I have been a very diligent little runner this spring, and it seems to be paying off.
Of course this year, I haven't had to contend with the polar vortex, so skipping workouts has been harder to justify.
Nor have I brought my phone on most of my long runs — I get tired of holding it and of obsessing over the statistics. Also, Cory has joined me on most of them, so I feel less likely to encounter trouble with no way of calling for help.
So that means I'm judging progress on feel alone, which is OK. I signed up for this half marathon to keep myself accountable in general and to get in tip-top shape for a spring 5K. (Mission accomplished.)
Here are my takeaways from the long runs so far, though.
Seven-miler: My parents had visited us this weekend, and while we hadn't indulged ourselves on a Roman emperor's level, we certainly hadn't skimped on the calories or hydrated optimally.
We also didn't head out until midafternoon on the first truly nice weekend Des Moines had seen all year, so temperatures were a little higher than what we were used to.
Nevertheless, I felt amazing through the first four or five miles. I did lose a little bit of giddy-up once we hit Bulldog Hill, which only surprised me because of how good I felt leading up to it, and how easy the hill had felt in earlier shorter and colder long runs.
Eight-miler: We left much earlier this time. It took me longer to find my groove during this run, but I did find it.
Our route also hit three hills that we'll encounter in the race: up from Gray's Lake, west on Grand Avenue from downtown, and up Bulldog Hill. Yep, definitely getting harder ... but not impossible.
Nine-miler: I noticed my enthusiasm shrivel once I put running clothes on, a sure signal that training is peaking and that race day had better be soon OR ELSE. (This is the second-to-last long run of the plan, so race day is close.)
If you were in Des Moines on Easter Sunday, you can easily imagine how this run took some effort. If you weren't — it was warm and windy. Not constantly windy, or constantly in-your-face windy, but definitely drying.
I felt slow and sluggish at first, probably because of both the weather and a lingering cold, and when we stopped for water around mile 5, I developed a side stitch. Good timing, as we had our three hills still ahead of us.
Either my random prodding of muscles worked, or my body handled the stitch on its own, because by the time we got up Grand to take on Bulldog Hill, I don't remember it being there anymore. In a way, I was glad for the wind, heat and cramps — any or all of these could happen on race day, so might as well be prepared.
Cory peeled off at 28th, so I had to do Bulldog Hill alone. Even without peer pressure, I did NOT cave and walk. But man, is that hill growing tougher as the runs get longer ...