September 27, 2010

Sweet Sixteen

Yesterday, I reached a huge milestone in my marathon training: I ran 16 miles which is my longest run yet. And the great news? It was awesome!
Notice the 16 mile blue column in my training log! Wooohooo!
By "awesome", I mean I accomplished a huge goal and finished strong with a smile on my face; but it wasn't easy by any means. Yesterday's 16 miler had it's highs and lows, and left with me plenty to think about. I learned a lot about where I currently stand in my training, and walked (or maybe limped) away with significant takeaways for further improvement.

On Saturday evening, I took a moment to re-read my blog post from 9/19/2010 and the supportive comments my readers posted to psych me up and get me mentally prepared for the challenge. And it worked. By the time I got in bed Saturday night, I could hardly sleep, which wasn't exactly the plan. Anyway, I woke up pretty early Sunday morning, had a bowl of gluten free oats with almond milk, agave, and raisins, and a quick cup of coffee. I then started drinking my pre-run bottle of salt water while I prepped my fuel belt, got my shuffle ready, and got dressed.

The great thing about long runs, beside building the strength and stamina needed to complete a marathon, is that they enable you to test out different running gear and fuel you may want to use during the actual race. During this run, I decided to test out my new compression shorts, and also to start playing around with my nutrition. I am pleased to announce that I love running in compression shorts! They were really comfortable, didn't ride up at all, and left me completely chafe free; a runner's dream come true. Unfortunately, the Gu didn't leave me quite as excited but they did the job. I tested out the Vanilla Bean flavor which was awfully sweet and, well, gooey. If anyone has any better flavor suggestions, I beg of you to leave a comment with some words of wisdom. Thanks in advance!

Now onto the actual run... I headed out at around 9 am and decided I would run around the southern perimeter of NYC. Since the Tunnel to Towers 5k was taking place at 9:30 am and I didn't want to bump into that race, I decided to cross to the East Side, head down and around, and then back up the West Side to end near my apartment. It's sort of funny but I guess you don't realize how small the city really is until you have to find ways to run 16 miles in it.
It took me 2:54:57 to complete the run which was awesome because I was hoping to complete it in 2:55! Here are my splits:
1 & 2: I started out a bit too quick. The weather was cool & beautiful and it just felt so good! But I NEED to remember to pace myself at the beginning- this is something I struggle with often
3: Slowed down because I bumped into the 5th Avenue Continental Mile race and had to find a way to cross. Then I had to take a quick bathroom break at EJ's before continuing. May sound stupid but I'm proud of my potty break because it means I've learned something from past runs. I usually try to ignore that "uh oh" feeling because I feel like I shouldn't stop, and end up regretting it later. But this time I realized that bathrooms would be scarce along the FDR so made a smart decision.
4-8: Feeling strong. Met a nice old lady walking her dog at a red light who told me "I had attractive muscles". She was funny & cute; I thanked her, pet her dog and went on my way. Took a gooey Gu at mile 6 and washed it down with some H2O.
9: Most of this was under the highway approaching the Brooklyn Bridge so Samson (my Garmin) wasn't getting a signal which is why it looks like I slowed down quite a bit. But am happy to report I was still going strong at this point.
10-13: Perfect NYC moment: Empire State of Mind played on my shuffle just as the Statue of Liberty came into view. It was almost too perfect- very cool! Then, started to get a little tired so took a 1 minute Gu break at mile 12.
Lady Liberty cheering me on as I run my 16 miles!
14-16: I lost my right knee, then my left. I've always had pretty bad knees but they didn't hurt at all during this run until mid-mile 13. By 14 I was in a lot of pain but did my best to push through the pain, breathe and put my focus on finishing. I stopped for about 30 seconds to stretch and massage the muscles around my right knee but I had already run farther than ever before so I used that as my motivation to keep going. At one point I might have actually screamed "buns of steel" out loud as a reminder to myself. I have no shame.
17: Pushed through the pain and picked up my pace to finish strong! Incredible mix of pleasure & pain. I thought I had a smile on my face but a woman walked by and said "you look like you're in pain." What does she know?!? {hee, hee}

To summarize,  I did it! I followed my miles with a glorious ice bath, a huge bowl of hot miso soup, a salad, several veggie burgers and some Oatmeal, Chocolate Chunk, Walnut, and Dried Cherry cookies. Then a nice long nap to top off my day. I expected to be in lots of pain when I woke up this morning but I felt great! My quads were a bit sore, as if I'd performed way too many lunges, but I felt great otherwise and even wanted to go for a run tonight.

Like I mentioned earlier, I learned many lessons on Sunday:
  1. I can run AT LEAST 16 miles. I will BE a MARATHONER
  2. I need to learn better pacing at the beginning of my runs. No matter how good I feel when I start.
  3. I look good in compression shorts.
  4. I really need to strengthen my legs to support my knees and hips. Adding lunges, squats, and kickboxing back to my schedule. Fun times ahead!!!
  5. Gu tastes like crap but seems to work for me and didn't hurt my stomach. I may consider Gu-ing it up a bit earlier next time so that I have the energy I need before I start getting tired. I'd still like to find some other, more natural and less processed sources of energy.
If you're still reading this crazy long post, thanks for hanging in & coming along for the run. I'd love any feedback, advice, or comments you have to offer. Go ahead, rip my run apart... I'm tough, I can take it. Or show me some love; I like that too.

Next weekend I am running the Diva Half Marathon in Long Island. I hope to find out what it's like to complete 13.1 miles wearing a pink boa and a tiara. Oh boy.


  1. Congrats!! I knew you'd have a better run for 16! I had really serious knee issues but since I strengthened my muscles so much in Core Fusion it is rarely an issue anymore. Have you tried Shot Blocks? I swear by them and they are yummy and don't bother my stomach -- which says a lot from the girl who can't eat solid food at all before a run.

    Excited for our half!!!

  2. Yay! So proud of you!

    I really like the roctane Pom. Gu and Espresso Love. Compression shorts? Hmm, why have I not heard of these. I'll have to check them out! Again, WAY TO GO!

  3. Firstly, nicely written post, felt like I was there with you. Some writers simply do - 'I ran xx and felt great' and that doesnt really do much for the imagination but you're different and that's why I enjoy reading your blog.
    Secondly, great run and there is no doubt in my mind that you will finish ING strong and with a great big photogenic smile as always.
    I hate GU's too and would rather eat real food but they're a necessary evil I guess, if you want to save time. If you like compression shorts why not give the whole compression leggings a try as it can save your knees and shin from additional wear and tear and keep you warmer as well.
    Another thing that has worked well for me is chia seeds in the form of chia fresca, they retain a lot of water and release it slowly in your system to help keep you hydrated, as well as being pound-for-pound the food most saturated with Omega-3.
    Good luck in your Half Marathon and looking forward to your report in that one!

  4. Great post and fantastic 16 miles. I didn't like GU when I started running long but needed something. I tried Clif Shots in mocha and strawberry and liked those better - especially the mocha - than GU.

  5. Congrats!! I'm a big fan of Clif Bloks but those do require chewing so depends on your preference:) When I do Gu, I usually go with chocolate since I find it's the closest thing to something I'd normally eat (pudding!). Good luck on the half marathon!

  6. Great post Sara and cool route for those of us that don't live in one of the greatest cities in the U.S. You are on your way to being a marathoner for sure!


  7. Great job Erica! You are DEFINITELY going to be a marathoner. There's no doubt in my mind. There are many different fueling options out there so be sure to experiment and find what works for you. In addition, I have samples of all the GU flavors if you are interested in trying them out - Chocolate and Expresso seems to work well for me! Anyway, congrats on 16! Way to GET IT DONE!

  8. Awesome job again!! That's a great route--I may steal that one from you! I know the Hammer Gels are 100% natural (and kosher!) I'm also hearing more and more about people carrying actual food with them on a run, like a cut up bagel, mini energy bars, or PB sandwiches!

  9. Yay I'm so proud of you and your longest run! You are doing so amazing! and you sure do have "attractive muscles"!

  10. You stole my running route! Great job Er.... it only gets easier! And your muscles will only get more attractive! =)