I love the fact that not many people can say 'Oh, I went out and ran 20 miles today.' I love how much dedication it takes and how much you learn a lot about yourself, your physical and mental limits. There's just something about it. - Shalane Flanagan
Last night was my last double digit run for IMWI training. As my plan prescribes running for time, I went out for my 105 minute run. As luck (a better term for bad planning) would have it, my Garmin was completely out of battery, so I really just ran for time. This morning I clicked away at mapmyrun and found I ran 11.8 miles, for just under a 9 min/mile pace.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m on the Endurance Nation bandwagon, but I will freely admit that long runs are one of the times I just ignore the prescribed workout and do the time at whatever relaxed pace feels right. I love long runs- they are probably my favorite part of this sport. I’d say the main reason is that they just make me feel badass. Something about being able to knock off a 17 miles run like its no big deal (or well, it is, and your legs tell you it is, but you did it anyway). There is no feeling like going to work at 8am with compression socks on and knowing you already ran a half marathon. I know long rides have a similar badass-ness to them, but to me they just don’t feel the same.
So why do I ignore the prescribed workouts? I feel that long runs take a certain zen aspect. As most people have found, when you run 30 minutes on a treadmill, if you stare at the screen, it will seem like time stands still. When I’m running long, I want to avoid looking at my watch and allow my mind to wander. Of course this only pseudo works, as I always run on the lakefront and know where every mile is and my approximate time, and still look at my watch a fair amount. Something about having to hit intervals takes the fun and freedom out of it. My time ends up being typically around 9 min/miles, which is faster than my Z1 pace but slower than my Z2 pace. I feel it is an optimistic yet realistic approach for my Ironman (well, more on the optimistic side of that).
Last night’s run went by pretty quickly. After two weeks of 2.5 hr runs, taking 45 minutes off it makes it seem like child’s play. I felt pretty effortless the whole time. I had some stomach problems, the cost of eating like crap recently, but I embraced them. I told myself that come race day, the chances of my stomach feeling calm are about 0%, so I want the experience of “look, I can run with my stomach sloching, cramping, etc”. The true sign of just how badly I’ve been (over)eating is that I went the whole time with no gels. I guess I had some carbs stored up.
The best news was that my shins survived! After a scare of repeat shin pain on Monday, I was quite worried. I wore compression sleeves and had some mild soreness at first, but then nada. With the taper increasing, I think that I’ll prevent it from becoming an issue.
I’m going back and forth on how bad I think the marathon in the IM will be. I think I am naïve to think it will be “good” or “not too bad”. When I think about marathons I’ve done, the key leading up to them was rest, rest, rest. As a marathon training pace leader, I use to tell my group to go to the expo on Friday so they would be off their feet on Saturday. I am next to positive that swimming 2.4 miles and then biking 112 is much, much, much more taxing than walking around an expo. I have in general run well off the bike. My run times for half-ironman have been pretty good. But a marathon is different. They say the line will come and it will suck. Hopefully you push the line off as far as possible, and you know you are in trouble if you meet the line at mile 10. I think the best approach I’ve heard is to think of it as just running aid station to aid station. Anyone can run a mile. Just keep stringing them together.
Today I am driving up to Madison to do my last ride on the course tomorrow. I never got the 11-28 cassette, and now I’m thinking it is too late. I do have a triple crank, so I think I have more gearing options than most, but the engineer in me sadly doesn’t know this stuff very well…
I am putting off today’s swim race rehearsal until Sunday. Sunday I will discover just how swimming for 1.5-1.75 hrs feels. Ahh!