Saturday, April 23, 2011

My longest run EVER!

My previous distance record was 17.2 miles. Today, I made it to the big 20! I feel so PROUD! Well, I feel achy and throbby but aside from that, I feel very, very proud. It's not very often I have a "first" these days and this was a good one. It was quite challenging, I definitely struggled in a few areas, but I kept plugging along until I got to the end. 

The end was a dive mini-mart by the International District light rail station where I bought my chocolate milk and gushed to the cashier what I had just done. He seemed genuinely impressed. I drank the milk outside the store, soaking up the sun on our first day of the year over 60 degrees. Then, I hobbled across the street to catch the light rail home. Ahhhhh!

I walked the 0.4 mi home from the train station and remembered that I had my music with me. I sang LOUD on my walk, so happy (or high) that I had completed my run and was going to live to blog about it. Tom Petty (Won't back down) and Michael Jackson (PYT) brought me big smiles. I pretty much headed straight for the ice bath and it felt like heaven. Thanks to Elizabeth's Ice Bath 101, my privates & I managed much better this time. I'm definitely going to take another icy after the ice maker fills back up.


To prepare for the Seattle RNR, I thought I'd cover as much of the course as possible given a start from my house. I headed straight for the lake and picked up at RNR mile 9 where the course heads east over the I-90 floating bridge. This is my mock RNR course miles 9 through 26 (with some extra in there to hit 20 miles total). 

Courtesy of
Nice elevation profile, huh?

That's why I wanted to train on the course. I need strength and confidence.

I did this run alone and I didn't listen to any music until I was done. I just spent a lot of time in my head and since I was running in the city, I had to keep my ears alert so I could avoid cars and crazy people.

Throughout my run, I was agreeing with Elizabeth when she said the Seattle RNR course sucks because it's all highway. That might be a little bit harsh because while you're on the highways/busy streets you do get some pretty incredible views (if it's clear - mountain ranges, volcanoes, lots of water, boats, etc) BUT there is no mistaking that this is a very urban run. It was LOUD and a bit frantic. One upshot is that for the race, some of the areas will be closed to cars, so that will help with the noise and pollution. 

I'm glad I did this chunk of the course, because it will be the most challenging portion and now I know what to expect. I don't feel a need to do this route again until race day though. I will just plan on incorporating hills into my tempo and long runs. If I do anything else course-related, I may run the first portion, miles 1 - 9, to see what they're like.

By mile 15, my feet were screaming. I tuned them out but I did take advantage of any soft shoulder I could find. My next long run is three weeks from now (22 miles) and I'm fairly resolved to return to the Lake Sammamish trail so I can spare my feet and joints some pounding.

At mile 17, my body started to stiffen up. Makes sense since that was my previous distance limit. I really slowed the pace down and since I was on the waterfront, I enjoyed (savored, even!) my last few miles of my "longest run ever."  Plus, slowing down is good, according to Sally who is a veteran TNT marathoner and mentor. She ran most of my 17-miler with me and during our run, she said that spending TIME on your feet is good training - regardless of distance. She thinks it's good practice to be plugging along and getting your feet used to being hammered.

I didn't stop for pictures because once I stop, I have a hard time moving again. But I did snap a couple:

Looking west over Fremont Bridge, from Aurora Bridge. Olympic Mts. in distance.

Elliot Bay - Myrtle Edwards Park. Olympic Mts. in distance. I saw a seal here!

Lessons learned for next long run:
  1. Find a route with mixed hard and soft terrain. = Feet are throbbing right now. 
  2. Plan water stops ahead, need to refill bottles 2x = I went through 40 oz. today (1 refill) but could have used another 10 oz or so. Thankfully, when I was most desperate for a refill, I passed a swanky restaurant (Canlis, for you locals) that had their garden hose hooked up and hiding behind a bush. I spotted it and raced over to refill. This is where I used my half-NUUN that I had wrapped & stuck under my bra strap.
  3. Wear sunglasses! = I was squinting the whole time - a nice problem to have. 
  4. Bring more NUUN. = I took half before I started and the other half @ mile 13. I probably should have taken one earlier and then squeezed in another half-dose around mile 15. Maybe this would have helped with the stiffening I had at mile 17? 
Oh, and someone recently asked how people re-fuel after long runs. Today, I had to go to Home Depot with the hubs RIGHT after my bath. I needed to eat something, so I happily ate one McD's sausage/egg muffin AND one ham/egg muffin, en route. It's not my usual practice or preference but I was desperate. I burned 1,630 calories before 9:15 a.m. today, so I think I'm o.k.


  1. Wow, 20 miles is amazing!!!! And I love that it sounds like you enjoyed it! Congrats!

  2. Congrats on finishing your longest run EVER! You are a rockstar! Beautiful photos, too. I love the Seattle area!

  3. nice job! You are going to Rock that race (no pun intended)!
    I was thinking of doing Seattle R&R but that elevation profile looks a little tough for this Southern California girl :).

  4. Glad the ice bath helped! And, I will say I forgot the elevation looked like THAT and it must have been cloudy because I didn’t see any of that stuff! Would’ve made the run more enjoyable for sure!! Did you run on the highway thing the race went on or roads? That city confuses me. You deserved the 2 mcmuffins. :) And Sally is right-time on feet vs. how fast is what they teach us down here. :) so glad it went well!!!

  5. It feels so good to bag your first 20 miles! Great running, well done, especially on such a hilly route. That McDonalds thing looks revolting, but at least you can afford the calories!

  6. And at a great pace! Congratulations. It must be a good feeling.

  7. woo-hoo!! I was thinking about you--looks like you had a grteat day!

    I battled the Palouse winds, but got my 22 miler in!!

    ice up and replenish (nosh on whatever you want Alma!!)

  8. Congrats Alma! That is amazing! ...and all before 9:15. Impressive!

  9. WOW-20!! Way to go! And hello? Holy Elevation batman!

  10. I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!! This is fantastic -- looks like you had a GREAT pace, too! :) :) Remind me to find you on DailyMile...

    These runs are total confidence boosters .. you are going to kill the RnR mary! Great job!

    I'm totally with your friend. One of the things I want to do during my SFM training cycle is spend more time on my feet once I'm done with my long runs... whether that means walking a mile or two, standing around afterward (instead of heading straight for the shower and then bed.). etc. I think having all that time on your feet is going to be very beneficial. I want to try to get a sub-4 marathon, so I think staying on my feet for 4 hours would be the most BASIC thing I could do. ;)

    So proud of you -- GREAT JOB!! :)

  11. P/S: YOUR ELEVATION IS CRAZY! those are some great hills you tackled... you could totally come run SF with that practice!

  12. Oh boy.

    First: Congratulations! You rocked 20 miles!

    Second: The elevation scares me. I had sort of a sucky run with hills today.

    Third: Congrats again!

  13. Great job. I did my first 20 today as well. Pretty tough, huh?

  14. Great job on your 20 miler! Alone and no music? That was great training! You're going to do great! And I'll have to go check out some of those pod casts. I had no idea there were so many!