Sunday, December 19, 2010


Hooray!  I made it to the taper for the marathon!  There was a large part of me that was starting to wonder if I was ever going to make it to this point intact.  I'm very happy to say that I did..   and here's how it went.

Friday morning I went to sleep feeling really nervous about my last twenty mile run before the Disney.  With all the issues I've been having and how unhappy my hamstring was on Thursday after my fast five miler I was really dreading it.  So already I wasn't going into it with the best mental attitude....   so I was just hoping for the best.

Saturday morning I woke up and the Girl suggested that we run together for her 15 miler and then I go on and do the rest of my miles after that.  First of all I was kind of shocked that she offered as were still learning to run together on short runs and she's never offered to let me join her on something this long.  And second of all she knows there was no way I was going to give up "The Joy Sucker" for my long run.  Whats "The Joy Sucker"?  Its my Garmin 310xt running watch that lets me see pace, heart rate, cadence, distance etc.  The Girl hates it.  She much prefers to run freely without worrying about pace or any measurement other than time.  But she also grooves ten minute miles perfectly so she only has to look at her watch to see how far she's gone.  In fact its uncanny how well she grooves that EXACT pace.  Anyway...  I put the joy sucker into super stealthy I don't vibrate or beep mode so she wouldn't hear it and it looked like we were actually going to get to run together.  There were a couple of last minute protests and maybe this isn't such a good idea moments but then we were out the door and running together. 

The Girl however stuck her headphones in right away and cranked her music and left me to follow her pace quietly.  Which I did happily.  In fact there's a part of me that thinks the reason I survived the 20 miler feeling as good as I did was that she paced me to such a nice manageable easy pace.  Without her just in front of me its likely I may have gone out too fast and although I would have finished the run I wouldn't have been a lot more sore and beat up by it.  The truth is that I am NOT 100% right now so running slow and easy is what my body needs to continue to recover.  So the Girl keeping me at such a great pace kept me feeling strong.

My head was a bit all over the place on my run.  I was really doubting myself in the first few miles.  I wasn't sure if I would be strong enough to get the whole run in and how it would feel and if I would be able to do it.  I had readied myself the day before for any possibility that I would have to cut the run short.  I wanted to be mentally prepared to call it quits early to save my legs if need be.  But all that did was make me question my ability to cover that distance in the condition my legs were in.  So the short version of all that was that it was not my strongest long run.

The first few miles of the run were the hardest for me.  I was just playing head games with myself and worrying a lot and struggling to distract myself.  Then I remembered I had brought a camera to caputure some winter running pictures.  So I tried to look for fun things to snap a photo of like this.....
Incidentally the weather was perfect early winter running weather.  Temps in the low 30's and sunny and little to no wind.  The Girl and I ran a great route through Middletown and Newport that took us past the beaches and down past some lovely views that always distract me and make me smile.  Its really amazing to live this close to the ocean and be able to walk out your door and run past the beach.
The skies were really pretty yesterday as well and I lucked into some nice photos considering I was carrying a tiny little not so good camera with me.  As we ran past Second Beach we headed up towards Sachuest point and came across this large herd of deer in the tall grass and we stopped to watch them for a bit.

Then some of them stopped to watch us a bit.

And then the girl took this very dorky looking photo of me in my winter long run gear looking pretty foolish if I do say so myself.  But if you can't laugh at yourself then who can you laugh at.  What the hec are you supposed to do with your arms in photos anyway?

And then we were off and running again.  Literally.  Our route took us back in towards Newport and then out onto the Cliff walk.  I love running on the Cliff Walk.  Its a shame its not longer.

And for those not from Rhode Island you run in between the low railing and the high railing and its a trail that runs between the back yards of the Mansions of Newport and the Ocean itself.  Its really breathtaking on most days.  Its even better with company and its a favorite spot for the Girl and I to run together on.
There are some great views from the Cliff walk too like this one of First Beach
So at this point we are about ten miles into our run and grooving a ten minute pace nicely.  The Girl was headed for a 15 miler and I had 20 to do.  Her marathon is a few weeks after mine.  Which incidentally is "The Donna" in Jacksonville which is the race I was hoping to do with her but as my legs keep getting beat up I think I'm going to rest and not run for six weeks or so after the Disney and instead just go and cheer her on.  So...   at this point I've distracted myself nicely with taking photos and I'm even starting to enjoy the run.  So we start chatting about how we are going to finish our routes.  The nice thing about running on the island is that you get a feel for how long various routes are and you can head out on your long run and figure out your exact route as you go.  Which is what we were both doing at this point.  So we decided we would head towards the ocean drive and the Girl would turn back towards home at a point to get her 15 in and I would continue around the ocean drive to get my 20 in.  In the end we parted ways at just shy of 13 miles together and it was time to head out on my own.

Once out on my own I was curious what would happen to my pace.  I did speed up a little initially but not too much and I ended up grooving 9:30s for the next few miles.  I think miles 13-17 were the hardest for me.  I was by myself, out of distractions and I could start to feel my plantar fasciatis and hamstring start to flare up.  But they would come and go and I would do my best to relax them and focus on relaxing them when they would show up.  There were definitely some tough hills to climb (actually not tough on a normal day but with a hamstring you are trying to baby they were tough!) and I fought my way up them and kept going. 

The Ocean Drive portion of my run was definitely a good mental excercise and I worked really hard to keep steady and stay relaxed.  Eventually I finally made it to mile 18 when I started to get into downtown Newport.  At this point the end was in sight and I no longer doubted that I would get the 20 miler in.  Knowing that gave me a bit of a boost and a smile and I cranked through the last two miles.  Although I did stop to get this one pic of the Newport Bridge as I ran past it.
In the end I ran 20.6 miles at an average pace of 9:30s.  The first 12 miles were at a 9:55 average or so with the Girl and I picked up the pace a lot on the back half.  Looking at the splits the first 12 miles were solid tens or just under and then my pace went to 9:30s and then slowly got faster with the last two miles at 8:30s.  Not terribly quick or anything but always a good sign to negative split a long run and accelerate at the end.  So that was good.  However I'd rather my average for the whole run be at 8:30s with some faster bits at the end.  Oh well...  next time around on fresher legs maybe.

The good thing to focus on here though is that I've made it to the taper!!!  So now I just need to run easy and get my miles in and do everything I can to stay relaxed and let my legs heal up.  Then the Disney plan is to enjoy the 5K at the slowest pace I can manage, do the same for the half marathon, and then see what happens for the full marathon and do my best to enjoy it and get through it.  Hopefully my legs will be fresher than they feel now after the taper and I'll have a fun enjoyable weekend of lots of running at a nice relaxed pace.  But only time will tell.  Still it feels great to have made it to the end of another marathon training cycle.  It always feels great to make it to the taper!

Next up...

A technique session in the pool this afternoon with the Girl to work on form and get some tips to work on in my workouts going forwards while I'm away.

Oh and one more thing....   

An open letter to someone....

Dear Crazy Arm Swinging Runner Guy In Newport...

The Girl and I keep running past you on our long runs on the weekends and we always wave and say hello and you never wave back or even smile or nod your head or even acknowledge us.  This is despite us running within inches of each other so you have no excuse.  This letter is to serve as notice that we have given up on saying hello to you and will now start ignoring you right back.


Nick and The Girl

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