A story of going from being a non-runner to planning for a marathon in three years...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Glorious Day

What does a hand dryer have to do with the number 18?

Let's find out.

Saturday morning was the perfect morning for running. Fall is making a semi-early appearance and, for once, I've never been happier to see it. The only downside? Trying to figure out what to wear in 52oF weather and no humidity when you haven't had to deal with that in months! I ended up in shorts and my Soldier Field 10 Miler tech shirt. Yes I was chilly while waiting to start my run but once I was moving it felt WONDERFUL.

I met up with some people from the running club in Berkeley, Illinois (home of the World Dryer Corp) which is one of the places you can pick up the Illinois Prairie Path. My goal? Run 18 miles, my longest distance ever.

I was all suited up with my fuel belt filled with two bottles of water and one of Gatorade. For once I'd remembered to pre-open my Clif Shot Blocks and they were ready to go. My plan was to stick to my 1 minute walk breaks every three miles, alternate drinking water and Gatorade every mile, and eat some Shot Blocks at mile 6 and mile 12 (and more if necessary).

I didn't actually plan to run WITH anyone so while everyone else started I put in my headphones and put the music on my iPhone on shuffle. Two of the women in the group were running at a nice, easy pace and I used them to keep from going out too fast for the first 4 miles. I took my walk break at mile 3 even though I didn't feel like I needed it. The key to walk breaks, though, is to take them BEFORE you're tired.

I passed the two women shortly after the 4 mile mark and after that I was on my own. Well, not literally since the path was teaming with people. Tons of runners, running groups, bicyclists, and walkers. Just imagine this photo filled with people:

At my mile 6 walk break I ate some Shot Blocks and removed a rock from my shoe. The path is crushed limestone which is great in that it's not as punishing as concrete or asphalt but the little rocks can get irritating. Especially since they seem to have an affinity for the inside of my sneakers.

I passed the rest of my running group going the other way at mile 7 and again just before mile 9. I was so happy that I was feeling good and strong which is such a change from most of my other long runs. In fact, although I resisted looking at my Garmin too much, I was pleasantly surprised every time I looked down; My pace was spectacular.

Sometimes my brain tries to count up how many miles I have left. Breaking it down into the 3 mile segments really helps. Especially when you get to eat something at some of those segments! I briefly at mile 9 but didn't feel the need to down any Shot Blocks. About mile 11, though, I was looking forward to mile 12 when I could take a scheduled break and nosh.

Mile 12 came, I ate and walked, and I started back up. I took a short pause a short while later to refill one of my water bottles at one of the water fountains. I was still feeling strong although I admit that the three miles between 12 and 15 seemed to take forever. When I hit 15, though, I took another walk break and yet another pause to remove some rocks from my shoes. I didn't really need the walk breaks physically but I did need them mentally. They really do help.

Then it was time for the last 3 miles. At this point I knew I was going to do all 18 and do them strong. When I noticed I was getting tired I reminded myself to run tall, push out my hips, and breathe deep. I avoided looking at my Garmin so I would run by feel and not worry about my pace or how many more miles I had left. I didn't even play the "you've never run this far before!" game when it rolled past 16.

When I came to the park we'd passed at the beginning and then went under the freeway underpasses near our starting point I knew I was home free. I picked up the pace just a tad bit more and then, in the distance, I could see some of the people from my running group hanging out in the parking lot. When the Garmin beeped 18 miles I ran a few more feet, stopped, and threw my arms in the air. I admit, it was nice to have an audience for my grand finale :-)

Because I did it! I ran 18 miles. I felt strong. I felt good. I kicked ASS.

And here's the weird thing: I could have gone farther. But, as Beth at Shut Up and Run said recently, you do what the day demands. So, I ran 18. Plus, I was back at my car.

I'm still in awe of myself. I'm still basking in my post-run high. If ever a run could give me the confidence that I will finish my first marathon it was this one. Now, if whoever is in charge of the weather could copy and paste Saturday's weather onto October 10th I'll be eternally grateful. Because if marathon day is anything like this run, it's going to ROCK!


Route:--Elev. Avg:706 ft
Location:--Elev. Gain:+0 ft
Date:09/04/10Up/Downhill: [+465/-465]
Time:07:02 AMDifficulty:3.5 / 5.0

Distance: 18.04 miles
Speed:5.9 mph
Pace:10' 14 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
110' 13-0' 015.9+0.0+4 ft
210' 29+0' 155.7-0.1-10 ft
310' 23+0' 095.8-0.1+13 ft
410' 42+0' 285.6-0.3+23 ft
510' 13-0' 015.9+0.0+3 ft
610' 11-0' 035.9+0.0-13 ft
711' 01+0' 475.4-0.4+29 ft
810' 01-0' 136.0+0.1+20 ft
910' 01-0' 136.0+0.1+14 ft
1010' 31+0' 175.7-0.2-20 ft
119' 47-0' 276.1+0.3-26 ft
129' 47-0' 276.1+0.3-16 ft
1310' 31+0' 175.7-0.2+13 ft
149' 51-0' 236.1+0.2+3 ft
159' 35-0' 396.3+0.4-26 ft
1610' 32+0' 185.7-0.2-17 ft
1710' 03-0' 116.0+0.1+7 ft
189' 46-0' 286.1+0.3+7 ft
end7' 40-2' 347.8+2.0-6 ft
Versus average of 10' 14 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com


kilax said...

Wow! Great job Erin! :) It sounds like you figured out what works perfectly for long runs! Now, if the weather will be just like this for Chicago... :)

Speaking of Chicago, I had a dream last night that you and I were running the Chicago Marathon and got lost. We were ahead of the group and like "where is everyone?" Ha ha. Don't think there is a chance that will EVER happen.

I am so excited this went so well for you. That is kind of how I felt after my 16 - on top of the world!

TerryProf said...

Spectacular, Erin! you are all set for the big day. Keep it going, Girl
(BTW, I am a long time lurker...)

Anonymous said...

Great job! It's amazing when you run a long distance and find out you had the juice to go further too! Keep up the good work!

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