Martini Fridays: On Pins and Needles

Here’s the short version of my 12-mile run last Saturday: I didn’t die. So - hooray!

Given that it is a) June and b) I live ten miles from the Catskill Mountains, my choices for a super long route was to pick one that was either a) flat and sunny or b) hilly and shady. I picked option b because the day was looking like it was going to be a scorcher. After that, it was merely a matter of strapping on Herr Garmin, plus a water bottle belt, water, phone, a couple of Gu, and a tissue or two and skipping out the door. I miss runs that don’t require four extra pounds of stuff. If anyone is up for being my personal aid station, let’s talk.

After that, it was just a simple matter of the running for 2.5 hours. Up the hills, down the hills, and twice around a flock of Canada geese who did not like the look of me.

These geese did not like me.
These geese did not like me.

I burst into tears around mile 11 because a podcast about a song written about the space shuttle Columbia crash hit me in the “feels,” as the kids say. Apparently, I am that kind of geek. Plus, something about pushing through double-digit mileage in super-humid conditions makes me extra emotionally vulnerable. My brain must think that if I won’t just sit down already, despite how heavy its making my legs feel, it will make sure I can’t see well enough to keep going and will finally stop already.

But I prevailed, then spent the rest weekend doing as little as possible, which is as it should be. Also, my right leg was feeling a little off. Nothing awful, mind. Just kind of like things weren’t lined up quite right.

My preferred recovery position, which includes a corgi and Pro Compression socks.
My preferred recovery position, which includes a corgi and Pro Compression socks.

Monday was an easy recovery run, which was OK but never felt completely comfortable. I had first mile syndrome, where everything sucks just a little, the entire time. When I woke up on Tuesday, my right lower leg, which contains the calf that always bleats the loudest, had moved from generally grouchy to actively painful. I’d developed a little bit of a limp. So I called my acupuncturist friend Laura — you remember Laura — and she squeezed me in.

No, there isn't a bruise on my ankle. Just had to really bump up the contrast to see the needles.
No, there isn't a bruise on my ankle. Just had to really bump up the contrast to see the needles.

A quick disclaimer about the sticking of needles into one’s body: I find it incredibly helpful and I was a super-sized skeptic before I tried it a few years ago. It helps that the practitioner and I know each other well — so well, in fact, that Laura took my 12-year old to the Peruvian rainforest with her 12-year old — but I’d still do it even without that connection. Your mileage, of course, may vary. And that’s cool, too.

By Wednesday morning, the leg felt good enough to run on but not awesome. Still, five miles with the middle three at my race pace of 11:22 went well. On the weekend’s long run, I found a penny — and then had my dog steal the remainder of the Chomps that fell out of my pocket when I pulled out my phone for a picture.

Apparently, she needed some fast energy.
Apparently, she needed some fast energy.

The rest of the runs during the past few days have been more or less uneventful, with one exception.

This past Monday’s interval day, which was six two-minutes at 85 percent of my maximum effort with a one-minute recovery, with a mile warm-up/cool-down on either side, was, simply, terrible. So terrible, in fact that those two minute fast bits wound up being closer to 1:30, then one minute fast bits. Which made my Type-A soul shrivel and die a little.

It was humbling how crappy that run was. And it led to the doubts that always creep up when I’m this far into any training, where the race is still a few weeks off, taper hasn’t yet begun, and I’m at my most tired. Right now I’m fairly certain that my goal time of a 2:30 half is sheer craziness. I can maybe string together four 11:20ish miles — but to add 9 more? Inconceivable.

And, yes, that word does mean what I think it means.

However, I’m equally certain that a little rest would go a long way towards making me feel better about all kinds of things. Once I get past this weekend’s long run — which is 13 - 14 miles (!) with the last two miles at race pace (!!) — I’ll be all about the hard core relaxing, even though there will be a couple of short speed sessions scattered in.

Right now, I just need to push through Saturday’s killer workout. Any tips for getting through a daunting-but-achievable training day?

14 responses to “Martini Fridays: On Pins and Needles

  1. It’s looking beautiful here in Maine for the Old Port half marathon! I’m jealous that you get to run it — I was thinking about it but have some family conflicts that weekend. Good luck with the rest of your training!!

  2. Oh! And I got some great advice a month ago or so: rather than assigning each run a value (good, bad, hard, easy, etc.), focus on the face that they all are practice and time/miles on your feet, which inherently gives them positive value. Also, practice makes better, not perfect (as my childhood piano teacher always emphasized).

  3. Adrienne, I absolutely LOVE you! I look forward to your posts every week. You totally GET me and my oddball sense of humor, right down to the offhand Princess Bride references (only my FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME!!). Your posts typically verbalize everything I’ve experienced since I started running, from your pace to how long you’ve been running to your weight loss journey. Thanks so much for lifting me up weekly!

  4. Ugh…it cut off my post. after buttercup…for a few miles, then finish strong. Second, start working on some positive self talk now and visualizing yourself crossing the finish line on race day with me. 🙂 I find that the tough workouts are always bigger and harder in my head than they are in real life. Taper is coming! You’ve got this!!

  5. 2 things: chunk it up. Think warm up for a few miles, settle in for a few miles, suck it up (buttercup

  6. I do what Ellen suggests and when I have a long run in front of me (say, more than 10), I break it up in chunks and it turns out to be about 6 “sections. That really plays well with my mind. I think, “oh, I only have 3 sections left and then I’m done.”
    Also, a shout out to Kathy in MN. I am beginning to start my training for NYC. I like what you said, just look at what you are doing that day/week. Don’t worry about the next run. I will take that advice!

  7. How about loading up some new podcasts or music? I also agree with breaking this into 2 or 3 chunks of less daunting distances. Also how about the promise of some sort of treat after either food or maybe pedicure? Best of luck!

  8. I am also a big fan of The Princess Bride 🙂

    My tips, which you already know:
    Start early to beat the heat
    Hydrate and don’t forget to eat
    Concentrate on the distance not the time

    After our long cold winters, I enjoy running in the heat, but my times are slower. Every year. And every fall they are back where they should be.
    It’s good to have a time goal, but don’t be disappointed if you don’t achieve it. Think of this half as training for your fall half.
    Good luck!

  9. 1- LOVE Princess Bride, one of my favorites, and actually just had an exchange with a co-worker yesterday with exactly those words.
    2- trust in your training! May seem like a tired old chestnut, but is still kicking around for a reason. Mentally when I have a long run I break it into chunks. I’m just getting into my training for the Marine Corps Marathon and can not fathom running the distance at this point, but I know I will.
    Don’t overthink, it will be awesome (& my buddy Erica will pace you well!)

  10. When I’m that far in my training, I do my best to not look at more than the week ahead. Tuesday’s a 4, Wednesdays a 6, Friday a 3 and Saturday an 11. And that’s it. Next week’s mileage? Not even on the radar. All that matters is today’s run, and how it fits into today’s schedule. Do not think, just run. Trust the plan, that the plan is training you right. You’re only job is to follow the plan, you’re only job is to do the one thing that is in front of you.

    I find that helps me not focus on next week’s 11, the following week’s 12, etc. Or I’ll scare myself completely off.

  11. I hope you do not float away during this weekend’s long run. I’ve just put a fall half on my calendar so am working on training plans now. As far as bad runs, they happen. None of like them but we all – whether we admit it or not – have them.

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