Monday, August 29, 2011

The final 21

Saturday, I headed out for my final 20+ miler in my 16-week training plan for the Quad Cities Marathon.  Before I get into details, let me just say... It went AWESOME!!  I felt like a damn rock star afterward!  I can't even imagine the feelings I will experience crossing that finish line on September 25.

Pre-run fuel!
My long runs this summer have been sporadic.  Some were well-planned and executed as training runs.  Others were just feeble efforts to squeeze miles into a busy summer schedule.  The whole point of these long runs is to "practice" for the big day, and I haven't been doing that appropriately.  This past weekend, we had a clear calendar, so I zoned in on my final BIG ONE before the taper.  On Thursday, I mapped out my course, dividing it into three legs.  On Friday, I conceded to the rest day, despite the urge to run.  I relaxed and mentally focused myself for the run.  I fed my body well with an awesome pasta dinner and homemade garlic bread.  And oh, the water I drank!

The newly opened Kellar branch trail
After a good night's sleep, I woke up to a quick shower before I headed out.  (I've found that a cool shower not only wakes me up, but by getting my hair wet, it keeps my head cool for hours on the run.)  I started down the first leg of my run just past 6am.  I ran this stretch of the Kellar branch trail earlier in the week with Little Girl.  Amazingly how easy it felt without the jogging stroller!  I circled through Peoria Heights and enjoyed the beautiful views along Prospect, overlooking the Illinois River.
Leg 1 complete.... 7.42 miles in 1:18 (10:30 pace)

I stopped back at my car to refuel, hydrate, grab my ipod, and a headband change.  The next 2.5 miles were fairly quiet, as this portion of the Rock Island trail is far under-utilized.  I wouldn't call it hilly, but it certainly is rolling.  One of daughter's favorite parts of this trail is the tunnel.  It goes under the Interstate and is very dark and cool!  Sometimes even spooky!  Thankfully, this morning I had a biker behind me with a headlight.

Once I got near the Rock Island trailhead, I suddenly had lots of company.  It was a perfect summer morning with temps in the low 70's.  There were groups of cross country kids, women walking, families on bikes and a hefty share of other runners.  I haven't run this portion of the Rock Island trail in at least a month, and I was immediately happy that I included in the day's long run.  The miles ticked off quickly.  As I hit the 11 mile mark of my run, I was happy with how good my body felt... and thankful for proper fueling the night before.  Last week's GI issues were harsh on the run!!

I hit my turnaround in Dunlap and decided instead to do a loop around the town, which made my 20 into a 21 miler.  That's the thing about an out and back... you always feel good at the "out" point, it's the "back" that kills you!
Leg 2 complete... 6.77 miles in 1:14  (10:55 pace)

The way back went pretty smoothly, despite the gradual incline of this direction.  I focused on making it back to the trailhead, where I could refill my handheld bottle at the water fountain.  Again, all the activity on the trail took my mind off the distance I was running.  As I neared the trailhead, there was a mass of Boy and Girl Scouts on the trail doing some sort of race.  It was so cute... I had little 6-8 year olds cheering me on, telling me that I "looked good" and to "keep going".  Yeah, you have no idea!

The final miles back to my car, the TOUGH began to set in.  The trees opened up and I lost the shade that was keeping me cool.  The sun had warmed up by now (hit 81˚ by time I was done).  I started to really sweat in the open stretches of the trail, and those rolling hills that I mentioned earlier made my quads scream.  But I pushed on.  When I saw the final stretch and my car awaiting up ahead, I sprinted it out.  Who knew?  I still had gas!
Leg 3 complete... 6.77 miles in 1:17  (11:22 pace)

I literally jumped for joy!  This run felt really really good, both physically and mentally.  I can totally do this marathon thing.  As EMZ would say, I so freakin' got this!!

I mixed up my Gotein drink, swallowed a banana whole, stretched out my legs and headed home for an ice bath.  The next morning, my legs felt so darn good that I ventured out for a 4 mile recovery run.  It's good.  It's all good.  :)

Hello TAPER!!!


  1. great job!! A good long run is SO satisfying and great for the confidence :) You're going to ROCK that marathon :)

  2. Wow, that is amazing!! I can't even imagine running that much at once at this point!!
    It's been so fun watching your journey- you are going to kick butt at the marathon!!

  3. SO completely awesome!! Way to go!!!

  4. Awesome run! You are going to kill this marathon!

  5. Amazing job on your run--you totally go this, woo-hoo!!!!!

  6. You are SO SO Ready!!! Yay!!! Great job!!!

  7. You're inspiring me Jess! My first marathon is one week after yours. I love reading about your long runs. You are looking so strong, you're going to rock it!!!

  8. Excellent job! You are ready!

    I ran 21 on Saturday, too, but jumping for joy at the end was way beyond me.

  9. I've been stalking your blog for the last few months, and I am so excited for your marathon! I'm sure you'll do so amazingly great! Good luck!!

  10. Wonderful, there is nothing better than a good long run before a race to boost your confidence.
    You definitely sound ready, enjoy the taper.

  11. Sounds like you have THE training you need for 9/25. it makes me so happy to read this and see your confidence soaring!!!! woo hoo!!!


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