I'm starting to repeat experiences from last year's marathon training, and I am struck by how much better things are going now than they were before.
On Friday, I ran the Firecracker 10K, just like I did last year. Only this time, my experience was worlds better. The race has a 5K and a 10K, which start together. After about a mile, the courses split up, and there's a volunteer with a bullhorn whose job it is to repeat over and over, "10K, up the hill!" (which honestly would be kind of a fun job). The 5K is "fast and flat," but the 10K is described as "hilly and challenging." Last year, I remember going up that first hill, and thinking, "Man, that was a bitch. Good thing that's over!" only to discover hill after hill after hill. Just when I thought I was finished, bam! Another scary steep hill. It wore me out mentally.
Worse, when I ran that 10K last year, I was in the "Wow, I am so strong and amazing that I can just run whatever I want to!" phase. The day I ran that 10K last year, I was supposed to do an easy 3, but I figured, "Why not run twice that distance on a difficult course? And race it?"
Well, the reason why not was that I injured my Achilles tendon and limped for a week, that was why.
This time around, I was ready for the hills. I'd done plenty of hill training, and I knew when to expect each one. I skipped my scheduled 7 mile tempo run for the week and did this one instead.I did not injure myself, and even better, I got a PR! There were also improvements to the race itself, such as the fact that they didn't run out of t-shirts (though they did only have XXL, which fits me like a dress), and, even better, they had ICE CREAM at the finish line. Awesome!
On Sunday, I once again felt like a seasoned veteran. It was the day of my first 20 mile training run of this marathon training time. Last year, 20 miles was the longest I'd ever run, and I was nervous as all get out. Could I really do it? Would it take me all day? Would I get sick or hungry? I was so freaked out about it that I barely slept the night before. Then, I proceded to have a terrible run. My mind was not in the right place at all, I got lost, it was hot, and I had to hurl myself along for the last two miles.
This time, I was confident that I could do it, knowing that I had a great 17 mile run the week before and that I have successfully run farther than 20 miles before. I plotted a fun course for myself and had some good podcasts to listen to along the way. I also enlisted the aid of my mom as a water station, saying I'd be by her house at mile 13 and again at mile 17. My water bottle and packets of Gu were waiting for me, and on the way back, Mom had not only refilled the bottle, but even added ice. It was the greatest tasting thing ever. She even took my picture:
I'm walking, so it's not too bad-ass, but you can at least admire my cute running outfit. And my legs look good.
I finished the run in 3:36, which I was very happy with. And, after some food and an ice bath, I felt just fine for the rest of the day (and today), with the exception of a couple of blisters. Not bad!