Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ten Miles, Goal Speed, and a Quad Strain

I went to bed last night unsure how far I'd run in the morning. Maybe 10... or 8... or 11. I slept till 8 am and decided I'd run ten miles. The simplest, and maybe most challenging, thing to do was to run from my apartment to the end of Massachusetts Avenue and back. It is exactly five miles each way. I was trying to get out asap so I ate a lighter breakfast.

But for some reason I was really nervous about this run. Only two weeks ago, I ran 13 miles. But that felt like so long ago. It was also really cold all of a sudden and rain was in the forecast. I just didn't think I was going to have that much fun and I thought it was going to be hard. So I procrastinated.

I wore my gator shirt again today. I can't not. We're playing Alabama and that is huge. Luckily my man was up so I didn't have to take awkward before pictures of myself. He could take awkward before pictures of me instead.

I took two Gus with me on this run: Vanilla (caffeinated) and Espresso (double caffeinated).

I spent a couple minutes freaking out about the weather. Wind jacket or short sleeves? Ear warmers? Can't get sick! Ahhh!

I got over myself and left the apartment. But then walked back and forth from my building to the corner like three times before I actually got going. I would see people wearing hoodies and boots and think I absolutely needed long sleeves. Then I'd see someone running in shorts and think I was fine. Finally, I just ran. I was cold at first, yes, but I like to think that just encouraged me to run faster. It was a big mental game at the beginning. For some reason, ten miles was really challenging my mind. I think it had something to do with my "need for speed". I knew this would be harder because I would run faster. I would really push myself. And I was right- it was hard. But it was also fun.

I checked my watch a lot, especially early on. My friend Hadley said she could never wear a watch because she'd check it too frequently and the distance would pass so slowly. She doesn't even like mile markers in races and won't look at the course map before she runs one. Checking my watch kinda does the opposite for me though. It makes me want to push myself and so I run faster. It keeps me in check.

Through the first two and a half miles, my ears really hurt from the cold. That was not going to be pleasant for 8 more miles. And I worried it would make me sick. I thought of Josh at home on the couch, editing pictures. I imagined him deciding to come cheer me on and driving down mass ave. Maybe he would also read my mind and bring me some ear warmers. He didn't though... Eventually the pain went away and I forgot all about it.

Around mile 3.5, I was on one of the few flat stretches of this route and I knew it was time for Gu. I debated which one to take. Vanilla or Espresso? The double caffeine could be nice. But I have a weak stomach, with a particular weakness for coffee, so I worried this might make need a bathroom fast. I still couldn't decide. So I reached in my sports bra, where they were being stored, and pulled out the mystery winner. Espresso it was! I opened it cleanly and took it in three swallows. It was tasty. The consistency of thick pudding. It made me want water but I sipped my bottle conservatively, not wanting to cramp up. I really can't say if the stuff made a difference or not. But it felt fine to take it so, in case it subtly boosted my energy, I've decided I'll take at least one gu on race day.

Then I ran up and down hill for another mile and a half. I turned around and ran up and down hill some more. It was raining, I'm not really sure when it started or when it stopped. I was in a groove of rolling hills. And I was loving my garmin. The "average pace per mile" feature is intersting because it really broke up the run, for speed's sake, to one mile at a time. I was always focused on the pace of the current mile, not the run overall. And with the consistent hilliness of this run, I would go downhill and my speed would increase and then I'd go uphill and it would decrease. But I had no idea what my average pace was throughout and I became really curious around mile 8. I had run a 9:07 mile, a 9:10 mile, a 9:40something mile, and an 8:40something mile. And a bunch of others I couldn't remember- so I had no idea. Could have been 9:02, 9:10 or 9:30. I was pretty sure it wasn't 8:59 though. Luckily, the last .8 miles was all downhill. So, when I got there, I ran quickly to pick up speed. At the end, I was almost sprinting, and my left quad started to hurt. So I slowed down. I got to my corner and stopped the watch. Exactly 10.00 miles. Like a curious cat, I immediately stopped the run, saved it, and went to my history to see the overall pace.

9.01 minutes per mile! Amazing! That means I can do it. If I can run 10 miles at 9:01, I can run 13.1 at 9:07. I may be naive but I believe completely that the run I did today was as hilly as Baltimore will be. I hope I'm right.

I returned with these crazy pigtails, which I did about around mile three. I left with a ponytail but the straight short hair and the ponytail weren't working for me. Maybe I do it up like a little girl on race day?

I made myself the #1 recovery drink. With a little extra chocolate powder. Delicious.

And then I dragged Josh to the store with me to pick up fixings for the lox bagel I was craving. I indulged but the $8 wild Alaskan smoked salmon was so worth it.

I felt the same sharp knee pain that I felt after my 13 mile run so I acted fast. Icing them helped.

I had a few hours to hang out, and wander the Cleveland Park day festival in the rain. But then there was more sweating on the agenda. Soccer game #2 for the season was scheduled at 4:45 today and I was not feeling it. But we were going to have no subs and they needed me. One person didn't show up and we ended up being a man down. I was kind of careless but I still gave a good effort in the first half. I ran a lot and had some good plays. By the end of it, though, my quad pain was back and it was worse than during the run. With a real fear of injuring myself, I was the lamest soccer player ever in the second half. I barely ran at all and when I had to, I hobbled. I just kinda stood there and provided passing relief when I was needed. I had a few defensive stops but I was inactive to the point of real embarrassment. I hate to not give everything I have and normally I would. I could have run but it would have hurt and it would have likely strained my quad more which is the last thing I need. So I was lame.

I came home and discovered the magical world of Garmin Connect. I uploaded all of my runs and learned so much about my pace, splits, even the elevation of my run. So this is a breakdown of how fast I ran each mile, how much elevation I gained and lost, how fast my best pace was, and how many calories I burned. This is the coolest thing ever. But, mile four, I'm pretty sure I didn't run 4:16 minutes per mile. Ever. Even for one second. Thanks for trying though.

And... wonder of all wonders, here is an elevation chart for the run. I had no idea the Garmin could do this and I am more than pleased. I ran out and back to it is basically symmetrical. But you can see it was hilly. Let's see how it compares to Baltimore.



So I ran many more rolling hills today but there are some much more steady (and long!!) inclines on race day. But whatever. Enough analyzing. I'll be fine!

I am currently on the R.I.C.E. recovery plan and am fine. I can feel a little pain when I walk but it doesn't seem like anything that will last two weeks. I regret playing soccer but I also would never sit and watch as my team played two (wo)men down. After October 15th, I'll be able to throw my heart more into soccer. But for now, it's all about running! And! Happy Saturday night and GO GATORS!

Tell me: Any advice for a quad strain? Do you think I actually ran a 4:16 pace?! Hah!

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