Marathon Reflection Monday

So, I ran 30 miles this weekend.

I’ll just let that sink into my brain (and yours) for a second.

I knew this was going to happen one day.  6 and a half months ago when we first signed up for Chicago and Aaron devised our training plan, I saw it on the spreadsheet and knew I would have to run it.  2 and a half months ago, when I first started my training, I knew it was getting closer.  Last weekend, after a 28 mile weekend, I knew there was no turning back.

But I’m sitting here, realizing that I, the most non-runner out there, who up until a year ago couldn’t imagine a fate worse than running more than 6 miles at a time, ran 20 miles on Saturday followed by a 10 mile run yesterday.

I don’t even know myself anymore!

Ok. Now that that’s done…

I kinda just didn’t feel like it last week.  We did our two speed workouts, but I didn’t do my two recovery runs.  Aside from not getting the mileage in, it didn’t seem to help our hurt me too much by skipping out.  But I just thought you needed to know as my accountability brigade.

Saturday we woke up early, got in almost 3 miles before the sun came up, and ran around what felt like the entire Northeast side of the city.

Um, hello elevation gain! Thanks for being a pain in the ass. (That’s over 1,000 feet of gain if you’re wondering).

We carried the hydration pack with us and stuffed it with 3 water bottles (it is only supposed to carry 2).  I got away with only having to carry it for 4 miles, but wow.  That’s a lot of water weight to carry around.  Maybe I should have been training with this thing the whole time!

There couldn’t have been a bigger difference between this week’s long run and last weeks miserable experience.

Mentally, I was focused, positive, and unconcerned with how many more miles I had left.  I had energy the whole time, and while my feet really did hurt starting at mile 16, my body met the 20 mile challenge.  I don’t really know if I have ever been more proud of myself or more impressed with what this little body can do with some hard work.

I can’t even believe I’m saying this, but running 20 miles was…enjoyable? I was almost deliriously happy starting at mile 14.  Is this the “runner’s high” that everyone is talking about?  If so, this would be the first time I’ve ever felt it. (I also just noticed that mile 14 started the downhill portion of the run…coincidence?)

It seems to be common thought that once you hit 20 miles, you can run a marathon. Through this whole process, I’ve been obviously doubtful that I can pull off a 3:30, but at many points, I’ve been doubtful that I can do this at all.

Saturday, as I heard the little beep from my Garmin indicating that I had hit 20 miles, it became very real.  I am now in marathon shape!

{Awkward photo angle}

BUT, for all of the happiness I felt on Saturday, yesterday’s 10 miler kicked my ass big time.  Saturday night we tailgated at the opera (more on that tomorrow), and I didn’t eat very well and had more wine than water.  So, when we finally got up and out the door at 9:30 (read, hot), I was dehydrated, not fueled properly (I actually got the ammonia taste in my mouth which means my body was breaking down muscle for fuel…this is BAD), hot, and tired.  I usually try to push the pace of these mid-distance runs, but yesterday I had more miles above an 11 minutes than I did under 10. Not cool. Meanwhile, freak of nature Aaron was prancing around bragging about how wonderful he felt.

But, I got it done.  With four weeks left until taper, I have two more of these mileage overload weekends.  This is a back down off it week, so next weekend will focus on running 12 fast miles followed by 6 faster miles.  I still don’t think I’m running my “fast” runs fast enough (at least according to McMillian), so I have 4 weeks to really hammer out some speed.

As always, injury prevention is a priority.  I didn’t wear my  little IT band thing on Saturday (I forgot it), so I’ve spent the last two days trying to get my whole right leg back in good condition.  Otherwise, everything seems to be going great!

I hope your long runs went well this weekend!  After a hot summer, it looks like almost everyone is starting to get back into training and racing!

I hope you have a fantastic week!

35 thoughts on “Marathon Reflection Monday

    • Thank you! I just hope the rest of them go this well! And you’ve had the craziest training luck so far! You are doing a great job of sticking to it even though things keep getting in your way!

  1. Ellie and I had a particularly bad long run this weekend, so reading this was kind of inspirational. Seeing you doing well is a great pick up and makes me want to get back out there and keep pushing!

    • Oh no! I’m sorry to hear that. Long runs are so temperamental. For every 1 great one, there are about 3 terrible ones. I hope your upcoming weekend run is much better. I keep seeing notices about the BAA half on twitter (I want to know the second those 2014 qualifying times come out so I stalk the BAA obsessively), so I am getting excited for you guys!

      • Yeah, it seems like so far away, until I look at the calendar, and it is going to be right there on top of us. I hope you make it to Boston and achieve your goal, because there are some pretty fantastic places to get drinks, and I think Lavenderparking and the 2FNs team would have to meet up!

      • Yup. It is one of the many facets of data collected with each run. I imagine you also have the ability to determine elevation via the Garmin website if you plug in your route even if you aren’t wearing the stalker device.

  2. Amazing! Way to go and I’m glad that this week was an improvement over last. Question for you: what model is your watch and do you like it? My Garmin died last week and I’m finally coming to terms with buying a new one…

    • Thank you! I’m just hoping that I didn’t “peak” on Saturday. It still feels too good to be true! And I run with a forerunner 110. Not the fanciest, but it tells me projected pace per mile (though not real time pace), time, and distance. I think I’ve only had one instance where it didn’t sync up properly. It might be hard to schedule since yours is goners, but I always buy mine at REI Scratch and Dent sales (you do have to be a member). Both Aaron and I have purchased ours for under $70.

  3. Awesome work, lady! If you go into your race with this confidence, you will pull out a major PR!! I felt McMillian had me running too slow for a 3:40 marathon so I’ve been following the 3:30 pace charts. My super fast friend (3:09 marathoner) just told me to simply run my short runs fast and just stay on my feet for the long ones and not focus too much on time (just get those miles in). You’ve got this!!!

    • Thank you as always for the encouragement! I think now the panic starts. I only have 4 weeks, and I feel like I need to be pulling out all the stops whether I should or not. I felt like this weekend I did a good job of not paying attention to pace, but there is a little voice in my head saying GO FASTER YOU SLOW PERSON. I am really starting to see the benefit of NOT worrying about it, but man, is it hard to ignore! As a first timer, I still don’t know how all of this will play out which is scary and in my mind, it seems logical to run long and fast. I know it isn’t (at least that’s what you fast marathoners keep telling me!).

    • Thank you! Yeah, it basically means that your body ran out of fuel, starting burning fat (good!), but the ammonia smell means that it has started breaking down muscle because you can’t use fat as fuel for long, intense periods of time. I think it sounds like a fantastic excuse to eat more carbs!

  4. Why is it that after a long run we feel the need to do our best to cancel out our hard work with alcohol and poor diet decisions? I am in your boat, you’ll see what I mean when I finish my training recap. Nice job crushing 20 this weekend, I am still about 6 weeks away from mine but I am keeping my focus on one Saturday death run at a time. Can’t wait to see how you two do at Chicago! Thanks for helping me stay motivated, aware of whats coming and focused with my training!

    PS – that ammonia taste is your body breaking down muscle for fuel? I have been getting that taste at least once a week for the past few weeks. Do you or A know if that means that I need more carbs or more protein?

    • I know I always feel like I deserve it! I just ran 20 miles. Of course I’m going to drink sparkling wine and eat Italian meats all night!

      And thanks for keeping ME motivated!

      If you are tasting ammonia, you need more carbs. Your body will use glucose/glycogen for fuel, and then will start the fat burn when it runs out of that. Fat burn is what makes you lose weight (hooray!), but you can’t fat burn for long, intense workouts because it just isn’t hearty enough (or something like that…I made that up a little bit). So, then your body starts breaking down muscle protein for fuel, and nobody wants that. If you have enough carbs/sugar/glucose in your system, you won’t have to revert to other energy sources. And you can save your fat burning for runs that aren’t 3 hours long. Apparently dehydration can be a factor as well. Here is a concise article that talks about it a little more:

      • Thanks, this is awesome and good to know. Now I just need to find a good snack-able treat to put a stop to this…lord knows I can’t afford to burn muscle.

  5. Great long run this week! I managed a 21 miler myself… I completely hear ya, it’s hard to believe it looking down afterward at the watch! I wouldn’t worry about feeling crappy the day after, it’s pretty normal to not feel well after long runs that long. Do you take anything to drink other than water on your long runs? I know I like to drink powerade every few miles and eat some gummy bears or something like that. It helps to keep the fat burning to a minimum, so you’ll feel better the rest of the day and the next day. Just a thought 🙂

    • Congrats on the 21 miles! 10 miles is usually my threshold point. If I’m running 10 or under, I don’t usually bring anything extra along. For my long run on Saturday, I did 2 gels and two Gatorade stops. I think the biggest problem with my Sunday run is that I didn’t eat anything aside from a bunch of Italian meats and crackers on Saturday night, and barely anything on before heading out. It was definitely an amateur mistake that I paid for!

    • Thanks! Yeah, I definitely learned my lesson. I think part of the problem is that I’m starting to not take running 10 miles as seriously as I should because it is now one of my “shorter” runs. I just need to make sure I treat it as a long run and fuel accordingly!

  6. Wow. That is awesome 20 miles! I am still considering 10 miles my long run due this next weekend! I can’t wait to be up to 20! Seems so far away but an exciting adventure! As much as I’ll miss summer I’m looking forward to cooler fall runs and the beautiful changing colors of the leaves!

    • Yeah, for the first time ever, I’m actually looking forward to fall! And I’m excited that I can now say that I ran 20 miles. It sneaks up on you quick, but definitely an exciting adventure! (As much as I whine and complain, it really has been fun!).

  7. Awesome weekend, Amy! That’s a huge accomplishment- you are definitely marathon ready. Can’t believe you’re so close to taper already!! I’m looking forward to ramping my miles back up now that my shin is happier… the hard part will be not doing too much too soon.

    • I bet you’re ready! I’ve noticed with myself, anytime I actually can’t be active is when I want to be out there running the most. I’m excited to watch you meet another challenge!

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