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Archive for the ‘Races’ Category

If you’re like me (and most runners I know), a couple of weeks before your big race, you start obsessively checking the weather, and mentally planning out what you are going to wear.  Because weather changes so quickly around here, most of my running friends end up changing their minds about their race day outfit at least a dozen times.  At the store last week (before Des Moines Marathon and Mankato Marathon), dozens of folks came in asking about jackets, hats, arm warmers, and warm tops.  We all know that you should never wear something new on race day, but that didn’t stop these folks!

Amusingly, I’m about to commit that faux paus as well.

I’ve been thinking carefully about how I am going to approach the Monster Dash.  My training hasn’t been as good as I would have liked (my max distance before Saturday will be 9 miles), I’m going to be starting the race with a friend, and the weather has gotten exponentially chillier over the past two weeks.  The Monster Dash is also a Halloween themed race, so costumes are encouraged.

I will not be wearing a costume, fyi.

Planning your race day is where all of your training and preparation pays off.  You’ve learned from your mistakes and can approach the race as prepared as possible.  For example, after my disastrous half marathon last August, I learned that I need to really think about my hydration and nutrition.  Since then, I’ve purchased a water belt and over the past several weeks I’ve been training with the water belt and with the nutrition (Jelly Belly Sports Beans) that I plan on using race day.  I definitely will not be over-hydrating this time!

After running in this cold weather the past two weeks, I’ve also figured out my best bet for a race day outfit.

Here’s what I’ll be wearing:

infiniti headband

Brooks Infiniti Headband

saucony guide

Saucony Guide

 

NWFERTI-NK-1

Nike Epic Run Tight

 

infinit anorak

Brooks Infiniti Anorak

 

13

Enell Sports Bra

 

injinji-run-lw-mini-crew-nuwool-charcoal

Injinji NuWool Socks

 

BKW1790-HLM450

Brooks Equilibrium Base LS

 

I may end up changing my mind about the base layer, depending on the weather at the start, but that Equilibrium top is such a great temperature regulator, I think I’ll be fine wearing it, even if it ends up being a little warmer.  That Infiniti Anorak will be a new jacket on race day, but with the base layer under it, I don’t think it will matter.  The Anorak jacket is great though, because it unzips almost down to the waist, and it’s very light while still being wind resistant and water resistant in case it’s raining or snowing.

Besides planning your race day outfit, you’ll also want to have a plan of attack for the race itself.  As I said, I’ll be running with a friend at the beginning.  She will be running her first half marathon, and wanted someone at the start with her, which is why I decided to do this race.  She is quite a bit slower than me, but that will be to my advantage at the beginning of the race since my training wasn’t great.  My plan is to run the first half of the race with her (at a 13:30 min/mi) and then take off for the last half (at closer to a 10:00 min/mi).  I’ve reviewed the route map, and apparently the course is downhill almost the entire way.  So I’m actually thinking I’ll have a good race, perhaps even beating my first half marathon time (calculating the time out, and assuming I actually end up running the pace I’ve planned on, I should finish in 2.5 hours, which is about what I finished my first half marathon in).

Next up is nutrition and hydration.  Because this is a race, hydration will be provided along the way, so I won’t be bringing my water belt (why have that additional weight if I don’t need it?).  But I will be bringing about 3 packets of Sports Beans.  While I anticipate only using two, I learned from my first half marathon that you always want to bring one extra, just in case.

I hope that my penchant for obsessively planning will pay off this time, with a good finish time, and at the very least, a good time!  I’ve come to realize over the years that your finish time doesn’t matter nearly as much as how much fun you had while running the race.  A great finish time will always be overshadowed by a terrible race (though the two don’t usually go hand-in-hand).  My goal this race: have fun — And because I will be driving myself home post-race, don’t injure myself!  If I can achieve these two goals, I will be happy.

Keep your eyes peeled for a post-race report!

 

 

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I’m not one to get weepy, but even the toughest runner can get a little emotional when she crosses the finish line or volunteers at a race.  Add in 24 hours of work in the last two and a half days, and I was bound to have a hard time keeping the tears at bay.

Friday started with several busy hours at the store followed by setting up for the Med City Expo until 9 pm.  We left the Civic Center with a lot of work yet to do in the morning, so I ate a little something at home, got ready for the next day and then got to bed.  Excited about the Expo, I had a hard time sleeping.  The alarm went off much too early at 5:45 am.

We arrived at the Civic Center at 7 am to finish setting up for the day.  We had a giant booth space to prep with over 3,000 runners and their families expected to start arriving at 10 am.

The calm before the storm.

The calm before the storm.

And arrive they did.  Starting at 10 am and not letting up until at least 2 pm, thousands of customers walked through our mini store and got introduced to TerraLoco.  Our mini store at the Expo was a huge success, and would have been the best part of the day if it weren’t for the 5K.

Around 2:30 pm I changed into running clothes and met my Learn to Run class for their first 5K.  They were a bit nervous, but I knew they were well prepared for the race.  It was a cloudy day with a chance of rain, but the weather held out for us.  The temperature was just right for race day and the ladies of the Learn to Run class took off with gusto at the start of the race.  I had to reign them back a little so they didn’t wear themselves out before the half way point, but other than that, they were fantastic. They only stopped to walk two times, and otherwise kept up a less than 12 minute mile.  One block before the finish I told them to sprint to the end so they had nothing left in the tank after they crossed the finish line.  I wasn’t expecting much because usually the new runners are so tired by the end that they go a millimeter faster, if at all.  But these two ladies had enough kick left in them that they punched through the finish line with me trailing just behind.  They finished their first 5K in 37:38!

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Post-race. Congrats ladies!

  Just after we crossed the finish line I ran into several women from previous Learn to Run classes.  They were all super stoked about the great race they had.  One former student even gave me a hug and with tears in her eyes told me she had just run a PR!  I was so proud of all of them.  Even now, after recovering from the hard weekend, just thinking about the amazing things they all did brings me to tears.  I have to remind myself that there was a time, not too long ago, where I had trouble just walking up a flight of stairs, let alone finishing a 5K race.  These are great accomplishments for my students, so if you happen to run into any of them on the trail, congratulate them on their amazing job at the race and encourage them to keep moving forward.

After crossing the finish line and congratulating all of my current and former students, I headed back inside to finish up the Expo. Post-race there was another big rush and finally the clock hit 6 pm and we were able to start packing up.  My awesome bosses were kind enough to let me head home after the truck was packed up, so I grabbed some chow on the way home and went to bed early again.

The next morning TerraLoco was sponsoring a water stop for the Med City Marathon at miles 19.1 & 19.5 (just before and after Exchange Zone 3). The hubby and I were up early to get the water stop set up, and shortly after we arrived, my volunteers showed up.  I was worried about not having enough volunteers for our water stop, but residents of Slatterly Park showed up to help, as well as several others that had signed up to help.  It was a cold morning that turned into a miserably wet morning.  Winds faced the runners all the way into Rochester, so our first runner showed up 45 minutes after we expected.  Shortly after the first runner came by, the rain started.  The windchill dipped into the mid 40s.  All of my volunteers were pretty uncomfortable in the rain and cold and wind, but that was nothing compared to the discomfort on the faces of some of the runners that passed us.  In previous years this marathon weekend has been miserably hot and humid, so we were all thankful for a respite from that kind of weather, but we could have done with something a little better than cold and rainy.  Luckily, everyone, including the runners, kept up a positive mood.  Runners stopped to thank us for a job well done, while others cajoled us for not having vodka jello shots or hot cocoa.

When the last runner came by – an older gentleman, barely shuffling along – we cheered a little harder, mostly for him, but also because we were able to pack up and get ourselves warm.  I had help packing up my car and then dropped off the supplies downtown where I saw the last few runners coming through the chute.  I stopped for a coffee on the way home, changed, and then settled into the couch for the rest of the weekend.

Truly, it was an exhausting weekend, but probably one of the most rewarding weekends I have ever had.  After I got home I sent out a message on Facebook, tagging all of my running friends, thanking them for being a part of this awesome community.  A few years ago I would have never guessed that runners were such a supportive group, who are always there for the other members of their community, who cheer people on no matter how slow they are going, and who donate their time and energy to making people’s dreams come true.  I am so lucky to have these people in my life, even if I only see them every once in a while.

I wrote last week about inspiring others by your running.  This week, everyone in our local running community inspired me, and if you were there, I hope they inspired you too.

See you next year at the Med City Marathon weekend!

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This post has two purposes.  One, to re-introduce myself to the blogging world (sorry about that super long hiatus!) and two, to let you know about my racing plans for the summer.

First off, a lot of things have changed since I last wrote.  I no longer work at The Running Room and instead am a full-time employee with TerraLoco, a new active-lifestyle store in Rochester.  TerraLoco is a great place to work.  Not only do they have incredible product (Newton, Hoka One One, Sanita, El Naturista, Merrell, Olukai, among many others), but they are locally owned and dedicated to being a part of the running community in Rochester.  They sponsor races, host packet pick-ups, weekend clinics, and more!  It really is an exciting opportunity for me, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for me there!

In August, I ran the Lady Speed Stick Half Marathon, which, honestly, was a complete disaster.  I started feeling groody at mile 11 and got sick at mile 12, making me walk most of the way to the finish.  My race time was significantly slower than the Disney Half I ran in January, so it was disappointing.  After the race, I took a few months to recover.  My body just didn’t feel up to running longer distances and I was struggling with frequent nausea and lethargy.  After a trip to the doctor discovered I had a pretty low iron count, I started taking a supplement, which has really improved my day-to-day energy levels.  Now, I’m looking to get back on wagon, and give myself a new challenge.

The challenge that I’ve decided to take on is the Treadman Duathlon that takes place the end of September in Pine Island, a small town not too far from here.  Let me first introduce you to the infamous hill that I will have to bike up:

Now that you’ve had a moment to let the length and grade of the hill sink in, consider this: Before I bike up this hill I will have run 3.3 miles.  And AFTER I bike up this hill I will have to run ANOTHER  3.3 miles.  The bike portion is 21.6 miles.

So, yes, this is a challenge.

It’s been almost 3 years since I gave myself that first challenge of racing the St. Croix Valley Sprint Triathlon.  That summer I spent nearly every day getting my run, swim, or bike in.  In the years following I’ve kept up my fitness level, but I haven’t progressed much further. So for the next three months I will be following a base-building plan that requires 6 days of training each week, building up to an 8 mile long distance run, and a 30 mile long distance bike ride, with tempo work on both the bike and the run, as well as bi-weekly hill training on the bike, because, yikes that hill looks brutal.

Following that will be another three month training cycle where I’ll work on improving my VO2 Max and lactate threshold.

While I’m doing all of this training, I’ll be documenting my trials and tribulations, probably reviewing some new products, and generally entertaining you all (while distracting myself from the pain I’ll probably be feeling).  It will be a fun ride!

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Date: January 7, 2012

Location: Orlando, FL

I’m not sure how it happened.  One minute my sister and I were chatting about how fun it would be to do the Disney half marathon, and the next thing I knew we were actually there, two bodies in a sea of 28,000 people at the start line. Along the way, I’d developed a nueroma in one of my toes and had to get a cortisone shot.  I’d run 10 miles in the snow.  I’d put in my long runs dutifully, week after week, even going for a 10 miler on Christmas Eve day.  Somehow I had managed to get through it all, and here we were, getting on a bus filled with our fellow runners at 4 am.

 

Disney official information had informed us that all runners needed to be at the start and in their corrals by 5 am.  But by 4:30 am we were still firmly in the bus, trying to make it to Epcot — along with what looked like several thousand other cars and buses.  At 4:45 we were still on the bus, this time idling only yards away from the entrance.  The bus driver failed to inform us of much, but we managed to figure out that the bus’ brakes were out (so that’s why it smelled like a rubber plan the whole way here!) – and we were eventually escorted off the bus onto another, and shuttled the remaining feet to the race entrance area.

My sister and I followed the throng of runners through the bag check and down a long road to the start.  When we finally made it to the corral area, we both decided we had to pee.  And while I was in the porta-pottie I stupidly missed the start of the race, which, I’m told began with a fireworks display.  By the time we made it to our corral, the wave before us was starting and we finally crossed the start line around 5:30 am.

In our original plan, my sister and I were going to run the entire race together.  But by the week before the race, we’d both decided our paces were too different for that to work.  So we discussed running the first few miles together and going out on our own after that.  However, only a half a mile in, she took off.  “Sorry,” she said, “this is way too slow for me.” And so I began my lonely 12.6 mile journey to the finish.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather.  It was about 50 degrees the entire time I was running.  Since the sun didn’t really rise until mile 8, and then it was cloudy, I didn’t even need the sunglasses I had perched on my head.

Along the route, Disney had done it’s best to provide us with visual and auditory entertainment.  At mile 2 I saw Dark Wing Duck  At mile 3, a great display of classic cars.  At mile 5, actors on giant stilts gave us high fives.  Every mile was marked clearly with a clock showing the official time.

I felt great at mile 6 when we finally entered the Magic Kingdom.  All along the route, I had been dodging slow runners and walkers, and as the course narrowed through the main entrance to Disney, I had to slow to practically a crawl.  The Magic Kingdom was still decorated for Christmas, and in the early morning light, with the crowds and music, and Disney characters around every corner, it was practically magical.

I stopped a few times for pictures and approached Cinderella’s castle at mile 7.  Here the running crowd went wild.  As we passed under the castle, a runner threw his hands in the air and let out a celebratory holler.  It was contagious and pretty soon everyone was hooting and hollering in Cinderella’s echo-chamber of a castle.

Nearly out of the Magic Kingdom, I ran past Princess Tatiana, a Chipmunk, and Captain Jack Sparrow before the course dumped us out the back door and onto the (relatively) empty road.  I’d made it 8 miles and still felt good, but as I started calculating, I could feel my spirit start to fall a little bit.  I still had 5 miles yet to go, and even though we were on our way back to Epco, it felt like these last 5 miles could be an eternity.

By mile 9, the excitement of the whole thing had worn off.  I could feel blisters forming on what seemed like all of my toes, and my legs were getting tired.  I could feel myself slowing down, but I knew I only had 3 miles left – or a 5K – or 30 minutes – whichever way you looked at it, it wasn’t much longer.  And I’d already done 9.  I could easily do 3.

Near mile 10, we were running on the highway outside of the Disney campus.  As I rounded a corner, I saw a stream of people running on an overpass ABOVE the highway.  How the hell were we supposed to get up there?  By taking the exit ramp, obviously.  You don’t realize how steep those things are until you’re on foot.  I trudged up the hill, gave up half way, and walked to the top.  A Team in Training coach at the crest of the hill shouted, “Great job! It’s all downhill from here!” And so I felt a little better about my achy legs and increasingly painful toes, and picked up the pace for a bit.  At mile 12, an announcer was asking the runners where they were from.  I heard shout outs from people from all over the world and from every state in the naion.

And that’s when I saw it.

Another hill!

At mile 12!

That woman had lied to us!

I wasn’t about to go back and correct her, and so at my breakneck speed of a thirteen minute mile, I made it to the top  What goes up, must come down, and at the bottom of the hill we were greeted by a band singing, “I could run 500 miles, and I would run 500 more…”  At mile 12.5, as we re-entered Epcot, a gospel choir in sunshine yellow robes re-energized me.  Only a half a mile to go!

I ran faster through a throng of people, most of whom were shouting, “You’re almost there!”  We made a loop around the Epcot ball, rounded another corner, and there it was, the finish.  Disney had pulled out all the stops for this.  A large grand stand on the left allowed for spectator viewing, and a giant jumbo-tron showed everyone crossing the finish.

I admit – I was tired as hell, and I went over the finish line more relieved than anything else.  When I watched the video of myself crossing the finish line, which was made available online a few days after the vent, I was one of only a handful of people not raising my arms in the air and cheering.

I was immediately presented with a giant Donald Duck-shaped medal and gratefully accepted a space blanket, before being funneled through the food station, and dumped back out into the parking lot, where I immediately texted my husband and sister to try to find them.  All around me, people were reuniting with their loved ones; collapsing, exhausted on the ground; sighing in satisfaction for having completed an amazing feat; and I felt AMAZING.

My finish time might not have been ideal – I was shooting for a 2:30 finish and actually came in at 2:44:56 – but I had just run 13.1 miles.  And that was an eternity for me. A little over a year ago I could barely finish 4 miles in tact.  A before that… I would have laughed at you had you suggested I get up off the couch and go for a run.

I’ve accomplished a lot.  And I have so much more yet to do.

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No runner wants to be faced with an injury.  But with proper care, stretching, strength training, and proper gear, you can prevent most injuries.

However…. I have unfortunately been the victim of one of the worst injuries to befall a runner – plantar fasciitis and a heel spur.  Fortunately, this injury – at least at the time being – doesn’t prevent me from running, and only causes pain after I’ve not been moving for a while.  I made a quick visit to Sports Med last week and the solution was a night splint to keep my foot flexed, stretching, icing, and insoles for my super flat arches.  Hopefully these treatments will help my foot heal quickly and won’t cause any additional problems.

Now on to the good news: this Saturday is my first big race of the season – the Cannon Falls Duathlon, where I will be participating as the running part of a team.  I’m looking forward to cheering on my teammate as she competes in her first race ever!

I’m hoping for a 21-22 minute finish in the 2 mile part of the run, and under 34 minute finish for the 3 mile part of the run.

A post-race report will be up a few days after that.  Hopefully I’ll have a few more posts up in the near future reviewing some products I have recently acquired.

Wish me luck!

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The Details:

Date                    3/26/11

Distance            5K

Official time     34:54

Passed                6

Passed by          3

Temperature   26* F

 

Early in the week before my very first 5K ever, I took a look at the forecast.  While the prior week it had been a sunny and comfortable 50* on Saturday, the Saturday of the race was predicted to be 30*.  The closer it got to the race day, the lower that temperature dropped.  Now, I am not a person particularly inclined to go running outdoors (though that is changing!), but I am definitely not a person inclined to go running outdoors in temperature below freezing.  Thus, my workout wardrobe was lacking any appropriate clothing.  I had no tights, no jacket, no hats or gloves, and no long-sleeved warm top to wear.  Thus, the first thing I did last week before the race was go shopping at – where else? – The Running Room.  Here’s what I bought:

Yes, this is a men’s top, and yes, I do realize how ridiculous this guy looks in this picture.  I couldn’t find one online without a goofy looking dude wearing it.  Sorry.  😦

I also borrowed light-weight gloves and an UnderArmor ear warmer from my mom.

Normally, I would suggest wearing any new items at least a few times before a race to make sure they fit properly and don’t cause you any unnecessary chafing or discomfort.  But this time I didn’t follow my own advice and wore everything for the first time on race day.  Fortunately, I didn’t have any troubles.  I did liberally lubricate any chafe-prone areas with BodyGlide first though, just to make sure.

The day started off sunny but very brisk and cold.  On my way to the site, the car thermometer read 27*.  There was a nice 6 mph wind from the east as well, so I was definitely glad I bought all the new gear.  I arrived at Soldiers Field around 8:15 am where there were probably 3 dozen people mingling, warming up, or just standing around.  I received my race number and dutifully pinned it to the front of my shirt, then observed my competition.

I use “competition” very lightly here.  I could definitely tell who was a serious runner and who wasn’t.  While there were plenty of people just standing around in sweats and two-year-old running shoes, there were probably half a dozen people in technical running gear and the latest shoes who were stretching, warming up, and talking about the races they had done or were going to be doing (yes, I was eavesdropping).

I decided I had better warm up, as I hadn’t done enough of that prior to my triathlon last fall.  I took the opportunity to spend the next 30 minutes running around the nearby track and stretching my poor calves.

Ten minutes prior to the start of the run, a volunteer led us across the bridge to the start of the race.  She indicated that the fastest runners should line-up near the front, the walkers in the back, and everyone else in between.  I choose a spot directly in front of the walkers, assuming that I would be one of the slowest people there.  As we were waiting for the race to start, a 40ish woman next to me commented to the women around us that she would just stay near the back because she always ended up running alone anyways.  Everyone laughed, but I secretly thought, “I think you’ll have some company this race!” and counted myself lucky to possibly have a running partner during the race.

When the gun went off and the race started, I was shocked at how quickly the runners in the front of the pack took off.  It didn’t take very long before they were all long gone, and myself and the woman who had made the comment were all alone on the trail.  I wasn’t sure what the etiquette was for a race like this.  Were you supposed to talk?  Were you supposed to leave everyone alone?  How much talking was appropriate?  How long should I run beside her before it was rude to have not said anything?  Should I comment on her nice running hat?

Eventually I decided on continuing the joke she had made earlier.

“I’ll just run back here with you,” I laughed.

She smiled and nodded.  I noticed she had a Garmin on her wrist and I wanted to know how long I should expect to be running next to her.

“What’s your pace?” I asked her.

“Usually 11 to 12 minute miles…. 13, 14, 15….,” she trailed off and laughed.  “How about you?”

“About the same; 11 to 12 minute miles.”

She told me she was running the 10K.  She said it was the first race for her this season.  I told her it was mine too and that this was actually my first 5K ever.  She congratulated me.  We talked for a little bit about other races we had done and then we fell into a nice side-by-side pace.  We passed a few people who had taken off ahead of us and had slowed to a walk.  As we came up to the 1 mile mark she explained that she took walking breaks and wished me luck.

I was on my own.

Luckily, I was feeling good at this point.  The pace was comfortable and I wanted to keep it that way.  I could tell I was running faster than I normally did on a training run, so I knew that if I just kept a good even pace I could easily finish in under 36 minutes, which was my goal.  I was getting warm so I tied my new jacket around my waist.  There were a few volunteers along the race path and they all cheered me on as I passed them.  Shortly after I passed the 1 mile mark I overtook a runner who looked to be about my age.  I felt very proud of myself considering I hadn’t passed a single person during my triathlon!  I passed another runner who had slowed to a crawl.  Two people passed!  Prior to the 2 mile mark I came up on another young woman who was going not too much slower than myself.  I decided I wanted to pass her and used that as a goal to keep going strong.  Soon I passed her.  Another woman was ahead of me quite a ways down the path.  She didn’t seem like she was going much faster than me and I knew that she had started ahead of me in the pack back at the race start.  I set passing her as a goal.  However, without a Garmin I didn’t know how far I had left in the race or what my current pace was.  I didn’t want to push myself too soon and not have enough energy left over to finish the race strong.  I imagined myself passing her only to have to slow down a half mile before the finish and get passed by her at the end.  So I picked up my pace a bit, but didn’t race to pass her.

Turns out that maybe I should have increased my pace a little more than I did.  When we approached the 3 mile mark I was still maybe 70 yards behind her.  I sprinted to the finish but I didn’t have enough gas left in the tank to pass her at that point.  When I crossed the finish line I congratulated her on her finish and told her that I had been trying to catch up to her for the past 3/4 mile but that she was too fast.  I figured I would want someone to tell me that I was fast if I were her.  I then checked on my official time, which was 34:54.  Even with the fact that my time wasn’t completely accurate (I had started near the back of the pack, and I was told 34:26 as I approached the finish line – and there is no way it took me 30 seconds to run 30 feet), my race pace was much closer to 11 minute miles than 12 minute miles, which was a huge accomplishment for me.

I stuck around for a half an hour longer to cheer on the rest of the runners.  A few minutes after I passed the finish the line, the first 10K runner finished.  I waited to see my 10K friend pass the half-way point, but I never saw her.  I hoped she ended up finishing, but I was getting cold and wanted to head home.

After I got home I still felt good, so amazingly, I went out for another run.  This time I put 2 miles on the legs, for a total of 5 miles that morning.  As I headed out the door I told my hubby that I was going for a “quick 2 mile run.”  A few yards down the road I laughed at my turn of phrase.  Was I really now one of those people who went for a “quick” 2 mile run instead of one of those people for whom a 2 mile run was more like a marathon?

I guess so.

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My Runner’s World magazine came last night.  I devoured every page looking for inspiration and suggestions.  But one article in particular caught my attention: Against the Wall.

You’re in the middle of a run when things start to fall apart. Your legs feel like concrete, your breathing grows labored, your strides turn into a shuffle. Negative thoughts flood your mind, and the urge to quit becomes overwhelming. Unfortunately, if you run long enough, you’re bound to experience this some day.

This is the way writer Nancy Averett describes what runner’s euphemistically call ‘the wall.’  The article goes on to offer fixes for various physical and mental blocks runners can find themselves facing.

I had my own wall to conquer.  Whenever I went out to do a “long” run (and by long, please remember that this is by my standards!), I crashed around mile 4.  I had yet to go beyond 4 miles.  It was almost as if at mile 4 my body said, “Okay, that’s good enough.  Now let’s get some ice cream!”  But I knew that if I was going to improve, both in distance and speed, I was going to have to push past that 4 mile wall.

The Falls Duathlon is coming up the end of April, where I’m expected to run 2 miles, followed by a break where my team-mate bikes 14 miles, and then run 3 miles.  If you’re following along and you’re good at math, you’ll notice that adds up to 5 miles.  Everything I’ve read so far has suggested training for a distance longer than the one you’ll run on race day so that you’re able to push yourself and maybe even PR.  So if I’m going to run 5 miles on April 30th, I’m going to have to train for at least 6 miles, if not more.  Again, if you’re good at math, you’ve probably noted by now that this is at least 2 miles further than I’ve ever been able to run before.

That wall needs to come down.

Today I decided I would push through my 4 mile wall and try for 5 miles.  My plan was pretty simple: I’d run 2 miles, then stop to stretch and do some core work, and then run for another 3 miles, mimicking the Fall Duathlon race day.

I quickly did my 2 miles, filled up my water bottle, stretched, and did some crunches.  When I returned to the treadmill I thought about going home.  “2 miles is pretty good,” I thought. “No one will know…”  And yet, someone would know.  I had posted on Facebook that I was going to try to run 5 miles today.  I had also texted my hubby to let him know of the plan.  Keeping people informed of my progress, though they could probably care less, has the added benefit of keeping me accountable.  So I dragged my carcass onto the machine.  The first mile was rough.  When I hit mile 3 I thought about going home again.  “3 miles is better than 2,” I thought.  But I had said I was going to shoot for 5 and there was really no excuse to quit now.  I had no hamstring or calf pain; my feet felt much better after that quick little break; and my breathing was still sound and even.  So I kept going.  I got to 4.  “Just another half mile,” I thought.  When I got to 4.5 I still felt good.  “I think I can really do this.”  When I got to mile 5 I still felt good.  My pace was even and steady, my breathing was still good, nothing was hurting too badly, and I thought, “If I can do 5, maybe I can do more.”  So I kept going.  I made it to 5.7 before I developed a pretty bad stitch in my side and had to slow to a walk.

5.7 miles!  That’s farther than I’ve ever run in my entire life!

I stared down that wall and I conquered it. I tore it down, brick by brick.  And now I have the desire to go even further, confident that I can face down any other wall I find and push through it.

The only problem is – now my long runs might actually have to be long!

 

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