Away out here they have a name for rain and wind and fire. The rain is Tess, the fire's Joe, and they call the wind Maria.
Maria blows the stars around and sets the clouds a-flyin'. Maria makes the mountains sound like folks was out there dyin'.
There was someone out there dyin' today--it was me!
Actually it wasn't that bad. Yes, my old friends the chinook winds (along with mud and melting snow) accompanied me on every step of this morning's torturous 15-mile run. Yes, they had a markedly adverse effect on my pace: in the end, it averaged out to 9:26/mile, molasses-slow considering my goal. But you can't argue with Mother Nature. At least I finished it, and had to make no pit-stops--the ditches of Boulder County are safe from me for another week.
Since this was the longest run I have to do in this training cycle, I thought I'd recap some lessons, things I did right and wrong on it. I'll start with the bad news:
Things I Did Wrong
1. I ran too fast at first. The second mile came in at 8:57. Given the wind, I should have slowed them all down, knowing I'd need the energy later.
2. I didn't even attempt to fuel. I brought some Hammer gels and some Starburst candies with me, but I ate none of them. I was frightened of the possibility of having a repeat of what happened to my gut on the 14-miler. So all I did was drink water. I think I paid for it in low blood sugar at the end, when the winds hit really hard.
3. I didn't have enough water with me. Time to go buy a couple of those hand-held water bottles. I do own a fuel belt, but as a woman with hips, I hate it. It always rides up to my waist, causing my shirt to bunch and (on long ones) chafing to happen. I think hand-held will be the way to go for me.
Things I Did Right (Because Hey, I Have to Stay Optimistic)
1. I finished the damn thing. I thereby will benefit from the psychological advantage that having done 15 miles will confer on race day (now a mere four weeks away!).
2. I was reminded that race day may very well not shine down on me with ideal weather (40 degrees, come and go sun, no wind). If it's windy or hot, my time will be slower. This will not be my fault. Good to have that reminder in advance.
3. I did all of my longest runs, including this one, on the actual race course. This was one of my goals at the beginning, and now I can truly say I know every twist of those dusty/muddy roads like the back of my hand. I know where the Golden Grizzly ranch is (and how far I've gone by the time I get there--a little over 6 miles). I know where the little downhills on the big uphill part of the course are, so I can look forward to breaks. I know where the shade is (there ain't much of it), and how the air turns cooler when I cross Left Hand Creek or when the road gets close to a culvert. I know that I can kick at the end, even on a day like today.
Not counting the race itself, there is one more long one two weeks from now. But it's "only" 12 miles. Other than that, and a couple of tough speed workouts this Tuesday and next Tuesday, I'm over the hump. I plan to spend the next four weeks "getting it done," eating and sleeping well and trying to avoid the viruses pinging around right now like video game enemies.
A side note: while I was out running this morning, Denver Mattress dropped off our brand new bed. It's stretched behind me as I type, promising glorious nights of rest. Clean sheets are in the dryer now, and we have new pillows, too.
Something tells me the sleep will be good tonight.
Here's the ugly news from today's run: