Saturday, April 29, 2006

Running 16 miles in the rain - pretty badass, moderately insane, or just plain stupid?

Today we ran the Drake Relays Half-Marathon. This is the logo from the website - ah, only in Iowa.

Well, it was raining when we left Ames, it was raining when we got to Des Moines, and it rained every step of the way through the race. We had 18 miles on our schedule today, so we planned on running an extra five today. We were there early so we ran three miles beforehand. I ran that pretty slowly so I figured it would be fine. Big mistake. I was a little skeptical of the 17 mi long run followed immediately by an 18 mi long run the next weekend, but Kecia modified our schedule from Hal Higdons website, so I guess I figured it was alright. But I was clearly nowhere near recovered from last weekend. Not that I really expected to be, but I had a good running week with a fast (for me - 9:42 pace) 9-miler on Tuesday. I think Kimberly and Kecia felt the same way since we all hit a wall. Needless to say, we didn't run the extra two at the end.

My wall came pretty early - at about mile 10 (mile 7 of the race). My quads were just so tired. Mile 7 was probably right at top of the big hill that I apparently didn't notice while I was running. The whole time we were running down the big hill, I was very nervous about the fact that the race was a loop and that eventually we would have to go back up. But I must have been totally spacing out because I don't remember going up that big hill at all. Anyways, today was rough, but I considered it a good mental training day. I wanted to stop every step of the way after mile 7 of the race. Six miles can seem like an eternity at that point. Nothing hurt whatsoever (except in a "I'm tired" sort of way), so I had no excuses to stop. So I made myself run every last step of the way. I figure that the last 6 miles of the marathon will probably feel the same way, so it was good practice.

I didn't have lofty goals for this race, but I really wanted to beat my time from the 20K I did last summer (I know that it is 0.7 miles more, but I can run a lot faster now). That was 2:17. Today I cruised in at 2:19. Although in my head I am taking the time of the first 13.1 miles I ran today, which was 2:13 :-)

I actually really liked the course though and will probably do it next year. Since I don't remember the hill, it can't have been that bad. The course runs through all these nice neighborhoods. And knowing the course now, I know I can let go more on the downhills. I was afraid of pushing too much on the downhills and not having the energy for getting back up. I also really liked that you can see the finish line from about a third of a mile away. That was just the motivation I needed for one last push to the end. Also the end was flat. To me, there is nothing worse than getting to the end and realizing you have to sprint up a hill. I think that is just plain evil. Even more evil than the styrofoam cylinder.

It was just an exhausting day all around. So I think I am going to spend the rest of the day sitting on my couch, drinking a pot of tea, and watching movies. Good times!

This is a recovery week on our schedule, thank goodness. I am going to take full advantage and rest up and do this 15K trail race next weekend. Second highest point in Iowa? Wow! I hope I don't get altitude sickness.

P.S. I realized that I should probably stop whining about hills if I am going to do this relay. The average elevation gain on each leg is about 400 ft (although there are several legs with over twice that much).

Let us compare the elevation map above from today, with leg 19 of the relay:
Each one of those lines is 100 feet. Okay, granted this is probably the hardest leg in the relay (+1655') but it works for effect. After the marathon in June, I shall make myself run hills once a week.


Joe said...

are you volunteering to run leg 19 of the race this summer? b/c if you are, that'd be awesome. thanks so much! a true team player.

Danielle said...

Um, no. Since runner number 7 (who does this leg) is the hardest position, I figure having a slowpoke like me run that probably isn't the best. I would do it, but, you know, it wouldn't be best for the team :-)

That being said, I hope Mark or Pete are up the challenge :-)