Monday, March 24, 2014

Long runs or "Why is there always a headwind?!"

I have to admit something here... If you asked me in person, I was honest, but I tried to hide my true fear on this blog for some reason... but I was not 100% sure I was going to be able to handle the marathon this year.  I think I mentioned that training felt particularly hard these past few months.  I didn't start out as ready as I wanted, I fell and hit my head on my first run (that later resulted in whiplash and PT), it snowed every minute of every day this year, and I just had a lot of trouble feeling like I had time.  I had to alter my training schedule a few times and I was getting pretty worried about my long runs.  Even a three miler I did last week felt tough.  My 18 miler this weekend really made me feel a lot better!

First of all, the weather was beautiful on Saturday, just a little windy (and some rain, but we'll get to that).  I have a loop that's just over five miles through Woburn and Winchester.  Somehow no matter which direction I was facing, there was a head wind.  It wasn't constant, but wow, it was strong! 

I decided to stop worrying so much about my speed.  I know it's not going to be what I hoped, but I was never going to win.  I just want to finish.  Any finishing time will be a PR for me since it will be my first completed marathon.  I want to enjoy it.  I decided to take the advice I got from a random gentleman in the lobby of the Stoneham Theater last year, "Walk before you think you need to.  When you feel the best, take it easy".  I decided that I would drink water at every "water stop" and maybe take a little walk every couple of miles. Just for a minute or so unless I really needed it before or for longer.  For my first "water stop", I picked a water bottle from my belt to find that I had only filled the two Gatorade bottles, not the water.  Of course.  I knew I was going to run by a park and I was pretty sure there was a water fountain, so I decided just to fill them up.  And it wasn't on.  Of course.

 I was feeling way to good to let it stop me.  I stopped in Burger King and filled up my water at the soda machine.

I took my walking breaks, ate my Clif Blocks, enjoyed the sun, and then around mile 8, it started to rain.  It was still pretty warm and I was wearing a baseball hat, so no worries.   It rained until about mile 11 and as the clouds parted, "Here Comes the Sun" came on.  Well timed, iPod.

I felt great, I felt strong, I had very little chaffing, and most important, I felt like I could do it.  I used my Mindful Practice thinking and acknowledged any discomfort and pain and it really works. I mean, it doesn't go away, but I didn't dwell on it. 

One quick "review".  I made a quick visit to the lovely people over at Marathon Sports in Melrose to pick up some new socks.  For some reason, my toes just go right through them.  I keep my nails short, I always have someone help me get the right size and brand, but I always seem to end up with holes in the toes.  They recommended a Darn Tough pair.

I mean, look at the packaging
First, they're guaranteed for life.  Second, they are SO comfortable.  I know I've said hundreds of times that you should never try something new on a long run or on race day, but I was desperate.  I was pretty much out of socks.  They stayed put, they breathed, they wicked, and I had no blisters!  I'm sold.  And I recommend them!

Next week is my last bump up in mileage. It's 20.  I never got to 20 last year because of a poorly timed chest cold.  I'm ready this year.  Let's do it!