Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fishing permitted, but please don't heckle the runners!

So today was it, my first 10-mile run, and the longest distance I'll be running until the half-marathon in (only!) three weeks. It was a beautiful day, with temperatures in the mid 60s and a mix of sun and clouds. The route was an out and back on the trail, and it went really well -- better, even, than the 9.5 miles I ran last week.

It took a while for me to feel loosened up, so the first few miles were pretty slow. By mile 3 I was still keeping a very easy pace, which prompted some comments from fishermen who were sitting on the trail at the river's edge. One said hello, one nodded, and the last said, in low undertones, "faster!". That's not the first time I've been told I'm too slow by an old man. On two occasions I've run by a house near my neighborhood and been told "I could have run faster than that when I was your age!", or "Come on, can't you go any faster than that?". I'll be doing some speedwork soon enough... :-)

About half a mile after the fishermen, I stepped to the side of the trail to let a horse and rider by. This isn't mandatory, but it's a safe way to ensure than I'm not kicked or stepped on by a startled horse. To my surprise, instead of walking past me, the horse came right up to me and put its head down to be rubbed and petted. So cute! He was dark brown with a little white star on his forehead. I rubbed his face and the mane by his forehead and chatted with the rider a bit. When she was ready to ride off, the horse didn't want to go and kept pulling his head in my direction. I made a new friend. :-) I had been a little antsy to get back to my run, but it was a really pleasant break.

A lot of people who live in my area own horses. Some have horse farms, like the one pictured here. Many of those farms offer trail rides, so I always meet up with horses on my runs and bike rides.

I was timing today's run so that I'll have a realistic expectation for my finish time for the race, but I didn't stop my watch at all during the run. There was a time when I stopped to loosen my shoelaces, and then I had to stop several times to let horses go by -- but I'm sure that there will be just as many times when I'll be held up during the race, such as at water stations, so I think that my timing today was fairly accurate.

When I began running again after my break with the horse, I felt really refreshed and full of energy. I picked up the pace and felt really good for the next 4 miles. At the turnaround point, I snacked on some raisins. I tried a pretzel nugget last week, which was an instant failure (much, much too dry without a large supply of water), but the raisins were great. They were easy to store, handle, and to eat. I congratulated myself on finding a good fuel supplement to bring with me and started on the final 5 miles.

Once I started on the way back, I picked up the speed even more. The miles started flying by, and when I reached the fishermen again, I was going at a nice strong pace. One of them asked how I was doing. I said "7 miles down, 3 to go!", to a reply of "Good God!", and then I was out of earshot. I kept up the pace until about mile 8. By then my legs started to feel heavy, and, to keep my motivation going, I started thinking about people I wanted to beat in races. I wonder if my pace was a little too fast or if the raisins gave me a spike of energy that fell after 3 miles. I have another 10-miler next week, so I can try snacking at the 7-mile mark to see if it has any effect.

I finished my run in 1:59:17, which isn't the fastest, but it's a start. I've been running for years, but in terms of weekly mileage, I've never actually run very much. I think that once I've got a good mileage base, I'll see more results with speed and hill workouts. This half-marathon is just the beginning.

On a somewhat related but different topic, a friend of mine asked me to do a 25-mile bike tour with her on April 25th. That's 1 week before the half-marathon. I'd like to do it, but I don't have a road bike, and I'm not sure if my legs will be very happy with me after 25 miles. I've only ever biked 25 miles once before, and I remember being pretty tired afterwards. I don't want to be sore for my big day! If anyone is reading this and has any comments about how much exercise is good to do in the week before a half-marathon, feel free to leave a little wisdom. :-)

No comments: