Sunday, September 16, 2012

The best run ever

The first several miles of the Toledo marathon, my mantra was "This is going to be the best run of my life." I kept repeating it in my head, out loud, timing each word with a step, counting the words on my fingers, etc. It was a decent run but nowhere near the awesomeness of September 15, 2012. Hal said to run 19 miles. I figured if I was scheduled to do 19, I may as well do 20 because what's another mile, right? HA! Most weeks the long runs are absolute agony and I can't fathom going one step further.

The forecast was good - low 70s, low humidity and plenty of sun. With that weather, I could run any time I wanted, but I woke up somewhat early just to get it done. At least that was the plan. I woke up at 9, had a 320 calorie chemical bar and a bottle of Hawaiian punch that was leftover from a recipe. Loaded my pocket and water holster with two packs of PowerBar gel bites and somehow all that took 2 hours. Huh?

It was 11 and I was off. With all moderate and long runs, my strategy is to run a mile, then take a walk break from 0.02 to 0.1 miles, eating one gel bite and taking two sips of water. Many many runs I feel like the breaks will never come, but this time, they arrived so quickly and I felt like I didn't even need to break. I always did, just to force myself to hydrate.

The miles passed. At mile 15.67 I had the most amazing thought - "I feel good!"My hips felt good, both my knees were fine, my breathing was good and ample blood and oxygen were free flowing.

Mile 16, mile 17, mile 18. I was cruising along! So many times after about 10 miles, my body doesn't want to run full miles any longer and screams to break every 4-5 minutes. Yesterday I just kept going all the way to the end.

I realized I go through much more water on the second half of the run and that I would need to make one more stop to fill my water holster. The problem was that I was in the section of the run that didn't have any drinking fountains and I didn't see anyone watering their lawn. With so many churches now holding Saturday service, I figured a church would be my best chance for water. At one of the Park Ave. churches, I tried the door and it was locked! My parched mouth was screaming for water. I tried the side door. Hallelujah! It was unlocked! The lights were all off and no one was in the building, but there was a fountain just steps inside the door. Aaaah water!!!!

I finished the run and felt GREAT!!!! I felt STRONG and it gave me tons of confidence for the marathon. All summer I've been stressing about not feeling anywhere near ready, but this run was a huge mental boost. It was so good I absolutely believe I could have finished the full marathon. Sure I was tired at the end, yes I was dehydrated, but I never hit the wall! I normally slam in to it around mile 18, but I finished 20.11 with my form and mind fully intact.

The final time was 3:38:10, which was an average time of 10:50 per mile. I was only 17 seconds over my target race pace. Sweet!!! The times were more consistent as well. About half the runs were under 11 minutes, the other half were in the 11 range. Only 2 miles hit 12, which isn't terrible. At least there were no 14 or 15 minute miles :P

Saturday was the best run I've had in a long long long time, likely the best run of my entire life! It's kind of a bummer it wasn't during a race, but I'm perfecting my pre-race and during-run ritual, so it'll get easier and easier to replicate the awesomeness of Saturday during the actual race.

Hal gives me an easy 12-mile break next Saturday before gearing up for my "big" 20-mile training run. No sweat! I can do this!!!!

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