Sunday, August 28, 2011

It Will Take More Than a Hurricane!

I woke up at 5:30am for what was going to be a 19 mile training run yesterday and I just couldn't get going. Five hours of sleep two nights in a row just took the wind out of my sails. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal I would just go back to sleep for a little bit and head out for my run a little later. I went back to sleep.

When I woke up and finally got out of the house for my run it was about 1:00pm. I knew I couldn't waste any time because Hurricane Irene was headed up the coast. It hadn't started raining yet but it looked like it would any minute. Instead of taking the route I had planned out I decided to run south to the Southwick bike path. The plan was to do 9.5 miles and then just turn around and come back.

About 1 mile in I looked at my Garmin and it said I had a pace of 9:00 per mile. I thought that was amazing since I was feeling really good. and that pace was faster than my usual long run pace. About two miles in I had the same pace and the rain started. It was a light rain but I thought to myself. No big deal. A little rain wouldn't stop me.

At three miles i reached the path that led to the bike path. It starts as a dirt path in Westfield and about 1/2 mile it becomes a really nice paved bike path that goes from Southwick, MA all the way to New Haven, CT.  Eventually the dirt path will be a paved bike path that comes very close to my house in Westfield. The dirt path was in pretty good shape considering how much it had rained recently. As I reached the paved path a steadier rain started to come down and the winds began to pick up. My shoes started to get really wet and heavy but I kept going.

Before long I was approaching the furthest south I had gone on the bike path and the rain was coming down even harder and the wind was ripping. I still ad about two miles until the turn around but I was determined to finish 19 miles. The only way i was turning around was if there was thunder or lightning. I saw several trees down and I wondered if they fell during this storm or were left over from the last storm.

When I got to the 9.5 mile mark I was along a stream that was swelling and I noticed some signs up ahead. I thought to myself that must be the Connecticut border. It was less than a quarter mile away so I decided I still felt pretty good and I was already soaking wet I might as well just turn around at the signs. I quickly made it to the signs and just as I had suspected it was the Connecticut border. I crossed over a bridge into Connecticut and turned around to head back home.

I was getting really thirsty and began to drink my water. I only had one bottle with me. My plan was to refill at the new water fountain they had installed a few weeks earlier along the bike path. I also began to really notice how heavy and wet my running shoes were. they were starting to rub weird on my feet from being so wet and I heard a slosh with every step. I finished my water and my Honey Stinger chews about two miles from the water fountain. My upper back, shoulders and neck were beginning to get really stiff and I took a short walking break. I started again and really was having trouble with my neck. I pushed my self to go at least a mile before another walking break. I really tried to stretch my neck, back and shoulders. I was almost to the water fountain so I kept going.

When I got to the water fountain it was broken. Someone had jammed the button all the way in and the town must have shut off the water so it wouldn't run constantly. I couldn't believe it. this fountain was only about two weeks old. I was really thirsty and really wet and had about 5 miles to go. When I got to the dirrt part of the path it was a total mess. I decided to take a walking break rather than risk slipping in the mud and hurting myself.

When I got to the road I had exactly three miles left and it was still pouring. With driving rain and wind I got a boost from a nice downhill and I finished my run even though I could not pick up the pace too much for the finish.

After a few glasses of water I laid on the floor and then eventually went to take a shower. My skin was so pruney from being wet for over three hours but what was worse was the amount of chaffing that occurred from my clothes being soaking wet for that amount of time. My waste line and inner thighs were all torn up. I did use some Body Glide on my upper inner thighs but it didn't stand up to all the rain.

I also got my first black toenail of this training cycle. I consider this run a a success. I like running in the rain but this was the most insane amount of rain I have ever run in. If I can run 19.3 miles in that storm then it is going to take more than a hurricane to stop me from finishing Maine!

Monday, August 15, 2011

I Am Still Going!

I haven't posted a blog in a while but I feel like I owe it to my loyal followers.

Since my last post I have completed my personal training goal of running round trip to the eight cities and towns that surround my City of Westfield, MA. There was no real reason to do this but I thought it would make training for my first marathon that much more interesting by giving me new routes to run.

It turns out that the most difficult run was not the longest run but the run I saved for last. It didn't help that it was really hot out on the day I ran to Montgomery. Montgomery is a very small town on the edge of the Berkshires that happens to be located at the top of a very large incline.

 I don't know what the actual elevation was but probably in the range of 700-900 feet. This run felt like a bit of a disaster but at least I finished. It turned out to be a good practice run for the hills I decided to punish myself with this last weekend.

Since I am training for my first marathon and I do not know what the course will be like, I decided to work in a lot of hills in my training. This past weekend I went out for an 18 mile run with about 1000 feet of elevation. To do this I ran to Granville Center from my home. The first run on my Round Trip routes was Granville, but this time I was not stopping at the town line but punishing myself with additional mileage.

I left my house around 6:00am. I followed one road which was an old country road that winds up a mountain between several reservoirs and conservation land. I have personally seen black bears crossing this road and I ran past Wildcat Road on a stretch of road that had no houses for a while. It was nice and cool this morning and I could hear creatures moving in the woods. It may have been because of the cooler weather or the fear of large wild animals but I cruised all the way up the mountain road to Granville Center without taking a walking break. In fact I made it most of the way (14.4 miles) back before I took a quick 30 second walking break. I had a hard time getting going again tking two more short walking breaks in the next mile and a half but then I was finally going and finished the last few miles strong. 3 hours 20 minutes for 18.2 miles which happened to be almost the exact time I ran a relatively flat 17 miles just a week before!

I usually carry one water bottle that has a hand strap on it. I was worried I would run out of water for this really long run so on the suggestion of a friend of mine I carried a second bottle and hid it in the woods along the route. I filled this water bottle with ice and topped it off with water. I found a nice shady spot just under 4 miles in and tucked my extra bottle next to a tree stump. This worked out great. I was able to ration my first water bottle through about 13 miles and picked up the second bottle on the way back and it was still somewhat cold. I had just enough water to finish the run. This was a great idea and the only drawbacks were that the water bottle was so cold that my hand became numb for a while and it was awkward carrying two water bottles. I think I will use this technique on all my really long runs from now on!