Monday, April 23, 2012

The Mystery Run

I had a great last long run this past weekend in preparation for the Kalamazoo Half Marathon I am running in two weeks.  This was one of the few times I have attempted a long run past the typical beginner-program recommendations - you know, capping at 20 miles for a marathon or 10 miles for a half marathon.  Since I am no longer super intimidated by the half marathon distance, I thought I would just try to get in as many miles as I could before the race.  What worked out was a build-up to 12 miles, and that is what I did.

Well, actually, I did a little more.  Heading out the door Sunday morning, I soon realized I had failed to recharge my watch.  So, as soon as I turned it on, the ominous message of "low battery" popped up.  After a moment of OH-MY-GOD,-WHAT-WILL-I-DO hair pulling and gnashing of teeth, I just pulled myself together and decided to let happen what would happen.  (Secretly, I was hoping that if I didn't push any buttons it would suck it up and last for two hours.)  Yeah. That didn't happen. In fact, the battery died in about the first mile.

This presented two problems, of course.  One was not knowing exactly how far I was going, since I only had the vaguest idea of a route sketched out in my head.  (Ergo: Mystery Run) Thank goodness, I had even bothered to go online the night before to look at routes.  

The second was not knowing my pace.  Now, this was a problem because I really wanted to keep things slow.  After three weeks in a row of running long runs faster than I "should" be going - according to the McMillan calculator - I really wanted to make an effort to slow down this past week.  The positive side to not knowing pace, though, is that it really freed my mind from worry.  All that obsessive watch glancing that I usually indulge in was out.  After reflexively looking at a blank screen a couple of times, I gave that up.  And, to be honest, I sure didn't miss THAT.  Actually, the run was all in all pretty relaxed.

The only really downside to the run was that I was sore - really sore - from two days earlier in the week of running hills and one jaunt up an observation tower the day before at our local state park.  I don't know why I did that, but the kids begged, so I went.  (Score 3 for observation towers, zero for me.)  I don't know what it is about going up and down observation towers, but they always seem to be the proverbial last straw for me, as I always seem to go up them after a very busy week, exercise-wise.  And, it's starting to piss me off.  (Pardon my English.)  In fact, it makes me want to end any run I do at the park with a nice walk up the observation tower and down - until I can do so without reaction.  This summer, I promise you, tower, we'll go head to head.

So, yesterday's run: no watch, sore legs to start, and only the vaguest idea of where to go.  I LOVED it!  It didn't hurt that it was a beautiful day for running with temps in the low 50s and sunny skies.  I did a loop from the church where I started out (the kids were in an Easter program) back home.  When I got back home, after peeling myself from the floor where I had attempted to stretch, I got on the computer and tried to map out where I had run.  It turns out I did 12.27 miles.  That is good, because I had it in my head that I had either nailed the 12 miles or done a nine-mile route.  If I had done nine, I would have declared it a good run.  Since it was actually 12, I think it was fantastic.

The route yesterday was good for another reason besides distance.  This was a HILLY route.  I purposely tried to throw in as many hills as I could find in our relatively flat enclave.  Why do that?  Well, because I have it in my head that Kalamazoo will be hilly.  I spent a lot of time in Kalamazoo as a kid and I ran with the Kalamazoo Area Runners last year once when I was visiting.  I remember HILLS.  And, seeing as our neck of the woods is basically flat, I don't normally see a lot of hills unless I go looking for them.  

Like here.  I could run up and down this
about 100 times, but that would get
Anyway, I don't know if this race will be hilly now or not. The marathon supposedly has some hills, but from what I have read on their website the Half is "largely fast and flat [including] a few rolling hills along the way."  The elevation chart for the marathon shows this:

I dunno.  Does that look hilly?  Of course, the Half could be on a completely different scale, and that is fine by me.  In any case, mentally I am ready for hills.  I don't think too much could surprise me in that regard anymore, and that was what I was going for yesterday.  If there are no hills, I will be pleasantly surprised.  What I do know is that I am now officially in taper mode, and I feel pretty good.  I am still sore, but I am assuming that will go away.  Mostly, I am just excited to take part in this race, see how I do, and then move on to marathon training.  Happy Running!

Picture of the day:  Play equipment at
a local park.  We have no idea what it is
actually intended for, so the kids think
(like most things) it is for climbing.


  1. Wow, I'm impressed that you just went out blind and nailed the mileage. Wow! And the marathon route looks hilly, but manageable hills. The kind you can actually run without dying.

    1. lol - thanks... It helped a lot that I looked at options online the night before. Mostly, I just couldn't remember if the route I had was 9 miles or 12. Lucky for me, I got it right. (I didn't even have a watch to go by time!)

      In fact, I probably went closer to 12.5 miles, because when I took out some Clif Blocks, I realized I dropped my powdered Gatorade mix, so I had to go back for it. It was a good block or two behind me when I realized what had happened. I would have worked that into the post, but it would have involved a lot of !@#$%^&%. :)