Usually tapering and I don’t get along. Tapering is tough on my mind. You have to not workout so that you’re feeling good and strong for race day. But…this taper, I am SO ready for.
Yesterday was my last long run before my first full marathon. I had to run 20 miles yesterday. My coach wanted me to run 10 miles in the morning and 10 miles at night, but it’s easier on my mind to just do it all at once.
I wanted to get up early yesterday & set out on my run about 6:30 a.m. because I knew it would take me at least 3 1/2 hours to finish it and I wanted to get it done early. Well, that didn’t happen. My bed was TOO comfortable. Plus, in order to hit one major water stop (my brother’s house), I needed to go a little later so that he and his family would be awake.
I ended up heading out on my run about 9:00 a.m. I knew this was going to be a decent run. I knew it wasn’t going to be as mentally tough as the dreaded 18 miles.
At mile 1 I looked at my watch and knew I was running slow. Surprisingly this didn’t bother me. I just knew I had to run 20 miles and it didn’t matter how slow I was, as long as I got it done.
Mile 2 was my first water stop at a local park. I tend to drink ALOT of water while running. I figure that’s a good thing. As I was approaching mile 2, I noticed there were ALOT of people running down the street. It’s because I came upon a family 5k. At first I thought, oh to be able to only have to run 3 miles. It made me kind of wonder if the participants of the 5k wondered how far I was running today.
At mile 3.1 there’s a pretty steep hill I have to climb. It is tough to climb. In the past, during this training, I’ve usually ended up walking it, but I pushed myself and ran up the hill. Good thing at the top, it was flat with a ever so slight downhill after that.
Mile 4 came and I stopped at another park and got some more water and ate my first gel. It was Kona punch flavored Powerbar Energy gel.
By this point, my legs were starting to feel tired. I knew I had one more BIG hill to climb in the near future, but I knew there were some downhills waiting for me too. I was still kind of bummed at how slow I was going, but I just kept at it. I know I still had a LONG ways to go.
At mile 5.5 I got to stop at my brother’s house & get some ice cold water. I LOVE that his house is right along all of my running routes. Once I left his house, I think I started to pick up some speed. The only bad thing is, is from my brother’s house, there is NO WHERE to get water for a while. So, about 2 miles later, I put a call in to my dad to come bring me some water and he dutifully brought me some ice cold water at about mile 8 and I ate another gel. This time I ate the latte flavored gel. One word…DISGUSTING! I took this opportunity to also pull out my phone again and check on my friends doing the Ironman in St. George.
It seemed like about every 2 miles is when I needed more water, and I tried to eat a gel about every 4 miles. My next stop was at a grocery store to use the restroom and fill up on water again. This was pure torture. I walked in to the grocery store and the bathrooms are located right by the bakery and deli. I was hungry and the smells coming from the store weren’t helping. I just made my stop quick. I actually forgot to fill up on water.
Up until about mile 13, it was flat or downhill. I think I picked up speed at this point. At mile 13, I stopped at a convenience store to buy some water. I bought a BIG bottle so I could fill my water bottle and then pour the rest of it over my head. It was starting to get quite warm outside.
The next 3 – 4 miles were going to be tough. I’ve rode this stretch on my bike and it’s a gradual hill. Ugh. But, I told myself that the only time I could take a break was if I hit a red light. Thank God for red lights. I had one last BIG hill to climb. I REALLY wanted to run the entire hill, but my legs just weren’t going to let me. So, I would run as much as I could and then take a break and walk for 50 or so paces and then run again.
Right before this big hill, I called my dad and told him to meet me at the cemetery with some water. I was definitely going to need more water. I made it to the cemetery and started weaving through the cemetery. I was on the opposite side of the cemetery when I saw my dad, but he didn’t see me, so I had to hike across the cemeter to get my water (my parents don’t have a cell phone). I made my dad drive me back to where I left off on my run. I love running through the cemetery. It’s such an old cemetery with lots of history in it. While I was running through the cemetery, I saw in the distance that there was a graveside service going on. Out of respect for the family, when it came time to run past, I decided to walk instead.
When I finished at the cemetery, I knew I only had about 5 miles left to go. I had 2 gels left. I ate one more gel, the vanilla flavor (worse than the latte flavor). I thought I was going to barf it was SO sweet. I knew my next stop would be a gas station to get more water.
It felt like in no time I was at that gas station. As I was getting closer to the gas station, I knew I needed to buy something to eat while I was there. The gels were no longer cutting it. I was burning calories so fast that it just wasn’t cutting it. So, as I approached the gas station, outside, one of the girls that works there was grilling HUGE hot dogs!!! Man did it smell good. I headed inside, bought a bottle of water and then bought an actual peanut butter & chocolate energy bar. It wasn’t the best, but I knew I needed something solid and with more calories than one of my gels. At first I thought about buying a donut because it would have calories and sugar, but then I thought that might be too sweet and my stomach wouldn’t like that, so I opted for the energy bar. I hurried and ate the energy bar, and I was off for my last 2 – 3 miles.
The energy bar did good for about 5 minutes, but because I was burning calories so fast, it worked for only a short period of time. Rats! By the last 1 1/2 miles, I consumed my last gel. I was still feeling pretty good, but my legs were just tired. They were almost ready to be done. Alot of self talk started happening.
I finally made it home in 3:33:34. That’s a 10:30 pace. I’ll take it! I’m SO ready for this taper and ready for my legs to relax, but not too much, before the big day. I know physically I’m ready to run 26.2 miles, the biggest thing I’m worried about is the mental portion of the race. I hope for the most part, it’s mentally easy. I’ve got some friends running the race with me, so hopefully that’ll help too.
One thing I learned on this long run is instead of food and gels as calories, maybe I need to try and take in some liquid calories as well. I think during the marathon when they offer water AND gatorade at the aid stations, I’ll take both. My coach is going to be teaching a sports nutrition clinic in the near future, so I think I’ll go to that before the race too.
So, bring on the taper and bring on the 26.2!!!