Monday, April 28, 2008

Quick! Before it Rains!

I don’t know about you, but I’m a total wimp when it comes to rain (unless, of course, I’m running through mud in the woods!). All that wet makes things go the wrong way—my shoes, my clothes, the cars on the road—and makes me go a little nervous.

So, it’s good news that I finished my first 30+ mile week (this year) on Sunday morning while it was still sunny and just a little bit chilled.

The week began, as you know, with a stitchy short run, which didn’t bode well for my future. But things picked up on Thursday, when I met Salty at North Chagrin for an hour-long run on the trails.

We ran by Squire's Castle on the North Chagrin trek.I headed to North Chagrin right after work (with a Trader Joe’s pit-stop) and showed up over 30 minutes early—it turns out that when you don’t live an hour away from everything, you don’t have to leave over an hour early to get everywhere! That’s a lesson I’m eager to learn after we move. But it did give me time to run a 10:00 warm-up and rub out a kinky right calf that had been bothering me for a few days.

I was worried that my calf-tweaking was a sign of another injury, but it warmed, faded and hasn’t returned (knock on wood). Disaster averted?

Before this year, I hadn’t done much running-buddy running. And I’ll admit that the first time I ran with Landon, I was a little wary of running with people, thinking that I’d be too slow, too quiet, too weak, too drifty, too blah. Perhaps I’ll never know what accommodations my recent buds have made for me (soon, you can all start a support group ;-), but it’s all gone pretty smoothly and helped me get my run and knowledge on.

That’s the best part: everyone with whom I’ve run knows far more about racing and running and training and hydration than I’ll ever know. It’s like running school and it’s awesome. While I feel bad that I have little to contribute to their knowledge banks, my all-occasion sarcasm should suffice, right? And I think my endless collection of “this is how I hurt myself this time” stories are true keepsakes!

Another bonus: these people always seem to know where we’re going! You don’t have to ask Neil about our trip to San Fran (I turned an afternoon stroll through Pacific Heights to Golden Gate Park and across the bridge into a 15-mile all-day/all-night death march that left Neil bleeding and my tendon serrated) to know I’m not a good measurer of distance and time. I also have zero orientation in the woods. And while I realize knowing the trails comes with practice, it’s nice to run with people who have a clue.

Salty did a masterful job winding us through the trails and getting back to the parking lot in exactly an hour. We kept a nice pace, scaled a killer hill (not much brilliant story-sharing on that one!) and ran on a really pleasant evening last week. Yet my stitches came back to haunt me.

Stitches are not greater than or equal to cool.Not that I wish pain on anyone, but it made me feel better knowing that Salty has had her share of run-stopping stitches too. Plenty of articles I’ve read seemed to say, “Problem with stitches? Well, you’re either a wuss or you’re just plain out of shape.”

Au contraire, mon ami! Stitches happen to the best of ‘em.

Part of my stitch problem was mental—I’d fear their onset and freak when I felt them start churning their wrath. I’d spend time reading about preventing the things, but all the approaches I hadn’t taken would cross my mind when I started obsessing over what may or may not be a cramp in my side when I ran.

I’m a head case. I know.

So, thank you, Salty, for my stitchy reassurance!

Whether or not it was that reassurance, a mental lapse or some extra core-strengthening, I went stitch-free for the whole weekend. All 20+ miles of it!

On Saturday, I hit the Towpath with Neil for about 7 miles. Stealing an idea from Kate, I invited Neil to ride his bike on the path while I ran—that way he could take a leisurely ride, the way he likes it, and I could run a decent pace without having to worry about him—and it turned into a peachy afternoon jaunt.

After a warm-up, I ran semi-tempo for about three miles (9:30, 9:00, 8:18) before cooling down 3.5 miles back around 9:30-10:00/mile. Not only was it swell to spend time with him and have Neil as a semi-running buddy, it was clutch for me to have someone to distract me from the sounds of the woods. For some reason, the animal sounds seemed louder on Saturday, and it would have freaked me out had I been by myself.

Plus, Neil was prepared to throw his banana nut bread Clif Bar at any bear that crossed our paths. Swoon: my hero!

Finally, on Sunday, I woke up a little early and ate a low-digestion breakfast of a Think Thin bar and orange blossom iced tea, before heading out for my long run. I skipped Saturday’s Hermes 10-miler to focus on getting my longer-distances runs in. And I finally broke my 10-mile barrier with a 13.3-mile run from Stow to Hudson.

Word to the wise: if you ever use or any other brilliant tool for plotting out your next trip, don’t check the elevation until after the run. If you don’t hate yourself, that is.

I knew the trek between Stow and Hudson (no, I didn’t stop for cupcakes—I have a couple more weeks on that—but I did chug a B+guarana Vitamin Water that gave me heart palpitations for the rest of the day) was bumpy by car, but I didn’t process the hills until I saw this:
Elevation is shown at the bottom in blue. Yick! Instead of letting the thought defeat me, I tried to stay proud of my hill-running as I huffed and puffed up one and down the other. It was like winning a prize, however, kicking through the final stretch: not only has recent construction in my area created an accident runner’s bridge on a highway bridge I cross to get home, but I could feel every degree of downhill as I cruised into my neighborhood. Ahh.

I finished in 2:10:00 (~9:45/mile) and sealed my confidence that I’ll finish the Cleveland Half all right. It was my longest run in both time and distance since, well, the Akron Half.

Cleveland is two weeks from this Sunday, so I have time for a couple more long runs in and out of the rain. I won’t be breaking any speed records. But I might get to run half the race with Landon, who will run the full marathon, if I can keep up with him.

Either way, I do get cupcakes at the finish!

Marathon Training Week 3: 30 miles


The Salty One said...

Rest assured! You're a great running buddy! The only negative is I was worried the whole time I'd lose you to some loose gravel :) I had a blast with you and look forward to our next date. Just let me know when and I'll be there!

TrainingtoTri said...

Sounds like you had a great training week! I can't wait to go for another run once my foot heals up!

Dana said...

GREAT long runs,G! And no you're not a wimp for NOT wanting to run in the rain. I used to be the same way in the beginning until I realized that it may rain when I race & what would I do then? Also once I did it,it was FUN. How sick is that?..;-) Trust me I'm not one for just walking in the rain(feel the same way you do),but running? I'm ALL OVER IT.

I got some calf-tweakage as well on my runs,but I like you hope it doesn't return on a normal basis.

E-Speed said...

Sounds like I missed a good run, damn salty making me rest after boston ;) Maybe I will get out with you gals this week!

triguyjt said...

cool that you are ramping up the mileage and you are handling it really well....
hit n. chag very early today. 6am and had most of the park to myself..haha
good luck on solving the stitch thingy
happy trails