I was very nervous about running the 20 because it is the longest we run before the actual race. It’s also considered the “dress-rehearsal” for the marathon. And since conventional wisdom (is there really anything conventional about running a marathon?!) says that you shouldn’t do anything new for the race, this was the chance to try out clothing, drink, food, and pace without any penalties or pressure. I must admit I’m still wondering what the penalties would be but that’s because I am such a rule breaker. Bwahahahahaha! I won’t lie. Twenty miles was not easy. I felt better doing it than I thought I would but I remain a bit skeptical that I will cheerfully push on and do another 6.2 miles afterwards. The great and anonymous “everyone” says it is so though so I guess I’ll take it on faith and hope like crazy that “they” know of which they speak. Three weekends from now I’ll be testing that theory out. Nerve-wracking to know it’s that close!
So what did I learn from my 20-miler, you ask? Well, I am clearly a slow learner because I did some of the things I’ve already mentioned as no-nos in previous mupdates. For instance, who on earth didn’t learn her lesson about charging the iPod before a long run? Oh wait; that’d be me. Yes, despite learning the perils of a dead iPod with miles to go before I sleep way back in June, I completely ignored my own advice and trotted out without a full charge. Only slightly less than half my run was completed to the accompaniment of my own breathing, the pounding rain, and traffic shushing past. Not very entertaining, I might add. Oh, and before the iPod pooped out, I learned that running in the rain will cause the volume to slide up and down randomly, either because the rain was hitting the controls so hard (maybe it was my blazing speed that made the rain hit so hard) or because so much rain and sweat was dripping into it that the innards were going haywire. Either way, I alternated between being deaf from the volume and having to strain to hear even a whisper above the pounding on the pavement. Good times, I tell you.
I learned that there’s no such thing as too much Body Glide because whichever portion of your anatomy (and I’ll spare you the details—I know! Me, being circumspect. Note this date and write it down. The moon is blue tonight and hell has clearly frozen over) you do not liberally coat with this sticky deodorant-like stick will surely develop raw rubbed bits. If you’re like me, you will be lucky enough not to feel them until you get in the shower and the hot water stings the snot out of them, wherever they have happened to hide on your body. Good thing I do still have some old diaper rash ointment although when I use it I see people sniff at me surreptitiously given the ages of my children and the lack of a baby amongst them. Who knew that running would provide me with a great excuse to never purge through some of the ancient things in the medicine cabinet and by extension validate all the pack-ratted objects we have around here. Okay, maybe it doesn’t validate *all* of them, but I’m going to pretend it does.
I had the no meat the night before a long run bit of advice, which I think I only just wrote about less than a month ago, reinforced again today. I was quite content to only eat meatless pasta the night before but that just didn’t fit with the dinner I had sitting in the fridge so I ignored my own commonsense, tempted fate and luckily didn’t anger the poo gods too badly. I managed to finish the run and make it home before my body went into intestinal revolt. Of course, since I could tell what was coming like a freight train, I didn’t have time to stop and get my usual 4 bags of ice for my ice bath. This is a bigger crisis than having to wobble myself on shaking legs to the bathroom tout’suit when I got home because I didn’t get a decent ice bath and am now more than a little sore. The small amount of ice available in our freezer melted in mere minutes, leaving me sitting in my own lukewarm sweat rather than numbed into a blissful state where I didn’t care that I was sitting in my own sweat. And all because I had meat last night. Stubborn and stupid. Yep, that just about describes me.
Because the race will have different energy/food sources than I have been using on my runs, I knew enough to test them out before race day. See, even the ding-a-lings can learn if they listen really hard! So I went to the only store in all of metro-Charlotte than apparently sells the things and bought myself a bunch of packs. I like Gu (certain flavors) and other squeezy-type gel energy things. I like runner’s beans. I am not so sold on these Luna Moons things that they’ll be having at the race. These things are like gummy bears for the crazy running set. And I have to say, despite my sugar addiction, gummy bears have never been my candy of choice. The packages were hard to open (even kid fruit snack packs have a notched bit to make tearing into them easy) and I had to do what would make my dentist cringe: tear open the pack with my teeth. I was ravenous and so probably looked like a wild animal snarling and tearing into some poor picnicker’s supplies. Then these gummy moon-shaped fruity things (blueberry and watermelon were all I had) got stuck in my teeth and I spent at least the next miles trying to dislodge them but coming closer to sucking my fillings out instead. I will say that by the end of the run, I no longer cared what I was cramming in my mouth and would have cheerfully eaten dirt if I’d thought it would give me an energy burst so the moons will likely be fine. I do have to say I far prefer the chocolate Gu or the Honey Stinger gels to anything chewy though.
I know I’ve previously mentioned that it seems to rain on long runs when I wear a white shirt and this was no exception. You’d think I would have been smart enough not to wear white given that the forecast called for rain for several days. But no, I got cocky when I woke up and it wasn’t raining; put on the white shirt, and basically assumed that the promised storm had lasted a mere one day and had nicely passed through before this longest of runs. Well, clearly Murphy, of Murphy’s Law fame, is somewhere on a cloud laughing at me. Of all the times I have been rained on for a long run, this was one of the most torrential. In addition to having on a translucent shirt by about mile 3, I was also splashed up and down my legs with some of that charming Southern muddy red clay and had a small waterfall draining down my pony tail, along my spine, and into my shorts. I actually had to wring my shorts out at the end of the run. This didn’t help much as I noticed that I left a rather large, smeary, wet butt print on the seat at Panera, where the whole Team in Training group congregates after runs. It probably took a long time for anyone else to occupy that booth after we left it!
One of the most interesting results of all my long runs is a horrible build-up of salt on my contacts. Not only is it annoying to have to rub at my eyes constantly because of the stinging, but the salt actually accumulates to the point I am seeing through a huge blur. Maybe this is getting me ready for the potential of a foggy run in San Fran? Either that or it’s pushing me to Lasik surgery.
I have a new thing in my arsenal against my aching, protesting joints. I haven’t used my body pillow since I was hugely pregnant but I am finding it makes my hips feel ever so much better, just as it did then. This pillow has just been thrown on the bed behind the other, more decorative pillows since T. was born and it is another thing I contemplated throwing out when we moved. But just as with the diaper rash ointment, it has come in mighty handy lately. Even more justification to never throw anything away. You just never know when you’re going to lose your mind, sign up for a marathon, train like a crazy person, and need things that only gargantuan pregnant women or poopy babies need. Fun times I tell you!
Have you ever driven past runners and thought they were nuts? Well, I know I am one of them, especially after today. Here are a few of the ways to tell you’re officially a whacko runner:
1. You don’t even think twice about running in the rain. As a matter of fact, running in the rain generally helps dilute the sweat running into your eyes so in some cases it’s a welcome event. And if it promises to cut the heat, well, bring it on, baby!
2. You once wondered who in their right minds (and this may be the key distinction here) would be interested in running for hours. Now you are that person. You’re actually pleased when you look at the handy dandy GPS watch to find you’ve been running for 2 hours because it means you’re about half way through. And I suspect that it’ll be even longer than that for the race itself. I never liked to go that long without a decent meal before I started running (well, unless I was asleep—about the only thing in my world to trump eating). Now I’m out there food-less, unless you count the weird things runners nosh, for hours and hours and hours at a time, voluntarily even.
3. You find yourself referring to lengthy runs with the word “only” prefacing the mileage. When someone asks how far you’re running that day, the answer is “only 14 miles.” Yeah. There’s nothing “only” about 14 miles…ever. And if you think there is, you’re likely a marathoner or certifiable (although that is a bit of a redundancy). And in case anyone reading this cares, next weekend, I’m only running 14 miles. The following weekend, I’m only running 8 miles. It’s the weekend after that that things get impressive: a mere 26.2!
So I’m officially in the home stretch and get to start my taper. Hallelujah! I suspect the coaches would be unimpressed if I stretched out on the couch and just stayed there for the next three weeks (they are always telling us to stretch though!). Somehow I’m guessing that this is not what they mean by taper. Too bad because I could probably get addicted to some cool cooking or travel shows in that amount of time and I’m sure that minus the bed sores I’d develop, my body would be good and healed before the run after all that time on the couch. Good and healed, soft and out of shape—same difference. :-) Anyway, be thinking of me on October 19th. It’s time!