"The wind... it's what makes it so warm this time of year. Legend has it, when the Santa Anas blow, anything can happen."
--- The Holiday
Why, hello there! Hope each of you had a wonderful Christmas with friends and family... or whatever holiday you may celebrate at this time of year :) While I am very close to my family, I made the very tough decision to not go home (to New Mexico) this year. Related or not, I seem to get violently ill every year after I visit for the holidays. I mean violently ill... in the last five years, I have suffered from the flu and strep throat ('15), bronchitis ('14), and pneumonia ('11 - '13). With my 1/2 marathon coming in 3 weeks and counting, I just couldn't afford to risk it this year.
I kicked off Christmas week with a 5K run at the gym. I hate treadmill running (as I know you are aware), but this was probably my best indoor 5K to date. I even beat my PR! I figured it was a good start to the week, and decided that I would commit to finishing the long run I had procrastinated doing since last Saturday. Although my brother was coming to spend the holiday with me in California, I still wanted to commit to a couple of runs so as to not lose motivation. I was doing well... I didn't want to lose it.
Somewhat serendipitously, my friend Janelle posted details about a Christmas eve 5K occurring in town that seemed to be perfect. Not only was it a good way to give back to our community, but it would also be a great way for me to see my friend and catch up with her while she is in town. Our not-quite-5K race was great! She's done a bunch of the Disney 1/2 marathons, so she gave me a lot of helpful advice and helped quell my nerves. She and I were also able to catch up on one another's lives, which was nice since I hadn't seen her in a couple of years (she lives in Denver). The miles flew by, and I felt great after. I decided to spend the remainder of my day being active... racking up another 3.5 miles of walking with my dog, and doing another 2 mile run at the gym. It was a very active day!
I planned to get my long run done on Christmas day. I figured nothing would be open anyway, so why not use the time to get those miles in on an empty trail? I felt so much better prepared for this run after talking to Janelle. I taped my knee, packed my mid-run fuel packs (I tried Clif Bars and Shot Bloks and Gu... Shot Bloks are my new friend!), and made sure to eat in advance of my run. When I tried running more than 8 miles in the past, my legs and feet would be in tremendous pain afterwards. And this time? No pain! Woohoo! Although my Nike Plus app only recorded 9.06 of my 11 mile run, I actually finished the day with 13.6 miles in total when you added in my walks with my dog. Not to shabby for a holiday!
I took yesterday off, meaning I only walked my dog and didn't do any running at all. While I wasn't in pain, I know myself well enough to know that I can't push it the day after. I feel so much better prepared for my long New Year's run with my friend Shika later this week. So... what have I learned?
- I can't run on a completely empty stomach. Similarly, I can't run on a full stomach. I need to prepare to eat a large snack (not meal) approximately 2 hours before running.
- I need to fuel mid-run. Actually, I think I need to refuel at least twice for the 1/2 marathon. 4 miles seems to be where I need it. Shot Bloks have been my favorite so far, but I have to remind myself to drink water after. What do you do?
- Water is your friend. Ph-balanced water is my best friend. I like Gatorade well enough, but the sugar brings me down. Water with electrolytes does the same job, and doesn't give me that sugar rush (and fall) that hurts my run at the end. My favorite is Core Water, but there are a lot of brands out there - have you tried any?
- Stretching, stretching, stretching!
This is my last week of long runs before I start tapering next week. I'm still nervous, yes, but I feel a lot better prepared than I did before this week. A big thank you to Janelle for the pep talk on Christmas eve! I can't wait to see my friends (and make new ones) at the race in three weeks. Away we go!