March 16, 2011

Going the distance

This blog post title is brought to you by Cake and my new favorite running song. I have a little more than two weeks to go until the Bentonville Half Marathon, and on Sunday, I finished my first ever 10-mile run! I averaged an 11:48 pace, which I was satisfied with, and I didn't take any walk breaks. I am going the distance, but I am obviously not going for speed. Running longer distances has presented a whole new set of challenges, and I'm still figuring out what works for me and what doesn't.

Here's what I know so far:

Running long hurts in a whole new way and in new places. To help with recovery, I invested in some pretty pink leg hugs, also known as Zensah calf sleeves. This is how I spend my weekends now.

These calf sleeves are magical and I am not ashamed to wear them on the run, on the couch or to the office under my pants.

Longer runs require fuel, and my first attempt at hydrating on the run was a disaster. I got a cheap fuel belt with two water bottles, washed them in the dishwasher and now everything I put in them tastes like lemon soap. FAIL. I couldn't find the right kind of bottles for sale around here to replace the ones I ruined, but my local running store had an extra lying around and gave me one. So now I have a two-bottle fuel belt and only one usable bottle, which means my fanny pack doesn't sit straight on my fanny. After several miles of struggling with my cheapo bouncy belt, I came home and ordered an iFitness hydration belt, which should be here any day now!

In addition to chugging H2O, I also have to eat something along the way, all while not choking and not falling down and maintaining a decent pace. I tried walking while I reload, but I run so slowly anyway that this really set me back. I learned that Clif Shot Bloks make me want to die, but eating a few tiny Sport Beans (with caffeine!) every few miles is kind to my digestive system. Trial and error, my friends. Trial and error.

So much of running is mental, and I have to really focus to stay positive. If I let my brain wander down a negative path, I might lose confidence and cry on the sidewalk at mile four. (Not that that's happened.) (Ahem.) I've read some articles that suggest choosing a mantra to repeat to yourself when you get overwhelmed. Something short and easy to remember, like, "Farther, faster," or "Be strong, keep going." I think this is a great idea, but somehow my mantras always end up to be, "These are side-stitches of death," or "This hill is trying to kill me." Music helps me cope best, as you can tell from this post's title. And my new favorite things on the planet are Yurbuds, which keep my quarter-sized Apple earbuds from falling out! These things have changed my life. Buy some.

My 10-miler also made me weak in the knees, and not in a good way. I have been in some serious pain these last few days, but I'm trying not to obsess about it. I felt better today, so I ran tonight for the first time since Sunday and only made it 2 miles before all the pain came back and I called it quits. It's not so painful that I couldn't run through it, but it's the kind of pain that I know I shouldn't ignore. I'm hoping ice and rest will solve the problem, along with some strength training for my quads, hips and glutes. After the race, I can relax, recover, give my knees a break and focus on quality strength work before adding any more miles. Just two and a half more weeks to go!!

And now for your listening pleasure, CAKE.


  1. Great post Anna, and I'm rooting for you. I was interested in what you're pumping thru those fancy earbuds (besides CAKE, of course) and how you are selecting the music for your runs.

    Keep on running!

  2. Good luck with the approaching halfer! The good news is...the more your run, the farther you go...everything just gets easier. Keep. At. It.

    Now go kick some ass!



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