Without further ado, here’s my recap of Weeks 6-9!
Week 6: This was a brutal 10 mile run. When I started running, the temperature was 91 degrees. The course on which I ran wasn’t shady and I didn’t carry water because I’m trying to see if I can make it through without using a water belt since it does add a bit of weight. I hydrated well before I headed out, but I learned the hard way that one’s body needs consistent re-hydration in temperatures like that. Making matters worse was the fact that I split up the run unevenly and thought that it would be a great idea to run 6.2 miles with no water.
By the time I got to my car, I was exhausted, dehydrated, and pouring sweat. The last 2.8 miles were a tough slog, but as I ran, I was motivated by thoughts about my first 18 miler last summer which took place on the same area of the Towpath on which I was presently running. I remembered how proud I was for persevering through that tough run and I told myself that pushing through would feel great, and I was proud that I did. I finished the run in 1:31:27, making for a 9:09 minute\mile pace.
Week 7: My usual long run day took place when we were celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary at Ravenwood Castle, so I rearranged my schedule yet again. Sheila had Ceramics II on the night that we returned, so I knocked out my 12 miler on Big Creek Parkway in the Cleveland Metroparks. Considering that I had eaten and drank whatever I wanted during the past three days before the run and spent the majority of the day driving back from southern Ohio, I was expecting the worst. To my delight, this turned out to be the best run of the cycle up to this point! My body sure loved the 70 degree temperatures and I cranked out 12 easy miles in 1:45:47 for an 8:49 minute\mile pace.
Aside from needing to sprint through a few big intersections in order to avoid getting caught by lights, I had a blast running on Big Creek Parkway. Some of the homes near the Parkway are gorgeous! Until God leads us elsewhere, we are committed to living within the city limits of Cleveland itself and using our tax dollars to support our great city, but the idea of having a trail ten steps away from one’s house is pretty tempting! Perhaps Cleveland should just build a scenic pathway or trail through our neighborhood…but I should count my blessings because the Rocky River Reservation is 5 minutes away. Some folks have to drive 20+ minutes to find a good trail!
Week 8: Since when did 13.1 miles become a training run distance? Even though I’ve been running for over 2 years, I never fail to find myself sitting back and marveling at the great progress that God has helped me accomplish. There was once a day when 1 mile was a terrifying distance and I felt like a conquering hero as I slogged across the bridge on West 14th Street towards my house on the day when I ran a mile from start to finish for the first time in over 10 years. If you had told me back then that I would be able to run 13 miles without stopping, I would have called you a liar and used the last bit of air in my lungs to laugh at you.
Anyhow, 13.1 miles is now just another long run on the training schedule, so I set out to conquer them on a slightly cool Sunday evening. For the most part, this run went pretty well. The first part of the course had multiple inclines, but I wound up pushing through them pretty easily. The middle of the run was very rough, but I found my racing legs after I stopped at my car to rehydrate and the electrolytes kicked in shortly thereafter.
Towards the end, I did a bit of mental math and realized that I was in danger of missing my goal pace of 9:00 min\mile, so I really let loose during the last mile. Unfortunately, I peaked a bit too early and I felt my spirit flagging a bit during the last quarter-mile. As I ran, I yelled out “Sub-4! Sub-4!” in order to motivate myself and remind me of my end goal. The folks picnicking next to the trail probably thought I was nuts, but oh well! I finished in 1:56:03, putting me at an 8:52 min\mile pace. I felt an unusual amount of soreness after the run, so I decided that it was high time for my first-ever ice bath.
Week 9: Now that I was finally back on track with my schedule, I was able to get in both of my midweek runs this week! Thank goodness Hal Higdon only had a “short” long run of 10 miles on tap for me, because our Sunday filled up pretty quickly with church, a graduation party, and our church’s annual business meeting. I squeezed my run in during the middle of the day because the idea of running outside at night and injuring myself on uneven pavement didn’t sound like a great way to head into the second half of my training cycle. When I headed out, the thermostat said that it was 83 degrees. However, the humidity was brutal and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky to shield me from the scorching sun! For some reason, my stomach didn’t respond too well to the water that I guzzled during my water break and the last 3 miles were pretty rough. I kept hoping that I’d have a surge of energy once the water kicked in, but that never happened. I finished the run in 1:25:17, giving me an 8:32 min\mile pace.
Compared to where I was last year at this time, I’m thrilled with how everything is going! Would I have loved to be able to get in every single long run? Of course. I’m not one to make excuses when it comes to training, and I’ll be the first to admit that I probably should have gotten up earlier to run during Week 2. Regarding Weeks 3 and 5, though, I’ll give myself a pass on that one. I just couldn’t justify missing the chance to see my grandfather while he was still conscious for the final time in order to get my run in and even if I was able to go for more than 2 minutes without blowing gallons of crap out of my nose there’s way I would have wanted to miss a moment of my grandfather’s calling hours or funeral in order to squeeze in a run. I doubt this will cost me in the long run, and if it does, I like to think that both of my wonderful grandfathers are cheering me on from Heaven and that they’ll reach down and give me a supernatural surge of energy if I find my spirit and legs flagging on race day.
How is your training going? The cooler temperatures in Northeast Ohio this summer may not have allowed for many days at the beach, but they sure have been a blessing to us runners!