That’s the way to do this. I’m sick of running in the dark, in temperatures in the teens or worse, below zero… this morning I started my 20 miler at 6:30am as the sun was rising- that’s right- I saw the SUN during my run! It was great!
I broke the run into 3 parts. I was going to run Bisou for 5 miles, drop her off at home, run 3 miles to my friend Andrea C’s house, meet the group and run 12 miles with them.
Even though one of the things I was most excited about just moving down the street was that I don’t have to change my running routes, I’ve decided to explore routes the opposite direction of where I usually run. So, Bisou and I set out and I extended the beginning of one of my old 4 mile routes and then wound my way back through the park trails to my house. (yes! Park trails, because it’s LIGHT outside and SAFE to run on trails in the morning now 🙂 ) Since I didn’t have the route pre-meditated, I ended up running 5.3 miles. I knew the next leg was 3.2 miles to my friends house, so instead of being at 8 miles, I’d be a half mile ahead of schedule. I took Bisou into the house and noticed I was running early- which is better than running late :). I fed her, stretched, took a honey stinger gold gel, stretched, drank some water, and then headed out for the 2nd leg of the run.
This leg was short, but included a MEGA hill. If you live in DSM, it’s the hill on Grand Ave between 63rd and 56th. That’s a MEGA hill and this time, I am not exaggerating. I drive this hill often and every time I drive up it, I wonder what it would take to run it. Well, today was the day I was going to find out and I have to admit, I was looking forward to the challenge. The miles were buzzing on my garmin as I approached the hill and physically and mentally, I felt great! I got to the base and just told myself to take it slow and easy. And, that’s exactly what I did. I looked at my watch halfway through and saw that I was going at a slow pace of 12:40. I was ok with that… I had 13 more miles to go after this and didn’t want to give too much this early. I pressed on and pretty soon, I was on top! And soon after that, I could see the street Andrea lives on- I was almost there! I turned the corner and I could see the group already gathering in the grassy boulevard outside of Andrea’s house. I ran up the smaller hill to meet them and found out I was right on time for the 8:00 group run! I was feeling good and ready to keep going! I refilled my water bottle, we gathered more friends, and then we were off for the final 12 miles.
Whew! This group was speedy today! The first part was mostly downhill and they were SPRINTING at about an 8 min/mile pace. No way was I in any shape to run that at this point when I had a total of 20 miles to put in. Thankfully, Marzia stayed behind and ran about an 8:40 pace with me. Conversation was easy and again, the miles seemed to be buzzing off on my garmin- if the rest of the run would go like this, I’d be done in no time! We reached the Brenton Skating Rink in downtown DSM and lost part of our group. Some had gone ahead and were doing an out and back for a total of 10 miles. Andrea J and Marzia ran a little ways with us then turned back for an 8 miler. I kept on with Andrea C and Rob. Even though they slowed their pace, I was still a little pokey and behind them. I was close enough at that point that I could at least hear the conversation and shout if I wanted to participate. A few small hills into though and I slowed down to the point where I was by myself. I could see them, but I couldn’t hear them and I couldn’t talk to them. This part of the run felt like forever. It was about 13 and a half miles into it for me and I was feeling sluggish. I took another gel at mile 14 and that seemed to help a little. Rob and Andrea started walking up ahead to allow me time to catch, which was very nice of them, and also made me feel a little bad that I was so slow, they were walking! I needed to keep up if I was going to finish, so I started asking Andrea about the See Us Run program in DSM that she participated in last year. Basically, it’s for juniors and seniors at Roosevelt High School and you train with them spring, summer, and fall so that they can run the DSM Marathon in October. It sounds like a pretty awesome program and a rewarding experience for both the runner and the mentor. I may participate occasionally on their long runs to help motivate the kids to keep going through their training.
We were at about mile 16 for me at this point. I was keeping up and feeling good, albeit, still slow. We crossed a bridge into the Beaverdale area and I knew I was on the homestretch. Andrea warned me about some upcoming hills and also when the last hill was :). I knew I had this run in the bag. Since I was a half mile ahead of them in my mileage, when my watch hit 20.18 miles, I stopped and walked the rest of the way in. I had fallen behind again with my tired legs and figured I had put in a good, hilly workout, so walking it out would do my legs some good :). I finished feeling good. While my overall pace was 9:48 average, physically and mentally, it was a really good run for me. And it’s the longest I’ve run since the Tucson Marathon in December. I feel good about where my training is going and the slowness is no doubt attributed to 2 speed work outs and 2 hill runs this week.
Tonight, I am making homemade nachos and enjoying some Tempranillo wine :). Sweet rewards for working hard :).
What about you? What did you run this weekend? And what was your reward?