Monday, March 30, 2009

March Madness-- 104 miles

I ran a whopping 104 miles in March, shattering my previous record of .... 80. It's madness, I tell you! (And I was wondering why my body hurt!) If I never do another marathon, it will probably be the most miles of any month EVER.
Since it's spring break for the kiddos, we are going to a have a mini-vacation over the next two days. We have rented a cozy little cabin overlooking Kentucky Lake. I'll get to run my five-miler on Wednesday morning with a VIEW.

Have a great week! I'll be back to post about Saturday's 20-miler if not before.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Free Beer, Free Food, Free 5K and Healing

The cartoon says "Day after the marathon," but it could say "How Runnermom has been feeling for about three weeks!"

Then yesterday, I noticed that for the first time in a while, I am pain-free. The past month (101 miles so far in March!) has been hard on this nearly-40-year old body (38 and a half, but who's counting?).

I had run 27 miles, 25 miles (including a half-marathon race), and 30 miles the first three weeks of the month. I rolled my ankle for the 2nd time early in the month, and that mild sprain has been plaguing me ever since. Add to that sore knees and quads (from my 20-miler), and I was turning into somewhat of a mess. So, last week, I took it easy, I backed off. Those 15 miles went a long way toward HEALING my stressed body. I'm starting week 13 of 16 feeling well.

This afternoon, my running club had a free 5K called the Pub Run, or "Will Run for Beer." A few folks from the club and a bunch of other people (hel-lo, free STUFF!) showed up despite the weather. After a week or two of spring-like weather, we had 45 degrees and a wind chill of 39. It looked like it might rain at any second, but we still had a good crowd.

It is described as a non-competitive fun run, but there are always those who take it seriously. We had a casual "ready, set, go," and we were off. I should have warmed up. Starting at 5K race pace COLD is tough. I don't think I got my breathing under control until mile 2. I was happy to have an 8:43 first mile though! The other two miles were between 9 and 10 minute pace, and the last mile was UPHILL. Ok, maybe it was the last 1/2 mile. But the race definitely counts as my hillwork for the week! At the end, I went back down the hill and found my friend 1/2 mile back on the course and ran her in. Or should I say UP? So, I had exactly 4 miles total.

At the end, we got to exchange our race number for a free pint of the pub's own microbrews and enjoy yummy free appetizers. Free beer, free food, free 5K. Win, win, win. (If only I enjoyed beer more.... Sorry, MCM Mama!) But my glass of ice water was quite refreshing and the beer cheese dip was excellent.

It feels good to be pain-free--for now. I think my legs have finally recovered from that 20-miler. And I get to do ANOTHER 20-MILER this week. Yay.
Actually, I'm orchestrating a BIG training run this Saturday for everyone I know doing the half-marathon or marathon in 3 weeks. I'm recruiting a bunch of people to run, volunteers for aid stations, and basically a SUPPORT NETWORK to ensure we come through it together. When you are running for 3.5 hours, it's good to have people!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Recovery Week. Thank God

I'm mid-way through my last recovery week before taper. I can't wait until TAPER! I have to say I'm dangerously close to burning out on this running thing. I imagine by week (geez, what week am I in?? oh, yeah...) 12, LOTS of runners feel this way.

Having the half-marathon and the first 20-miler only SIX DAYS apart certainly contributed to this feeling. The day after the 20, I eeked out a painful 3 miles on the treadmill for recovery--mostly walking. For the first half-mile, I walked, then tried a gentle jog. However, I didn't feel as if I could lift my legs. My quads just would not cooperate. It felt as if my legs weighed a ton. Each. I think I walked .4 and jogged .1. I gave up and decided to try later in the day. That evening I did my other 2.5 and it was definitely better, though still painful.

I took a total rest day on Sunday. Monday called for 6, but 1/2 mile into it, my ankle was hurting to the point I knew I'd better stop. On Tuesday, I ran a slow, easy 4 miles that felt harder than they should have. Today, I ran my "long run" of recovery week-- 7 miles. In the rain, by the way. (After the rainy half-marathon, 7 miles in the rain wasn't too intimidating.) I didn't wear my toe socks, though, and brought home a nasty blister. I'm definitely a TOE SOCK CONVERT! At least for rainy runs. Seven was tough today, however. We started out with 9:30 miles until 3.5 when we took a little potty break. It was a struggle to run at that pace on worn out legs. After the little break, we never recovered the speed and ran 10-10:20/pace. Even the last 3.5 at the slower pace felt endless. Afterward, I felt like I usually feel after a 12 or 13 mile run. Just plain beat.

I miss starting a run with energetic legs. I can't remember the last time I felt like that. My recovery week plan calls for 19 miles---still quite a few miles. As much as I hate to do it, I think I might need to drop a couple of those miles. Last week was my peak mileage week--30 miles. As far as plans go, this one is pretty mild in terms of mileage, but that 30 miles took a lot out of me.

I'm trying to listen to my body and get to the starting line in as good a shape as possible and avoid burnout. Come on recovery week, work your magic! I'd love to start out next week, my last week of big mileage (2nd 20-mile run!) with FRESH legs. Is that too much to ask?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

4:30 Pace Group, Here I Come!

I finally registered. With my coupon code M&B, I only paid $95 (only! ha!). I figured if I survived the 20-miler, I should probably register for the actual race. Members of my running club couldn't believe I hadn't registered. They are believers in registering early and since you've already spent the $$$, you'll stay motivated. But I don't think I'm lacking in the motivation department. I think to train for a half or full marathon, you've got to WANT it . Otherwise, it's just pointless torture!

A few details about the 20-miler.... I was really blessed to have a running buddy for 17 of the 20 miles. My friend Shelly slowed her pace significantly to run with me. We started with a group of 6 ladies, all of us running different paces/distances. (Some were doing a 10-mile training run for the half rather than the full.) After only a couple of miles, we paired off into groups of two. After about 7 miles, we never saw any of the other ladies again.

We ran the first ones pretty much at my half-marathon pace--around 10-minute miles. Just like in the last long run, I started out with 10-minute miles, dropped to more like 10:15-10:30 in the middle miles, and ended with 11-minute miles after about mile 16. The pace still averaged out to 10:30, so I'm very happy. My slower miles at the end are always when Shelly goes on ahead (that girl always finishes strong!). I tend to relax and start taking walk breaks once a mile then. I don't know if it's because it's the end and I'm tired, or if it's the lack of "pressure" to keep up with someone. Either way, I'm ok with it.

In the actual marathon, I plan to walk through all the water stops. Yesterday, we hardly walked at all. I think walking earlier and more often in the beginning might help me finish at a little more of an even pace. It certainly did in last weekend's half-marathon. That's where the 4:30 pace group comes in. The marathon has a "wave start," meaning we are assigned to corrals based on projected finish time. I'll be starting with all the 2:15 half-marathoners and the 4:30 marathoners. I'm going to latch on to the 4:30 pace group for dear life! Since I don't have a buddy to run with during the marathon, I'm going to make friends!

Will I really finish in 4:30? Probably not. 4:45 is probably more realistic considering how I slow down as I go. If the 4:30 pace group is out of my league after the half-way point, I'll just find the 4:45 or 5:00 hour pace group. If the wheels fall off completely, the goal is just to finish before they shut down the course. :-)

Nutrition-wise, yesterday I think I planned pretty well. I drank about 6 oz. of Cytomax Fruit Punch flavor immediately before starting. That's what they are serving at the marathon, so I knew I'd better try it. It was BAD. It's super-sweet, not what you want to taste for 4+ hours. I think I'll carry my own Accelerade and Gatorade in my fuel belt. I intended to GU at 3-4 miles, but forgot, so I did at the 6-mile point. I tried GU Just Plain w/caffeine. Loved it! I'll be packing those for the marathon.

At mile 10, I pulled out the 1/2 peanut butter and honey sandwich that had been riding in my pocket. Yes, it was squished and rather disgusting-looking, but it tasted great! I plan to carry one in the marathon, too. My Nike capris have nice deep pockets. I'll look lumpy for the first 12-13 miles, but who cares?

I Gu'd again around 13.5 and 16 miles. I finally poured out the Cytomax from my fuel belt and drank Gatorade instead. My stomach felt uneasy at one point and ate three Ritz crackers that I had in my pocket. I've read so much about "real food" being helpful in the marathon, so I'll definitely carry some.

Last night as I lay in bed, my legs felt kind of hot/feverish. I'm not sure what that was. This morning around 5:00 a.m. I limped into the bathroom and took some Aleve. My joints are somewhat sore, but my quads are super-sore (all those rolling hills). When I first stood and attempted to walk, the soreness took my breath away. As I became more active this morning, however, it's getting better. My ankle is surprising me---it's in really good shape. (Or the Aleve is masking the pain...).

Friday, March 20, 2009

Not Bad. Not Bad at All.

I ran twenty miles in three-and-a-half hours. Everything survived intact. It was not any harder than I'd imagined. The last 5 miles were rough, but I just kept counting them down. Mile 20 was definitely the hardest. It was all mental at that point. I just willed my legs to keep moving. I think I have some idea what "the wall" is going to feel like.

I already took a 22-minute ice bath (without the ice--just cold water) fully dressed. It helps to keep your clothes on.

Feeling relieved and happy and proud! :-)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Big 2-0! And I'm Scared....

Tomorrow morning is my first 20-mile run. Yikes. I have blocked off from 9-1 to get it done. (I hope that is enough time!) I hate to admit that I haven't even REGISTERED for the Country Music Marathon. If I survive tomorrow's 20-miler with all body parts intact, I guess I'll go ahead and drop the $105.

That said, I am so scared. I feel an apprehension in my soul today that I just can't shake. My breath catches in my throat when I think about it. Sure, I ran 18 miles two weeks ago and survived that, but a few things have changed for this run.

1. I ran 18 on a totally flat course. Tomorrow's run includes a few big hills and rolling hills throughout. But, this is definitely more representative of the actual race course.

2. I'm running with a mild ankle sprain. About a month ago on my 16- mile run, I rolled it stepping in a hole. A couple of weeks later, I rolled it again on the 18-miler (for no apparent reason, it just went weak on me). After Saturday's half-marathon, it was very sore for several days. (At least I ran with my ankle brace on.) On Tuesday it felt better, so I ran only two miles without my ankle brace on the treadmill, and it hurt the rest of the day and swelled a little. I went to the ortho yesterday just to get it checked out before my 20-miler. The exray was clear--no broken bones or anything. She said I have a mild contusion (bruise) on the bone that is making it sore and a mild sprain. She said I could still run, but just to wear my brace. She said maybe I should knock 5 miles off and only do 15, but if I can run 15 on it, I might as well go for twenty. (And she didn't say I HAD to knock off any miles.)

3. I'm barely recovered from the half-marathon. I think I ran 18 coming off a drop-down week. This time, I had a fairly hard race effort only 7 days ago. Yesterday, I was supposed to do 8 miles, but called it quits after only 5. My legs felt heavy and sluggish. Miles four and five felt more like miles 17 and 18 did a couple of weeks ago. I listened to my body and shortened the run. Today, I'm not doing anything. I'm going to hydrate and carb load and hope that the 48- hours between the two runs will make a big difference in terms of recovery. STARTING a 20-miler already tired won't be fun. At all.

See why I'm scared????

Saturday, March 14, 2009

It Was a Good Day--PR race report


Garmin finish time for 13.1 miles: 2:10:21/avg. pace: 9:55. Finally.

However, the official results say 2:11:57. The Garmin measured the total course distance at 13.32 miles instead of 13.1. (I checked, and every other person around me had 13.1+ miles on their Garmin's, too. Not sure how that happened! I don't think I zigzagged that much.) So, I'm sticking with 2:10!

It rained THE WHOLE RACE. Not sprinkles, real rain. The course was massively flooded. I ran in water deep enough to cover the TOP of my shoes several times in the final miles. All of my layers were soaked. It was between 40 and 45 degrees throughout, but I was strangely comfortable. I guess I was dressed just right. My 50-cent plastic poncho stayed on for half the race! (Dollar Tree, two for a dollar, yay!) I took a chance and wore my new Ininji toe socks for the first time and managed not to get even one blister, despite running in submerged shoes.

So this is what even splits feel like? It was not my most pleasant race, but definitely my smartest one. I finally started a race without going out too fast in the first mile. It took every ounce of self-control I had to not run with the crowd and stand by as so many people passed me (and I lined up way in the back!), but I kept the adrenaline surge at bay. Then in mile two, I discovered that my legs felt a little, well, dead and heavy. All that marathon training I guess. They were actually burning in mile two. What was that?? Maybe they just needed warming up, but that didn't happen in the last race. In the last half, I went out feeling great (perhaps TOO great) and it came back and bit me in the....

I finally warmed up and found a friend from Clarksville to run with, and the conversation kept me going pretty easily for the next 4 or 5 miles. I came to the half-way turnaround at around 1:03. (Where they were serving BEER oddly enough. Thanks, but not right now. I'm racing here.) I was still holding steady, but my friend was ready to speed up a bit, so I was on my own for the rest of the course. I stayed pretty consistent and on pace. I walked through the 4 water stops today, and I think that helped me mentally as much as anything.

The finish was a little anticlimactic. The brochure says, "Finish in the Titans' football stadium on the 50 yard line! See yourself on the Jumbotron and hear your name called! Get your medal from a Titans Cheerleader!" Whatev. I ran around the perimeter of the stadium on soggy, muddy, sorta slippery grass, never heard my name called or saw myself on the Jumbotron, and I'm pretty sure the kid who gave me my medal was, like, nine years old. But I was happy to be finished, nevertheless. (As I was crossing the mat, I heard my sweet husband, standing in the rain, shout, "Go, Honey!" That was good enough for me.)

Mile splits and such:
Mile 1-- 9:48
Mile 2--9:52
Mile 3--9:58 (took a gel at 2.5 and walked at the water stop for 10 seconds. It was Gu Chocolate Outrage. My FAVORITE gel of all time. +caffeine!)
Mile 4--9:54
Mile 5--10:03 (walked water stop, drank Gatorade)
Mile 6--9:54
Mile 7--9:56
Mile 8--10:07 (walked water stop at 7.5 and gel'd again. Gu Espresso Love with 2X caffeine. Not my fav.)
Mile 9-- 9:54
Mile 10--9:48 (Yay! tied for fastest mile of the day with mile 1)
Mile 11--10:17. OOPS. (I walked the water stop and took 1/2 of a Gu Lemon Lime. Not bad. I also had a problem with the zipper on my jacket. It got stuck and I was fiddling around with it and got off pace a bit.)
Mile 12-- 9:56 Back on track
Mile 13-- 9:55
.32-- 8:34 avg. pace. Finished strong. Garmin recorded fastest pace of the day: a ridiculous 4:26. Seriously? No way. Must have been for about one second.

Other than some post-Gu tummy issues, I'm feeling pretty well. I ice-bathed my ankles only (so much better when it's ONLY your ankles). My knees are a little on the tender side as I go down steps, but nothing terrible.

Did I leave it all out there today? Nope. I ran steady and smart for a change and didn't kill myself on any of it. And that was apparently good enough for a PR. I have to run 20 (for the first time!)* either Wednesday or Friday. I had to save something for that!

*I think I PR'd on use of parentheses in this post, too.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mini-Taper and Rain Doesn't Scare Me!














I'm doing a little two-day mini-taper for Saturday's half-marathon. I ran 6 on Monday, 2 on Tuesday, and 4 on Wednesday for a total of 12 miles this week. Tomorrow, if all goes well, I'll run 13.1 more! Actually, I'm going to warm up and try to hit 14 at the end.

Last Saturday, I ran 6 at race pace and again on Monday and Wednesday, I ran at my projected race pace. (9:45 to 10:10)

I am READY. So, why aren't I more excited?

It could be this:




Tomorrow, most of the forecasts are calling for a 90% to 100% rain chance. That doesn't sound like there is much left to "chance" to me! The temp during race time will be the low to mid-forties. Could be worse....

I've run in the rain before. It was only 8 miles, but I was soaked. So, I kind of know what to expect and how to dress. The feet are the big problem. Running 8 in the rain left me with a few blisters. Thirteen might leave my feet in bad shape seven days before my first 20-miler. But, I'm not backing out (unless there is lightning). I paid $45 for this race, arranged childcare for my three rambunctious kids (grandpa), and know I've put in the training over the last four weeks to PR. Ok, maybe I am a LITTLE excited. :-) There's something magical about setting a Personal Record.

My goal is modest--- finish in under 2:15. Last time, I finished in 2:15:10. And there was gravel. Three miles of gravel. ALL uphill. (Maybe not all uphill, but MOSTLY uphill.)

My basic goal is 2:14:59. My if-it's-a-good-day goal is closer to 2:12 or 2:13. My awesome-everything-is-falling-into-place-day goal is 2:11 or less. (That's only 10-minute miles, people. Maybe it won't take much to have a freaking awesome day!)

If I have learned anything, putting unrealistic goals on myself leads to disappointment, depression, and anger at running. I've got no time to wallow--this marathon is in 42 days. So, with modest expectations, maybe I'll come away pleasantly surprised.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What's Next?

I'm a planner. As I approach the marathon, I cannot help to wonder---what's next? I'm doing my 4th half-marathon on Saturday. I've done tons of 5K's and several 10K's. Maybe I'll be ready for something different.

I think I may have found "something different."

A friend told me to go to http://www.muddybuddy.com/ and check it out. Here's what it said:

Muddy Buddy Nashville May 31, 2009

To all of our Partners in Grime, we welcome you to the 2009 Muddy Buddy Ride and Run Series! This unique trail running and biking race is sure to be fun and challenging for everyone. Both beginning athletes and experienced racers alike will have a great time along the course and through the obstacles, especially in the infamous Mud Pit! We can't wait to see you there, so grab a buddy and prepare to Get Dirty.

Race Description

Each race features a 6-7 mile course and 5 obstacles. At the start of the race, one team member will run and one will ride the bike. At the 1st obstacle, the rider will drop the bike, complete the obstacle, and begin running. The runner will arrive, complete the obstacle, find their bike, and begin riding. Teams will continue leapfrogging each other through the entire course. At the end of the race, racers will crawl through the infamous Mud Pit crossing the finish line together!

How fun does that sound?? My husband may be up for it. He doesn't run long distances, but he's got time to train for it. We are leaving on vacation either that day or the next, so we have a few things to figure out.

But the big question is..... WHEN did I become the kind of person who thinks this sort of thing sounds fun????


In all the pictures, the people are smiling. Can't be that bad!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

That Which Does Not Kill Me.... The Aftermath of 18 Miles

Hmmm.... how would I describe the aftermath of 18 miles?

Well, all afternoon/evening, I was stiff and sore. I was limping slightly because of my right ankle. I used RICE. My ice packs and ankle brace became my new best friends. I was cranky, too. On Thursday, the first few tentative steps out of bed were fairly unpleasant. After I moved around a bit, it got better. I decided to do some active recovery. I went to the Y and did 30 minutes on the elliptical. I did a little bit of arms and abs, too. About half-way through my arms and abs, however, I realized my energy was totally zapped, and I was ravenous. It had been about 3-4 hours since breakfast. A BIG lunch made me feel better.

On Friday, I started the day with some soreness, especially on the bottoms of my feet, so I soaked for about 30 minutes in a mineral sports bath. Then I took a total rest day (unless you count shopping as crosstraining?). I was still experiencing some residual fatigue. A big dinner of Mexican food---chips, cheese dip, taco, rice, and beans ended my day.

I woke up on Saturday GOOD AS NEW. The turning point must have occurred during the night. I met some friends for a 5-mile run. We ran right at or under a 10-minute pace for the first four (including hills) and I ran the 5th mile in 8:59. And that included two good-sized hills. Boo--Ya. Then I came in and did one more mile on my treadmill starting around a 10-minute pace and finishing at a 9:00 minute pace again.

Six miles in about 59 minutes is good for me ANY DAY, but only three days after running 18 and turning my ankle? That's phenomenal. So, I guess it's true, "That which does not kill me only makes me stronger."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mace, Used Water, and Frozen Lady Bits a.k.a. My 18-Mile Run

Today, I ran 18 miles in about three hours and thirty minutes (five-hour marathon, here I come! Whoo-hoo!).

My Garmin was having issues, so I kept having to reset it. I don't have my first two miles' exact splits, but they were a bit on the fast side for me. All of miles 1-4 were at about a 9:52 pace. Miles 5-10 were at an average of 10:28 pace. In the last 8, I averaged a 10:50 pace. Pretty solid run for me, consistency-wise.

Unfortunately, I turned that same ankle at 16.3 miles. It was on a straight stretch, no holes---it just gave way and turned to the right again. I think it's still weak. I need to figure out some exercises to strengthen it or wear my ankle brace in latter miles of these long runs!

There were three funny things that helped make this run memorable:

1. Armed and Dangerous-- Today, two friends met me at the head of a paved four-mile trail in the woods for our long run. It’s kind of isolated and not somewhere a woman should run alone. At the beginning of the run, we took inventory of our various self-defense articles. I had my hand-held “Runner’s mace” and one of the other girls had the same mace as well as a tazer. A pink tazer. Her mom-in-law bought it for her online when she found out she was running so much. So, heavily armed and dangerous (to ourselves if no one else…..), we headed out.

Then something strange happened at the 6-mile mark. My friend maced herself. I had my mace in my pocket, but she was actually wearing her on her palm. I don’t know if her trigger finger got antsy or what, but the next thing I knew, she was yelling, “Oh my gosh, I just sprayed myself!” Luckily, it was a light spraying, just a little got on her hand, in her mouth, and on her forehead. I guess it could have been worse. She could have tazed herself!

2. Thirst Quencher or MAYBE NOT-- At the fourteen-mile mark, my friend and I discovered we were dangerously low on water. I had about two ounces left and she had about two. We were exactly four miles from the car and the temp was creeping up into the 60’s. We thought---What to do? Try to walk to a gas station? That would have put us at 18+ miles and we didn’t know if there was one nearby. Then we saw Runner Man coming toward us. We were near the parking lot at the opposite trailhead from our cars, and we figured Runner Man was parked nearby. (There were several people on the trails by this time and quite a few cars there.) As he ran by, we flagged him down and asked if he had any extra water in his car. (Note to self: flagging down strange men in the woods and asking them to take you to their car….. maybe not the best plan. But we did have the tazer. And a few folks in nearby cars.) He said, "Sure." We went to his vehicle , stood at a safe distance, and he comes out with this travel coffee mug. He says, “Let me just take a drink and you can have the rest.” Hmmmm. Used water was not what we had in mind. So, polite southern women that we are, I pretended to pour some into my water bottle and my friend actually put some in hers. She poured it out right up the trail as we laughed about it all. Sorry, stranger dude, we weren’t THAT THIRSTY.

3. Ice Baths Are Not for Sissies-- So, after running 18 miles, I drove the 20 minutes home (I have to say rather poorly---mental and physical function were not top notch at this point) and decided to try an ice bath. Anonymous had recommended them on my post about my 16 miler. I took a warm shower to get the salt off my skin and to get my body temperature regulated, put on a warm sweatshirt and got ready for my ice bath. I filled the tub with cold water and put in two glasses of ice cubes. Yikes. I put my ankles in. That wasn’t too bad. I tried to force my body to sit down, but I could not bring myself to submerge my lady parts in there. Nearby was sitting my two-year-old’s plastic potty chair. I figured if I put it in the bath, I could sit on the potty and still get the benefits of the ice bath. So, I plopped it in and sat down on it. I was keenly aware of how RIDICULOUS I looked as I sat, naked from the waist down, on my two-year-old’s potty in a bath. Unfortunately, only knees and ankles were covered with water. It's a pretty high potty. I finally “took the plunge” and sat in the water, lady bits and all. It. Was. Hideous. Worse than the 18-mile run. I made it about 17 minutes. So, Anonymous, I’m pretty sure ice baths are not for me. I’ll just be a sissy!

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Few Good Miles

On Saturday, I finished up the month of February with a 5.5 mile run on my treadmill (the weather was NASTY!) for a total of 80 miles this month. That was my top mileage month--ever. And yet somehow, I gained 5 pounds! How exactly does one run 80 miles in one month, weight train (lightly), and even throw in a little spin and still GAIN WEIGHT?

I enjoyed my drop-down week last week, but this week I'm back in SERIOUS TRAINING TERRITORY. Despite the recovery week, this morning I woke up tired and cranky, not feeling like running. I got the big kids off to elementary school, took the little one to preschool, New Kitty to the vet for her checkup, and it was finally time to run. I hopped on my treadmill (I just couldn't handle the 29 degrees with wind chill in the teens this morning) for some hillwork.

I started on an incline of 1 and every quarter-mile, I increased it by one, up to an incline of 5. Then I dropped back to 1 to recover a little, went back up to 4 and 5...... and so on. The three miles I-didn't-even-feel-like-doing turned out to be great. I felt like I got some decent hillwork in, and I was in a much better mood and less tired when I finished. I love runs like that.

On Wednesday, I am attempting 18 for the first time. Mentally, I feel like 18 will be HUGE since many training plans only go up to one 18-mile run. After that, maybe I'll start feeling like the real deal---instead of an imposter! That will be my last long run before the Tom King half on March 14.

I'm excited about the flat, fast Tom King course. I don't plan to race it all out because I have my first 20-miler seven days later and at this point, there is no time for recovery. But maybe I'll finally get that sub-2:15.