Due to icy conditions, our coach changed the time & location of our long weekend run. We normally meet at 8 am, but today's workout was scheduled for 7 am, which meant having to get up at 5-ish am, in order to be ready in time to meet our carpool group by 6:10 am. :)
(Reason for the early rising/meeting times: The location is a bit more of a trek for some of us, & we'd also been told that parking spaces were going to be limited on this particular trail. Plus, I'm not a coffee drinker & even so, try as I might, I'm not exactly known for being fast-moving in the morning. And so, extra time needs to be allotted for the process of waking up. ;-) Also, that rate of motion slows down considerably the less number of hours I sleep. :) )
Of course, anytime I know I have to get up extra early (especially on a weekend), I keep thinking, "Ohhhh, I have GOT to get up on time," which of course means that I won't be able to fall asleep right away, because I'm too busy thinking about trying to fall asleep. :)
So not surprisingly, I couldn't bring myself to fall asleep until about 2 am. To allow for a few extra minutes of sleep, I ended up changing the alarm time to 5:20 am instead. ;-) Had I actually gotten up on time, that would've meant only getting about 3-3.3 hours sleep. Ugh. Thankfully, or perhaps not so thankfully, my alarm failed to go off at the appointed hour & I didn't get out of bed until about a few minutes before 6 am. So make that almost 4 hours of sleep. :) While I was thankful for the extra sleep, all the same, I think I set a record-time for getting dressed, eating breakfast, & scraping the ice off my car. :)
After getting out the door, I immediately called the lady who was organizing the carpool to let her know I was on my way & she kindly told me not to worry, as the previous person had just arrived & so, they hadn't left yet. Thankfully, we were meeting practically around the corner from where I lived, so I was only a few minutes late.
We spoke on the phone as I drove. As I'd prematurely taken a wrong turn (there were two very similarly-named complexes within close proximity of each other!), she guided me to the correct location & told me where to look for their car in the parking lot. She was very good-humored for 6-something in the morning, & as we piled into the car, she jokingly thanked me for providing a bit of early AM comic relief for the group. :) Hehehe, always happy to oblige. Apparently the site of my still very icy car & the running commentary on the mobile phone had a few people laughing while they freezing their chatkes off in the parking lot. :)
Happily, we made it to the running location with plenty of time to spare.
Anyhow, enough prefacing & onto the run: Today was supposed to be our long slow run. For the 9:15 pace group, that meant we were supposed to run 11 minute miles. (As it turned out, our pace group ended up running closer to 10:30 minute miles for several of those miles.)
When we all gathered at our running location at 7 am this morning, the coach told us we should change today's scheduled 12 miles to 10. Given the fact that our Tuesday track workout had been cancelled (I still have yet to make up that track workout on my own but will probably do that tomorrow) & I'd only done one other run this week , I was more than happy to run that distance at a nice easy pace today. :)
Today's temperatures were supposed to be fairly cold -- the night before, the predicted temperature was around 18 degrees, but it was supposed to feel more like 6 degrees after factoring in wind chill. The nice thing was that, in reality, it didn't end up being quite that cold or windy, & only felt a bit chilly in the beginning. After today's run, one person told me that, factoring in windchill, it had been closer to 10 degrees, but thankfully the sun came out & shone rather brightly, which also helped to warm things up considerably! :) I started out wearing three top layers, a balaclava, hat, neck gaitor, & double-layer mittens, but it wasn't long before the outer jacket, hat, & mittens had been removed & the neck gaiter lowered.
I felt pretty good for most of the run, but at about the 7 or 8 mile mark felt a bit of tenderness in one of my knees. This was very odd, because I can typically cover the mileage with no problem whatsoever & also at a much faster pace.
However, looking back on the situation & analyzing it now, I think I know why this happened: This feeling first started on Thursday after the hour-long treadmill run. Treadmills sometimes tend to aggravate my knees due to their unnatural propulsion motion. Also, my pre-treadmill warm-up was probably also too brief, & it probably didn't help that, previous to Thursday night's treadmill workout, I hadn't run since the previous Saturday. That's 5 days of no running in between. Oops. Lesson learned. One things for sure, I won't be postponing my track workouts ever again, not if I can help it! Usually, our track workouts are done in a structured group setting, (i.e., around an actual track - LOL), but there's still no excuse! It's really critical to get in all of the workouts with the proper spacing in between each one!
Anyhow, back to the run: In order to compensate for the knee tenderness, I slowed down somewhat but kept going with the group. Thankfully, there was another lady there who seemed to also be happy to slow down a bit (i.e., she'd told me she'd been dealing with a recurring ITB injury ), & so we ran together for the remainder of the run. We weren't that far behind the main group (only a few paces), & managed to catch up with them on the last mile or so.
About midway through the run, a pal of mine announced she was going to do was going to do an additional 2 miles at the end, so she could get in the 12 miles which were originally slated on the schedule. I'd originally planned to join her, but due to the knee issues which'd cropped up a bit later in the run, I wisely changed my mind & decided to forgo that option by the time 10 miles rolled around. :)
As many of you probably already know, one of the best ways to forgo injury is to back off as soon as you feel an unusual amount of tenderness &/or pain in your knees or other parts of your body that could potentially impact your stride. This is not about giving up or wimping out; it's about being smart. After all, even elite runners will stop if something's seriously not feeling right.
When your body is trying to tell you something, it's very important to listen! Otherwise, you will usually end up paying the piper!
Frankly, it's times like these where experience really helps a great deal: People who've "been there, done that," are often more likely to recognize the initial signs faster & will tend to listen to their bodies more readily when they're trying to communicate. ;-) This accumulated "body wisdom" is really important; & the only way to truly & deeply understand that is to go through the process & experience it for yourself. :)
I'm not saying you have to get injured or ill to find out, but once you feel what it's like to approach the threshold & are "teetering upon the precipice," you've got a decision to make. And hopefully, over time, you'll get better at learning from those choices, both good & bad.
Also, most seasoned runners realize it's about taking the long-range view & being able to run for years to come. This is one sport in which it doesn't pay to be stubborn or short-sighted. :) Of course, no one else but you can tell you when you need to stop or keep going, but if you pay careful attention to your body's signs, you'll know the answer. )
Also on this note, I made some additional observations that'll really help the next long distance run go a bit more smoothly: Even though the other people in the group had barely touched their water bottles, the dry cold made me really thirsty today: I drank 3 10 oz bottles by the 7-mile marker! (This also could've been caused in part from the salt in last night's homemade soup! I didn't really think it tasted all that salty, but apparently it was enough to cancel out the effect of hydrating with 3 bottles of water the night before. ;-) )
For some reason, (maybe it was due to lack of sleep!), I thought I'd drunk all 4 bottles, & so was feeling a bit thirsty/dehydrated on the last 3 miles. That probably also accounted for part of the reason why I'd slowed down a bit too. :) (Of course, I only found this out until after the run was finished, shaking my head upon realizing there'd been a whole other full bottle! Oh well.
Peeling off layers & tying them around one's waist usually obscures easy access to the water bottles on one's hydration belt. Plus, when you're getting tired towards the end, accessing the bottles in the back can be a bit more of a challenge. Sometimes that means slowing down to readjust, but since I was a few steps behind the pace group already, I didn't want to fall back any more than was absolutely necessary. :)
On this note, it's really important for training purposes to stick with your pace group. Plus, during those last few miles, it becomes even more crucial to conserve energy, & so yelling out to have the group wait up for you when you are tired & cold can sometimes be even more challenging than just sucking it up & being thirsty for a few final miles. :)
All in all, despite the knee soreness & end-of-run thirstiness, today's run felt fairly good on the whole.
Also, I met a lot of very nice, "new" people today, especially since today was the first day of running with the new pace group. (As mentioned in a previous post, the coach had moved me from 10:30 to 9:15, since I'd gotten a lot faster between the time I'd first registered for & then actually began the running clinic. There was almost a month's gap of time in between, so the race data given to him at the time of registration was by now seriously outdated.)
The reason I'm just getting around to writing this post is that, I just woke up not too long ago after napping from 11 am until 4 pm. Didn't mean to close my eyes, but they closed anyhow while relaxing & watching TV. :)
If you'd have run 10 miles on less than 3.3 hours of sleep today, there's a good chance you might have snoozed too. :)