Well I was so excited for today and now that my run is over and the ice is on my heel, I can safely say that it was just as exciting, if not more, than I thought! I completed a distance I have never done before, 14.3 miles. Why 14.3 you ask? Well, using mapmyrun.com (the run is at http://www.mapmyrun.com/view_route.php?r=d12a17327dc2cb7246c05c623babf5d7 if you want to check it out) to map out my route, it is difficult to get it to exactly 14 miles - and so I am taking credit for every extra tenth of a mile I ran!! Since I can only carry enough water to last about 10 miles, it worked out perfectly that I could stop in where I work at mile 8.5 and refill my water.
This was a great longrun, I really felt like I was "in the zone". I woke up feeling pretty good and left the house just before 7 am - it was still dark outside. After about 45 minutes, the sun started to peek out, but its effects were delayed because of some morning clouds to the east - so for the moment I was spared the heat. But I knew it was coming. I knew I wasn't going to be finished until almost 10 am - and by then the sun can be brutal.
I loaded up a 165 bpm Podrunner piece (Thanks to DJ Steveboy - you can check out his tunes at http://www.djsteveboy.com/mixes.html ). The music really keeps me paced as I go along. If I begin to get winded I just shorten my stride a bit. I took 45 sec walking breaks every 6 minutes, with a short stop at the office to refill my water bottles. After the water stop I listened to Phedippedations (a great runner's podcast at http://www.steverunner.com/ ) as the heat of the morning sun really began to set in. For the last 2.5 miles, I swapped back to Podrunner to help keep my pace up for the end of the run. In all of this, I went through 3 gel packs (plus one before I left this morning).
I also wore the heart rate monitor today. I set the target zone for 135 - 155 bpm. Of the 3+ hours of running I spent 1 hour 49 min in that zone - but as my run went on and the heat of the morning really started to hit me, I couldn't keep my bpm much below 160 (160 is about 85% for me) or so, particularly for the last 3 miles. It was a good way to gauge how I was doing in maintaining a long run pace.
So, my final time was 3 hours, 5 minutes, 39 seconds, a blazing 12:59 pace. I was hoping for a better pace, but I had to keep reminding myself that the purpose of the long run is not speed, but distance. If I had gone out faster I think it would have been much harder to complete. As it was, I finished strong in the last mile, 11:52 with a good strong sprint down the street to my house.
After more water and a cold bath I am now sitting at my computer and reporting on my run. I think for my next really long run (another 14 miler in 2 weeks) I am going to try ice in the bath water. I had to get used to the cold water idea - but the cold water has felt great so I am going to try it with the ice next time. Afterall, I am in training for all aspects of the marathon, including the ceremonial ice bath to help speed recovery.
Thanks to my friends Jennifer and Karen who I am sure thought of me this morning as they got up to another beautiful morning in Florida. Thanks most of all to my husband who gets to share this adventure all along the way with me, watching me listen to running podcasts, read running books and magazines, visit running websites, and just basically living, eating and breathing running. It is week 16 of training - just 15 weeks and 6 days to the Disney Marathon.