A Tale of Two Long Runs

As I whined about in my last post, Sometimes It Snows, last weekend I was planning on racing the Old Fashioned 10 Miler so I traded in my regular Saturday morning run for a yoga class and watched the weather as the reports grew worse.  Sunday morning the race was cancelled.  The roads were bad and it was the right decision but it was frustrating to lose a long run that weekend.  To add to the anxiety, it looked like more snow was on the way for the coming weekend when I was planning to run the Hyannis Half Marathon.

I stressed over this for days.  It was a priority for me that I get at least 13 miles in so I had to run at some point over the weekend. They were changing the forecast for the storm every day and it was getting weaker but snow in Boston was still expected.  I even had a Twitter conversation with Pete Bouchard from the Channel 7 weather team – he was not helpful.  Eventually, they predicted that the Cape would probably only see rain but Boston could get 3-6” of snow.  Was I willing to travel to the Cape and back in bad conditions?

twitter with Pete
I love ya Pete but that was not the answer I was looking for.

For the last few days of the week I weighed my options:

  • Rest on Saturday and hope for the best on Sunday.
  • Run on Saturday when the weather was expected to be nice and bail on Sunday’s race.
  • Run on Saturday and make a last minute decision whether or not to race on Sunday morning.

Jared was planning to run 12-13 on Saturday so I mentally prepared to run this with him while still obsessing over the weather forecast every hour.  I continued this right up until Saturday morning, literally tying my sneakers while simultaneously watching the weather report.  I finally headed out the door but was two miles in before I was truly committed to the run.  Jared and I ran the river and I was feeling pretty good the first half but when we turned around at the Eliot Bridge, it was clear that we had been getting some help from a tailwind that was no longer our friend.  The next several miles were more difficult and I was struggling with some tight muscles there were becoming problematic.  We took a break to get some water, pound some Gu and stretch but quickly headed off to finish the run.  The wind was really getting to me and I couldn’t wait to get off the river but as soon as we did I was able to pick my pace back up to finish strong.  Jared has been forcing encouraging me to Heart Rate Train so we progressively slowed down the last mile to bring down our heart rates.  We ended up running just short of 13 miles.

When we got back I went on a mission to schedule a massage for that afternoon.  It was becoming more and more likely that there would be a race the next day and I would be running it.  I figured if I could get my legs flushed out and loosen up the glute muscles that were causing so many problems that morning it would be like hitting the reset button on my legs.  Wishful thinking maybe, but if it mentally made me feel more prepared it was worth a shot.  Thankfully, the Elements Massage in Burlington had an available time slot that afternoon.  I explained to the massage therapist, Derek, the predicament I was in (long run today, race tomorrow, hurty now) and he seemed confident that he could treat me.  I walked out feeling much better and ready for part two of the weekend’s adventures.

Sunday morning I woke up early to light rain and very mild temperatures.  My legs felt fine and I knew immediately that I would be racing.  I ate a quick breakfast, packed up what seemed to be all of my running clothes for every temperature, element or weather event and took Britt for a long walk before driving down to Hyannis.  The rain seemed to pick up a bit as I got further south but there was no turning back now.  I arrived with plenty of time for picking up my bib, browsing the expo, meeting up with some friends and stretching.  The Hyannis Expo always has great deals on winter gear that everyone’s trying to unload.  I ended up finding a great Saucony water resistant jacket.  It was super light and perfect for the race conditions.  I still hadn’t figured out what I was going to wear so I headed back to my car to make a final decision.  It was wet, raw and felt cold but it was over 40 degrees and I knew from experience that once I started moving I was going to heat up quickly.  I opted to wear capri pants, a short sleeve shirt and the new jacket.  I swapped my shoes and socks for the dry sets I had ready and grabbed my RaceMenu hat.  There were a lot of RaceMenu hats on the course because 1) it’s a great hat and 2) everyone loves Alain Ferry.

The start was so packed it was tough to move up to the right pace spot and everyone was trying to avoid the foot of puddled water on each side of the road.  The inevitable winter ‘Puddle Foot’ sucks to get during a run but starting a run with Puddle Foot is way worse and that’s what I got trying to squeeze up closer to the front.  Finally the gun went off and I started with a relaxed pace to warm up.  My Half Marathon plan is always based on a 3-7-3 strategy.  3 mile relaxed slowly increasing toward goal pace/ 7 miles at a steady goal pace/ 3 miles of stepping on the gas and passing as many people as I can.  I opted to set my goal pace at 8:30 taking into consideration the following factors:

  • I’m in decent shape right now
  • The weather sucks
  • I already ran close to 13 miles at an 8:40 pace the day before
  • This is a fast course that I want to take advantage of

The first few miles went by quickly and seemed to thin out by mile 3.  Right around then we hit an enormous “puddle” about a foot and half deep that took up the entire road (are there size restrictions for what we can call a puddle?).  Most people ran up to the grass to go around it but some crazies ran right through it.  I was still averaging around 8:40’s but started to speed up the next couple of miles.  By half way I was close to the 8:30 goal.  I took a Gu at the next water stop and got ready for a second half.  Around the 8 mile mark my Garmin watch beeped that I had completed a lap.  It showed me my pace for that mile was 8:52 (tough one) but when I went to check the average pace all it could give me was the time.  The watch was too wet to change the screen and after a few minutes of desperately trying to get it to cooperate, I resolved that I was on my own for the last 5 miles.

totally stolen photo from Capstone Photo
Avoiding the giant mile 3 puddle in my sweet new Saucony Jacket and RaceMenu hat. – Please forgive me Capstone Photo

The mile markers were difficult to see on the road but I wanted to stay as steady as possible for the next couple of miles.  At mile 10 I would cut loose and go for it.  Now, who knows how reliable my watch splits are but they list the last three miles as my fastest which is ideal.  The watch also says I ran 14 miles and then traveled another 16 so I suppose I can’t put too much faith in that data.  The last half mile we turned a corner and the wind started whipping at my face, the rain seemed to be coming down even harder and I found this perfect gem on my ipod:

I crossed the finish line in 1:51:37 averaging an 8:31 pace and soaked to the bone.

A couple of days post-race I’m really sore.  I can’t say I recommend cramming two long runs in one weekend but it was worth it to race on Sunday.  The course is one of my favorites and holds a special place in my heart since it was the first half marathon I completed back in 2003.  I have to acknowledge the race organizers, volunteers and spectators (I can’t believe there were spectators!) for sacrificing a Sunday to stand out in the rain for the runners.   Running in the rain is unpleasant but it can’t possibly be worse than standing still in the rain.  The support was incredible and definitely appreciated.

Resting in viparita karani and admiring my well earned finishers medal
Resting in viparita karani and admiring my well earned finishers medal

Our group had a good day.  Everyone crossed the finish line and Nick had an especially impressive race considering it was his first half marathon.  My friend, former teammate and favorite LuluLemon personal shopper Kate Weiler pulled off a PR and placed 2nd in W 30-39 Age Group!

February is almost over and hopefully March will do its Lion/ Lamb routine giving us some relief in the next few weeks.   I’m counting on a dry mild day this coming weekend for my longest run so far this season – 16 miles.  Not long after that is my next race, the New Bedford Half on St. Patrick’s Day.  I am committed to only running one long run that weekend and maybe the luck of the Irish will send us some great weather!

Team Soggy Post Race: Me, Nick Gianitsis, John Gianitsis, Brian Yoon and Stacey Kinnier
Team Soggy Post Race: Me, Nick Gianitsis, John Gianitsis, Brian Yoon and Stacey Kinnier

2 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Long Runs”

  1. Just read your blog for the first time. I was looking up Eric Hajer and found the link to your site. I also did Eric’s Spintread class at Super Fitness in Watertown with Maria Stefanopolis and ??? Chestney. Do you remember them?

    I ran a lot in Boston from 1997 to 2006 ; Eric was a great inspirer of many of us to go for our dreams. Was great to remember those times.

    Keep on Running,
    Deborah Koehler

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s