Yesterday morning, my alarm went off at 4:45am. In case you didn't know, it's still dark at that time of the day.
I looked out the window to see if it was raining, but with it being dark and all that jazz, this proved impossible. So I put my ear to the window instead. No rain. Curses. When I went to bed just 5 hours before (I know - that's not ideal before a long run, but I find it impossible to go to bed super early the night before I have to get up so freaking early), weather.com was saying it'd be raining until 10am. I rejoiced! Rain meant that there was no way it'd feel like normal August weather (Hot! Muggy! Sticky! Humid!) for my 16-miler I needed to do.
I headed out around 5:20 (still dark) and made my trek to the park in Nashville where the Striders were holding the group run at 6. It's a little tough having to get up so early and drive 30 minutes away, but I find that it's oh so worth it to do on days when I need to really go the distance. Running with others makes all the difference for me on those days.
I ended up running the 16 miles with my pal Matt, and we chatted off and on most of the time about odds and ends. It was pretty humid (and muggy! and sticky!) when we got started, but before we were even halfway in it got kind of cloudy and there was a rather pleasant breeze. Score. I think it was in the neighborhood of 73 degrees, but with humidity that's still warmer than I'd care for. I was thankful that it was a little cooler, even if we didn't get the rain I was hoping for.
It was a really pretty run as we ran from Percy Warner Park over to the Radnor Lake area. We chose to run an extra 2 miles on the Radnor path instead of having to run extra on the Boulevard (Nashville folks know what I mean, but basically it's this long road with a lot of really expensive homes that can be rather dull if you need to run a lot of mileage on it). I'm glad we did because it meant we only had 2.5 miles to go on the Boulevard when we got back, but we found out that there were some KILLER hills. They totally did a number on my legs.
I'm choosing to embrace hills on this training cycle. Chicago is flat. I've been there. I know it to be true. I am assuming that running on the crazy hills of Tennessee will make my legs strong, and then when I hit that flat ground my legs will laugh at the ground and say to it, "Dude, you are easy peasy, you have no idea what we run on at home! Bring us your worst!" and the ground won't be able to say anything back because it will know from how easy I glide along that my legs weren't lying.
(No one said I ever think sanely when I'm doing a long run!)
(Nor can I do math on a long run, as evidenced when we hit the Boulevard (which in my head I kept calling the 'vard, even though that's really dumb and no one calls it that) at 13.5 miles and I thought we only had 1.5 miles to go to hit 16.)
(Of course, I don't have excellent math skills anyways.)
Anyways, the point is that I am hoping that running on flat ground will feel so easy after all these crazy hills I'm running that I'll be able to run faster. So bring on the hills.
They did slow me down a bit. We ended up running in about 2:53, which included a few stops at the water stations to drink as well as a stop to give some directions to fellow runners, so I'm calling it more of a 2:51. I had hoped to keep a 10-minute pace and run it in 2:40, but between the hills and adding 2 more miles on to my long run distance, I'll take what I got.
After the run, I took my ice bath, shower and had some chocolate milk. This combination seems to be working well for me. I donned my recovery socks and got myself some coffee because I was skipping out on my usual nap. My family went and spent the day at the pool with some good friends, and I ended up not getting to bed until 11pm. Talk about a long day!
My legs still felt a little tired today, but I didn't have ANY soreness. I think this is amazing. I don't know what to attribute it to specifically, so I'm just going to keep up the routine of ice baths, chocolate milk and recovery socks... and recommend it to my fellow runners!
Hope everyone else had outstanding runs!