Monday, January 6, 2014

21 Strong

This past Saturday I ran my longest-long run in 10 months, 21 miles.

21 Mile Run

The night before, I was nervous and worried about the outcome of my run. What about my knee? Did I even remember what to do? How to prepare?

After completing Goofy’s Challenge in January of 2013, I swore off all full marathons for a year. I felt burnt out and wanted to enjoy my long runs of 8, 10, or 12 miles and the occasional Half Marathon. I had no desire to run a 16, 18, or 21 mile training run and determined I wouldn’t even think of a full marathon again until the Fall 2014 season.

I should have known better. Sometime in November, the bug bit me…and…well, here I am!

Saturday morning was a cold one (don’t laugh, in Southwest Louisiana, this is COLD for us)!

21 Mile Run 9

For Saturday long runs, our running group coach sets up various routes throughout the area in 5 or 6 mile loops (complete with a few water/gatorade stops). Each Saturday, we run a route that corresponds with our set mileage for the day.

I arrived at our starting location about half an hour early to run 3 miles on my own - my Houston marathon friends were in taper mode and had 8 miles on their schedule. My plan was to have 11 miles under my belt by the time I finished with my friends, halfway finished.

21 Mile Run 2

What I didn’t expect was running mostly alone in the dark. FREAKY!  My overactive imagination was pretty sure it heard footsteps behind me several times. Needless to say, the first three miles held a fairly quick pace for me and thankfully, I made it back unharmed….no one was following me, either. Whew.

I was so freaked out after my three mile jaunt, I took off my jacket and completely forgot about the GU in my jacket pocket – wuhhoh.

After meeting up with my friends Heather and Erin, we began our run and were almost finished when the sun began to rise!

21 Mile Run 3

Such a beautiful site!

What I didn’t realize was the distance we covered until it was almost too late – somehow we got off track and instead of finishing at 11, we were closer to 13. (Just means less miles for me.)

21 Mile Run 4

I was also surprised at how good I felt without having taken a GU, but I worried it would come back to bite me later. (I finally took one at mile 13, then again at mile 17.)

After telling my friends goodbye, I continued on my journey alone – just 8 more miles and I would be finished.

Sometime around mile 16.6 miles, I ran into a few friends who were also running 21 miles that day. They just so happened to be at 16.6 miles, too! (What are the odds? I couldn’t believe it!) They invited me to join them for the remainder of the run, so I did! Scott was my Goofy/Dumbo buddy last year and we had a great time talking about all things runDisney!

21 Mile Run 7

Around 20 miles-ish, my knee started hurting me even though I was wearing my brace and had reapplied Atomic Balm. I knew I had to slow down, so I told my friends to finish ahead of me and I walked a good portion of the last mile back to the finishing area. I was glad my knee decided to wait until the end of my run to act silly rather than the beginning. Now that my mileage is dropping off significantly, I think my knee will be ok for New Orleans – I’m not worried about it, at least.

21 Mile Run 10

Another 21 miles for the books! I felt strong throughout the entire run and I know I’m ready for New Orleans.

21 Mile Run 6

After our run, we were greeted back at home base with a 21 mile medal, delicious cookies, and hot chocolate. I sat a while and talked with my friends/coaches, then decided it was time for breakfast!

21 Mile Run 8

I hit up my usual Panera favorite and enjoyed a egg/bacon/cheese bagel with a coffee as a post-run breakfast treat.

Once I made it back home, I showered then put on my compression tights.  After attempting a nap, I decided my legs ached too much for sleep. By the end of the night, they felt much better – I think the combination of moving around and wearing compression tights really helped.

Here’s the sappy part – I am so incredibly grateful for my running group, the support system we have built up, and my awesome coaches who are always there for advice and guidance. Without my running group, I don’t know if I would have continued on this running journey alone. I strongly encourage anyone who is beginning a running journey to check out area running groups. Their support is truly invaluable!

What’s your favorite way to recover from a long run? Any tips/tricks you’ve discovered over the years?

31 comments:

  1. Way to go! I am glad your knee was only a little wonky. Rest up.

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  2. Good job! I hate the achy feeling after a long run and you can't be still or sleep. The worst!

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  3. My bets tip for recovery is an ice bath. Those seem to do the trick for me. Great job on your 21 miles and I would have been freaked out in the dark alone too!

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    1. I haven't mustered up the courage for one of those just yet...I know I need to...

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  4. So glad you had a great run with no knee pain! Yay!!! Crossing my fingers I see you in Nola this year! :-)

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    1. Thanks, Mindy! Yes, I hope to see you again this year as well!

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  5. Those cookies are to die for. I can't have them in the house. But a great post-run treat! You're going to do great in NO!

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    1. OMG you are right...to die for. I don't buy them, either...and I stay away as much as possible. LOL!

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  6. My knees have been acting wonky lately too! I've been reading a book about how to fix them. It will be on my post today or tommorow! Great job on 21 miles!!

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    1. Great! I'll be on the lookout for that, thanks Sarah!

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  7. WTG! Love the feeling of the first "long" run after being unable to run at all!

    If I had it my way I would get a massage after every long run. Since that's not going to happen Chipotle will have to do :)

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    1. A massage after each run sounds HEAVENLY...glad Chipotle is a close second! :0)

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  8. Congrats on the 21 miler! Your going to do great in New Orleans!!!

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  9. I am a huge believer in running groups and yours sounds so nice!

    Just curious, are all your routes only 5 or 6 mile loops, and you adjust your mileage that way? My group tends to not like loops, but it sure is hard to map out 15 or 21 miles (says the mapper).

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    1. The routes vary from 3-6 mile loops. When we arrive, we are each given a wristband with our set mileage for the day on the wristband. A 21 mile course includes one 6 mile loop and three 5 mile loops. :0) Yes, I definitely love my running group!

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    2. I would love to see a picture of your wristband, if you don't mind and also don't think your running group organizer would mind...this sounds like an interesting way to go, and I wonder if I could make it work for our group.

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  10. YAY for 21 miles! At this point I can't imagine 21 miles, mostly because I am running all on the treadmill these days, today it is literally -51 degrees here not considering windchill. Ridiculous.

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    1. Whew that's WAY too cold for me! Kudos to you...and I agree, 21 miles on a treadmill does not sound like fun!

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  11. Great job on 21, I am going to try for 20 this weekend coming up and then taper.
    My least favorite and favorite recovery all wrapped into one is the ice bath.

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    1. Thanks, Abby! Best of luck in your 20 miler!!

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  12. Congratulations on completing your long run. I've never run that far, so I have no tips for you.

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  13. Sleep and eat! Also light exercise the next day. If I just sit around the day after I am more sore the next day.

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    1. Very good tips - I agree, moving around helps a lot. Thanks Hayley!

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  14. Woohoo! I'm glad you weren't being followed at the beginning and that you have so many running friends to support you and share the miles!

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  15. How awesome so had so much support on your run! And running into friends that were running the same distance - I can't even imagine how good and restoring that felt! Congrats on finishing - I hope your knee feels better soon!

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    1. Restoring, that's the perfect word - you are right! It was such a great feeling running into them. Thanks, Alicia!

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