TOPIC: Pre-race Dress Rehearals
(Or, in this case.....Nothing Says "I Love You" Like 13 Miles!)
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I completed my first 12-miler. I was triumphant, knowing that I could actually finish 12 miles and knowing that I was establishing my base before my upcoming first-ever half-marathon, the Disney Princess , with a few weekends still to go. But this past weekend, Hubby surprised me with a really cool Valentine's Day gift: he would ride the entire 13.1 miles with me, as my final dress rehearsal before the
He often heads out with me on long runs, seated on his bike, playing the tunes, and giving me encouragement, but we usually have less distance and lots of other runners/bikers around us. This past weekend, we had lots of other runners/bikers, but a longer distance to cover(!). Now, Hubby, while he supports my enthusiastic love of running, is by no means ready to suit up in new kicks and hit the pavement anytime soon.. Not his cup of tea, he will tell you. :-) He does, however, like to ride his bike, *just*not*for*13.1*miles! But he did. Bless his sweet husband heart....he did!
And the Pre-race Dress Rehearsal was underway.......
We ventured out to another section of Orlando's Urban Trail Project. Who knew we had such awesome trails in our part of the world?? Apparently, lots of people other than the Turtle Runner and Mr. Turtle Runner. But guess what? The Turtle Runner is now a TRAIL runner, too! With temps in the low 30s and wind chill making it even colder, we suited up with layers, lots of water, Gatorade*, and sustenance*.
I had anxiety. Won't lie. Won't sugar-coat it. 13 miles, no matter how you slice it, is a LOT of distance and time for a newbie runner who is slow, has bad knees, and periodic blood sugar crashes. To say the least, I*was*filled*with*anxiety. BUT was excited to be on the trail and feeling prepared. Somewhat. BONUS. :-) And with Hubby by my side for The Full Monty (not literally, for those who know about TFM!)... DOUBLE BONUS.
We arrived at the segment of the trail we decided to explore this day. We parked, saw lots of other cars, mostly with bike racks, took the necessary RR break, tightened, fastened, and secured anything remaining, and headed out. The trail was beautiful - lots of scenery, smooth paved routes, friendly fellow runners, walkers, and bikers, and..... hills. HILLS???? Are you kidding me?? I was not ready for hills! Though (mostly) small, they wreaked havoc on my old injured knees, so my mile pace was slowed by as much as a full minute. This sign, which turned up frequently, kept reminding me of where I was to be!
(I look really chunky with all these layers, but hey, I was w-a-r-m!)
Hubby reminded me in mile 7 as we climbed yet another (little) hill, "Sweetie, Disney will be flat. That race won't have anything on you after today's run!" (Thank you, darling. This is why I love you!)... Then, in mile 12, the conversation went more like this, as we approached the final hill of the day:
Hubby: Are you okay?
Me: Yep. I'm fabulous (thumbs in air, a little sarcasm detected).
Hubby: You're almost there, babe. You're looking good!
Me: Okay, if you say so.....
I paused for this picture and smiled to cover my distress as we rounded this corner and headed down the hill (which is actually more painful on my knees than the uphill battle!). By this time, I had not only stripped off layers, but added the lightweight blue LS back on... the wind was kicking!
Lessons Learned:Friends, fellow newbie runners, I won't lie to you. The half mary on March 7th is going to be a tough day for me. THIS was a tough day for me.
*Dealing with aches/pains:The first 2 miles, my legs were the usual heavy and lethargic. Miles 3 - 5 felt pretty good. The rest of the distance is a conversation with myself each week ... some parts are good. Others not-so-good. Knees, feet, calves, and achilles tendons hurt on this day. My glute, hamstring, piriformis "issue" continues to be a problem. I can literally push into my right cheek muscle when I'm running and pinpoint the pain as well as feel the clicking in the ball/socket/joint. My back starts to hurt in mile 9 or so... the low back and the flanks - posture muscles, I suppose. Have to focus on keeping the shoulders dropped, so the neck and shoulders don't tighten up. This requires mindfulness while running.
*A pre-run tactic that seems to help a little with aches/pains:Taking one Ibuprofen about 30 minutes before the run and coating my 'fragile' spots (knees, back, etc..) with Biofreeze as I'm getting dressed to run, seems to keep the pains at bay a little longer...
*To jam or not to jam... that is the question: I didn't wear my ipod again on this run, but did suit up with it - to practice placement (under sportsbra/tops, up through back of my shirt, earbuds on shoulders). This was my dress rehearsal, and I
But for training:
Need to listen to the body... and respond/adjust accordingly.
*Pacing:I've gotten pretty adept at knowing my pace. This is good. I'm not a Garmin owner yet. Still preferring old-school and wanting to train myself to KNOW. This final dress rehearsal was very successful in this way. I was able to gauge my pace within 10 seconds in nearly every mile, and speed up or slow down accordingly. Huge improvement in just four... short... months.
*Hydration/Carbs/Electrolytes/Salt:Made some changes to my water/carb intake during this dress rehearsal. On all of my previous long runs (after I hit the 5-mile mark, which means one hour or longer running), I began adding Gatorade to my water for carb/salt replacement. However, because I'm diabetic and didn't want to drive my sugar level up too fast, I was mixing with G2 , which is the low calorie version of its older brother. This weekend, however, I figured out that the original version of Gatorade was a better choice, providing me more energy than the G2, while not compromising my blood sugar level (too much). Success! I also decided I can carry full-strength Gatorade in my (smaller) water bottle and chase it with H2O at the water stops along the route, alleviating the larger bottle that I usually rely on, which I detest carrying, but always do.
*Eating on the Run:Since I'm a cereal eater, and was told milk is NOT a good choice before a long run (which is a real bummer, because I LOVE milk), I had to adjust my long run morning meal each week to accommodate the run (no milk and more substance). I've experimented with a few different things, and have discovered what seems to work best for me: a small egg/cheese sandwich: a mini whole-wheat bagel (toasted) with one fried egg (mostly white, almost all yolk removed, nonstick pan -no oil or butter) and a slice of 2% American cheese. I dab about 1/8 of a TSPN of Grey Poupon spicy mustard on the bread for flavor. This seems to give me longer, sustained energy than just the toasted mini-bagel w/ a 1/4 TSPN of PB on it. I started this pre-run meal about 3 weeks ago, when I got to the 12-mile mark. I noticed a difference that same day. I also carry a mini-bagel cut into halves, with a scant amount of PB that I can eat while running. At the one-hour marks, I either nibble on the mini-bagel or eat a couple of Luna Moons (runners' gummy bears/low sugar/easy to digest). And always postrace: chocoloate milk within the first 30 minutes, to replenish the carbs.
*Stylin':This dress rehearsal wasn't really good for final race day clothing selections, since it was ridiculously cold again, and I'm *hoping* it will be a bit warmer (in the 60s??) the day of the race, eliminating the need for 3 layers(!). In spite of the required multiple layers (most of which I stripped away), I did confirm four things: (1) zippered pockets on tops or bottoms are very helpful (not the teeny ones that hold only one key, but the kind that are large enough to stash 1/2 a mini bagel!), (2) don't forget the flip-flops or other comfy shoes for postrace
Two things I know for sure: (1) I will be wearing my padded Thorlo socks (as mentioned last week) and (2) I will have my customized race day shirt - as usual - complete with blog name on the back and a fun message on the front, made by Mother Falcon , an uber-cool t-shirt shop right here in the Turtle's town. :-)
Well, I survived my final long(est) run, The Dress Rehearsal, before the upcoming half; three hours and five minutes later, I cheered as I crossed the "finish line" and said aloud, "And the crowd goes wild!"
Because at that moment.... I felt like a winner!
Hubby laughed at me, as did the guy on the bike who flew by just then, and the cars passing by, I'm pretty sure. But no matter. I did it. And the crowd inside my head cheered.....! :-)
A short time later, we packed up the car and headed to lunch (STARVING!!), and then home for showers and naps (exhausted). I was still very sore on Monday, but feeling better today.
I believe a dress rehearsal run should be a part of the pre-race training schedule, especially for newbie runners or if you're running a new distance, location, or time of year. Being able to replicate (or anticipate) the race day as closely as possible must somehow mentally prepare a runner for the real deal. I'm glad we tackled the miles and grateful that Hubby was willing to spend Valentine's Day with me, plodding away at all 13.1 miles! (Thanks, Hon! Much better than chocolates!!)
Nothing says "I love you" like 13.1 miles!
The next two weekends will be taper runs: 10 and then 5. Thank goodness, because I could NOT run 13 every weekend(!)..... at least, not yet! :-)
OTHER RANDOM STUFF: We discovered a great little running shop while we were on the trail (in a nearby town)... will write about it soon for the local Turtles blog readers who asked about local resources... I think you'll like this one!
Also: Does anyone love perusing the upcoming races in RW, and maybe choosing one or two to travel to and do?? Does anyone plan their vacation around upcoming races in other places?
Happy running, friends....