Head and Heart – another 20 miles

Today was the last “peak” training distance of 20 miles.  I won’t have to run that far again until Nov 17, thank God.

Last weekend, I was in Gettysburg, PA watching my daughter, Ellie, run with her xc team.  This weekend, I was in Groton, MA, watching my other daughter, Lucy, run with hers.  Both girls are inspiring to me as they push themselves.  Yesterday, Lucy was not feeling tip-top health wise, but she managed to kill it on the course and shaved more than a minute off her best time. A big PR day for her!  Here is Lucy taking out a hill and a post-race photo with me  (photo credit, her grandfather, Grumpi):

IMG_1772  lucy and mom Groton race

OK, onto my 20 miler day, which was actually a 20.12 mile day.  Definitely the longest distance I’ve run by .01 miles. (Last 20 miler day was 20.11. 🙂  )

Here is how the day started:

  • 4:00 a.m.  – my alarm goes off.
  • 4:07 a.m. – my second alarm goes off (well planned, I’d say.)
  • 4:20 a.m. –  1/2 cup coffee, banana w/ peanut butter
  • 4:30 a.m. – feed the horses but don’t let out into the pasture because there is *definitely* a skunk skulking around  -do not need skunky anything to deal with at 4:30 a.m.
  • 4:31 a.m. – rush dogs back into house from front lawn morning business to get away from where the skunk might be lurking.
  • 4:32 am. – all living things at Soule household safely behind closed doors and skunk -free-fresh.

And the day continued:

  • 5:40 a.m. – arrive at Janet’s, see that she’s wearing shorts and t-shirt and I’m bundled for winter running (it was 41 degrees.)  I brought other clothes in the car. Quickly changed to shorts and long sleeve tech shirt.
  • 5:45 a.m. – we’re off!  IN THE DARK.
  • 6:30 a.m. – already past 1st water stop – still kinda dark, but enough daylight coming for us to see our feet. Phew.
  • 7:00 a.m. – feet really, really hurt.
  • 7:30 a.m. – we stop talking.  We’re 2 hrs in, starting to separate a bit (Janet leads and tethers me), and we’re just moving along.
  • 8:45 a.m. – I start to fall apart from the waist down – feet pain moving through ankles up to calves, knees ( this is new).  We’re almost there, but we’re hurting.
  • 8:46 a.m. – I think to myself, “no body left – body broken – only thing working to keep me moving is my pumping heart and my head forcing signals to my feet.
  • 8:50 a.m. – really worried – we’re moving at a slow pace, slower than I hope to run the marathon, and I’m breaking down but not quite to 20 miles – how will I add another hour of running on race day?  Answer:  “Head and Heart“.
  • 9:23: – back in Janet’s driveway, 20.12 miles behind, NO walking.  We were slow, but we finished.  Heads and hearts in tact.

Then back to my house for recovery plan:

  • 9:45 a.m. shovel out horse stalls and let horses out (no skunkiness to worry about now)
  • 10:30 a.m – ice bath. I stay in for 12 minutes.  This is the last ice bath until Nov 17. Yeehaw.
  • 10:43 a.m. – hot shower that was environmentally careless because I was probably in there for about 30 minutes, but…  I’m not really sorry about it even though I used up an extraordinary amount of resources to run hot water on my body for that long.
  • 11:30 a.m. – warm, in cozy comfy clothes, and looking to take a quick nap on the couch. But Stella was already on the couch, looking how I felt, so I joined her:


GOOD NEWS – I did NOT have a side stitch today!  I received a lot of advice since last week’s post, but unfortunately, I was stuck between “You’re drinking too much water” and “You’re not drinking enough water” from two equally fast, equally experienced runners.   I went for the mid-way and drank about 2/3 of my normal amount. I switched from Gu Chomps to Power Gel thinking that I might do better with paste version of energy supplement rather than chewing something with gelatin that could bounce around in my tum.   I also did not eat any ice cream last night (to avoid bad effects of fat, if there are any.)  Not sure what mattered most, but I am so happy that there was no stitch.

Tapering starts now – that means that the distances just get shorter from here until the race day. Next weekend’s long run is 12 miles with manageable length mid-week runs.



Rain Running

Today, I ran in the rain – alone – for 15 miles.

But first, let me report in on the runs earlier in the week.  I ran short but fast and hilly runs on Mon/Tue.  On Wednesday, I flew to Toronto so really didn’t have the time to squeeze in a useful run that day.  Thursday, I ran 7 miles around the city of Toronto (which is beautiful, by the way.)  Since I have trouble with getting lost and the city is under major construction with all sorts of sidewalks and roads closed… I had to give up the route I scoped out on mapmyrun.com and just stay close to where I started. So, I left my hotel and ran a couple of miles up to the campus of University of Toronto, looped a couple times around Queens’ Garden, and then did, actually, manage get lost in the U of T campus, but found my way back to Queen’s Garden, looped 2 more times, then safely back to the hotel in time to shower and get to my work commitments on time. (Also, on the return, discovered a Starbucks that was near the hotel, but not obvious to all the 5,000 other conference attendees, so I was able avoid the 20 min Starbucks line near the convention center and show up with my Venti without delay. Score!)

Also, though this is not about running, I had the great fortune to have dinner with a colleague, who just happens to be cousins with my roommate from 1983, who just happens to live in Toronto, and joined us. GREAT times.  Here is a photo of us catching up!  (I’m on the left, my roommate, Carol, then my friend and colleague, Ali.)


OK – back to run details.  Saturday was a travel day with an early, early departure from the hotel, so no running.  Janet ran her long run yesterday.  I knew I was going to have go alone for mine.  I could also tell from the evening news that I would have to do mine in the rain. I was discouraged. Who wants to run in the rain – ever? And who wants to have to do it for a long time – alone? And, because it would be raining, I couldn’t even plan to strap my phone on and listen to podcasts or music. It would be hours of listening to myself breathe and hit the pavement. Alone.

Today, when I was getting ready to take off, the news said I had an hour before the showers hit the mid-coast area. I figured that would be OK since I’d get almost half way into my run by then and would be warmed up, and besides, finishing in the rain wouldn’t be as bad as starting in it.

I planned a route in Brunswick that wouldn’t be as hilly as any route I’d take if I departed from my house.  I parked. Got out of the car, and started on my way.  About 2 minutes later, the rain LET GO. I mean, all the water in the clouds came down at once. I thought, “This can’t last, I’ll just keep going.”  About 1.5 miles later, it was worse, and the roads were so flooded that the sidewalks were flooded. I was ankle deep in water. I had so much water in my clothes that my shorts felt like a full diaper.  The pocket of my hand-held water bottle had filled with rain, so my Gu Chomps had started to liquify, leaving the pocket full of Gu goo.  I can be bulldoggish when I have a plan,  so it probably doesn’t surprise people who know me that I have a bulldog and that I would keep running in ridiculous rain.

And then… thunder.

So, I turned around and started to head back to the car. This was the kind of rain – windy sheets of pelting rain – that makes cars pull over because their wipers can’t go fast enough. Drivers are staring at me like I’m an idiot.  I want to scream at all of them, “I. KNOW. I am running lickety-split to safety, as FAST AS I CAN.”  So, on the way back to the car, I’m praying there is no lightening because the water is still over my feet on most steps. I figured this run is finished and I’d just go back out later in the day when it’s not as likely that I could get killed.  But, as I get back near my car,  it lightens up to just steady rain. So, I keep going. And going. And going.

All the way to 15 miles!

Wee Bit of Bad News:

1. I learned that when your skin is very, very wet in your shoes, it becomes very soft, and shreds easily. Not sure what to do about that – am open to suggestions.

2. When it’s raining hard, any energy chews or food you bring with you will liquify.  Only Gu paste will work.

3. It stopped raining and turned SUNNY as I was driving my tired self back home after the run.

4. No matter how slick you make your skin with silicone, your wet clothes will rub you raw.  If you don’t notice when you are undressing, you will DEFINITELY notice when you get in the shower.

Good News:

1. Because I had turned back from my initial route plan, I ended up completing the remaining miles in sets of loops around town. That was good.

2. I learned that I can run a long way in the rain.

3. I completed my weekly run goal, alone, in terrible conditions, and I actually felt physically better than expected.

4. I did the whole 15 miles at pretty fast clip! Race-pace!  I want to give myself credit for really killing it, but it’s possible I was faster since I essentially swam the first three miles. 🙂

TEAM UPDATE:  I’ve been whining about running 15 miles alone, but Janet ran 19.5 miles – alone – yesterday.  She blows my mind with her will and ability.  Margaret is feeling better and getting back into some cross training, which includes biking and trail running this week. She’s a toughie.  Impressive women leading me to race day, for sure.