Long runs, more sport beans, and a new pair of shoes!

Last Saturday I did another long run, just under eight and a half miles (8.42). I’ve written bits and pieces all week, and I’m just now getting a chance to collect my thoughts on the run.

This run at least began difficultly. I’d been looking forward to this long run all week, but I didn’t sleep well the night before. I was sluggish and drowsy, but determined. The first half-mile was pretty torturous, and it wasn’t until a mile into the run that I really started to find my rhythm.

Ironically, being tired seemed to help me from starting the run too quickly. I didn’t struggle at all to keep my pace down during the first couple of miles. Of course, I never really got to a fast pace overall anyway, but I felt strong even near the end.

I did really well with my pre-run hydration, and I’m starting to see how much this matters. In addition to just generally drinking plenty of fluid in the days beforehand, I forced myself to drink a glass of water (about two cups) right before I left for the run. And it worked! I wasn’t thirsty during the run at all, which meant I never felt like I had to find a place to stop for a drink. Definitely important on long runs!

Just shy of a mile into the run, I saw an ambulance blast through the cross street ahead of me, lights and sirens blaring. As I reached that cross-street, I was passed by a car dragging its bumper. There was definite damage from a front-end collision of some sort. Quite peculiar, though it didn’t seem to be slowing the car at all. It wasn’t until later that I realized these may have been related.

I was at the beginning of a long, straight stretch of road, and over a mile ahead, I could see emergency lights. It was too far ahead to see any details, so I just kept running.

Slowly, the emergency lights began to clear out. Not a surprise, since it took me around fifteen minutes to cross that distance, and I know emergency responders are pros at dealing with these situations quickly and getting out of the way. By the time I got to that location, they had already cleared out.

I was still perhaps a quarter-mile away when two of the police cars turned on their lights and sirens and headed towards me, presumably responding to another call. They were moving quickly, but I waved at them anyway. I’m just friendly like that. One of them waved back, and the other honked at me – win!

I used Jelly Belly sport beans again, but this time I used two packs of their “extreme” version, meaning they had added caffeine. They were… tolerable. Not nearly as good as the original version. I had one package of “assorted extreme” and one package of “cherry extreme”. I wasn’t impressed with any of them. The flavors were just odd. They weren’t the worst mid-run fuel I’ve ever had, but I don’t want to use them again either. I’ll stick to the original beans now!

I was VERY pleased with how my left foot responded to the run. I was at least six miles into the run before this old injury flared up, a definite improvement. Plus, when it did flare up, it didn’t feel as severe as my earlier runs. Baby steps!!!

I’ve even talked to a friend who is a physical therapist about my shoes, and toyed with the possibility of adding orthotic inserts to my running shoes. The physical therapist recommended that, if I do purchase orthotics, I choose Spenco or 10 Seconds brands, instead of the cheap drugstore brands. However, I’m pleased with the improvements in this run, and I feel confident that I can hold off on orthotics for now.

My mid-week runs have also gone well this week. Not perfect, of course, but it’s been good. I feel strong. I’ve been putting in a lot of activity this week. I hope it’s enough to prepare me for the half-marathon in May. Intellectually, I know it is, but it’s quickly getting near enough that I can’t do anything more to improve. That’s also when my self-doubt reaches its peak!

I realized this week that wearing a baseball cap kinda helps me focus during my runs. It’s like blinders – when I’m looking down, the cap hides the upcoming road. It’s a bit of a challenge, in that it is a bit harder to see ahead and be aware of my surroundings, but it’s a pretty big help also. Now I just need to find a good KC Royals cap, instead of the freebie Yahoo cap in the photo!

I also got a new pair of shoes!!! Saucony Cohesion 9s, found online for a great price. There’s nothing as exciting as the smell of new shoes!

I need to ease up on my long runs to let my foot recover a bit more before the race, but the forecast for Saturday is 77 degrees, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to resist!