Sunday, September 13, 2009

Longest Run Ever

Yesterday, I completed my longest run ever - 20 miles. I was nervous going into the day. My previous high was 16 miles last year, and 14 miles this season. I wasn't sure I would be able to make the extra distance. Every time I finish a half marathon, I feel like I have given it my all, and there is no way I could go any further. It would all be tested on Saturday.

I woke up at 4:10am to meet my friend to get an early start. She prefers to go earlier in the day for long runs so we can finish earlier. I was hesitant to wake up this early, but I am sure glad that I did. We met in the pitch darkness of the morning. I was surprised to see 6 people from another group already there to run. There were 4 in our group, so there are at least 10 crazy people in the area. We ran with headlamps and a little but of conversation. I was scared after the first mile - I seemed to be having problems breathing. I felt like I was going too fast, but there was no choice. I did not have my own lamp, and there was no way I was going to be by myself in the dark. The others were able to slow for me, though, and we ran 5 miles before heading back to meet the group.

It turned out to be an extra benefit for me. My Garmin watch failed after 4.8 miles. I was lucky to be able to reset it in the parking lot before the main group run began. It would have been really horrible to have it fail during the main run.

We began the big group run with a 10 miler on a familiar path. I felt like I was doing quite well at first, but became tired on the return. Of course I was tired! By that time, I was in the 13th mile of my day. We returned to the start and our group began to break up according to how long everyone was to run. The longer distance group went out again. I maintained my place in the back of the 5 person main group. I was tired, but overall, felt surprisingly good.

Soon, I was saying goodbye to my friends. I was so glad to have run the 5 miles so early, so I was able to cut the run short and head back to the car. I was lucky to meet another Galloway runner on the path heading back to the lake. She had lost her legs during her run, and fell behind her group. It was so nice to have someone to finish the last 2.5 miles. It really helps to have someone to talk to at that point. She was great, but soon we were parting ways. She had another 3 miles to finish when I was done. I headed home after about 5 1/2 hours of running.

I felt OK when I got home. Stretching was tough, but I put on my compression socks. This morning, my legs feel pretty good, but I do have soreness in my hips. I have 2 more training runs (23 mi and 26 mi) plus the actual marathon. I am beginning to think I can really do it.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

The time for my book club to start again is quickly drawing near. We will have our opening meeting/potluck dinner in 3 weeks. Like so many other things in my life, I am torn between staying or going. I love the people in my book club. Going to our monthly meetings is pretty much the only time I would get to see them (except perhaps at a holiday party). I like some of the books we have read, but they are usually the type I would not chose to read. I feel like I don't really have much to say at these meetings, but I do really enjoy the social part. There have even been a few meetings where I haven't even read the book.

So, what should I do? Should I stay or should I go?

Pros: the people, different books than I would normally read
Cons: the books, amount of time it takes, lack of discussion points from me


Friday, September 04, 2009

Marathon des Deux Rives

Quebec City, Canada - August 30, 2009 - Bill and I wanted to run a half marathon in late August-early September as part of our training. We found this race, and decided to make a vacation of it. I, for one, am very glad we did. It was a great race and a wonderful trip.

Our race day started early (don’t they always?) with a walk from our hotel down to the port of Quebec City. There, we joined fellow runners on the ferry across the St. Lawrence River to the town of Levis where both the marathon and demi (half) marathon would start. Once ashore, we were separated into different shuttle bus lines for our trip to the start. The marathoners (42.2K in Canada) were going to town and the top of a long ascent. We demi marathoners (21.1K) were delivered to the start near a park in a residential area of Levis. I was sure the neighbors would not be happy about blasting stereos at 6:30am and the noise of hundreds of runners, but the homeowners were out to cheer us on early on a Sunday morning.

The demi marathon started at a relatively flat area of Levis. It didn’t last long. Soon, we hit one big hill, a short break, and a second big hill. Luckily, these hills were the worst of the course, so I was glad to get them out of the way early. Soon after the hills, we were on the world’s longest cantilever bridge crossing the St. Lawrence to Quebec City. There was a long downhill (finally!) to a road that ran just along the river. We stayed on this road all the way into Quebec City. The race finished in the heart of the port with lots and lots of excited spectators shouting “Bravo!” as I passed. The last few yards were even on a red carpet. Once we crossed the finish line and returned our race chips, we received a unique lighted finisher’s medal. We also got a bag to choose our food from the finisher’s area. There was plenty of water, bagels, cookies, yogurt, chips, peanut, and other food.

I was very impressed with this race. The expo was small, but nice. We received a reusable tote bag and a technical shirt with our race information. By staying at one of the official race hotels and booking the stay through the race center, we received free entry into the pasta dinner. The food was good and plentiful, but, alas, there was no wine at the dinner. There were many stops along the race route with both French and English signs announcing what was available at the stop. There were stops for bananas, oranges, Carb Boom!, and even wet sponges (although we didn’t need them as the remnants of Hurricane Danny kept the morning cool and overcast). The race was measured in kilometers. The kilometer signs descended to let you know how many Ks you had left to the finish. I enjoyed passing all 21 kilometer signs.

Quebec City is a wonderful place to visit as well. The city is gorgeous and quaint. The people are very friendly and will gladly speak to you in English if, like us, you do not speak French. The food is delicious, and Canadian beer is exceptionally good. The weather in August is quite cool as well. We both enjoyed this vacation, and would recommend this race to anyone.