Wow! Is it really time to begin that descent into taper madness?
I showed up for a Team Tiara group run Saturday, expecting that as per usual, I'd start with them for the first two or three miles, then split off to finish my run. For the most part, my teammates are training for The Other Half with a few doing the Rim Rock Run (22.6 miles), so their training schedule's different both in terms of mileage, and timetable. The Other Half is a week before my marathon, and Rim Rock is two weeks after. I'm cool with this, and like at least getting to be with them at the beginning of the run.
Well, I met the other women, and surprise, coach Leanne says "I was thinking I'd run the first twelve with you so you're not by yourself the whole time." I was really excited to have someone to run with BUT....let's keep in mind something about her-she's a former track and field All-American and has a list of running accolades a mile long. She's a total sweetheart and says "I'll just go whatever pace you're going!" but trust me, there's still a bit of pressure to perform there. She is as humble as they come, but her recovery pace is still easily faster than the top of my range for long runs. I figured, though, this'll be good....it'll keep me from getting lax and just phoning in the slowest possible pace.
We started out, and MAN, the gnats were out in full force on the route. They REALLY seemed to like Leanne and we stopped a couple of times when she asked me to see if I could spot ones that were dive-bombing into her eyes, and try to swipe them out. I felt a little funny jabbing my sweaty finger into her eye, but hey, I got the job done and we'd continue on each time, bugs removed and no damage to her eye by my hand.
I used the opportunity to pick her brain about marathon strategy, including pacing strategy during the race, and whether or not to deviate from my written plan that week before. We both seemed to agree that it wouldn't be a bad thing for me to can the recovery run the day before the marathon-so many people seem to like to do a shakeout run but honestly, I don't think it's going to help me personally-especially after flying, and being two time zones behind. She also told me not to freak about the congested start, that it could very well be to my advantage and allow me to have the juice left in the last 10K to make up that time, and then some. So, I'm freaking less about missing out on a BQ because of a slow start. She imparted all of her "works for me" thoughts about nutrition, too, and the importance of getting calories immediately after a long run or race for a faster recovery.
We also got to chat about other fun random stuff, like how we met our husbands, our kids, and other non-mom, non-running stuff we do. She's a cool lady and we're very lucky to have someone who is THAT good but completely approachable and friendly to help with our training! Seriously....I would've turned and ran the other way in fear last year if we didn't have such great coaches. It was a nice surprise to run with her and have the opportunity to get training advice from someone who knows a LOT of things that I don't.
We moved along at a pretty good clip for the first 12 miles, then Leanne bid me adieu and I continued on. I was experimenting with Succeed Caps, or S-caps electolyte tablets, on this run, instead of my usual GU's. I normally don't like the taste of the GU's so I figured I should monkey around with alternatives before race day. I popped another one at this point, and continued on my merry way. I was a little tired by the end, but I felt no cramping or muscle aches, no upset stomach or anything like that. And, even with the several gnat-ectomy stops, and slowing my pace for a mile or two around mile 15, I still finished this run on a several seconds faster pace than my first 20-miler! I was very pleased with how it went.
The other good news-I am normally VERY sore for two days after long runs. I am not sure if my body is more accustomed to training or if this was a direct result of the S-caps, but I only had moderate soreness and stiffness Saturday, waking up feeling nearly 100% on Sunday. After being kind of sick last week, I feel damn close to a million bucks today.
I'll be doing my 8 miles with 600 meter intervals in an hour or two, then it's a fairly easy week. I'm kind of relieved that with all the tweaks and tiredness of training, things are coming about as together as they can be at this point.