This weekend I completed the last and longest of my training runs before the Goofy begins on January 12th (the full marathon is on the 13th). My assigned mileage was 12 miles on Saturday and a whopping 27 miles on Sunday. I didn’t quite follow this plan, for several reasons which I will discuss further. I did manage 12 miles on Friday and 24 miles today (Sunday). And I survived.
So what did I learn this weekend and throughout my Goofy preparation?

1. My body doesn’t like back to back long runs. At least not at this stage in my running career. Once the back to back mileage started to increase significantly, I felt slightly injured or extremely sore during every Sunday long run. I have many theories about this but they mostly focus on the fact that with low weekday mileage, the extra miles on Saturday of the back to back weekends represented a serious jump in my overall miles. Maybe with more overall miles, that wouldn’t have been so significant. The other theory relates to overall muscle weakness which could be improved with weight training/cross-training. And, since I know several of you keep telling me to cross-train, I’m going to try to figure out a way to add a cross-training day after Goofy.

2. 4:30am is early. 4:30am twice in one weekend is exhausting. I also believe that if you’re going to abandon your family for 9 cumulative hours of running in one weekend, starting at 4:30am is considerate. Especially when your day also involves seeing inpatients at the hospital. I will go on to say that while my husband doesn’t love having me abandon the family for the morning on a weekend, he was extremely thoughtful today.

3. 36F isn’t as cold as I thought. I did Friday’s 12 miles on the treadmill because it was pouring rain and gusting winds. And 4:30am and dark. I just couldn’t get myself outside in that. Last night as I was preparing my fuel and clothes for today’s run, I debated treadmill vs. outdoors. The prediction was 30F (although it was actually about 36F). I decided to go outside and I’m glad I did. I dressed about perfectly for the weather and was only a bit chilled for the first few miles. And I never overheated. (I wore a winter long-sleeved tech shirt with a short-sleeved tech shirt over it and then my awesome running vest which is wind-resistant. I wore calf-sleeves under long tights with shorts on top. I had a baseball-style running cap and gloves. And socks and shoes, of course!)

4. When equipment problems occur, it’s best to fix them as early as possible. I had 2 minor issues today. My right contact lens was messed up. Before I hit mile 1 I knew I had a problem. And my mile two I had removed the offending (disposable) lens. I ran the next 5+ miles with only my left lens before I stopped home to replace the right one. (I also took advantage of indoor plumbing). The second issue was some discomfort from a calf sleeve. It was rubbing against the back of my left ankle by mile 8 or so. I should have just stopped then a fixed it rather than waiting a few more miles. No harm was done but it was annoying.

5. I still don’t have the fueling/hydration stuff down exactly. By the late teens I was feeling under-fueled despite fueling every 40 min. I’m not sure why but I may need to fuel every 30 minutes. I haven’t figured out my personal physiology enough to explain why a small-ish person like me needs more fuel than average. I also had weird hydration issues today. I generally have a sailor’s bladder but I needed to pee fairly frequently today. Which wasn’t fabulous since there aren’t a lot of bathrooms along my route. And the one I was counting on using was closed for the winter with a porta-potty as the replacement. A least there was toiler paper…

6. Speaking of hydration… It’s always a good idea to make sure your reusable water bottle has been fully rinsed before using it. Drinking soapy water starting at mile 18 isn’t ideal.

7. 24 miles is really friggin’ far! I guess that’s obvious since most sane people choose NOT to run that distance. I also really understand why Jeff Galloway has his runners go the distance before the race (which I didn’t do but I was only 2.2 miles short). I have seen the wall and broken through. The last few miles today were HARD but I now know that I can do this thing!

On that note I wish all who celebrate a very Merry Christmas! And I wish everyone a Happy New Year! Let’s make some new goals so we can achieve new things in 2013!