Friday, March 5, 2010

Finally, that long run

After missing it for 3 weekends in a row I finally got out and did that long run. I still wouldn't have been able to do it this coming weekend so I had to get out this morning before work. I woke up a few minutes after 4am (easy when you have a baby that won't sleep) and dragged my tired body out of bed (not so easy) to put on all of my running clothes and accessories that I'd set out last night. It was so much easier to set everything out last night so that I didn't have to look for anything this morning. I'm also surprised at all the junk I need to run these days:

  • Shorts (Race Ready)
  • Base layer shirt (Craft)
  • L/S tech shirt (Portland marathon)
  • Socks (Injinji)
  • Gloves (REI)
  • Hat (Brooks)
  • 2 hand bottles (UD)
  • Electrolyte drink powder/tabs (Hammer, Nuun)
  • Salt tablets (S-caps)
  • iPod (nano)
  • 3 gels (Hammer, Gu)
  • Headlamp (Petzl)
  • Tiny flashlight (Amazon?)
  • Watch (Garmin)
  • Anti-chafing stick (Body Glide)
  • Shoes (Brooks)
  • Cel phone (not my iPhone)

Didn't running used to be simple? Clothes and maybe a watch and you're out the door. I never used to run with bottles or Electrolyte drinks, Headlamps, Anti-chafing anything or Salt tablets. IPods didn't exist and your choices were limited to the Walkman or the Discman, both of which would drop and break within the first 10 runs you brought them on.

To continue, I got dressed, then had a bowl of cereal, filled the bottles and headed out the door. It was 42F out when I started. I went with shorts instead of tights in hopes that my legs would warm up enough not to bother me. I was right on that one. The temperature warmed up maybe 5 degrees over the run and my legs felt fine.

I started out with a slow first mile on the car-free roads listening to the Quadrathon podcast as I like to do on long runs. (I recommend his podcast as something to listen to on a long run. It takes my mind off the pounding and time passes quickly.) I ran out to the tunnel trail and started climbing in the near pitch dark with my two LED lights to guide me. I heard some odd animal howling noises that gave me pause. I picked up a baseball sized rock and ran with it in my hand but never found the animals that were making the sounds so I dropped the rock at the end of the trail. I couldn't run entirely on the soft dirt/gravel shoulder as I followed the perimeter roads past Kopachuck. With so little light but being so early I could run in the middle of the lane of oncoming traffic without fear of getting hit so I alternated between the two.

My pace felt a bit slower than my last long run which could mean that either I'm still recovering from the stomach flu or that with my last long run being almost a month ago, I've lost a bit of fitness. Maybe I'm just not quite as fast in the dark when I have to concentrate more on my footing. Which ever the case I was running a little over an 8 min/mi. pace through the first 5 miles. I slowed down even more over the next 5 miles. It had been long enough since my last long run that I was a little more worried about finishing than keeping pace. The middle part of the route had a few good hills to climb and then descend but I was still feeling pretty good. My hands were starting to get a little cold which was my only issue.

I'd planned the route to go around Gig Harbor and happened to go past the Washington Corrections Center for Women. It was a big brightly lit barbed-wire-fenced facility. There were signs stating that there was no stopping and no photography. It was peaceful as I ran by wondering if anyone else was up at 5:45am.  The only famous inmate I could Google was Mary Kay Letourneau (a 34 y/o school teacher) who spent 7 years there for having an affair and two kids with a 12 year old student. She even married him when she got out of prison.  Apparently it was big news around these parts.

Around the 11 mile point I stopped at a gas station mini mart to try to warm up my fingers and buy water to refill my bottles. I went to the back of the store and pressed my hands up against the hot breakfast food cabinet but felt nothing. I wonder how luke-warm breakfast sandwiches are selling these days? I bought water, filled my bottles and dropped a Nuun tablet in each as I headed on my way. With cold water in my bottles my fingertips were getting colder as I ran. I tried to carry the bottles by the straps or the pouches but that didn't seem to work. My fingers were cold and wet and starting to go numb. I kept trying to blow hot air (I'm full of it) onto my fingers and hold them under my armpits with no luck.

My pace was improving as the sun came up behind the clouds. I headed down Wollochet and then up toward the cows until I split left toward Cromwell. I cut across on 24th ave to make the distance work out rather than running all the way down to the water. I made a few turns and got over onto 32nd ave amd passed by the small park where for once I didn't have to stop and use the bathroom. I continued on having to deal with more and more drivers leaving for work. Luckily the shoulders are big along the those roads. Up and down another hill and I found myself running past the Fox Island bridge with a scant 3 miles to go. I felt pretty good except that I was losing some dexterity in my fingers from the cold. I just couldn't warm them up and it was getting harder to manipulate my bottles. I picked up the pace a little bit as I headed back down the final stretch toward home.  I started to bonk a little bit from lack of calories but held on the last mile or two.

In the end I ran 20.5 miles which is a good bit farther than my last long run of 15.9. Once I got home I had to start running cold water over my hands which really hurt. I couldn't even handle the pain of warm water of even think of getting in the shower. It took about 10 minutes of soaking them in a tub of water before they felt normal again. Maybe I need more / better gloves or a hand warmer.  I didn't have time for an ice bath so at the end of my shower I turned the water to cold and just sprayed off my legs for as long as I could stand it. I think it helped.

This was the first long run wearing the Injinji socks with the individual toes and I'm pretty happy with them. No blisters and my feet feel pretty good. I also tried Nuun tablets and the tri-berry flavor was great. After going through almost an entire jug of Heed I'm ready for a new drink and the Tri-berry Nuun was surprisingly flavorful without being sugary or sweet at all. It was light yet stronger tasting than Heed. Both products have their place but I think I'll move to Nuun for a while. On top of the taste, carrying tablets instead of powder is much easier.  (how's that for an unpaid advertisement , marketing folks at Nuun!?)

So overall, the run was good but a bit slower than previous long runs. Not by much so we'll see what happens to my pace on the next one.

Time: 2:51:06
Dist: 20.5
AvS: 8:19/mi.
Alt: 5559 (Says Garmin so 2500?)

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