Sorry to keep everyone in suspense…I just realized I haven’t posted in over a week!! The knee is holding up…we are still underway…things are looking up.
I decided to take it easy a bit following the MCM weekend. I spent a few days being religious about icing and heating my knee, downing 800 ibuprofens as frequently as I was allowed, and gave it an extra day of rest last Monday. By Tuesday, I was ready to try a 5. The same pain showed up around Mile 3, and was hurting significantly by the end of the run, though not as bad as it had been on the 16. I didn’t try to push it, but I did finish the 5 in decent time.
Wednesday was another rest day, and Thursday, we had rain…which, for once, was actually a relief. I decided I’d use the treadmill at my folks’ community fitness room. I figured I could shoot for the week’s 8-miler on a piece of apparatus that would make the impact easier on my joints…I could keep the ground level (hills, both up and down, were exacerbating my problem)…and if I decided I had to quit in Mile 4 or 5, I wouldn’t be 5 miles from home and have to limp all the way back.
It worked beautifully. I didn’t get to the 8…stopped around 5. But that was more out of the sheer boredom and monotony of treadmill running than anything else (plus, I was kinda taking advantage of the excuse that I needed to go easy on my knee, haha). However, I did push myself pretty significantly during that 5. I kept hitting the + button on the pace…from 5.5, up a tenth every ten or fifteen seconds or so till I hit 6.5…it was beautiful, because I couldn’t really tell the difference from one tenth to the next. So every time I felt accustomed to the pace, I upped it again, in tiny increments. It even seemed to me, when I backed it down to a slower pace, that it was far easier to run faster than it was to run slower! Never thought that would be true. In the last mile, I got a little punchy and put it up to 7.2 and kept that up for a good half-mile or so…felt great. So did my knee…no problems whatsoever.
The other benefit of the treadmill run was the fact that it faced a mirror. I’ve never really been able to see my own running form before, and I felt like I benefitted a lot from being able to watch myself head-on. I found that I’m kinda all over the place from a head-on view…my feet don’t go in a straight line. I tried hard to focus on even, level footstrikes. Watching my feet helped me go into a bit of a trance, too, which made the miles go by (that, and the book I was listening to on my iPod…maybe being a bookworm helps with running, haha!). The downside was that there was a mirror to the side, too…and that view was NOT so good. Ha ha.
So overall, that really boosted my confidence going into the 18 on Saturday. The BIG, BAD EIGHTEEN. My longest training run, first of two.
I kept in mind what Pastor Jeff had said about setting myself up for failure the day I tried to do the long, endless Parkway run all the way from Manassas to home. So I took that idea, and, keeping my knee in mind too, decided to tackle the 18 in three loops that all began and ended within a block of my house when I strung them all together. I’d stay on “friendly,” familiar roads close to home, would never be more than 4 miles from my front door, and could stop at various points if I needed to, if my joint issues returned.
It was to be a cold, cold day, and I had also signed up to proctor the SAT at my school that day. I figured I’d be done by noon, and could get home and run at the peak of the day’s temperatures. Hmm. SAT took till 1:30. I raced home by 2, and figured that with the final day of Daylight Savings Time, I could still finish before dark if I started NOW.
I headed out on my 8-mile loop at 2:15 pm. It was cold, about 50, but I warmed up quickly. Jim had told me to implement the Galloway method, which is a run/walk marathon strategy. You’re supposed to walk one minute every ten (or whatever works for you). You feel silly at first, walking after only ten minutes, but the idea is, you’re still running ten minute stretches long into the marathon, and at the end, that means you’re passing people.
I started doing this after about a mile and a half, and I managed to keep it up for the first ten miles of the run. I finished the 8 in almost the same time I’d done my first 8 last week. What I liked most about the Galloway method is that the one-minute walk came when the time said, not when I was daunted by an uphill or my own fatigue. I felt good about that part. When I finished the 8, I came inside for a quick drink, and headed straight back out into a 6-mile loop. Two miles into it, my 10/1 started to break down a bit, and didn’t really ever get all the way back up to ten-minute stretches, but that was okay with me. It was more about finishing the mileage than anything else this week…I’d spent the whole week worrying I’d fall apart after 6 and not be able to go on.
I hit the stopping point on the 6 and kept going into my final loop, the 4-miler. By now, the sun was going down, and everything between my ribs and my toes started to get stiff and sore and cold. My hip flexors hurt, my knee was starting to make a bit of noise, and my feet felt like they’d been pounding the pavement for 8 hours instead of just 3. I was trying to run as much as possible while still giving my knee periodic walks to let it rest. At 3:30:00 (or thereabouts) I gritted my teeth and decided IT DOESN’T MATTER what my knee feels like, I wanna be DONE!! I toughed it out the best I could at the end and crossed the 18-mile mark at 3:36:42, with an even 12:00 min/mile average pace.
It’s been several weeks since the end of my long run has had me beaming with pride. I just haven’t felt that way about it in a long time. This time, though, it came back. I knew I’d done last week’s 16 (hurt, busted up, walking the final two miles) in 3:21:56, and that I’d only added 15 minutes onto that time for two miles more. If I could keep up a 12:00 min/mile pace for 18, I was pretty sure I could’ve done another 8 with a total average pace under 13:00, even if I was deteriorating. Not that I wanted to, of course!!! But if I’d had to get around that 8-loop once more, I could’ve done it. And it wouldn’t have taken me 2:24:00 more, either. Which means I’m in the clear on finishing the marathon in the allotted 6 hours. =)
Was there any doubt? lol…
Saturday night I was a zombie. I’d come in half-frozen from the half-mile walk home in the darkening cold with no gloves and no jacket (hadn’t needed either on the run). Forced frozen thumbs to answer my father’s “Where ARE you??” text. POSTED MY RUN for my Facebook folks and could get my fingers to do no more till they warmed up. Drifted painfully from place to place in the house…tried to minimize upstairs trips…crawled under my heated throw blanket on the couch for a while. It was a good, good kind of sore.
Today, Monday, I was still feeling it in my leg muscles, and was NOT looking forward to a 5. But I want this week’s mileage. Every bit of it. Last week, I gave up an 8 and only (ONLY!) ran 24 miles. This is the LAST high-mileage week. 36. I want to see if I can do every last bit of it. And though the weather is cooperating – looks like highs close to 60 all week – Daylight Savings Time has ended and it’s now dark by 5:30 pm. So for about 4 weeks, I’ll have to leave work by 3:30 or even 3:00 on most days just to get home in time to fit in my run before dark.
Today wasn’t bad. I’m getting faster. I let myself walk a little today because I can still feel the soreness, but I still came out with a pretty good time…and increased running pace is the only explanation for that. I think I feel faster lately.
Tomorrow is an 8, and I’d love to try to run the entire thing. I only have 3 more 8-mile runs…only 3 more chances to do an entire 8 without walking. Next Saturday’s 9 won’t even be a chance for that…I’m running a 10K Turkey Trot and capping it off with a 3-miler later in the day. So we’ll see if I can post a New Accomplishment for running 8 straight in the next few weeks.
So things are looking up. The folks are getting psyched about Memphis…they’re even shopping for an early birthday present for me…a Garmin GPS watch! I picked the 305. Actually, I picked the 205 – don’t think I need the heart monitor – but for a few bucks more on Amazon, the 305 was a great deal AND it’s Mac-compatible…a MUST. That should keep me going.
On top of that, I’m already thinking beyond the marathon. The fancy-pants runner’s watch means I have to keep running. Maybe not for a few weeks after the marathon, and we’ll see how the rest of the winter goes, but I’m already eyeing the Historic Half next May, and have already begun to recruit minions to run it with me. =)
Hey, at least you get to eat as much as you want when you’re a runner! Some days, that’s reason enough!