Monday, April 04, 2011

A Different Kind of Training



Flower photos are from Saturday's walk through the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Gardens in Nacogdoches. They have nothing to do with this post about Sunday's long run.
I just thought they were pretty. :) 

Yesterday was our first bout of truly hot and humid weather. At 1pm the sun was high in the sky, it was 86 degrees, the humidity was thick and their was a yellow low hanging cloud of pollen in the air. These were definitely not ideal conditions for a long run. So what did I do?

I headed out for a ten mile run. Naturally.

I warned Nathan and Amy, my running partners, that I planned to run slow and easy for a few reasons. I hadn't run anything over eight miles since the marathon in January. I'm a morning runner and always suffer when I start a run past noon. And my main concern was time on my feet - I wanted to be on the trail for close to two hours so that the half marathon next weekend wouldn't seem quite so long. We started out at a ten minute per mile pace on the road, a little slower on the hills. Nathan and Amy, both faster than me, stayed a few feet ahead but we were close enough to hold a conversation.

Then we got on the trail. At mile five I hit a wall, which felt a little ridiculous. During marathon training I could hold a sub ten minute pace for 16 miles and here I was at five, barely able to hold on to an eleven minute pace. Nathan and Amy got further and further away and I took a walking break. I alternated running and walking for most of mile five. I considered stopping and going home. I considered cutting the run short and only doing nine miles, or eight. Nathan and Amy disappeared around a bend and once I couldn't see them any more a weight lifted off my shoulders. Running with people is nice but it can also be stressful - I often feel like I'm holding my friends back, ruining someone's run, or compromising myself so my partner is comfortable. I don't always want to feel responsible for somebody else when I'm running. Often, the best runs happen when I'm free to focus on myself.

During mile six I came upon a water fountain and promptly dumped my water bottle on my head, refilled it and dumped it again. The cool water was exactly what I needed - I continued running, even picking up the pace. When I got to the loop that circles the soccer field I saw some sprinklers and ran through them. Amazing! And on the way back I ran a little faster, walked up the hills, dunked my head one more time in the fountain and made it to the end of my ten miles. My final time: one hour, 48 minutes, 55 seconds. Average pace: 10:54 minutes per mile.

While this was a slow (for me) training run, I was really proud of it. I felt like I got through some tough mental blocks during the run. Sometimes we train for speed, sometimes we train for other things - will power, emotional strength, independence, learning to let go and trusting your body. This was a tough run for a lot of reasons and I'm proud of how I did.

My next race is Saturday, April 9th. I'm running the Davy Crockett Bear Chase Half Marathon. Last year, I earned my half marathon PR at this race. I wanted to beat that time this year but I don't think it's going to happen. I've missed the majority of my long runs (mostly due to being out of town every. single. weekend.) and, despite the ten miler, I'm not as prepared as I'd like to be. Last year the weather was cool at the start - I remember shivering! - but this year the forecast is predicting temperatures in the 80's and humidity. Humidity is my running kryptonite. So instead of shooting for a PR, I'm going to aim for a solid race. My goal is to run smart, run steady and finish with a smile on my face. As for time goals, I'd like to finish in under 2:10. The run starts at 7:00am so that will surely help, and I always run faster in an actual race due to adrenaline and excitement. Anything is possible but no matter what, I'm looking forward to a fun race with lots of familiar faces and a great course.

Sometimes we run to break records, and sometimes we run simply because we love it. Both reasons are good enough for me.

 This photo of Nathan biking through the azaleas and drinking a beer also has nothing to do with Sunday's long run. However, I didn't feel right keeping it to myself.

25 comments:

  1. Great post!! I can't run with people either. I end up beating myself up to the point of failing. I hope you have a great run on the 9th! I'll be thinking about you when I'm running my race too :) I'm not ready at all, but I'm doing it anyways. I told myself this morning it's okay if I'm last. Someone has to be and why not someone that can smile about it :) Best of luck!!

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  2. And thanks for posting the flower pics. I've missed bluebonnets and azaleas so much.

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  3. "Someone has to be and why not someone that can smile about it :)"

    I love that! :)

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  4. It WAS a steamer on Sunday! I was out in it too and kind of annoyed by the sudden heat and humidity. I'm not used to it yet.

    I'm proud of you for giving this run your best. I've hit the mile five wall before too! But you run/walk/hydrate your way through it because that's how you get long runs done. Maybe next Saturday won't be a PR day for you, but it can still be a great running day and a fun race. Just do your best and have fun.

    Wishing you a good race and healthy legs...xo.

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  5. Man... on my long(ish) run this weekend, I need to go through the garden. I haven't really been over there yet.

    And I definitely agree about stress while running with someone. I have exactly those feelings you described about it (holding them back, slowing them down). I tried to explain it to Chip, and he was not on my same page. :) If/when we move to a city, I may try to join a big running club... I figure that a big running club would have lots of people that run lots of different paces. Here, everyone I know is MUCH faster than me.

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  6. "I headed out for a ten mile run. Naturally." Best line of your post.

    I love Nathan's mobile hobo look with the brown bag and everything.

    2:10 will be great!! I know you can do it.

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  7. I'm on the same page. I just think that if someone (like me) agrees to run with you, you shouldn't feel like you're holding them back. If they don't want to run at your pace (the collective "your"), then they can leave. I especially feel like that on training runs. If you invite someone to run with you, you should never, ever leave them. And in general, if you're running with people, you should never run farther in front of them than they can see. If they can't see you or you can see them behind you, you need to slow down.

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  8. Thanks Rose-Anne! You're so right. I was really proud that I got past the wall. In a way, it was more satisfying than a fast and easy run.

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  9. If I'm running with one other person, then we usually stay together until the end. In this case, Amy and Nathan were well matched and I waved them on - I had said before the run that I wasn't feeling great so they weren't surprised and they weren't just ditching me. I hope I didn't make it sound like they were!

    I think part of my guilty feelings for being slow or ruining someone's run are just that - feelings. I tend to feel guilty about things with no reason. 99% of the time, I'm huffing and puffing and worrying that my running partner will never want to run anyone ever again, and they're just thinking about how nice it is to have a friend by their side.

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  10. Thanks! I think I can too. Especially if the weather is cool that morning, like it is today (Tuesday). Beautiful!

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  11. Yes. That's what I'm thinking when I'm running with someone. Just that it's
    nice to share this experience with someone else. :)

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  12. Oh I didn't realize you had a half marathon so soon.

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  13. Nice post - I found your blog while looking for info on the Bear Chase 1/2 Marathon. A buddy and I will be heading up to Groveton for the race this weekend. Also saw that it's going to be a warm one - not looking forward to that.

    Totally agree with your thoughts on running alone - far more peaceful experience. But there are times I like to run with my training partner who's faster than me. Gives me that kick in the pants I need from time to time.

    Good luck at the race!

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  14. From the look of my training, neither did I! ;)

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  15. Moral of the story: I need to relax.

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  16. Hi Jason! I did the Bear Chase last year too and it's a really fun race. Small town vibe, nice scenery, interesting out and back course. I hope you enjoy it!

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  17. Oh, and you're right - a kick in the pants from a speedy friend can be excellent as well! I just prefer to run with fast people on runs 5 miles or less. I can hold on for that long, but runs that are 10+ miles I see more as a meditative, solitary activity.

    Basically, I need to actually do speed work. But I already knew that. ;)

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  18. Haha. Yea I would have thought you would have done a long mid week run or something if you realized it. I remember you took vacation to get a long run in for the marathon (even though you quit that after 8 miles or something like that)

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  19. See if I run more than 10 I want someone there because I get bored and quit unless I'm talking the entire time.

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  20. I took vacation time for two or three long runs during marathon training! You have a good memory. :)

    I think I'm still a little burned out from marathon training, to be honest. This half will be my last long race for a while - probably until the fall, especially when it's summer. I'm going to try and focus on speed work and weight training for the next few months. I'm looking forward to it!

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  21. I will also be working on speed work. My marathon is May 15 and I will be focusing on speed work this summer (and my cross training activities)

    Also I try to remember what I read. It doesn't always happen but I guess it did here.

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  22. Pretty flowers. Good luck with your race. Tell Nathan not to drink and ride.

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  23. Pretty, Pretty! Our azaleas are just about finished blooming and our pretty colors are about to go away until next year! It's nice to appreciate them while they last and know that others are, too!

    I don't even try to run with people. I like to run at my own pace and hate feeling pressured to run any faster or slower. John and I have an understanding that if we go jogging together I'll always pull ahead to be by myself. Whenever I agree to go jogging with someone else we usually don't actually jog together. I think it's better that way. :)

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  24. Where is Nathan's helmet?!

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  25. We were just riding around the azalea gardens! We were going about 2 miles per hour and there are no cars there. We wear helmets when trail riding or going long distances. I know, I know. I'm ashamed. ;)

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