20 Going on 22

When I look at the Blue Ridge Marathon elevation course, I feel lucky I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I don’t see how I would train for it if I lived in the flat lands!

I debated doing a 20 miles trail run for a while. But ultimately I realized it would end up being way harder than the marathon itself (at least the one I had in mind), and I need to keep my legs for the race. So my last really long run of the marathon training would be on road again. I decided to go up the same way I did my 20 miler but add an extra hill after it to simulate the Blue Ridge Marathon course. This is how it turned out:
The elevation gain isn’t as much, or as steep but I think it gives me a good feel on how I will feel on race day. Now I did not have 22 miles scheduled on my training plan, nor did I plan to run that long. I was thinking about running somewhere between 20 and 21 miles, especially since I had additional elevation. Well it turns out that the road mapmyrun was showing me going to Patton Mountain Rd was not one. Nope, it was a steep driveway, and it stopped. So I pretty much ran an insane uphill for nothing other than training purposes.

So I had to go around the mountain. Patton Mountain Rd played with me again. I was at a fork, to the left I could see a dirt road to the right a real road. Now mind you I was in a fancy million dollar residential area up the mountain so by logic I figured the dirt road was a driveway. Nope again. I ended up on town mountain road (not where I wanted to be) having to back track my steps and ask directions to a nice dude with a smartphone. Well that road was hard to find, but it was so worth it. It was gorgeous, lines with rhododendrons, pine trees and other trees and the dirt was a nice rest on my joints.

Because of the detour I rerouted my course and went straight to the next hill. Let me tell you. I walked! Not all of it, but I walked several sections. I’m glad for this run ultimately because it made me realize that in a marathon, there is a time for running and there is a time to walk and give a break to the legs. I plan to walk some parts of the marathon course with no shame.

Even with the detour my run turned out to be 22 miles. Am I glad I took extra water or what? I was pooped by the time I got home. As I started walking I could feel some painful cramps (or was it just the lactic acid build up) hitting my legs. I took just long enough to put some gatorade and ice cubes in a container and sipped it as I cooled off. I followed it by a cold leg bath and a recovery smoothie (banana, frozen blueberries, GU recovery powder, greek yogurt). And took the rest of the afternoon as an opportunity to sit on the deck and do absolutely nothing productive thank you very much.

Breakfast 2hours prior to running: sesame sprouted bagel, almond butter, banana, honey.

Run fueling: 1 GU Roctane, 1 handhelf waterbottle, 1 water amphipod, 1 Gu Brew amphipod

Stats: 22.05mi, 3h32’17”, 9:37 pace

Gear: Drymax trail socks, lululemon skirt, brooks shirt

20 Miles and Getting Lost Is Worth the View

When I commented for a chance to win an entry to the Blue Ridge Marathon. I though my chances were limited but I figured why not? When I received the email that I won an entry I thought “Shit! I’ve got to train!”.
I wanted to run the marathon. But I wasn’t sure I could. My longest run had been 15 miles and months ago and while I somewhat maintained half marathon level I also had to take some breaks and was actually in the middle of Christmas vacation, at home, in France, eating my weight in French food.

So I approached this a little differently than my half marathon. I didn’t tell as many people that I was training for it to start with. I also took the approach that I would train and see where it would take me. I have to say, the training has been going fairly well. Oh I’ve had unpleasant runs, don’t doubt that. But so far my body seems to handle it well.

My training called for one 20 miles run on week 4. However I spoke with a running friend who told me she followed the same plan and felt it would have been better with two 20 miles run. At that point I had limited options to add it, but it sounded sensible. So on week 5, I replaced the 13 miles run by a 20 miles run. My first ever.

I’ve also done most of my long runs on trails because it’s something I enjoy more and find more challenging. However the Blue Ridge Marathon is a road race. I knew I needed some long road runs to test my body and my gear. So I mapped a course going from West Asheville to downtown, then up the hills behind the Grove Park Inn going back by way of Montford. I packed gels, water, Gu Brew and directions and went my merry way.

It was a beautiful day and the run would have been a great run had I not gotten lost. Ok not lost lost, but unable to find the road I was supposed to take. Lesson learned: when exploring new routes, can’t hurt to drive them first! I had to call my husband for directions, like me he thought the road would be easy to find. It wasn’t. In the end he directed me a different way. While it got me back on the loop I did miss some of the elevation I was counting on. But I did have a beautiful view over downtown Asheville so I can’t regret it too much.

But overall it was a good run. So much easier than my 18 miles trail run. Less elevation changes helps! I did really wanted some cold water in the end. I almost stopped in fact, but with only 2-3 miles to go I just pushed it all the way back home. I surprised myself in finish in 3h 10mns 19s. One minute faster than I ran 18 miles.

Recovery included a smoothie with GU recovery, greek yogurt, frozen raspberries and a splash of juice. I realized it’s hard for me to eat solid food after a long run beyond 16 miles. I also plopped myself in a cold bath for lack of icy creek. Given that I still pulled an 8h shift at work after that I felt pretty happy with myself.

The Jelly Bean Virtual Race

When thing I love with blogging is following other runners, learning tips, sharing the joy of running. Some runners are great at organizing things, and as a runner you’ve got to love a good virtual race. Jess from Run With Jess is organizing her Jelly Bean race again this year. Want to join? All you need to do is run, have fun and share the joy.
Here is a little more about the race from Jess’s blog post:

What’s a virtual race?  A virtual race is running a specified distance (timed) without being present in the actual race location.
DATE:  Anytime during Easter week, April 1-8, 2012 (Sunday-to-Sunday)

LOCATION:  Pick your favorite local route or just hop on a treadmill.
EVENTS:  Choose the event that works best for your current fitness level.
– Run 5K (3.1 miles)
– Run 10K  (6.2 miles)
– Run Half-Marathon (13.1 miles)
– Bike 21K (13 miles)
You may participate in more than one event. Earn 1 point for each event completed.
RESULTS: Report your final race time(s) no later than Tuesday, April 10 at 12:00 noon CST. This is a fun race; no Garmin/treadmill photo required to verify your time.  No reason to cheat your time; prizes are all random.  Input your time on the spreadsheet or e-mail it to runwithjess@comcast.net.
Prizes will be randomly drawn using random.org. You may only win once. In the weeks leading up to the race, sponsors and prizes will be announced here, so stay tuned!!  Current sponsors include:  SparkleSkirts  •  Nuun  •  Tough Chik  •  Fitsok  •  Road ID  •  GU Energy   •  KnuckleLights
So let me recap: I get to run what I would be running anyway, sign up for a fun online race, get a chance at winning goodies and interact with other runners. Please sign me up. Oh wait I already did 🙂 Did you?

Tough 18

My training plan called for an 18 miler this week. Due to working 3rd shift I had to work thins around and make it happen this Wednesday. I’m working 3rd shift tonight, and the next night followed by a weird turn around. There is no way I could have run this on Saturday. I plan to sleep in and maybe to my tempo then.

I’ve been dreading this one a little bit. It sounded scary. 18 miles, really? Sure there is still 8 miles to go to get to marathon distance, but still.
I woke up at 10:30, had a bagel with almond butter and honey. Unfortunately I was out of bananas so I had a glass of chia seeds (aka frog eggs in my head) with a splash of lemon juice and agave syrup.
I started running around noon, it was already 68F outside.

Now let me say it now, I picked a tough run. I knew it, it was on purpose. After all the Blue Ridge Marathon is tough. Not only is it a marathon (duh!) but it’s hilly, as in you climb 1200 feet in the first 7 miles. Not only that but there is a 500 feet climb starting at mile 17 too. So I picked a loop called Squirrel Loop: 17 miles, 810f of elevation change (that does not show in any way how much uphill and downhill are involved) and rated 18 out of 20 on the difficulty level. Yes please, call me nuts right now. Should I also say that I’m on the first day of my cycle? (Women will understand that one).

So tough it was. The first 5 miles are a straight uphill on forest road with the 810f climb on forest road. Then it’s downhill for about 2 miles. The first 8 miles or so I had cramps/side stitches on both sides, I though it might be what I ate at first, but now I think it may have more to do with my cycle. Anyhow, either I tuned it off or it went away by Mile 8ish. I took a break, texted my husband that I was about halfway. I couldn’t bear the though to tun the first crazy uphill of Sidehill trail, so I walked it. I ran on the trail all the way to Bent Creek Rd, then back uphill on South Ridge Forest Rd. I can’t say this is my favorite. It shouldn’t be called South Ridge but the Southern Roller Coaster. Seriously that’s all it does for miles.

Past the Apex I started wanting to walk. I took a mini break at some point and could tell my legs were hurting. But I kept on going, I told myself to walk when I would reach the uphill of Hardtime connector. It took some willpower! I alternated water with GU Brew and GU Roctane throughout my run. But by the end of the run, maybe around mile 13 or 14, all I could think about was the cold Emergen-C water waiting in the car. I swear that water is the only reason I finish running!

I finally reach Hardtime FR and the blissful downhill. Of course I had to add a loop around the lake otherwise the run would have been short a mile. It was tough. I just wanted to be done. I did walk the steep uphill of Hardtime connector but then ran all the way back to the car where I texted my husband that I was done, I walked to the bathroom. I could still pee but not much, I knew I was borderline dehydrated. I grabbed my cool drink and then jogged/walked to the creek were I proceeded to cool off as much of my legs as I could without getting my clothes wet. Heaven!

Now long runs recoveries call for eating within the first 30mns. I couldn’t. Just the thought of swallowing food made me feel sick. So I drank. I seriously thought that I might feel sick from all the fluids I swallowed. It turns out that I needed that water bad enough that it caused not problem whatsoever.

Once home I had a ripe pear straight out of the fridge. It suddenly tasted like the best thing in the world: sweet,juicy and cold. I did manage to eat a mini luna bar and helped myself to an other glass of chia/lemon/agave to replenish by body and provide some proteins. My next recovery choice was to set myself up for a nap on the deck, bliss! Once I woke up I stretched with the foam roller and told my husband he was in charge of dinner.

And now I need to have dinner and work third shift. I wish I could go to bed instead!

Crummy Thirteen

I’ve been lucky enough so far to rarely get bad runs. I’ve had some tough ones from not fueling right, challenging ones and all, but rarely that feeling of just wanting to stop and get it over with.

Well Wednesday was not the case. The entire 13 miles I just wanted to walk. I felt sluggish and out of breath. It not like my body was having a hard time muscle wise but the motivation was not there. The cloudy sky was not helping my mood either,

Then on Friday I simply didn’t want to run. I just said forget it, skipped it and slept in since it was my day off from work.

Thankfully Saturday I was able to shake it off. I was still having a little harder time catching my breath but I made it through with a beautiful Georgia Sun. I need to post pictures from my run actually, it was quite nice and such a relief to know I wasn’t just burned out.

What do you do to get over a crummy run?

I May Be a Cheap Bar Date, But Not a Brunch One

I realized last year that drinking and running don’t always go that well together.
My running group often meets for a beer after a run. Last year I had lunch, met them at 6pm, ran 6 miles and ordered a beer. Mind you it wasn’t a Coor’s Light. We live in a beer town and micro-breweries abound with yummy treats that have a higher level of alcohol.
Thankfully for me I was on my bicycle, because trust me, one beer was enough. Yes, just one beer and I didn’t feel that driving a car would have been a good idea. I’m that much of a light weight those days. My husband’s friend think I’m lucky because it doesn’t take me much. I don’t because I’d rather know what I’m doing. So any alcohol intake has to come along with some food and pronto.

Between my job making me be home only after 11pm and running, I’ve really cut down on the alcohol. Oh I still get a cocktail from time to time, but I’ve learned to avoid drinking before a run and well right after. So that would make a cheap date, right?

Well drink wise sure, food wise, not so much. As an example, this is what I ordered for brunch after a 9 mile run. I ate pretty much all of it, only saving a little stuffed french toast for later. My husband at that point declared that I was not a cheap date when it came to brunch!

I’ve definitely noticed a difference in how much I can eat since I’ve started running thrice a week. I’m hungry, often and breakfast or brunch is pretty much my favorite meal.

Have you changed the way you eat or drink based on your running?

First 16 Miler

I should be sore today.Getting out of bed should have been hard, I shouldn’t have been able to work out and do lunges and squats. Yet I felt completely normal. I don’t get it, I ran 16 miles yesterday, aren’t you supposed to feel that?

Ok, sure I didn’t push it for those 16 miles. I knew it would be long so I aimed for an easy enough pace so that I would be able to carry on all the way. I guess it worked.

I made sure to get some carbs on Wednesday night and avoid too much soy or beans. On Friday I woke up at the normal night, ate a bagel with honey and almond butter, got ready and went. Truth be told I really wanted to stay in bed and sleep. But I knew it was a beautiful day and that I should just go for it. And beautiful it was. Sunny, temperatures in the mid 50’s when I started and the 60’s by the time I was done. It was absolutely perfect. I was not alone in that train of thought. Many people, mostly bikers were out on the trails.

I planned my route to include a section of trail I’m familiar with and one I’ve only done once. The first part was about 5-6 miles, following the usually Pine and Explorer loop. I tried to trick my body into thinking that was just the warm-up. Somehow it worked because it went by fast even though it took close to an hour. I was around a 10:00 pace and that was fine with me. I still had ground to cover with some good uphill. Then I hopped on Hardtime forest road, followed by the roller-coaster of South Ridge. I took a tiny break at the apex (actually running back to it because I missed it) to put a rock down on the cairn. Then it was downhill until Bent Creek Forest Rd. The fun wasn’t over yet, At that point I knew I had to follow the Forest Rd on a steep uphill and connect with Sidehill whose beginning can’t qualify as flat either. Last time I ran those I had to walk.

I’m proud to say I ran all the way. Even passed a biker. I made it back to the car in 2 hours 41mns and a few seconds. Averaging a 9:58 pace. Not so bad for a hilly 16 miles.

Fueling wise, last time I ran 14 miles I carried Gu Brew with me and got so sick of it by mile 11. At that point I wanted fresh water. So this time I skipped the brew, did water and took regular sips of a Gu gel and 1 cliff shot block. I think I had about 1/3 of the gel at 55mns, a sip at 1h20, another at 1h40 and one Cliff Shot Block at 2hours. Back at the car I had Emergen-C in water and forced myself to eat a Cliff Bar (Peanut Butter).