My training plan (which I'll share soon) called for 12 miles for this past weekend, which I decided to save for Sunday since I was signed up for a 5K on Saturday morning. In hindsight, I wish I'd bucked up and woken up extra-early to run nine miles before the 5K, called it a day and slept in on Sunday. But I wanted to use the 5K as a time trial of sorts to see if I could push the pace a little harder than the 9:30s I've been seeing since I've started training, which I assumed I wouldn't be able to do if I tacked on so many miles beforehand.
Spoiler alert: I couldn't. It was hot (shocker), my calves started hurting during my super-slow warm-up mile, and according to my watch, I hit the first two miles of the race in 9:09 and 9:15. But I wasn't hitting the tangents, as per usual, and stopping at both of its water stops ate into my time as well. There was also a rude little hill at the end of Mile 3, which my watch caught in 10:02. I finished in 29:44, 9:34 average pace. Not horrible by any means; I'm just disappointed that this race told me nothing.
Holy sweat, race photography can be so unforgiving. As a wise runner named Megan once said, "Gravity does no favors to runners, unless maybe you're an elite."
The rest of my Saturday was pretty busy and I didn't get to bed as early as I would have liked in preparation for Sunday's 12 miles. I woke up at 6 a.m., drank some iced coffee, water and Gatorade, ate a slice of toast with chocolate almond butter, grabbed my frozen water bottle and iPod, and off I went.
The long run in a nutshell: it sucked. It was already 81 degrees and humid when I started. I was tired, my stomach felt iffy, and by Mile 4, my headphones were so sweaty and slippery that I stuck them in a pocket and continued on in silence. I stopped more times during the next four miles than I'd care to admit, so at Mile 8, I stopped back at my apartment to regroup, switch out my sweaty clothes for dry ones and drink some more cold Gatorade. (I also stopped to check out the men's Olympic marathon results-- awesome 4th place finish for Meb Keflezighi, and disappointing to see that his fellow USA teammates Ryan Hall and Abdi Abdirahman dropped out less than halfway in. Ryan seemed so blasé about it in his initial interview, which I thought was lame. )
Anyway, when I got back outside, my stomach felt better and I managed to finish my last four miles faster than before, even though it felt about 10 times hotter. I averaged a 9:48 pace for the whole run-- still slightly slower than I'd like, but better than I expected to do from the beginning.
Mornings > Evenings
In the name of not bailing on any miles, I've been forced to do at least one run a week after work lately and I'm not enjoying it. When I run in the morning, I'm always more energized, refreshed and in better spirits when I get to work. When runs are pushed back to the evening, I find that it hangs over my head all day. "Ugh, it's going to be so hot out." "Ugh, the park trails are so crowded with non-runners and children at night." "Ugh, no matter what route I choose, this run is just going to suck." I've bailed on track twice already because I still feel like speedwork might be too much right now and because I haven't felt like jumping into my steamy car to drive there on Tuesdays. Tonight I just threw on my clothes and headed to the park to get my four miles over with. I hope I'll break this pattern before too long.
This weekend I've got 14 miles on tap and I'll be setting a 4:30 alarm to get my early miles done before the club runs five together on Saturday. Waking up before 6:00 twice in a row made me cranky last weekend and I don't think I can deal again so soon.
Other than sweating my face off, I can't really complain. Since sticking to the park trails and picking up my Stick (even if I forget to use it when I bring it to work), my calves have been feeling a lot better.
In other non-whiny news, I was featured on Fitness magazine's blog, "The Fit Stop," last week . Since I couldn't really say much about running this past summer, they were kind enough to let me talk about my goals, accomplishments and ice cream love. Tell me, do you also prefer morning runs to evenings? I even have a hard time with night runs in the winter. Even harder to get motivated when it's dark before dinnertime!