This past weekend’s training activities pushed my body farther than I have ever pushed it while running. To recap, a week ago I had a step-back week, and this past week I started a new three week cycle. The training program says that I should have done 8 miles at marathon pace on Saturday, and 17 miles on Sunday. However, I have more time on Saturday mornings, so I decided to switch the two around. The downside of doing that is that it makes it pretty hard to run at high rates of speed on Sunday after doing the long run on Saturday.

Anyway, I decided to reverse the two on Wednesday or Thursday, so I had some time for my mind to adjust to the idea of having a 17er on Saturday. I wanted to be moving at 7:00 on Saturday morning. I ended up waking up at 7 and was out the door moving at 7:33. But, the beauty of Saturday is that I can deal with that.

My planned route was a big loop around the house, reflected on this map:

http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=816743

I warmed up for my standard quarter mile and then started running. I made it about 1.4 miles and my calves were really hurting. So, I walked for a bit. This continued, and continued, and continued. By about 3-4 miles in, I had mostly worked through the calf pain, but I was still just not really “feeling it”. I had a pretty good segment going at one point, and looked down at the GPS and I was 7.15 miles in. From that point on, I hit my stride. It just took me a long time to get there [ note: add graphs showing my average speed during this phase of the run ] Maybe I didn’t wait long enough after waking up. Maybe I didn’t warm up long enough.. But I’ve been following this basic sequence for a while now, so I really don’t think that was the problem.

I was approximately at Lincoln and Springfield (heading east) when 9:00am rolled around. I ran east until I got to Cottage Grove and started heading south. I looked down at the GPS, and I had went 10.35 miles.

On this run, I decided to do something different. For the marathon on May 26, they are providing us with Gu. Gu, if you aren’t familiar with it, is an “energy gel”. It comes in these little packets that you tear the end off of, and suck the gel out into your mouth. I had never tried the things before. The instructions say to take one before exercising, and then every 30-45 minutes during the exercise. Well, they cost a buck apiece, so I didn’t want to take them quite as often as recommended, but I decided that 17 miles was long enough that I would try one. I wanted to see if I even liked them before the marathon rolled around. [ note: insert picture of Gu packet ] So, I had told myself that I would try one when I was 10 miles into the run. So, I grabbed the packet, ripped the end off, and put it up to my mouth. The Gu wasn’t that bad! It wasn’t overly sweet (I got the triple berry flavor) and kinda had the consistency of yogurt (it wasn’t cold like yogurt is, though). It was slightly sweet, but not overly sweet. 100 calories, according to the package, and it is supposed to give you a lot of energy. I followed the Gu with a few swigs of water from the Camelbak and kept on moving.

At 15 miles I noticed a feeling that I hadn’t felt before. Right leg. Calf muscle. Back of the leg. Just below the knee. I felt like it was almost kinda wanting to cramp up right there. It felt like if I were to stop moving and bend my leg at the knee and leave it that way that it would cramp up. So, I didn’t stop moving.

I continued to “feel” this area through the rest of the run and, to be honest, through the rest of the day and Sunday as well.

So, I finished the 17 miles. A few days ago I said that running is mental. Well, it is.. but it is also physical. I can safely say that 17 felt different than 4. “Tiredness” wise, I wasn’t too bad. But my muscles were definitely more sore.

Had some softball practice on Saturday afternoon, but I spent most of the day (and Sunday too, for that matter) feeling kinda stiff.

Sunday morning I had my 8 mile run. First, I didn’t do it at marathon pace. But, I was OK with that. The other thing that was different about Sunday morning’s run was that I experienced a little bit of nipple sensitivity. This particular topic is one that people might not discuss very much, but it isn’t anything lewd or crude. It’s just a fact, according to distance runners. I’ve been watching closely for this, but hadn’t noticed anything before yesterday. The basic idea is that your shirt rubs against your body, chafing it in certain areas. Over time, this chafing leads to discomfort, which then leads to bleeding. I won’t go into detail, but rest assured that a Google search for “marathon nipple bleeding” will result in a lot of results from men who weren’t expecting the results that they saw.

So, I’ve been watching closely for this. I have some sythetic t-shirts that I wear (no cotton! Cotton is bad!) that supposedly have the fibers much closer together than regular cotton, which, in theory, cuts down on the friction that one might experience. My 17 miler went well. But, I’m guessing, the added work from running 8 the next day was enough that I noticed it. Anyway, about 3-4 miles into my 8 mile run, I could feel the chafing starting to occur. And, that’s about all that happened. Nothing more than that occurred on the run. Nothing gross, etc. BUT, this is a bad thing. I had hoped that the special shirts would make me immune to the problem, but that isn’t the case. So, I’m going to have to prepare for this. There are several suggestions. 1) don’t wear a shirt. 2) Use bandaids/tape over the nipples. 3) put superglue/liquid skin/Glide, etc. on the nipples. Basically, prevent the friction. On my 18 miler this coming weekend I’ll probably do some version of #2.

The remainder of the 8 miler went _pretty well_. At about 7.6 miles I had the random thought, “I’m really kinda getting sore. In fact, I’m feeling my right knee, which is a new feeling for me” But, the rest of the run came and went. As previously mentioned, the remainder of Sunday was a bit stiff, but not too bad. I’m glad I don’t have to run today, though. 🙂

Tomorrow morning’s runs start my “5 miles on the short days” segment of training. It amazes me that the body is capable of doing what it is (apparently) capable of doing. On my short runs I’m going to start doing interval training. I’d love to see if I can get my speed up a little bit before the marathon. I’m not going to try anything special on the long runs, but I’d love to get my short runs moving along faster than they are. If you’re still reading, you know by now that I must love to type. Stay tuned, you’ll have more to read in a few days!

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