August 16, 2010

The Final 14.5 – Pushing the limits

With 20 days until race day, I couldn’t be more pleased with my pace discipline, form and overall enjoyment of this run. The initial plan was 14 miles at 10:45 min/mile (2 min/mile slower than my expected half marathon race pace), but decided to push for 14.5 since I was too exhausted to get in a run on Friday (due to the Thursday late night taping of the makeover episode for the upcoming season of the Biggest Loser that included standing on my feet in 2-inch heels for 3.5 hours before being allowed to sit). Hubby and I did get in a hilly 2.7 mile walk on Friday night, but it still cut me short of my 30-mile week goal, so I just had to add that extra ½ mile in yesterday!!!

My start and finish line for weekend training runs.
Not surprisingly, since I’ve stopped rotating in the Kayano 16’s and have been only using the 15’s, my right glute and hamstring pain is nothing but a small ache every now and then – requiring only a couple of short stops on this run to stretch out my hip and hamstring after about 10 miles. I can feel my hip releasing and a very slight pop in my upper hammy when I do this, so I will keep this in mind during the race. Those few seconds spent stretching seem to really loosen that side up for a few miles at the very least.

After a stressful couple of weeks at work, I had been looking forward to this long run for the majority of last week.  We got an early start so we would be off and running before 8am. The weather in Santa Monica has been foggy and cool (albeit humid) in the mornings. Earlier start times means less traffic on the pathway and quiet enough to hear the waves crashing on the shore for the first mile. A perfect start. Mile 3 is the Santa Monica Pier, running onto the Venice beach boardwalk at about 4.5 miles. Now there is a place to get distracted! The people watching is terrific; solo runners, organized group runners, cyclists, skateboarders and just your average everyday beach goers. You can’t beat it for entertainment.

I almost always get a little extra adrenaline rush as I’m coming back towards the pier because it means I’ve only got 3 miles left to get back to where I started.  It’s also my cue that it’s time to start pushing (if my body is feeling up to it).  It hit me yesterday on this approach that even after 11.5 miles at a 10:45 pace, I not only wanted to go faster mentally, I knew I was physically capable of doing it, but at a controlled pace.  I finished in 2:34:52, a little more than 5 minutes under my goal time. I took an ice bath when we got home (part of my usual long run routine) and felt instant relief in my back, legs and feet. If you’ve not tried it, it may sound unbearable, but so worth it in the end.

An 8:45 min/mile pace is definitely in order for the Disney Half. With a 3 week taper using mostly low mileage speed work and stretching, I’m going to break 2 hours. I can feel it! I wonder if the barefoot team will be out again this year. They wore leopard print Flinstone-like skirts last year (all men – LOL) and certainly got a lot of attention. I may pass on dressing up this year since I’m going for a PR – but a Minnie Mouse running skirt sounds good….

Deep tissue massages are on tap for the hubby and I tonight. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

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