Monday, July 5, 2010

9 Miles: Tips, Tricks, and Pics

On Saturday, my scheduled "long" run was 9 miles.  I haven't done that sort of distance on any regular basis since 2008 when I last trained for a marathon.  The thought of NINE MILES can be intimidating but I've learned a few tricks that get me through it.

First of all, I try very hard not to think of the whole distance.  One of the things that helps me to do that is to visualize where I'll be running. That way as I'm running and I notice a landmark, I think 3 miles down, just repeat.   On Friday I got on Map My Run and worked out the route I wanted to use. I knew if I did sort of giant loop around the small city I live in, I could make the mileage and the run would be quite varied with lots of different elevations. The next thing I do is to make sure I've got all my "stuff" ready:  meaning that my Garmin 305 is full charged, my running clothes are laid out, and my Fuel Belt (I have the Hybiscus Pink one) is ready to go.  For a 9 mile run I need to have at least 1 bottle on my Fuel Belt containing a sports drink with some calories and carbs. Or, I need to have Shot Bloks to eat while drinking water.   I'm not a fast runner so after I've been running about an hour I need to take that in to make sure I have the energy to keep going.  A lot of these drinks make my tummy revolt but after having several upset stomachs over the years the one I've found that works well is Accelerade.  To get ready for my run, I fill one of my bottles with Accelerade and two of them with water and freeze them.  The fourth bottle I fill with water or a Nuun mixture just before I leave.  The reason I freeze the bottles is that by the time I want to drink out of them, they have defrosted but are ICY cold.  Believe me, after you've been running for over an hour it tastes sooooo good!  I even trick myself into believing that the Orange Accelerade tastes like a Creamsicle.

Since I had a busy day Saturday I needed to get out pretty early for my run - which means getting up early enough to get a chance to pour some coffee down my throat before I take off.  And, next week when my long run goes up to 10 miles, I'll actually need to eat something like oatmeal or a banana before I even leave the house!

The pace calculator tells me that I should be running my long runs at a 12:37-13:07 pace per mile.  BUT, the most important thing about a long run is that it should feel easy.  In other words, at any given time you should be able to talk to someone.  So, I was hoping to get the 9 miles done on the faster side of that pace which would have been a time of 1:53:33 but honestly, I would have been happy with any time under 2 hours, especially since I've been battling the ear infections and strep this week

Woke up, swallowed and my ear didn't hurt! - HURRAY!  Got my coffee down, got dressed, made sure to rub any place I thought I might chafe or blister with Body Glide (especially important when it's humid!) and was out the door doing my run at 6:17 according to my Garmin.  It was gorgeous and quiet, not much traffic yet and slightly overcast, which was just fine with me since I knew as soon as the sun came out it would heat up quick.  I just started slowly and bopped along and when I got down to the area of town where People Who Have A Lot More Money Than Me live, I thought I'd use the iPhone (thus the photo quality) to show you just how lovely it was!

Looking out over Long Island Sound

View of one of the lighthouses as I came around the corner

View of same lighthouse from the road side

View of same lighthouse from the other side of the corner
See the real house there?  Yep, one of those People I mentioned lives in that house!

Here's the other little lighthouse that sits out in the Sound

If I ever became one of those People With Money,
This is the house I'd buy.  It's view?  Both the lighthouses!

2 1/2 miles from home.  Still lovely, sun under clouds but peeking out.
I think Pam was flapping her Angel Wings to make sure it didn't get too hot!

About a 1 1/2 miles from home the sun burst out!  
Then I saw these.  Who doesn't love a Morning Glory?

When I came up the hill to my house, I saw this:
So exciting people!  These are the ones I grew from bulbs and
we've been waiting to see the flowers!

Really important to recover properly.  For me that means an ice bath for 10 minutes
for any run over a 10K length

Of course it's also important to take in some calories ASAP.
A good ratio of protein, carbs, etc. so I sucked this down to make the ice bath go quicker!

I have to say that my planning and work paid off.  I ended up running 9.1 miles in 1:45 which is an 11:35 pace!  The thing is, it felt good and it felt easy so I'm sure I didn't push too hard.  Plus, I burned 1038 calories which meant I had room for whatever picnic food my heart desired.

Another reason I know I didn't push too hard was because on Sunday I was able to do a 5K recovery jog and my legs really did feel OK.

So, this coming Saturday my first 10 miler in the last two years... but I won't think about it, I'll Just Do It.


  1. Sound of me clapping wildly!

    Helen, you are made of awesome. Fabulous run. I know you've got to be so proud of yourself today.

  2. Great run, I am jealous, I wish my knees would allow me to run!

  3. I can't believe you took a camera to your bathtub. You are funny. Loved the pictures and the

  4. You rock Helen. You really do. I'm very impressed, and I'll be haunting your blog when I start to do longer distances.

    btw, I would NEVER unfollow you. I relate too well. :)

  5. I'm impressed by your run, and envious of your location! Very nice pics. That ice bath looks darn uncomfortable, btw. What happens if you skip it?

  6. I love all the tips you gave! I am jotting them all down! Hopefully I will be able to run more than 5K someday! You rocked your run, that's for sure!
    I am jealous of your scenery and temperature! So beautiful! Blue morning glories are my favorite!
    Thanks for sharing all of that!


  7. I am sooooo impressed! Wow! Nine miles is a very long run. I couldn't do that if my life depended on it.

    Plus I'm impressed how you planned it out, freezing your Accelerade, being sure to do the Body Glide, and then the ice bath afterwards. Great job Helen! You amaze me! :)

    And glad to hear you're feeling better (like Superwoman or something).

  8. I love this post so much! Thank you for spelling out the whys and hows of a daunting long make it seem possible for me. And what a great pace you had - looks like you were really in control the entire time, which shows you know what you are doing!

    Loved the pictures - you live in a beautiful area. I am enamored of lighthouses...we spend a week sailing on the Chesapeake Bay about 12 years ago and I loved seeing all of the different ones out there. The only picture I had to laugh at was the temperature sign...62 is in my dreams. Maybe in California - but I won't be running at that temp. in Texas for months.

    You really are a running superstar - thank you for the tips (I have my bottle of Vitalyte in the freezer as I type, getting ready for tomorrow's run)!

  9. YOU ROCK.


    and INSPIRE.


  10. Whew, I'm all out of breath... almost like I ran with you ;)
    You're inspiring. There's nothing left to say!
    Thanks for taking us along with you... the pics were breathtaking!

  11. What a great run. Thanks for bringing us along. What do you carry your iphone in when you run? Isn't it great to not be sore? After the tri, I just wasn't. It was such a nice reward and a reminder of how hard we have worked.

  12. Excellent run! I did 8 mi (my longest) on Saturday and finally employed the practices you blogged about today without an ice bath! I hope I'll be able to do 10m knees may need a 9 miler before, though. Looking forward to your next run report.

  13. wow! that is a ton of exercise. and an ice bath...I am nearly as impressed with that. Great run!

  14. woo hoo girl! You have some beautiful scenery to look at on your runs!

  15. I love this post Helen. Especially the pics and especially the pic of you in the ice bath! I have never tried an ice bath after a long run but I will keep it in mind and after my next long run or bike ride I'll have to give it a try.

    For me the key to a long run is an 'out and back' route. I love the turn around point. It's totally mental, but once I hit the turn around its all downhill to me. Even if it isn't. I just love the turn around.

    I did an 8 miler this weekend. All uphill (hard too) on the way up, all downhill coming back. This is a canyon run and a good way for me to practice for my upcoming Half Marathon the end of August. It will be at high altitude (65oo feet or so) and is all uphill going out, then turn around and downhill on the backside.

    Thanks for such a great post and congrats on your successful 9 miler!

  16. Wow. WOW. 9 miles, I am in awe!

    Do you live on Long Island? We used to vacation along the Island when I was a kid: Greenport, Montauk, Sag Harbor, etc. Your pictures reminded me of it so much!