Happy April! Where is this year going? I'll tell you...it's going too fast!!
Last weekend I was out of town visiting family/friends in Columbus, Ohio. Knowing that I'm training for a marathon, I was of course going to be doing a long run out of town. Luckily it was a cutback week and I was scheduled for only 14 miles. Unfortunately I'm suffering more aches and pains due to my running. After last Wednesday nights run of 9 miles (which felt great and I ran in the city along the lake), my knee started feeling incredibly painful! I was already told that I need to submerge my entire left ankle/foot in a bucket of ice water (instead of just my usual icing). Since my right knee was acting extremely painful, I decided on Thursday night to just submerge my entire lower body in an ice bath.
I've been afraid of ice baths ever since I found out people do this crazy thing! I'm a hot hot hot shower kind of person! Even in the summer, I take hot showers. It has to be about 100 degrees for me to put cooler water on in the shower. So the thought of an ice bath seemed like complete torture. And during my marathon training last year, even though people swore by them, I never tried one. But with all the minor injuries I've been having this time around, I decided it was worth a shot. I got some tips from other "ice bathers" and decided to use them. I put on a bathing suit, turned music on real loud, put a towel around my shoulders, grabbed my phone and went in. And you know what?? It was complete torture! Glad to know my instincts were right! But I played on my phone and facebooked while I was shivering. I stayed in for 15 minutes and got out. I dried off, put on sweats and sat on the couch with a blanket for about 30 minutes trying to warm up. My legs and feet were numb and red! After the 30 minutes, I still needed to actually shower and took a hot shower (does this defeat the ice bath?). Even though I took a hot shower, my lower body actually never warmed back up for the rest of the night! Did it help? I'm not sure. I will be trying it again though.
Now to my weekend. I was going to be in Columbus, Ohio this past weekend. I still needed to do my long run of 14 miles. I was thinking I would just do it alone by myself. I was trying to look for trails that would be good to run on. Never running in Ohio (other than the Capital City Half Marathon in 2011), I had no knowledge of the trails. I have heard of people seeking out run groups when they travel for safety reasons and I thought I would try emailing a few and see what response I got.
I knew I could run it alone. I wasn't bothered to try to run it alone. I know that sometimes you will not have people to run with and you have to be comfortable running alone. But I actually got 3 responses to my emails about running with different run groups. The first one I received was the one that I liked the best. They were running along a popular trails (around 20 minutes from where I was staying). They had a few people that run 10:00-10:15 minute miles. He said they were going to be running 10 miles. They had water and gatorade placed every 1-2 miles. I thought this sounded perfect!
I decided that I was going to take them up on the offer of running with them. It's always nicer to run with people rather than running alone! I was a little nervous to meet up with them as you never really know what to expect. But I've met lots of new run friends this year and it's made it a little easier to run with people I don't know. Plus, what can it hurt? They were going to be running 10-10:15 min miles, right??? I could do that! Going into this day however, I changed my run plans. My knee was still really sore. I even bought a knee brace for it to help with some extra support. I had decided my cutback week was gong to be cut back even more, and I figured I would just do the 10 miles with the group. I need to try and help minimize further injuries if I want to make it to the marathon. Even though I know the importance of following a training schedule for the marathon and the importance of long runs, I also know the importance of rest for recovery. If you are injured, you won't be able to even run the marathon.
I get to my run group and everyone seemed pretty friendly. The coordinator said a few people had gotten there early to put in a couple extra miles. We waited for them to return. The group was really small and I guess there were many people that didn't show. (I since found out it's a small group anyway that was just started the spring before). The group's name is the Columbus Runners. As it neared 9:00 am (they start later than my normal groups), I thought it appeared I'd be running alone so I quickly went to my car and grabbed my headphones and phone so I could listen to music. Then I was told that these two people were my pace group. They looked really young but I think they were in their mid 20's.
Most of the trail was pretty nice, except for a few times we were running alongside the busy roads. The first few miles with my running partners seemed pretty good. They were running right about a 10 minute mile pace. Well, my running partners this day were rather new runners. They had only been running about a year and were training for their first half marathons. The guy was training for the Capital City Half (which I did the year before) and the girl was training for her first half in Germany, where she is from. I also found out near the middle of my 10 mile run that my partners were a little speedier than a 10 min mile pace. They run their week day runs at sub 9:00 pace. They are trying to take the long runs easy and slower (hence the 10 min pace they are supposed to run), but as I know with other runners, when you are used to running fast, you have a tendency to run a little faster at times.
This is what happened during my long run Saturday. The first few miles I noticed when they seemed to speed up, they would notice it and say they needed to slow up. But after the first 3 miles, they forgot. Me, being the new person, didn't want to hold anyone back from what they wanted to run. I also didn't want to be a weak link. I felt like the "older lady with bad knees" running next to these "kids"!! lol. I didn't want to slow up and show any weakness while running with them.
It turned out, the water placements were farther out than they were supposed to be...they should have gone out 5 miles but ended up being 6 miles. Ok, so now I knew I was running 12 instead of 10. Oh well, still a cut back from my 14 that was on my schedule. With 2.5 miles left, I decided to slow up from the group and run a little slower pace. I was tired and my knee was starting to bother me a little. I told them to go ahead. The 11th mile, I ran completely alone. I decided to run the 12th mile with the organizer who was a little behind me. I decided to do that because I was unsure of the route and didn't want to make a wrong turn! The organizer was a little slower of a runner. I decided it was ok to run with him and run the last mile slower as I had already done more miles than I anticipated that day.
After the 10 miles, my garmin beeped saying I was finished (liar!) and the "I won!" I always just set my garmin for a 10 min mile pace. The majority of the time lately though, I don't make that pace. I've been running about 10:20 min mile average. So when you don't make your goal pace, the garmin does nothing. It just says the run is finished. When you make your goal pace, the garmin will tell you "You Win!". So when I completed the first 10 miles and my garmin beeped saying I was "done"...it said "You Win!" I almost forgot my watch said that! lol. So this means that my first 10 miles were a sub 10:00 min mile. For a long run for me, it's a little fast. But secretly, I enjoyed knowing that I was able to run that pace for a 10 mile run.
My total average for the 12 miles ended up being a 10:03 pace. My average pace for the first 10 miles was a 9:57. In fact, this is how the miles stacked up:
Mile 1: 9:49 Mile 7: 10:16
Mile 2: 10:05 Mile 8: 10:00
Mile 3: 10:02 Mile 9: 10:02
Mile 4: 9:52 Mile 10: 10:09 (this is where I started running alone)
Mile 5: 9:41 Mile 11: 10:16
Mile 6: 9:39 (yeah...I felt this one!) Mile 12: 10:47 (this is the mile I ran with the organizer)
Overall, this was probably the fastest long run I've had in a long time. Even though most of the miles are right around 10:00 min mile pace, my marathon goal pace is around 10:18. That will put me at a 4:30 finish time. Without being negative, I almost don't think I will be able to accomplish that goal this time around. This training has been harder and right now I'm just trying to finish. I will be extremely disappointed if I don't beat my old time of 4:53, which is an 11:11 pace. And I actually would really like to come in under 4:45 at a minimum. I don't want to put too much pressure on myself though as you never know what will happen race day!