Jumping over the wall

After having some good and unique runs this week, I think I was more and more critical of last week's long run that really wasn't all that bad. That said, I learned a lot of lessons last week that I had to apply to the next long run to get over it and move on with my Baltimore Marathon training. When the alarm went off at 5 a.m. today I was hating life. I didn't sleep much and it had already been a long week -- I was letting self-doubt enter my mind before I even got out of the door. As soon as I starting running with Duke, though, I was fine and very happy that I was out before the sun. The weather was a bit cooler than last week, but still very humid.

After less than a half mile, we almost got sprayed by a skunk -- what I thought was a cat hanging out on the side of the road was a skunk that puffed up and hissed as we neared it. I shouted "GO DUKE" and we took off through someone's yard. That woke me up, and I immediately started thinking about my goals for this run. Like my overarching goal is for 2011 is, today's frame of mind was to finish it stronger than I started it.

I did exactly that. Here are the highlights of today's 14.5-mile run, with lessons learned and many other miscellaneous things:

  • long run, running, BedfordDon't eat buffalo chicken wraps the day before a long run. I had a much-needed pit stop when I dropped Duke off about 5 miles into the run, but that wasn't a bad thing. I realized I had forgotten to apply my Mission Skincare Anti-Chafe Balm before starting, something I failed to do last week.
  • After the brief stop, I took a frozen water bottle with me. It lasted several miles, keeping me cool and relaxed. After getting so hot last week, I needed this relief, especially in the middle miles.
  • While my route doesn't look planned, I made sure I would be in some shadier spots when the sun came up.
  • Speaking of the sun, I made sure I had my sunglasses with me today. As soon as the sun peered over the trees, I put on my sunglasses. As weird as this sounds, this may have been the best decision of all today. There's a lot to be said for not squinting in the final hour of the run. I was able to keep my face relaxed and focus on other things. Who knew squinting took so much effort?
  • I was able to put my phone in a good spot so I didn't have to hold it. My playlist was a little more singer-friendly too.
  • I ran through some parking lots to break up a few continuous hills.
  • I was able to refill my water about 9 miles in and get me through about mile 12 -- that left me completely hands free for the final push.
  • After starting slow -- a 9:44 first mile -- I finished strong with a next to last mile in 8:40. The second 7 miles were a little more than a minute and a half faster than the first 7 miles. My overall pace was 9:25, which I am very happy with.
  • This run sticks out in my mind like a 16-mile run last September, when the conditions were actually much cooler and less humid. I'm excited beyond words about that. This weather is tough no matter how much I talk about running in it.
  • I did my first-ever ice bath following the run. Long story short, I learned some lessons and didn't last long. Two hours later, though, my legs feel great.
  • Today's run puts me at 30+ miles for the week, the first 30-mile week in 41 weeks.

long run, elevation, running, Bedford