Sunday, February 01, 2009

A 20 Mile Wake Up Call

Today was a gorgeous day for a twenty-mile run. The sun was shining, the winds were low and the temperature soared to a balmy 51 degrees. We haven't seen such a beautiful day in many, many weeks.

Too bad we did our 20 mile run yesterday.

22 degrees - Feels like 9 degrees.

This is what was staring back at me from my computer screen as I stood in my running gear, eating my toast with peanut butter and banana. No matter how many times I refreshed the page, the numbers didn't change. No matter how long I dawdled, the temps didn't budge. Finally, I sucked it up and headed out the door with J.

The past week started out well. Monday night after work, I went out for a 6.5 mile run and felt fantastic. I ran the entire thing with no walk breaks and kept a great pace (8:50mm) the whole time. My legs felt strong and I was totally motivated to keep it up.

I took off Tuesday and planned on another run on Wednesday night. But when Wednesday rolled in, so did the snow and freezing rain. Call me a baby, but I don't do anything in freezing rain. Especially, after I have to walk home from the train in it. And of course, instead of sucking it up and using the treadmill in my condo's gym, I just came home, hoping to make it up on Thursday.

But this is what my walk to work looked like on Thursday.


By the time I got home and the temps dropped, the slush turned to ice and made for pretty dangerous nighttime running conditions. I skipped out again. No gym either.

Friday, I cleaned the house and ran errands all day. Plus, I don't usually run before a 20 mile run since I like to keep my legs fresh.

Are we starting to see a pattern here?

Excuses, excuses, excuses...

So, that takes us back to Saturday. I was still feeling pretty confident, even with my lazy week. Although it was very cold and "blustery" as the newscasters and Winnie the Pooh like to call it, I didn't let myself think about it too much. Besides, I had just run a marathon two months ago and sort-of kept my mileage up. How bad could it be?

To make our normal 16 mile run a 20 miler, we had to run two miles out and back on the bike path towards Valley Forge. This stretch is pretty much all trails through the woods and made for an interesting start.

While it was absolutely beautiful with the snow in the woods, I didn't get to enjoy it too much since my eyes were fixed on the ground the entire time to make sure I didn't break my neck. We either used whatever footprints were already created into the icy snow, or we slowly skated across the frozen patches. I watched from behind as Jeremy rolled his ankle on more than one occasion and made the decision that this would be my last towpath run as long as there is ice and snow. P.S. Running up a steep, cobblestone path that is completely covered in ice is no fun whatsoever.

By the time we got back by our house at mile 4 to head out towards the Kelly Drive loop, we were exhausted. Jeremy checked his Garmin and informed me that we had completed the first 4 miles at a 11mm pace.

Wow. OK, I wasn't too worried about time anyway, just want to get in the mileage.

The sidewalks were a little better than the path. There were a lot of random patches of ice we had to look out for, but after the first four miles, they didn't seem as bad. But by the time we crossed the bridge in East Falls where I normally just start getting warmed up, my legs were feeling tight and I was ready to be done. I knew with 13 miles left, it was going to be a long morning.

I tried to block out the negative thoughts, but every step made me realize how my lack of training was killing me and my chances for a good race come March 21st.

To make matters worse, once we rounded the Art Museum, again we were hit with insane, splintering wind gusts blowing off the frozen river. They were so bad when they would hit that they slowed us down to a slow shuffle. I had to run almost an entire mile with my glove-covered hand to the side of my face to block the winds. I felt like my skull was going to crack in half from the pain.


I spent the rest of the miles wondering why I run in the first place. By the time we made it back to Manayunk I was spent. I shuffled back up the towpath grumbling obscenities the entire way. The top layer of ice that had made the path slick at the start of our run had turned into a muddy mess three hours later underneath the morning sun. Every painful, sloppy step covered me in more mud. With about 50 yards left to go, the chilling gusts picked up again as I held back frustrated tears. "Come ON!!!" I cried out loud, which was much better than the f-bomb I yelled out when the run was finally over.

So once again, here I am. After a week of training like a moron and blaming everything but myself, I'm vowing to do better next week. These last 20 miles were very sobering. Even though we ended up finishing the run at a 9:50mm pace, and I finished the mileage, jumping up from 16 last week, it was not the way I want to feel come marathon day. And more importantly, I don't want to get hurt again. I can't keep skipping out on my workouts during the week and just hope to get by on my long runs. If I have to go on the old, rickety treadmills in the gym after work, then I will.

I mean it this time people. I'm sick of being a whiny, little bitch every week with my training. Time to toughen up and do this.

Monday, 1/16 - 6.5/57:33 - 8:51 pace
Tuesday, 1/27 - off
Wednesday, 1/28 - off
Thursday, 1/29 - off
Friday, 1/30 - off
Saturday, 1/31 - 19.82/3:15:15 - 9:51 pace
Sunday, 2/1 - 30 min stationary bike/30 min elliptical/stretch

Total Weekly Mileage (8 days): 26.32 (RUN)


Sonia said...

Hey Laurel! Stop beating yourself up! You did really well this week. What a crazy 20 miler... I bet you're missing Miami just about now LOL

'I spent the rest of the miles wondering why I run in the first place'

Love this quote!! I didn't do a 20 miler but 4.5 miles on the dreadmill was enough for me.

Anonymous said...

That 20 miler would have been crappy even if you'd run this week. Cold/ice/wind slows down even the best runner.

At least when you come down here in March, there shouldn't be ice on the roads...

Good luck with better weather for your next long run.

Marcy said...

You're NOT being a whiny little bitch! I think of you guys (all you homies up here [North]) that are training and wonder HOW THE HECK you even manage in these conditions. After about 4 miles I AM DONE and I'm someone who has lived in this weather my whole life. You just moved up here from Miami! Cut yourself some slack chica ;-)

Marlene said...

Congratulations on getting it done! You did awesome, especially with the weather.

Progman2000 said...

I hear you about the weather sucking. And we are supposed to get snow again Tues/Wed - AHHHH. I run my mid-week long run on Wednesday and it looks like I may be on the 'mill again, sucks.

Way to go on gutting it out for that 20.

N.D. said...

Today WAS beautiful but it is nice to get it done on sat and rest on Sun! I love sleeping in on Sundays! Great job on the 20!!!

Unknown said...

It looks like a good week to me. Great job on getting the 20miler done.

FLYERS26 said...

You ran 20 miles in those conditions. Wait until the spring comes, and those runs will pay off.

Anonymous said...

Glad you guys made it through the 20. Doesn't sound like a fun run at all. Big congratulations on finishing it. I think most of us would have stopped with all those conditions.

Still be proud that you keep running and that you have the determination to do so. The winter is tough.

Abby said...

Ugh, this is how Valley Green has been all week, too.

Great job getting through the 20 miles, especially in those conditions.

By the way - I live in Mount Airy, just on the other side of Wissahickon Creek from you!

Heather said...

Running in all that ice and snow AND with the wind really sucks - way to get out there. Hope you have a better week of training this week!

Trophy Wife said...

I've been making excuses ALL winter about how I can't/shouldn't run, so don't beat yourself up too badly. Reading that you got out there in those conditions and finished a 20 miler made ME feel like a whiny little bitch for not getting out there in MUCH better conditions for a MUCH shorter distance. Thanks for the kick in the pants!

Aron said...

wow i cannot imagine running 20 miles in that weather, especially when you are used to florida!! first off AWESOME job for finishing up the miles... seriously, you know how many people would have stopped after those first 4 miles. like i always say these TOUGH runs are what gets us through those hard spots during the marathon. you did it, the miles are done, moving on to a new week where you are ready to train! keep it up girlie, you can do this! :)

X-Country2 said...

20 miles is 20 miles. Way to gut it out.

P.O.M. said...

I almost died with 13 miles, so you're way ahead of me - from a whiny little bitch :)

P.O.M. said...

PS: I think this is why fall marathons are best - training of the summer is easier/better.

SuperDave said...

I think you deserved to say the "f-bomb!"
Hey girlie you just ran 20 miles and that's damn good. I can't believe that you didn't scrap the run..
No wonder you didn't want to run earlier in the week. I don't blame you, I wouldn't either!
Dedication!!!!! you have it!

Unknown said...

If you can run 20 miles in those conditions you should fly in the spring. Awesome job.

Runner Leana said...

Ugh, sounds like brutal weather conditions! I seriously can't wait for spring to arrive... Good luck this week!

I still think your 20 miler was terrific in such awful conditions. I think you are still on track to have a good marathon!

joyRuN said...

After 20 miles in THAT $h*tfest, anything should be better!

Great great job on getting it done. I would've turned my butt around & gone home.

BeachRunner said...

Running 20 miles is awesome. And as far as I am concerned, NOT running in freezing rain is a sign of intelligence.

Christie said...

Well, I'm glad to hear that you made it through without breaking anything.

My Life said...

I am cringing for you. For all my talk of missing winter, I completely forget how miserable it can be. You are so NOT a whiner... you are a rockstar for even attempting a run like that! And for 4 days off... you'll do better this week. Your body/mind probably just needed a little break! Hugs- T

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