Last long pre-race run done
Yesterday, as planned, I ran the last 11 miles of the half marathon that I’ll be doing two weeks from now. I had a friend drop me off 11 miles east and pick me up at the downtown pier where the race will finish. With all your words of advice to “slow down,” “have fun,” and “eat something” echoing in my head, I really tried to slow down. I wanted to run at a pace somewhere in the 11:10 to 11:20 range, and I hit the first mile at almost precisely 11:10.
Then I began the section that is 5 miles of rolling hills — and it all seemed so easy. I kept expecting that I’d reach a hill that was steep enough that I’d have to do some walking, but that didn’t happen. I ran up and down every single hill, including the two extremely steep downhill-uphill stream crossings. I have never in my wildest dreams imagined running up the hill on the west side of Bagley Creek. I did slow down (I ran that mile in 11:46) but I never stopped running. Except for two off-the-clock pit stops (which I know will count for time during the actual race) I ran the entire 11 miles. I have never run more than ten miles without stopping before. I did get a little tired near the finish, but I ran mile 11 in 10:25 and finished feeling strong and healthy, with an average pace (11:03) that undershot my goal by about 10 seconds per mile. I’m confident that I could have gone another two miles and finished just as strong.
I was helped by perfect conditions. The temperature was in the high 50s the whole way, with light rain for the first half hour but no wind until the final mile along the waterfront. If it’s anything like this on race day, I should be fine. If it’s hotter (like last year), rainier (like 2010), or windier I’ll remind myself that I’ve run under those conditions before. I can do this.
Per Pete’s advice (thanks bfpete!) I did try two varieties of Shot Blok (with and without caffeine) starting at the halfway point. My stomach isn’t 100% convinced, but they are SOOOO much more palatable and easier to eat than those awful gels and goos. And they did give me a nice energy boost and give me something to think about for those last couple of miles.
This morning I felt a little tired and my knees were a bit cranky, but no more so than after shorter but faster runs. By tomorrow I should be fine.
So now it’s TAPER TIME! Hurrah!!! I’ll be doing much shorter, easier runs from now until race day. I’ll probably get antsy from the drop in activity level, but (so the theory says) my body will be storing energy and building muscle during this semi-rest time.
It’s exciting to see that my hard work and adherence to my plan have yielded such great results so far. I’m really looking forward to this race — so different from last year when I ran for respite from caregiving and refuge for my anticipatory grief.
I now run simply because I love it. It makes me feel physically good, and it makes me happy.
I am earning this happiness, one step at a time.