21 Days to Chicago – The Last Long Run

21 Days to Chicago – The Last Long Run

A wonderful run to end a long season of long runs!

I read Coach David’s “Secrets of Marathoning” that he posted beforehand (Thanks, Coach!) a million times to understand what I needed to do on this 21mile, mock race run. I knew I could go the distance, I wanted to know at what pace I could. And I still wanted to make it in time to catch the seminar.

Everyone took off the first 2 miles! And I had a sinking feeling because I was trying and 14:20 was as fast as I seemed to go!! But once I warmed up, and by catching some flat/downhill action, I caught up with the group. I was surprised that I was maintaining that pace with others, but I was also determined not to fall back more than 13:35 average pace.

I took my nutrition as planned (Gu at every 4 miles, 1 clif shot Margarita block for sodium every 4 miles in between, 5-10 Goldfish every 2 miles after 15 miles); I took my water breaks with efficiency (I think I drank less than planned though, because of the cool weather. I shall need to remember to finish 1 bottle water and 1 bottle Nuun every 2 miles).

The first 15 miles were a breeze. I settled down to a 13:10-13:15 pace after Mile 5 and maintained it. I could talk when needed (even yelled to reach the group following me to ask for directions at mile 14) although I preferred not to. I passed several other groups coming in the opposite direction and had plenty of energy and enthusiasm to beam with pleasure everytime someone called out my name.

Miles 16 & 17, I concentrated on not letting that oh-so-slight incline on Silver Comet defeat me. Breathing was still relaxed and I was still at that 13:10 – 13:15 pace.

Miles 18 & 19 needed a little more focus. I changed my run:walk intervals as needed to catch my breath (2:2 or 1:1). I was going to reward myself with a Honey Stinger Waffle at mile 19, but the minute I took a bit, even before I swallowed it, I felt my stomach shift. Happened both times I tried to eat it.

The last 2 miles hurt more to walk than run. We bumped on Dana on the route and I fell in step as she slowed down to talk about her Ironman experience. It still hurt, but hey – I kept pace with the Queen Bee for 5 minutes! I was also running out of water and rationing the water was affecting my breathing.

Oh it hurt, my fingers swelled up, there were twinges in my leg, and that mental wall started creeping up on me. But I remembered to use my power words – “Relax” “Form” “Glide” (Thanks Coaches Karen and Michael for always telling me how smooth I look). I closed my eyes for a fleeting second mid-run (maybe not the best idea) to remember the things that brought a smile and warmth to me.

Whew! Was I glad to see the end at Kroger parking lot!

And Yes, I did make it back in time for the seminar. Everyone was gathered around, and Coach David had just started when I waltzed in.  Hilarious to have everyone cheer me on. And even more hilarious to find that I couldn’t get that goofy grin off my face for the next 30 minutes 🙂

If I was to change anything on the run
1. 2 bottles of water for every 2 miles (in cold/perfect weather).
2. Change out armwarmers for something more light.
3. Take advantage of the crowd at Chicago and stick to 13:30-13:40 for the first 5 miles and then get into a groove at 13:00 – 13:10.

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