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more than you wanted to know

February 9, 2009

Set out for the 23 miles at 5am. I wasn’t sure I should; the Boss had arrived home from the office only about two and a half hours earlier, and had only been sleeping for about two hours. I was hesitant, to say the least, about leaving him home alone with two active preschoolers who, I knew, would have him up before seven, demanding breakfast (or, as the Lamb says, “breafkast”) and playtime.

In spite of his late arrival, he insisted upon sending me out. It’s my last long run, says he as we change Monkey’s sheets around 2:45 (yes, he chose this night of all nights to wet the bed)–thank goodness we were both wide awake! Jokingly, he chided me, “I want no excuses for you not to get your 4:30 at Gasparilla.”

Well, I don’t know about that 4:30, and it was tough to get up when that alarm chirped at me cheerfully at 3:15, but after one snooze, I got my patootie out of bed and got dressed. I made peanut butter toast, glided down, and headed out.

It was breezy and cold, as we Floridians define cold. A few other runners were gathering and beginning to set out–I’m guessing other marathoners training for late winter marathons who also had 20-milers on the schedule. Who else would start at 5? Most of us wore shorts, long sleeves, and hats; we knew the cool temps would be history in a few miles and Florida’s sunshine would be out in full force within a couple of hours. I walked to the end of the long block and started into a slow jog, turning south along the water, shielded by the winds by a line of tall condos.

Before Garmie’s trill at mile 1, I saw the approach of my favorite blinking safety light–Natalie, heading north toward me. I turned to join her. Her schedule that day: to run by time, not mileage: one hour north, one hour south. In the end, we were together for about my first 10 miles, which we finished in about 1:42.

We parted ways; I turned back north and started planning the rest of my run. I knew I’d be back close to my car at mile 12 or so, and I planned to finish the remaining 11 miles in a figure 8 pattern. Having decided that, I freed my mind to concentrate on fueling, form, and pacing.

Occasionally during the run Saturday, the three outer toes on my left foot hurt. It was like I was smashing them onto the pavement. Now I’ve felt that with my toenails before, and lost a couple of them. My podiatrist told me it’s a function of my flat arches; the foot seeks support by grasping the ground with the toes, resulting in an almost hammering motion. But I hadn’t felt it with the entire length of the toe before. Fortunately for me, I’d read my March issue of Runner’s World, including the article on running injury-free. In that article, the author describes a technique for insuring a mid-foot strike. He advises runners to visualize a cord running from their right heel (in my case it would be the left) over their shoulder, into their thumb. This visualization helps your footstrike become more natural, less heavy.

Believe it or not, though the focus of this visualization is not to take pressure off your toes, it helped tremendously. For the duration of the run, any time I felt my toes begin to seize up and hurt, I would concentrate on the feeling of that cord pulling up my heel. I might not have finished the run otherwise.

The other issue was an unexpected one: my body didn’t like the Accel Gel this time. I took one at mile 4 and one at mile 8, and by mile 10 I was feeling somewhat uncomfortable. I chose a Gu the mile 12 mark, though I returned to the Accel at mile 16. By mile 20 I only gulped down half of another gel–I don’t even remember which brand it was–because I couldn’t stomach the thought of the entire thing. During the first half of the run I took water only with the gels–that is, every four miles. After that 12 mile mark, though, I took fluid every 2 miles, at least a few gulps. I took water at the gel stops and half-water, half-Gatorade at the other stops if it was available (our running store usually puts it out).

I discovered that, late in the run, I had hiccups for a few minutes after every water stop. Bizarre.

I stopped to drink, and twice for a potty break–once at about mile 12 and once at about mile 16. Since I didn’t have a straight run, I had to turn at miles 1, 7, 15½, and 21½. At that last turn, I put my hands on my knees and gathered my strength for a second before heading home.

But other than that, I completed the near-four hour run in entirely running steps.

Who’d’a thunk it?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. run4change permalink
    February 9, 2009 11:09 pm

    Great job. You did awesome. Gel and gatorade usually upset my stomach. To much sugar I think. I can almost never take the sugary running drinks. I do at times in very low quantity, but. shoot, I forgot what I was saying. Oh well, great job anyway. 🙂

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