Today was my longest run ever. I’m going to start sounding like a broken record, because for the exception of a 5K in March and a (yet to be determined) 10K in April, I should achieve this every Saturday between now and May 10.
I have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to pre-run fueling. Last night instead of our planned steak dinner, we decided to try a new German bar/restaurant that had just opened near us. We missed Bavaria (our favorite vacation destination so far), and wanted to see how well they could replicate it. When it comes to beer, they definitely nailed it! I had a liter of Radler (beer + citrus soda), which it turns out is actually low calorie and low alcohol content. Of course, we had a (huge) pretzel with mustard, and then we each had a sausage topped with sauerkraut and relish and served with some french fries & a pickle. I ate half my sausage (not the bun) and about half the french fries.
This morning, I had some pumpkin oatmeal and milk for breakfast (good choice) and finished my dinner for lunch (questionable choice). Three hours later I headed out for my run. I had waited for the warmest part of the day (a balmy 24 degrees with a slight wind). I mapped out a 4.5 mile route that would take me through an unfamiliar neighborhood.
Within the first quarter mile, I burped and it tasted like sausage. That’s a running first. For some reason Nike+ stopped announcing my pace at each mile, which I think was good. I ran at what I perceived to be an “easy run” effort. When I saw the numbers after my run, I was pleasantly surprised at how much faster that is now than when I started running.
As I turned into the new neighborhood, I was struck by how gorgeous it was. There were tall trees framing the country road, and a lake on my left. I turned right into a subdivision and realized I’d have some hills to deal with.
Shortly after the two mile mark, I stopped for a short (maybe .05-.1 mile) walk. Usually, when I have to stop to walk I consider that a failure. But, I realized that I was walking at approximately where the first aid station would be during my race (and I plan to walk through all of them). I began to reframe walking not as a failure, but as a chance to regroup, gather my strength, and—in some circumstances—refuel. Taking short walk breaks should help me avoid having to walk the last few miles of the race.
After another mile I heard footsteps behind me. There was another runner, going much faster then me. When he passed me, I noticed that my stress level (generally low to nonexistent in running and every day life), increased. This could be why I’ve performed so terribly in races (even virtual ones). I start to try to compensate for my slow pace and keep up with people faster than me…and it tires me out. This time, I recognized it and tried to keep my pace steady. I believe I succeeded.
When I turned the corner into a more familiar neighborhood, I took another very short walk break, then resumed at a good pace. This was the home stretch. I felt good, I was only peripherally paying attention to the podcast I was listening to, and I knew I would be able to finish the run. I had to walk a short distance because the trail connecting a dead end road to another subdivision was completely snow covered, and that was where I hit the 4 mile mark. I still felt great, so I decided to pick up the pace until the end. According to the pace chart, I ran the final half mile almost a full minute over my average pace. I’m very happy with how this run turned out.
If this is how every long run feels, I’m going to be a big fan (I know I won’t be this lucky for ever). I have a few new blisters (not painful), and I refueled with a Lara Bar immediately after the run. Dinner was a tomato chickpea soup, and we’re about to head out to see Monument Men. Nice little Saturday 🙂