As of today, 10 days remain between me and the start line of the Flying Pig in Cincinnati. It’s weird to think how fast this training period has progressed. It seems like just the other day that Brittany, my sister, and I were trying to decide which half marathon we’d be running this spring. The Indy 500 Festival Mini Marathon was out due to my twin sister’s graduation weekend (would never miss that–duh!). And there wasn’t one in the Chicagoland area that really piqued our interest either. Luckily, Brady, a fellow long distance runner on DailyMile and Twitter recommended the Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati. I’d never heard of this race before and was open to going elsewhere in the Midwest to run. The timing worked perfectly in order to hit an early ‘peak’ before starting the true training cycle for the Chicago Marathon, so Britt and I decided to register.
Since then, I’ve kept my head down and remained focused on getting those workouts in each week. I’m very detail-oriented and like the idea of looking forward to a training schedule and backward on what I have already accomplished–which is why DailyMile has been such a great tool for me. I’m so happy I’ve used it as much as I have, because the encouragement and camaraderie is just outstanding (and most often when you most need it and least expect it). Since I began a consistent running schedule in late January of this year, I have run over 226 miles and devoted 38 hours to time on the treadmill or pounding the pavement (weather permitting, of course). Leading up to the Sam Costa Quarter Marathon last month, I wasn’t feeling very healthy joint-wise. My knee was giving me problems and I was scared which way it was going to go for me that morning even after an easy warm-up jog. Luckily, the knee wasn’t an issue that day and I was happy with my first age group award in over 10 years. It was a great way to start the season.
Since allowing myself to rest and rehab the knee a bit with some cross training and light running, I’ve amped up the workouts in the past couple of weeks. And last weekend was my last long run before Race Day. I had a target to just stay on my feet and ran a consistent pace for about 2 hours. I woke up that morning prepared for what I had to do. I’m not always the most consistent when it comes to fueling my body as I should before a long run, so I made a point to be diligent this time around. I wanted to feel nice and strong throughout. I had a cup of coffee and some oatmeal with a bit of natural yogurt from Trader’s Point Creamery. (I was out of hummus which I love to munch on before long runs, but the small bit of yogurt was a nice substitute.). I also had a couple Shot Bloks left over from the Shamrock Shuffle. The margarita flavor is oddly enough very tasty! And I think the extra salt really does help keep me going–I’m sure it will on even longer runs in the future as well.
The weather on Saturday was the perfect kind for a long, slow distance run. It was mild outside with a cool breeze. Well, breeze might not be the right word, as it amped up to 16-18 mph during the second half of the run. But I was comfortable in leggings, a lighter long sleeve shirt, and a headband to keep my ears warm (something that always bothers me is cold ears!). As much as I wanted to run along the lake that day, I know that the wind was just going to get worse the further east I ran. Instead, I decided to run north up Ashland and see where my legs took me. I like letting my mind go and not prescribing a strict route on long runs–keeps the mind fresh, I think. I always know the general direction of where I’m going to go, but especially for runs that are about time and not distance, it’s refreshing to do away with those mile markers. (I even turned off the distance audio cue on Runkeeper to keep from focusing on that number.)
As I looped back around and ran towards home, the weather took a turn for the worst. Running through strong gusts of wind really does motivate you to run towards home! I felt strong and powerful and my legs didn’t feel fatigued much at all. In the last 3-4 miles a natural water cooler appeared in the form of mist and cooled my forehead, which was nice! I decided to push it the last mile and a half or so. I absolutely love pushing the pace at the end of a long run. It helps to open up the hips and let your legs loosen up a bit.
In total, I ran 11.89 miles in 1 hour 55 minutes and was very happy with my pace throughout. Traffic signals provide somewhat of a problem when you’re trying to judge one mile to the next, but it was pretty consistent nonetheless. As nervous as I may have gotten in the past few days with the Flying Pig on my mind, I know that I’ve done practically all I can do to prepare for a good Race Day. Good days and bad days may happen, but you never know what surprises are in store when you get to the start line. I learned that lesson just 4 short weeks ago. I’m looking forward to seeing what I’m made of on May 1st in Cincinnati. An even 8:00/mile pace would make me happy, but a 7:50 pace would make me even happier!