Friday, December 30, 2011

Last Long Run of 2011

Even writing this 20 hours after the fact, it is hard for me to get my brain around...but I actually did it ! I ran my first marathon distance with no walking, Of course, I'm paying a bit for it still, but I knew it wouldn't be a cake walk, and it wasn't.

I got up yesterday morning at 3:00 to let the dogs out, and ate one of those Oikos yogurt single serving cups. I then went back to bed until the alarm went off at 3:50, and got around slowly and did a bit of stretching. I then went to our spare room where all my "stuff" is, and poured 4, 10 ounce bottles with Gatorade, and started getting dressed. The dogs had woke my wife up for some reason, so everyone piled in for a morning visit and she wished me luck. I drank a total of about 8 ounces of Gatorade prior to leaving.

Yesterday was my weight-check morning as well, and for some reason (I've never done it before) I weight myself once I was all "kitted up". It appears that "fully loaded" with 40 ounces of liquid, six gels, pepper spray, keys, headlamp, pouch, and clothes, it adds almost 9 pounds total. <--- [Interesting, but largely irrelevant fact :-)]

Once fully dressed and ready with headlamp and all, I went in to say goodbye...all the while really not even wanting to head out the door. I just didn't want to do it. Like I said, the longer distances at this point are still just intimidating to me (and I knew it was going to hurt a bit). As I walked out the door, I just had to resolve to myself that since I had been sick for the last few days, if this was nothing more than a four mile run, then I would just reset and do it some other time.

I had setup a roughly 9 mile loop, and the weather conditions were perfect [39 degrees, west wind @ 4-6, low humidity]...perfect for shorts and a sleeveless shirt as long as you're moving along. I got started at 4:50.

I'd only been running a little over 30 minutes before I had to make a "nature stop". It didn't seem as if I had drank all that much before starting, and I only tend to drink 2 to 3 ounces every two miles (one 10 ounce container per six miles), but in these conditions (on this day anyway), that would prove to be a bit too much. I suppose it is better to be over-hydrated than under, but it was still annoying to have to make the brief stops (probably about 20 seconds each) at miles 4.5, 7.75, 10.0, 12.75, and 18.0.  I'll have to dial in my hydration a bit better though, because stopping like this won't be as easy or quick on a race course...not to mention just the hassle of having to break stride and get started again.

Although RunKeeper has a pause button, I didn't dig out the phone and pause it for these...I just let it run. I'm pretty lucky that my neighbor still has some home construction, so there are actually port-a-johns here and there, and it was dark until almost 7:00.

The only other stop I had to make was just after 15.0 miles, I had begun to notice that my right shoe seemed tight, and was starting to really hurt the top of my foot near the ankle (yesterday there was a bruise afterwards about the size of a dime, but it looks better today). I didn't "stop the clock" for this one either, but it was more of a challenge to be sure. My hands were a bit swollen, and since I knot my shoe laces (I may have to rethink that and go with one of those lace-locking systems) I like to never got it undone and retied. Probably took me a minute or maybe a bit more. What a pain.

Throughout the run, at least from about the 8 mile mark on, I found myself just aiming to complete the next couple of miles. I recalled all my long runs, and then aimed at over-taking that distance one-by-one. Once I passed my longest since I started working out again, I set my sights on just getting to 24 miles. By that point, I had willed myself past 5 or 6 different 2 mile chunks, so I just did it one more time. This was one of those times when I was really glad that I have RunKeeper set to give me feedback every quarter mile.

I had considered running with music, or at least taking earplugs with me for later in the run to do so, but in the end I'm glad I didn't. It allowed me to really focus on my form and concentrate on the upcoming mile goals. I also like to be pretty aware of what is around me, so I don't have a car back out of a driveway into me (nearly happened twice), or a dog run out at me without me hearing it coming.

I also had various pains come up throughout the run. For a couple of miles, it was the inside of my left knee on every step. Not excruciating, but noticeable. Then it was the outside of my right knee where the IT band connects. Then my lower back on first one side, and later the other...with each step. After a while, it got to where I knew that whatever the current pain was, that it too would pass. The only kind of scary one was when my right thigh started to cramp at 23.75...that one felt bad, but it never progressed then went away, to be followed by the feeling that my left glute was imminently going to cramp up till the 25.75 mile mark. I suppose this is just normal stuff, but I had never had this happen to me on a long run before.

Below is a couple of graphics from RunKeeper with my distance, time, pace, and the elevation...

... and my split times.

Now I know for sure that I can make this type of distance (although the weather may not always cooperate like it did, each course is different, and I didn't have to dodge a single person on my run :-)). For me, that takes an area of psychological concern off the table. Thanks for reading along (if you made it through all that) to my ramblings, and Happy Running everyone !!!!


  1. Congratulations on running a marathon distance! That is a great accomplishment!

    Your pace was so consistent throughout your entire run, that is amazing!

  2. You're an inspiration Michael. I look forward to following your blogs. Thanks!

  3. Wow!!!!!! you ran 26 miles as a training run? That is impressive!

  4. well done!!! Now that you've run the distance, when are you actually running a marathon? I'm also impressed with the consistency of your're clearly ready for the big day!

    All the best....have a very happy New Year, and I'll see you out there on the road!

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  6. @Jamie: Thanks for the encouragement. It sure didn't "feel" consistent while I was out there, but it worked out well. :-)

    @Marty: Thank you sir. I know I'm inspired by so many blogs out there, and actually urged myself on remember the accomplishments of Alyssa, Kara, and Shelly to name only a few.

    @Mamarunsbarefoot: Thanks. It sure felt "impressive" by last night when everything started to tighten up (although things are a bit better now).

    @Bill: My actual marathon is going to be the Cowtown marathon in Ft. Worth at the end of February. Happy New Year to you as well

  7. WOW! Going out and running 26 miles by yourself takes a lot. What an accomplishment! Judging by the graph, you ran a nice, even pace the whole way. You seem like a strong runner, my friend. What a way to end the year!

    Thanks for the recovery advice. I've been following it, and I'll get to see how well it worked on Monday. Thanks so much for taking the time to share what worked for you.

  8. That's pretty awesome. I've never gone out and just ran a marathon without racing. Pretty cool, and a great way to finish off the year! - M