The Last Marathon; 50K Prep

Yesterday, I ran my last marathon.

Well, I don’t exactly mean that literally, but this was the last marathon distance run I will complete before running the Siskiyou Outback 50k at the end of this month.  And I can tell you very plainly – I am ready for the taper.

I laid in bed for an extra hour this morning debating pros and cons of an early run, and trying to convince myself that I wanted to get up, throw on my shoes, and go run up some major hills in the forest.  And even after a small breakfast and some coffee, my body and brain both responded a resounding: ‘No F-ing way!’  (My eyelids slowly drooping back to the closed position post-breakfast, after I found myself, once again, lying on my bed). 

Today, I am exhausted.  It is my last day of high-volume running, and now my time on the trail (for the marathon follow-up of ten miles) is moved from this morning to an evening adventure (once it is no longer nearly 90 degrees outside).  I was pretty useless until about noon, when I stopped reading and social-media flipping to cook a real meal because my stomach was growling.  Perhaps that small breakfast is good on normal days, but it is possible my body required a little more caloric intake today to feel fully prepared to do … anything.

Running 26 miles, I am learning, is (quite understandably) taxing.  Each time I run that distance, I somehow manage to forget how much time my body wants post-run to simply rest.  And eat.  And eat again.   Surprisingly, the actual act of running has become much easier.  26 miles feels like what 12 miles did a year ago, and 12 miles is no longer a daunting figure having become a routine training run that is reminiscent to how 5 miles affect me one year ago.

The body adapts, and truthfully, the amount of recovery time is likewise reduced for these long runs; I now feel much better at 4 o’clock in the afternoon the day after my marathon run, whereas after the St. George Marathon last year, I went out for a very short 1.5 mile jog-hop the day after my race and three days post-race I was still sore and waiting to feel “normal” again.  It’s almost unfathomable – I will run 10 miles today after 26 yesterday.

…How did I get here?
When did running for a couple of hours become “the norm”?

My running buddy and I discussed this ‘funny’ notion while out tackling hills in yesterday’s sunshine.  Saturday morning really was perfect for a long, long, Long run.  🙂

Early morning start – 6am at the waterfront is extremely peaceful.
The pathway along Terwilliger was so Green! Lovely, warm light, and decadent shade for such a distance run.
Brief stop at Tryon Creek to refill the water supply – Sun blasting through to heat up the day.
On the back half, headed uphill out of Tryon Creek State Park, back into town. Enjoying every succulent moment of shaded pathways near Terwilliger.

I am so grateful and feel blessed that I get to spend great portions of these long distance Saturday mornings with good friends to share stories, encourage each other, and generally make the workout a really good time.

A big shout-out to my running buddies (near and far) & Saturday’s Run group:  Thank you SO much for being runners.  My life would not be the same without each and every one of you.

Here’s to running healthy, happy, and strong!
(…And I’m off to tackle the next ten…!)

Happy running!
~Alaina

Saturday’s Run: The Terwilliger Challenge

Yesterday’s long run was one I joyfully anticipated; after receiving a warning that this would be steep, this also indicated to me there would be great opportunities to satisfy my iPhoneography Instagram habit (ok… addiction).  I was beyond pleased with the great company of eight ladies on this uphill trek, the phenomenally perfect weather (sunny and cool), and the spectacular views we were given on the hilly terrain of our 10 mile run up from the East side to  Terwilliger.

The beginning - Crossing the Hawthorne Bridge.
The beginning – Crossing the Hawthorne Bridge.
Climbing up Terwilliger with the ladies. Great Sunshine!
Climbing up Terwilliger with the ladies. Great Sunshine!
Small city through big trees.
Small city through big trees.
IMG_2471
Miniature bridge.
IMG_2473
Up and up and up…!
IMG_2474
Near the peak and turn-around.
Driving downhill.
Downhill drive.
IMG_2475
Second river crossing and last bridge view en route to the finish. (There is a clear reason we call it “Bridge City”).

I have long been afraid of running any extended distance downhill.  A few years ago, after experiencing a great deal of pain in my left knee on a four mile downhill, I let the experience influence my decision to run based on ups and downs in elevation.  This week, I consulted my running expert advisors (Mom and Grandpa) after experiencing some of this pain last week, and was advised by Grampa to run and walk the downhill distance.

Shout-out to Grampa – it worked, Thank you!  I was able to comfortably move at a quick, gravity influenced downhill run, alternatively walking to rest the running muscles.  I kept up with my run group by passing them at a run, they caught up while I walked, and finally, when the terrain levelled out, kept pace with the group.

As I sit here, pain-free in my neighborhood Coffeehouse, enjoying the warmth of the atmosphere, looking out on the cool, cloudy day, I am forever grateful for the day we were given yesterday full of sunshine, good conversation, and with great running buddies.  Thanks gals!

with Joy in running,
~Alaina