My Best Long Run Ever…and Self-Diagnosing My Foot

I’m in the home stretch of training for my two “goal” races of the season, so I thought it would be a fine time to update you all on my progress. Because it’s not official until it’s on the blog. :)

We’ll be heading back to Philadelphia for The Love Run this weekend, and this is going to be my goal half marathon for the spring. It’s supposed to be a nice, flat course…so I’m hoping to use it as my official Wine & Dine Half Marathon corral placement race.

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Our most recent trip to Philly for Todd’s 2nd marathon!

Plus, since it’s STILL not feeling very spring-like around these parts, the weather is still producing optimal racing temperatures for me (the cooler, the better)! In fact, my 7-miler on the first day of spring was completed IN THE FRIGGIN’ SNOW! (But at least I got my free “first day of spring” iced coffee!)

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I literally run on Dunkin’.

As I’ve mentioned many times here, my previous PR (and runDisney corral) was a 2:03…from a race about a thousand years ago (April 2013). The closest I’ve come since then was a 2:04 race in September of 2013.

Since then, my half times have been all over the map — anything from a 2:07 to a 2:14 to a 2:25. As marathon training consumed my entire life, all other race distances, my speedwork, etc. took a backseat…and I’ve allowed myself to use the “I have marathon legs!” excuse for far too long.

Honestly, I haven’t run anything under 2:10 in quite some time. So, needless to say, I’m EXTREMELY motivated this time around to correct the many (MANY) mistakes I’ve made in my training and see what I can really do.

I will be happier than a pig in you-know-what with anything under 2:05 this weekend. I know it’s a lofty goal, but I’ve been busting my butt these last two months to reclaim my “old” pace…and maybe even set a new PR. Hey, you never know, right?! My 1:34 in a recent 10-mile race gives me hope that I might just be able to pull it off.

And then, of course, there’s training for marathon #5. The New Jersey Marathon is really sneaking up on me now, and I gotta say, I think this has been my second best round of marathon training yet (after the Dopey Challenge, of course). I’ve been a lot more consistent in terms of logging ALL of my runs, and I’m pushing myself to run significantly faster on shorter distances (which, for me, is anything under a 9:30/pace). But it seems to be paying off on my long runs.

In fact…this Sunday’s 16-miler was among the most successful long runs I’ve ever had. That’s right…EVER!

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Todd and I went to our local park, and I FORCED myself to keep my pace in check in the early miles. I’ve been doing lots of experimenting with that whole “negative split” concept lately; up until now, I had pretty much decided that it was something I was physically incapable of doing. Whether it’s a long run or a race, I am NOTORIOUS for going out too fast and then crashing and burning in the last few miles. And since that strategy hasn’t exactly been paying off for me as of late, I thought it was time to try something new.

So, this Sunday, I FORCED myself to simmer down and not go out like a bat out of hell. I maintained a comfy 10-10:30/pace in the early miles, and I just kept having to tell myself to SLOW. DOWN. when I’d get overzealous and feel that urge to run faster. I’m SO tired of dragging my lifeless body through the final agonizing miles of a long run, and I wanted to prove to myself that I CAN hold back a little bit and still have enough gas in the tank to push it at the end.

The first 10 miles flew by pretty quickly, and in that final 10K, I started to feel a little sore and hungry and, let’s face it, bored…but I also somehow felt just as strong as I did in the beginning of the run. SAYWHAT?!?!?!?!

In the last leg of the run, I allowed myself to go for it…and Todd and I both managed to pull out a 9:30-9:40 pace for the final 5K. Todd was having a little bit of a hard time that morning, but at our 10-mile fuel break, I fed him one of my Honey Stingers “Ginsting” gels with caffeine…and, for some reason, he claims it magically “gave him a boost.” Gee, I wonder why…? ;)

As a coffee addict, I don’t think I really notice the caffeine in the gels all that much…but he doesn’t drink coffee AT ALL, and he said he really felt it. Ah, it will be so fun to get him hooked on legal stimulants. :)

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Anyway, I somehow managed to end up with EXACTLY the 10-minute/mile pace I wanted for my 16-miler! I have NEVER been able to pull off such a consistent pace for a long run, and I honestly have never felt so strong in the last miles. I’m not saying I wasn’t sore and tired, but I didn’t feel like dropping dead like I usually do. It was a HUGE difference.

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Why it says “8:06″ is beyond me…in my freakin’ dreams!

In other news, I’ve been having an ongoing issue with my right foot. It’s a pain on the bottom of the foot, but a little closer to the outer edge than the middle. I basically spent the entire day on Saturday trying to diagnose myself, because this has been going on for weeks now and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. It was particularly bad on Saturday (more of a stabbing pain than the usual soreness). And since I had high hopes for Sunday’s long run, I didn’t want a stupid bum foot to ruin my efforts.

So, based upon my self-diagnosis — it sounds an awful lot like plantar fasciitis, a.k.a. one of the most common running injuries of all time — I tried all of the numerous tips and tricks that Google had to offer.

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How I spend a Saturday…party time!

My efforts included: rolling it on one of my dog’s tennis balls (which I have been doing for weeks), freezing a bottle of water to try ice massage (which felt surprisingly good), wrapping an ice pack around my foot (and securing it with a hair tie, haha), pulling my toes back and massaging the tendons on the bottom of my feet, and doing lots and lots of stretching for my calves…hence the belt and my arch nemesis, The Stick.

Of course, I paid a little visit to the KT Tape website for a handy demonstration on taping my foot for this particular issue prior to Sunday’s run. (I’d share a photo, but I have the nastiest, most calloused runner/martial artist feet in all the land…and I don’t want to make anyone lose their lunch).

And I spent the rest of the day on Sunday and Monday walking around in my Gone For a Run “recovery sandals.” I felt like a little bit of an idiot trying to pull off the socks and sandals look in public, but, HEY…you gotta go what you gotta do.

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Fortunately, it DOES feel better. During the run, I felt just a little bit of a twinge/tenderness…but nothing like I’ve felt on previous runs. And today, I don’t feel anything when I walk on it.

It’s a pain that seems to come and go — and I’m 99 percent sure it all started when I failed to replace my running sneakers in a timely fashion. I’m hoping that it will at least hold on and not get any worse until the marathon is over next month…at which time I promise I will do the one thing I know I’m supposed to do: REST IT.

Do you tend to negative or positive split in long runs/races?

Have you ever dealt with a foot pain/injury?

 

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