On the running front, this weekend was spectacular.
On all other fronts, it was great as well. But let’s focus on the running, because I am better at discussing 18 miles of fun than I am at describing the flavors in my foods. (Last night I ate ribs and I would describe them as “messy,” and for brunch on Saturday I had some fancy grilled cheese sandwich that I would call “really good.” Food Network, let me know when you’re ready to give me a show. It’ll be really, really watchable.)
Last weekend my running was a mess. I felt slow, I felt sluggish, I got frustrated, my hip hurt and my sinuses made breathing somewhat difficult. Whine whine whine. I want wine.
This weekend? Total 180. Everything was spot-on.
I got lots of sleep Friday night and was up at 7 am, as planned, to get my miles done. Usual pre-run routine: Eat two “granola bars,” foam roll, ab workout, water, bathroom things, legwarmers carefully selected.
I wore my old sneakers because my new ones feel a little big and I’m wondering if they are partially to blame for the whole psoas/hip/IT band/glute/brain problems I’ve been having.
I planned to run to Central Park (1 mile), run 10 laps of the Central Park Reservoir (16 repetitive miles) and then run back home (1 mile). Coach Cane warned me that after Friday’s rain, the Reservoir might not be the best bet. But I tried it out anyway. I’m stubborn like that.
The pace plan was to run slower than my marathon goal pace (8:45) for the first 14 miles (I wanted to keep it around 9:15) and then pick it up to marathon goal pace for the last four miles “if I felt up to it.”
Of course I felt up to it. Turns out, if you follow your pace plan as your coach tells you, it’s quite manageable! I kept the early miles slow, so I had plenty of energy left at the end.
Here’s how nice the route looked:
It looks tedious, but it really wasn’t. The most annoying part about running all those Reservoir laps was that it was, as Coach Cane warned, kind of washed out from the rain. There were two spots on the loop where you had to jump onto the fence and scarily run on that for a few yards without falling off, rolling and ankle or dying. I did not die. See? I told you this run was successful.
I ran two laps on my own and then met up with Brian, who was out for a 12 miler. He cruised ahead of me a few times and I was behaved and didn’t try to keep up. I stayed on pace because I’m all disciplined and stuff these days.
Ignore mile 1. Mile 1 is most definitely not accurate.
My hip felt fine for the most part, both during and after the run. By lap seven it was getting aggravated from jumping over all the puddles, so I did my final laps down on the Bridle Path instead. I saw many cute dogs.
I also planned smartly and brought fuel (Strawberry Gu Chomps — I ate four just before mile 10 and the other four to finish the package at mile 13) and stashed a water bottle along the route. It made a huge difference being able to hydrate along the way. I tried running with the bottle in my hand for a lap, but it was way too annoying (I don’t know how you coordinated people do it) so I stashed the water in a fence. To my knowledge, it was not drugged. Though maybe it was, and that’s why the run felt so damn good…
Fine by me.
Also relevant? My stomach has been feeling really good lately! I am sure I just jinxed myself like an idiot, but during Hamptons training I used to have to make a bathroom stop (sometimes two or three) during every long run. Now? Stop-free! I love that. I’m happy about it.
I was dressed well for the weather (shorts, legwarmers, tank top, jacket and gloves) and even though everyone on Twitter was all “OMG it’s so windy,” I wasn’t bothered by it. There were a few scary-strong gusts, but I didn’t focus on it so I didn’t notice it.
What’s that realization right there, Ali?
Oh right! Your head was in the game, your brain was happy and focused, and you had a good run! THAT IS AMAZING.
Everything just fell into place nicely for this 18-miler, and it was a huge confidence booster. Could I have run 8.2 more miles afterward? Absolutely. I’ll go with the whole running cliche by saying “the miles flew by.” They really did! Brian and I were out together for a while, but we weren’t actually running together for most of it. We each had our headphones in, and occasionally he was ahead of me, or I was ahead of him. We were too busy avoiding the puddles to have a conversation. And also, we were too busy running to have a conversation. Still, there’s something about running “with” someone that makes time fly. At one point Brian asked me what mile I was at and I was shocked to look at my watch and see I was nearing mile 10.
I finished the run on a major, major runner’s high. This was the run I’ve been needing.
And because I’m trying to be a smart little runner, and I’m trying to take care of my body and do my best to ward off any psoas/hip/IT band/butt/head/ankle/joint/knee/eyeball pain, I didn’t do what I wanted to do — sit on the couch and watch “Beverly Hills 90210” reruns on SoapNet — but rather, I did what I knew I should do.
First, I stretched.
Then, I spent a good amount of time with my BFF Foamy.
I don’t actually call my foam roller “Foamy.” I don’t call it anything. I call it “foam roller.” But whatever.
Foam rolling hurt in the best way possible. I took a photo, so you know how dramatic it was:
Yeahhhh, that’s the spot. Also, my face was ridiculously salty. That’s a photo for another day.
Next stop in the recovery process: My first ice bath.
I did it, and I loved it! I’m a convert. I’m on board. I’ll bathe in ice again.
Brian didn’t want to come over to dump ice on me (shocking), so I documented the process. I felt weird taking photos of this. Also, when I told Brian that I took pictures of my ice bath, he was shocked and laughed, particularly when I mentioned I would probably share them with the blog world.
Turns out, Brian thought you take ice baths in the nude.
No no, silly Brian. I suited up big-time for this bath.
Everyone said “layer up on top,” and so I wore a tank top, a long-sleeved shirt, a sweatshirt and earmuffs, plus shorts on bottom. I think the earmuffs are what really kept me toasty.
Step 1: Fill the tub with cold water. That step is simple.
Step 2: Get in the cold tub. This was my least favorite step.
I didn’t even have the ice in yet, but getting my legs fully submerged wasn’t too pleasant. I’m a wimp, OK? It was cold.
Step 3: Fill tub with ice. Let it shower over you in an oh-so-pleasant way.
Be smart and break up the ice before dumping it in, lest you dump a giant, sharp chunk onto your knee. Ouch.
I used three bags of ice total. That seemed like a good amount.
I also followed Susan‘s advice and kept my feet elevated the whole time. My toes stayed warm, and I think that made a difference.
Step 4: Drink hot chocolate, watch an episode of “Friends” on your laptop (the one with the holiday armadillo, perhaps?) and enjoy.
Easy! The worst part was getting in the tub. Adding the ice was fine, and eventually your legs go numb-ish and you just sit there. I was fine with it. I stayed in for about 15 minutes, until most of the ice had melted. My legs were nice and red, which I assume is a good thing.
Check out those sexy goosebumps! Hiiii boys! (See what you missed out on, Brian?)
My legs are definitely fatigued from the weekend, but I believe the ice bath helped. My knees and my hip both felt good the rest of the weekend, which involved a ton of walking around.
More specifically, it involved walking around with the “animals” at the Museum of Natural History.
I’ve been there many times, but I still get so friggin’ excited when I see the giraffes.
Also cool? The animals that, to some, look like horses mixed with deer mixed with zebras, but to me look like brown skinny cows wearing cool striped legwarmers. See?
Saturday was a day of museum-ing, napping and drinking with runners, which was lovely, followed by brunch Sunday and lots more walking around in the afternoon. Brian and I met at least four awesome puppies in Central Park on Sunday. Best day ever? YES.
And then Brian — on his own, with no influence from me, I swear — suspiciously started sending me photos of puppies online.
Coach Cane asked that I run 3–4 slow miles on Sunday, and my watch was cool and broken, so the route I mapped out ended up being 5.3 miles. Oops.
But guess what that meant?
My first-ever 50-mile week!
Plus five more miles, also slow, this morning.
I feel cool about knocking off 50.8 miles in a week. That seems big to me, and of course now I want to run a 60-mile week. Can we do that, Coach Cane? I promise I’ll keep my paces perfect.
And clearly the week took its toll on me, because last night Brian and I were going to watch Midnight in Paris and then watch the Academy Awards, and I successfully got through none of that. I stayed awake for dinner and then passed out.
Oh, and because I had a good run Saturday, Coach Cane rewarded me the best way he knows how: with a photo of Simon.
Now that I’ve rehashed the weekend, I’m back on my runner’s high. It feels good.
Tomorrow I’m off to L.A. for work and won’t be back on the east coast until Friday evening. I plan to run on the beach in a tank top while I’m out there. Or on the hotel treadmill, if I cannot figure out how to get to the beach.
SHARE YOUR HAPPY RUNNER’S HIGH: Who raced this weekend? Who did a long run? Who did a short run? Who ate ice cream? Who slept a ton? Who forgot to sleep? Fill me in and let’s be best friends.