Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Longest Run

Wow, it's been a looong time since I posted here. I'd like to say that life got in the way, but it didn't. I was just feeling very lazy.

But the biggest news since last time...that'll have to wait.

The other big news, though, was my EIGHT mile run last week. It's the longest I have ever run and it wasn't as scary as I thought.

Normally I do my long runs on the weekend (when there is more time--and a lot more daylight), but last week the weather made the choice for me. It was absolutely beautiful during the week--sunny, low winds and it even got into the 60s! But, of course (Murphy's law...), the forecast called for 40s, rain and possible snow during the weekend. I adjusted my schedule for the week and made my long run happen last Thursday--the last nice day of the week.

I had mapped out my run during lunch and kept it up all day to visualize the run. A little weird, but it made me feel more prepared. I was even smart about my eating and had some afternoon oatmeal to get me revved up for the run. As soon as I got home, I got into my running clothes, filled my fanny pack water bottles and grabbed some Sharkies (more to come on those...).

A lot of people in Madison think of the bike path along Lake Monona as one of the most scenic views...and it is beautiful. The lake is clear and sparkly, you can see the Capital along most of the route and the other buildings around downtown are amazing. But (there has to be a but) I get this strange competitive vibe whenever I run the path. The path is a main area for runners which could breed that natural competitiveness. Also, I don't like the path because it isn't level--it slopes downward towards the lake and with my jacked-up knees that's not the best thing.

And that is my long story for why I chose to limit my time on the bike path.

I wasn't exactly sure what to expect out of this run. Like I said, I've never run this distance before. And, I wasn't expecting the best, either. I had gone for my first outdoor three mile run two days earlier and it was painful. Within the first mile, I wanted to walk so bad. I made myself power through, but it was definitely a struggle.

During the eight-miler, I started out on the same path I had followed Tuesday. When I hit the one mile mark (where I had wanted to die two days ago), I was feeling awesome and was nowhere near ready to stop and walk. It took awhile for me to get into my ideal pace--it was probably around mile 2 or 3 when I really hit my stride. Because I didn't have the Nike+ adaptor for Polly, I couldn't check in on my distance, which might've actually helped my run. I couldn't count down the miles until I was done--and I also couldn't start freaking out about how far I had gone.

Once I reached mile 4 or 5, I had a few Sharkies. In talking with other runners (or people who know runners), I had heard that miles 6 or 7 can be the hardest to run because that's when the wall usually comes up--hard. I haven't hit a wall while running since I was a sophomore in high school and racing in the 400 meters for track. It's such an awful feeling--struggling to put one foot in front of the other and all I wanted was to lay down and pass out. Since this 8-miler would possibly take me into the "wall" zone I made sure to eat a few Sharkies periodically once I passed the five mile mark.

My knees were not such a fan of the running once I got to mile 6. My right knee had been bothering me during my 3 mile run earlier in the week, so I brought a knee strap with me during this run--good move. I pushed it until somewhere around mile 7 or so and stopped to put the strap on. It helped the pain a little, but I probably should've put the band on earlier in the run. My knee just felt so sore, but I knew that I was getting close to the end. Unfortunately, I had chosen to include a huge hill right at the end of the run. It's a hill that I'm very familiar with--I had to walk up Observatory Hill every day for two years when I lived in the dorms during college. And I used to run up that hill at least once a week.

The final mile was perfect--flat and easy, and the stoplights were on my side. Even my music worked well--I have "Within a Mile of Home" by Flogging Mile on my playlist and it just happened to come on during the final mile of my run. It's the perfect song to give me a push at the very end.

I ended my run with a ginormous smile on my face. People were giving me some strange looks, probably because my face was bright red--it always gets super red when I run, as if I got a bad sunburn. I was a good half mile or so to walk home and my legs definitely needed it. I could feel that my IT bands were incredibly tight and my legs and hips were so sore. Not painful but I imagine this is how my knees will feel when I'm old. The walk home helped loosen things up and once home I did a long stretching session. I also had a half bag of ice for a post-run ice bath.

I was a bit of a pansy for my ice bath. The large chunks of solid ice scared me so I filled the tub with water that was less than freezing. Unfortunately, this meant that the ice melted pretty quickly and the water never got very cold.

Post-run day: I felt like an old lady. After sitting for more than 10 minutes, it was a struggle to stand up. I had to do a shuffle walk for the first few steps to get my hips and knees loosened up and then I could walk normally. Within two days, though, my legs felt like they were back to 90%. I could feel that I had done a good run, but it no longer felt like the longest run ever.

I'm enjoying this easy recovery week and hopefully it means that I'll have more time to write.


UPDATE: I can't believe I forgot about my time--guess that shows that I really am more focused on just finishing than how fast. But, I still like the numbers.

My goal for 8 miles: 1:30 (or 11:15/mile)
Drum roll, please...

Actual: 1:25:23 which is 10:40/mile. Woohoo! I'm faster than I think.


  1. Great job. Running eight is really getting it up there. Make sure you ice your knee. I have problems with mine and I even ice after a run when they feel fine.

  2. Thanks for the advice, David! I'll have to stock up on some ice bags.