It’s about finishing what you start

failure I started my 4th half-marathon promptly at 8 AM, Sunday, September 13, along with 640+ other Skagit Flats marathoners/half-marathoners. It felt great running outdoors soaking in the late-summer, early-autumn beauty of the Pacific Northwest. I ran with an excited bounce right from the start as TB and Owen saw all us runners off and cheered me on. The temperature had reached the upper 50s by the time the gun fired and the bright sun hung over the flat, treeless, farm-draped course painting the asphalt in bright yellow and warming the air with a damp, earthy thickness.

I planned to run mile one at a 9’30” pace then gradually increase my pace the rest of the way to about 8’45” by mile 10. I hoped my training prepared me to finish between 1:55 and 2:00 based on how I ran the other races. Where I ultimately landed in that range would be determined by how I felt at the midpoint and again at mile 10.

Expecting a fairly cool temperature throughout the first half of the race, I ran with less fluid for the first 4 miles than previous races. While my FuelBelt holds 6 bottles, I wanted to minimize the additional weight I carried along each segment (1-4, 5-9, 10-13). I started with a single 8 oz bottle filled with Gatorade Endurance. I swapped the empty bottle with TB for two more 8 oz bottles at mile 4. At that point I was already hotter and thirstier than I expected. My plan called for me to run miles 5-9 with that 16 oz of Gatorade supplemented by water at the water station I would pass just after mile 6. Before reaching mile 6, I had consumed one of the bottles of Gatorade. At the water station at mile 6 I tossed back a 2 oz cup of water. At the 6 1/2-mile turnaround I ate a GU gel and drank half the second bottle of Gatorade. I felt strong and energetic but sensed I was overheating.

Continue reading “It’s about finishing what you start”

Yikes, my first race is tomorrow!

Bellingham Bay Half Marathon Well damas y caballeros, the time is near. In about 18 hours I will start my very first official, long-distance race by running the Bellingham Bay Half-Marathon. I started training back in June and put in a ton of miles despite taking two weeks off in the middle after injuring my hamstring. These last two weeks I have been tapering down my mileage ending with a short and fast 3 mile run yesterday morning. I’ve trained hard, I feel great and now it’s game time.

TB, our resident long-distance runner par excellence, has helped get my gear and game plan together since she’s done all this several times before. I’ve been in charge of the spectator plan based on my start/end paces so she can cheer me on at different points and still have time to get to the finish—I’ve done it several times before in preparation for her races. It’s funny how the responsibilities are the same although our roles are different.

Bellingham is a 90 minute drive from our home. We’re driving up tomorrow, the day of the race, for the 7:30 AM start. I am supposed to finish breakfast 2 hours before I start running. I also need to pick up my race packet by 6:30 which means we will leave at the insane hour of 4:30 and eat breakfast in the car about an hour into the trip. This is starting to sound a lot like my Nike+ Human Race 10K experience. Here is how I see the day going:

  • For breakfast I will have a serving of Kashi cereal with soy milk and 12 ounces of sports drink. I use Accelerade before and during the race because it has protein and other brands do not.
  • Fifteen minutes before the race starts I will eat a GU energy gel to give my body a quick shot of glucose that it can put to immediate use. Remember, I will finish breakfast 2 hours before the race.
  • During the race I will suck down a GU energy gel every 45 minutes and consume 30 ounces of Accelerade over the first 10 miles from my CamelBak.
  • TB will meet me between miles 10 and 11 to swap my hat for a visor and take the empty CamelBak. For the last 3.1 miles I will drink water provided on the course.
  • Immediately after the race I will consume 12 ounces of Endurox R4, a recovery drink with both electrolytes and protein. I will also eat an apple and a bagel.
  • I will ice my knees, calves and ankles to prevent swelling.
  • With all that done and the race behind me I will change into dry clothes and head back home with TB as a new inductee into the long-distance runners club.

The weather is supposed to be great for running with a high of 70 and no rain (yes!)

Wish me luck…

It’s official: I’m a long distance runner

CamelBak Alterra Hydration Pack GU Chocolate Outrage Energy Gel As you may recall, back in late June I began training for a half-marathon (13.1 miles). I have not selected a race yet but I will probably run in late September or early October. The training has been going great and today I passed a significant milestone by running 10 miles non-stop. Averaging 9’45” miles, I finished in 1:37:53.

Running 10 miles, or significantly longer than 60 minutes, requires hydration and fuel lest one’s muscles run out of energy or start cramping. A quick conversation with our trainer, followed by a trip to REI, and I was prepared with GU energy gels and a CamelBak Alterra 28 ounce hydration pack. The “Chocolate Outrage” GU gels are great.

Previously, my longest run was 8 miles and my training program has me ramping up to 12 miles in the next few weeks. I don’t know if I could have made it another 3.1 miles today since my lower left calf started cramping around 8.5 miles in. I suppose that is why one trains.

To commemorate me reaching LD runner status, TB met me at the 8 mile mark and we ran together the rest of the way. That was nice.