Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Final 20-miler

This past Saturday, I ran my last 20-miler before the St. George Marathon on October 4th. I have now officially entered the 3-week taper period for the SGM. I wasn't sure how I would fare on this final test considering some of my other long runs but I was anxious to see how prepared I would be for the actual race. I wanted to at least pace around my goal of 9:09 and I'm happy to report that I actually paced 8:55 for the entire run! I felt pretty good after completing the run and my recovery was good.

The weather has slowly begun to cool down which makes running much easier. In fact, one day last week, I actually felt a little cold at the start of my run. I started my Saturday run at 4 am to make sure I missed the heat and I ran along the banks of one of the canals in Mesa. I couldn't see much at all for the first hour or so - I could only make out the bank of the canal. In spite of the darkness however, I thoroughly enjoyed this time because it was so quiet and peaceful. Very little traffic noise and smell and no one around but me and the stars. I ate one Shot Blok every 5k or so and felt strong through the entire run. I have come to realize that what I eat a few hours before the run is the most important thing to my success and how I feel during a long run. I hope that the past several months of training and learning what works and what doesn't will all pay off at St. George.

I'm hopeful that I can lose 5-10 lbs in the next couple weeks before I begin carbo-loading for the race in the last week. Of course, Chase's birthday is today so we celebrated early last night with dinner at Outback Steakhouse followed by the mandatory cake and ice cream. If I could only say no to ice cream...and cookies...and cake...and, well you get the point. Still, its a goal so I'll give it a shot.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Home Stretch - 4 weeks until St. George

The past couple weeks of training have been great. My schedule called for a 20 mile run on August 30th. However, Camille and I had planned a cruise to Alaska and we were scheduled to leave for Seattle on August 29th. So I skipped my rest day and ran the 20 miles on Friday, August 29th. I tried to eat some food before my run but I need to eat sooner so the food has a chance to settle before I run. I also ate Clif Shot Bloks during the run which seemed to have a positive effect on me especially my recovery after the race. I completed the run in about 3 hours which is was a 9:03 pace - not too bad but I feel like I should be able to go faster.

I was a bit apprehensive about how my training would go during the cruise. Our ship had a small gym with several treadmills and an outdoor track. I thought the outdoor track would be a good option but not only were many of the people walking on the track, but it was also pretty cold to be running outdoors. So I opted to run on the treadmill and it was great. I find that it is much easier to run on the treadmill where the temperature is great and my pace is controlled. The only problem was making sure I went to the gym when it wasn't too crowded since the gym limited your time on the treadmill to 30 minutes when it was busy.

It was great to run while looking out the window of the ship and seeing the beautiful scenery of Alaska. On Wednesday, I completed an 8 mile run while the ship was navigating the Tracy Arm Fjord. The water was a murky green (due to sediment deposited by the glaciers) and filled with icebergs. The shoreline was only a few hundred yards away on both sides of the ship with steep mountain peaks that reach up to 7,000 feet, green vegetation, waterfalls cascading down the mountain side, tidal and hanging glaciers, and the occasional bald eagle perched in a tree by the shoreline. I could not imagine a more picturesque running opportunity! This is what it looked like:

We are now back home and back to the reality that I have another 20 mile run scheduled for this Saturday. I'm cautiously optimistic that I will be able to pace a little better than last time. However, I have to keep reminding myself that this is my first marathon and I've only been running seriously for a few months. My pace on the last 20 mile run puts me right on track for my goal of finishing in 4 hours or less. I just need to be more patient and stick with the training schedule because it has worked thus far.