Saturday, November 11, 2006

Fourteen Miles, and a Few Doubts

Yeah, baby. Fourteen mile-a-roonies. The toe-tips are sporting the usual 10+ mile blisters, but I'm otherwise feeling great. I ran at a nice, easy pace, and the total run, including occasional water stops and one pottie break, took me about three hours.

As has happened in previous long runs, I start to feel really tired after the 10-mile mark. But around 10.5 miles, I get a second wind and feel great for the rest of the run.

Now, I've only done three runs that have been at least 10 miles. Not a lot, but enough to see a bit of a pattern.

Today, my legs started to feel like lead at about 13.1 miles. I think it was a psychological thing, since 13.1 miles is the distance of a half-marathon. I kept pushing until I reached 14 miles (give or take a couple of tenths, since I don't have a GPS and only had a stopwatch to go by), and then the old bod said, "Okay. Enough." So I walked back to my car, which was another mile (I didn't plan to have that long of a walk afterward, but that's how it happened).

After drinking some water and eating a banana, I headed home. Ever since I started this running thing, I crave bananas and eat them all the time. Not so long ago, I didn't even like bananas all that much. Weird. I guess I need the potassium.

I feel tired now, but ... whew ... it feels really good to be able to say I ran 14 miles. And that I felt pretty good throughout the whole run. I did a lot of thinking when I was running and discovered that I have some doubts about running this half-marathon coming up in December. Some of those thoughts were:

- I don't know what I'm doing. I don't have a coach. I'm clueless.

- I'm pushing myself too hard/not pushing myself hard enough (yes, both thoughts came to mind).

- Long runs are supposed to be run at something slower than "race pace," but I don't even know what my race pace is. What if I'm moving too slow? Too fast? Though I can't imagine that my slow-run shuffle would ever be considered too fast.

- I should have a trainer. It's probably really dumb to train for something like this using a mixture of intuition and a "beginning runner's half-marathon training guide" from Runner's World online.

- I've only been running for three months and I'm already doing 14-mile long runs. Is that good? Bad? The guy at the running shop was concerned that I was running too far too fast, but I've followed the "beginning runner's half-marathon training guide" pretty closely. Maybe I wasn't a beginning runner. I was, but I was also a veteran walker, stair-stepper, elliptical-machine person, and long-distance hiker. Did that count for something?

- I can't do this. My nutrition system is entirely wrong. I get my veggies and protein and all that, but I've also used running as an excuse to eat all the carbs I want. I munch on my favorite cereal, Grape Nuts Flakes, each and every day, and I eat, with abandon, I might add, toast with butter and jam whenever I want. And no Wheat Thin is safe around me. No banana, either. Funny, though--I haven't been eating sweets as much as I thought I would. But I still think I could do better in the nutrition department.

- I'm not doing enough weight-training. My flapping upper-arms will render me airborne during the race, and I won't be able to finish. (Or who knows ... maybe I'll sail past all the other runners and win!)

- I can feel my pulse throbbing in my right ear. What does that mean? What horrible thing have I done to my body that's making my pulse throb in my right ear?

So, these are the thoughts that ran through my mind while running today (the pulse-in-the-ear thing was actually during the cool-down walk). Lots of positive thoughts were there, too, but that goes without saying. Maybe I'll post them in a future post, since this is the month for being thankful for things like, I don't know, legs that work. But this is the first long run I've done where I've really found myself beset by doubts. Even though I was listening to music and/or Phedippidations throughout most of the run.

The doubts are similar to the ones I had when I was preparing to thru-hike the AT, so I'm not putting a lot of stock in them. Mostly I'm just listening to my body and taking care not to push myself further than the old bod is willing to go.

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