Today marked the "last time I'll be running 20 miles until the race" - as a friend put it. Glorious! I was fortunate enough to run a few of those miles with fellow running mama Jess (who rocked and PR'd in a half-marathon two weeks ago!) and had another treat of running alongside hubs and the babes in the BOB for a few miles. It was a beautiful 50 degrees and cloudy. I even broke out my Christmas present for the first time - running sleeves! They were great and I actually wore them the entire run minus the last two miles when I simply peeled them off.
It's now about taper time - wahoo! I've truly enjoyed this running plan from Coach Jenny Hadfield (who I hope to meet at the Cleveland Marathon race expo in a few short weeks!). As I've mentioned before, I like her realistic and down-to-earth approach with her training plans, especially as I balance home, hubs, TWO kids, and work this go-around. (adding an extra kid in there between the last marathon and this one makes a HUGE difference!)
I felt pretty strong the entire 20 miles and finished stronger, which is even better! I feel great going into the taper time and "race mode" these next few weeks. I shaved about 5 minutes off of my 20-miler from two weeks ago and am on track to (finally) meet my PR goal time of 4:20-4:30. (no, not blazing fast for you top-notch runners out there, but an awesome marathon time for me!)
As I wind down the heavy duty training, I have found things that definitely DON'T work on long runs (not eating or drinking much, eating too much dairy or raw veggies the day before, etc). But I've found some great new things that DO work, like these:
1. Compression Socks:
I must have lived in a hole for a while, because this is the first marathon that I actually broke down and bought a pair of socks (just like these - don't you love the pink?!). I don't wear them during the run, but immediately after. (hours after - I still have them on after finishing up just before 10 a.m. today!) For you runners who opt to wear compression socks, during the run - any recommendations? What should I expect? I'm a bit hesitant to wear them while training/racing just yet.
2. Carry water
This was the first marathon that I actually made it a point to carry my own water and fuel/hydrate before it got too out of hand (I learned the hard way early on in my training this go-round, and attribute my stomach/GT issues to not hydrating and fueling along the training run). Running mama Kirsten recommended the Amphipod bottle, so I took the leap and purchased one. Love it! It's lightweight enough and doesn't make my hands cramp up when I hold it for extended periods of time. I now carry this whenever I'm doing more than 9-10 miles.
I also trained my stomach to eat a little something before long runs of 10 miles or more. This morning I ate a few bites of my stinger waffle (below) and half a banana. Worked perfectly until I was ready for some more fuel around Mile 12.
3. Honey Stinger Waffles
4. More fueling treats
I "stole" my children's Valentine's Day and Easter candy this year for other fuel treats for the extra-long runs (14+ miles). I would usually have a handful of peanut M&Ms or Starburst jelly beans in the last few miles of these training runs for a sugar rush. I figured I might as well enjoy my energy if I'm going to need to consume the calories! (side note: I would caution not to use these as your ultimate fuel source, but just a treat to keep you going and to change-up from your usual fuel). Like I said above, I rely on the Stingers for main energy/fuel and these are an added treat.
Most Saturdays after an extra-long run (it doesn't even have to be long!) I treat myself to a Starbucks. This morning I had a free drink coming, so I had a "super duper" treat beyond my bold-with-a-splash-of-cream-and-packet-of-sugar-in-the-raw and opted for a Venti nonfat latte with one pump hazelnut. It's the small things that are BLISS!
So......now it's about time to start tapering! But one more week of somewhat "normal" running before I really start to cut back. Here you go:
WEEK #18 MARATHON TRAINING:
Monday: Run 50 min easy
Tuesday: XT 40-45 min w Strength
Wednesday: Tempo C run (5-10 min warm-up; 20-25 min hard tempo; 5-10 min cool-down)
Thursday: XT 40-45 min w Strength
Friday: Run 40 min easy
Saturday: 10 mile Race Pace
Happy running, everyone!