Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ten Miles on the Towpath (Week One Wrap)

Yesterday, I almost did a crazy thing: I thought about putting my name into the NYC Marathon lottery. How cool would that be? Running my first (or second marathon) in my favorite city? I mean, if Katie Holmes can run 11:00/mile at NYC, I could do 8:00.

But then I thought better of it.

Not only was I wary of signing up for a marathon that—should I even get the lottery selection—I would run about one month after Akron, I wasn’t too hip to signing up for two marathons before I’ve even completed one. What if I can’t even finish the first one?

Sure, it’s a romantic idea. But the opportunity should be there for years to come. So, NYC: someday.

The thought entered my mind when I was reading my Galloway training book and followed a link to the NYC Marathon site. And then it was reinforced by an episode of How I Met Your Mother. What if…?

SMACK! Back to reality. And back to marathon training.

After my 5 x 1000 at 5K pace last Monday, I ran five easy miles on Tuesday, rested on Wednesday and ran about 6 tempo miles with Landon on Thursday. We ran up and down Lakeshore and almost exclusively into the wind, no matter which way we turned.

By Thursday my legs were pretty beat. Until last week, my training had been “run a little here, run a little there,” in preparation for the real plan. First weeks are always tough. Landon and I had intended on running the tempo at 8:30/mile for 6.5, which we deemed “comfortably hard” for us.

But as my [lack of] shape dictated, the pace of “comfortably hard” quickly went down as the miles went up. We probably started the run close to 8:45/mile and ended around 9:45-50/mile. Neither of us felt like we were going to barf by run’s end, but I certainly felt well worked. And well in need of conditioning. Whew!

You know by now that running with Landon (and some miles with Neil) has been pretty much the extent of my buddy running experience. Well, Monica was nice enough to invite this rookie to the Towpath last Saturday and we ran probably the most pleasant 10 miles I’ve ever logged.

Not only was I introduced to the concept of running groups (the idea has long intimidated me—I imagined a very strict group of champion running people who were going to push me to run 7:00/mile for 16 miles until I cried), I finally found my way to the Towpath. I’ve lived in the Akron area for over three years and never realized that a) this thing was right by my house; b) the extra parking by Winking Lizard Peninsula was for the Towpath and not the bar; and c) the Towpath is awesome.

I had come to the Towpath on Saturday morning hoping to run 14 miles (per my plan), but an overbooked Saturday limited me to about 90 minutes for running. More on that later.

So, Monica found me at the Towpath, where I also met other people in the running group, as well as a bunch from a Vertical Runner group that was meeting same time, same place. We kicked out onto the path and everyone pretty much ran at their own pace—some sped ahead, some stayed back, some stuck with our 9:40ish/mile pace. Most of the group fell off around 2-3 miles out, but Monica and I ran to five miles and then trekked back for a full ten.

Even for this non-nature person, the Towpath was pretty darn cool. The path itself had a good surface that was easy on my feet, joints and mind (no huge potholes to negotiate), and is surrounded by woods, some residential areas and no spaces that look particular thick with bear hiding places. But there was still plenty of wildlife to see, including a beaver, a big ol’ goose and a herring. Considering I get excited when I see a deer (I don’t get into the woods much), I had quite the sightseeing trip.

Aside from the healthy pace (isn’t about time I run at a healthy pace), I think the Towpath and good company made for one perfect 10-miler. We ran for about 1:36:00 on the path, and then I ran a bit past my car and around an extra block for a full 1:40:00 on Saturday.

I would have loved to have run the full 14 or longer—I felt fantastic!—but I had to move into step two for Saturday: signing for my new house. Neil and I met our transferring agent at no better place than the McDonald’s near our apartment. We skimmed through a stack of papers (some more diligently than others), signed, signed, signed and voila! Closed on Monday. Woo hoo!

We each toasted with a French fry and I was onto the next segment of my Saturday: Melissa’s baby shower.

Lucky for me, the shower was only a few miles away and raging with food. When we clinked our singular fries, I was taken back to the days I actually ate those things and I rejoiced momentarily in the incredible saltiness and joyous grease that makes them such a forbidden fruit (or, for that matter, starchy vegetable). Sigh.

One French fry would neither kill me nor tie over my hunger, so I jumped into grilled chicken breast, turkey wraps, broccoli salad and fresh salsa galore. Talk about picking up your protein! My biggest Saturday challenge, however, was neither running 10 miles nor buying a house nor stopping after a single French fry. It was avoiding dessert.

There were chocolate chip cookies and frosted cookies, cake, a trifle, more cookies, brownies and some other dish with cream, pretzels and jello. And I sat right next to it as I chomped on things that were neither sweet nor horrendously bad for me. I just kept my Cleveland Half in mind and stayed away.

Somehow, I made it out alive.

What this exercise in dessert-sacrifice reminded me why I’m doing it: to maintain my focus. And the discipline I develop by nixing sweets resonates in other parts of my training life. Forgoing baby shower dessert is like overcoming post-work slump and actually running the miles assigned for the day. Or waking up early on Saturday and getting in a quality 10-miler. Sure, you think the alternative is somehow sweeter, but in the end, it not only keeps me focused on my goals, but helps me achieve that end and feel swell doing it.

Marathon Training Week 1: 24 miles


TrainingtoTri said...

Wow you avodided dessert, I wish I had that willpower! Nice running with you! We will have to do it again sometime soon. Congratulations on signing for your house!!!!! When will you be officially moved in?

triguyjt said...

Bride and I were in nyc 4 years ago on race day...its incredible how the energy pulsates through that city on race day.
sat in the egyptian wing of the MET Museum of Art that has huge glass windows overlooking central park and watched many of the marathoners surge toward the finish. real cool.
Never raced there, however..

Laughed at your "comfortably hard" reference on your pace.... Many days I just have a comfortable pace...No Hard in that equation.

So, you didn't toast the signing with champagne??? Haha.

The Salty One said...

I'm glad you discovered the joys of long runs on the towpath. There really is no better place for a 10+miler. And one of these days we should run together. I can actually chug along at a 9:30ish pace now that I'm getting more used to this new body I have. I can show you the joys of North Chagrin, which will be an especially nice place for you once you make you're move to Euclid.

Haha. I can't believe you passed on cupcakes!

CONGRATS on becoming a homeowner!!!

Running on Something said...

screw reality -sign up for the lottery!!! that would be sooooo coool!!!!

JenC said...

You are a better woman than I. I can't forgo dessert even when it isn't free!

Hey, if you ever want to run one of your long runs on some cool, muddy trail with fun girls, let me know. We're running 2 hours this Sunday at 9 AM starting from the Strawberry Picnic parking lot of N. Chagrin. If you liked the Towpath, you'll love N. Chagrin! If interested, e-mail me at srl2w at yahoo dot com.

Congrats on your new house!!

The 311 Boys Mom said...

I need to try that.

avoidign dessert....btu its delish & makes me sooooo happy. . . . . .

about NYC; I've never been, btu I jsut put in the section of my book to 'ONE DAY I WANT TO RUN HERE'....with 3 other marathons.

great job on the runs & no desserts...you inspire me! :o)

Dana said...

Smart thinking not putting your name in the NYC marathon lottery. But I know you'll do great at Akron.

And BIG KUDOS to you for resisting the shower desserts!

Joe said...

Good choice to defer the NY race. Get the first one under your belt and then go from there.

soleslide said...

Nice to know I am not the only one scared about my first upcoming race. And I am preparing for just a half-marathon. Plenty of time for the race though. Just what I need in order to put the injury behind me and get up to speed.

Gulp... maybe I am the ONLY one scared.