little and not worry about burning out.
After the 5k runners finished, I made a conscious effort to slowdown my pace, and I kept it around a 10 minute mile for the rest of the run. I kept reminding myself that this race was not for time, it was only for distance. In doing that, I was able to allow myself to stop several times and stretch out my legs. I think the first time I stopped was around mile 4 of the race (which in reality, was my mile 9… so just about half-way to the 18 total miles I was doing). I’d say after that, I stopped every 2 or so miles to stretch out my hipflexors and quads until I finished . I saw Ryan at mile 10 of the race (which equates to mile 15 of my long run) and I stopped to talk to him for a little while I stretched (and played with Happy!).
With 3 miles left to the finish line and conquering 18 miles, I was felt great! I was able to finish the run super strong and even picked up the pace at the end. I love the feeling of accomplishment once you conquer a new distance personal record… there seriously is nothing like it!
I gotta say, I seriously loved this race and found it so relaxing to not be worrying about time or pace!
By listening to my body like this, the race was pretty much effortless and felt just like a normal long-run I’d do at home. I’ve been so lucky so far. I have yet to feel sore after a longrun, and I’ve been able to keep injuries at bay. I’m hoping I can continue the pattern!
This weekend I have a 13-miler on the docket. Yes, that is the length of yet another half-marathon. Sounds beautiful to my ears. I’m glad to have a break from the super high mileage runs of 16+miles.
Anyway, so I’m sure some of you are wondering how I did on the half-marathon part of the run… and I’d say I did pretty dang well! For simply running the race for distance, I am very proud of what I accomplished. The chip time clocked me in at 2:25, and that is the total time that I was out and about on the course. I also had my Garmin on me during the race, and because it was set on “auto-stop,” the timer on the Garmin would automatically stop whenever I stopped running to stretch. So by doing some simple math: Chip time of 2:25 — Garmin time of 2:15, (in your face, biostatistics!) I figure I did about 10 minutes of stretching. And those precious 10 minutes of stretching made for an amazing and sore-free/injury-free run long run!
I can’t advocate stretching during long-runs enough. Just like my previous long runs, I never felt truly sore afterward the race. My right hip flexor was sore for maybe a few hours on Saturday, but I felt great on Sunday . DOMS never took place, either. Now it is Tuesday, three days after my 18 miler, and the soreness has not shown it’s face yet. And I’m guessing that it won’t… sounds good to me!
Do any of you guys take significant time *during* a run to stretch? Or do you only stretch before/after? Anyone else run a race this weekend, or have one coming up!?