Sunday, March 16, 2014

A 20-mile run for the beep!

When I was out in California last week and running with my (fast) friend and coworker, she asked me a question as we concluded our run. "Are you one of those people who has to run until their watch says they've hit an exact distance or are you good with averages and being about there when you finish?"

Uhhh... Well, anyone who has been on a run with me more than once has likely seen me circling a parking lot or running back and forth on the block my apartment is on trying to reach a certain number on my Garmin.

This became heightened as I started running with My group of friends in the AM, who all track their mileage on RunKeeper. I often had .3 or so miles to finish according to my Garmin, and would circle around until I got my Garmin to beep that I had finished a mile.

One of the things I tell myself when I'm at the very very end of a run is "run for the beep."  I actually even sing to myself to the time of Lady Gaga's "Applause" along the lines of, "The beep, the beep, the beep, i do it for the beep, beep, beep, beep, I do it for the beep, beep, beep..."

So, today I had 20 miles scheduled on the marathon training plan.  20 miles!!! This is the climax of the training plan and it is tapering from here on out.  Holy cannolli.

I set my alarm early planning to leave around 7 -- which was based around the fact that I wanted to be back at the hotel by the time the continental breakfast closed :)  Priorities, people.

However, when my alarm went off I didn't want to get out of bed right away so I just decided to sleep in a bit and screw the breakfast.  I went out for my run at around 8 and I immediately did not feel well.  I've had a weird pain my shoulder running this past week that I am attributing to the fact that I have been carrying a water bottle in my hands while I run.  But, who knows.  However, within 10 strides, it was bothering me and I thought to myself, "Holy heck, this is going to be a tough run."

I've sort of realized that I've been on a pattern of good runs followed by bad runs.  Looking back at the training since we started going long... I had a terrible run for the birthday half marathon, then a great run for the 15-miler, then a terrible run for the 16-mile race, followed by a great 18-miler.  So if we keep that pattern up, today was technically supposed to be a bad run (and the marathon is a good run?!?! Hope so!)

Anyways, I mapped out a run, passing by some landmarks along the way such as Placa Espana, Parc Joan Miro, Casa Batlio, La Sagrada Familia, Glories, Parc de la Ciutadella, the Olympic Village, the beach, Las Ramblas, etc..  I filled up my water bottle whenever I saw a spicket thingy, I tried to not look at my watch as much as possible, and I just tried to distract myself from running.  Instead of breaking up the run by miles or anything like that, I broke up the run by 5 song segments in the music that I was listening to.  I told myself, "I just need to get through 5 more songs!" over and over.  I also would switch the water bottle from hand to hand after every 5 songs.  My hand would be pretty cold and annoyed from holding the water bottle so I tried to focus on that annoyance and the small success of alleviating it at the end of 5 songs.

I told myself that I didn't want to stop for pictures along the run but there was a pretty scene inside of Parca Ciutadella and I was stopped to fill up for water so I snagged a few images.  I actually ran up and down these steps and looked at my watch right at this point -- I was at mile 8.

I took this for my cousin Heather -- I thought it was cool!
As I mentioned, I didn't really look at my watch much -- on purpose.  I would tell myself I could look at the end of 5 songs and then say to myself, "Aw, what the heck, you can make it another 5 songs!" and not look.

At one point in the run I thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be funny if I was already past 20 miles and I didn't even realize it?  What if I look at my watch and it says 22 miles!" I kept telling myself that it wouldn't and low-balled as well saying, "When you look, the watch will probably say 10 miles or something, but that's okay, you can finish either way!"

I was guessing that maybe I had run more than 20 miles because I felt so not food during the run.  I felt like I was tired enough that maybe I had run a ton more than I realized.  I was out of water, even after filling it up multiple times, didn't see any spickets in sight, and I had eaten an entire pack of Gu Chomps.  I decided to check my watch to see if I was close enough to survive til the end without water.  And when I looked at my watch it said 14.75 miles and I literally said out loud, "Oh, fuck." and then proceeded to find the closest little market to buy a water.

I knew my legs wouldn't feel good to stop and then start again so I jogged in place as I was paying the cashier for my water and he made fun of me and jogged in place back, but whatever.  I kept running and did what I sometimes do when I am in a tough run -- I start to think about what I will write about in the blog, caption a photo on Instagram, or put to my Facebook feed.  It helps me to focus on the "celebration" rather than whatever pain I am in at the moment.  I decided I wanted to just post a picture of my watch and write, "Boom. Bring on the taper!" which just sounded right to me and I started to repeat that in my head and visualize it to get me to the finish.

When I returned to the vicinity of my hotel, I looked at my watch and it said 19 miles.  I decided to just circle around my hotel for the last mile, sticking close by, so I could collapse afterwards.  I was checking my watch a lot more frequently at this point and not too long after I saw it said 19 miles, I looked again and.... my watch had died.  Noooooooooooo!!!

I was totally bummed, not just because I'd already had the Instagram planned, haha, but because I "run for the beep" and love seeing that final round number to confirm what I just did.  And this wasn't just any run -- it wasn't one of the many 4 or 5 mile runs I've had during the training, this was IT.  This was the climax of training and the training run that has been looming on the schedule and that I've been working up to.  There is nothing more satisfying than getting the Garmin to hit that "20" spot and knowing I can stop running -- anything below, wasn't enough.

I wanted to be sure to get the 20 miles in, so I tried to count the number of songs I thought it would be to get me to 20 miles.  When I stopped and walked, thinking it was "about" done, it felt totally anticlimactic.  I didn't like it and I wanted to feel "done" and I wanted that beep!  So, I went up to my hotel room, plugged in my watch, paced around until it read 10% power.  Strapped the damn thing back on, and went back outside to run some more.

The watch was at 19.20 when it had died so I jogged around for the remaining .8 miles until I could feel that satisfaction of the watching reading 20 miles.  I did it!

And technically, I did run a little more than 20 miles I guess -- about 2 songs more?  But hey, who is counting? [Ha! Just kidding, obviously me. I am counting.]

I felt SO dead after this run.  I lay down on the shower floor (which might seem/probably is gross) and then moved from the shower to my bed where I lay there for a while longer not moving.  I actually brought my clothes/food over and "got dressed" laying on my bed and ate some snacks.  Once I had enough energy to get moving, I decided I wanted to enjoy part of my last day in Barcelona by doing something touristy I missed the last time I was here and had wanted to do on this trip.  I headed out to see Park Guell.

Now, Park Guell was not what I was expecting.  BUT, it was amazing.  I was thinking it would be something like Central Park and my plan was to get some food and find a nice grassy spot and just lay there for a couple hours.  However, Park Guell, first off, is on top of a freaking mountain.  You have to take the subway to get there, then climb a billion stairs and then when you get there -- it isn't really a "laying around" park, but a "walk around and see different things park."  I realized right away that the only good thing I had done in planning this day out, was deciding not to try and attempt to run to Park Guell because it is on top a mountain.  You can see La Sagrada Familia and the beach -- where I did my run -- in this picture.

I had to keep walking around and then sitting for a while, which was fine and I like people watching and whatnot, but seriously... it was just a dumb choice.  I was so tired and my feet were screaming at me.  I absolutely loved the park though and didn't want to leave.  I brought a little picnic and sat at different areas eating.  I ate a TON yesterday but, unfortunately none of it was really very satisfying, which is sort of weird.  I just wanted to eat all day, and I let myself, I just wish it had been a better post 20-mile celebration.  Usually I go for at least one meal or something with my friends after running, so it was a bit odd to not really have a "dinner" to celebrate, but hey, what are you going to do?  I'm in Barcelona, so I can't complain.

I spent the afternoon there and hemmed and hawed about whether or not I should go into the part of the park that you have to pay for.  Although my feet were killing me, I felt like I was so close and I had made it all the way there, that I just should.  And I am honestly really glad I did, because it is BEAUTIFUL.  I know this isn't so much a travel blog, and you guys all probably don't care, but I just was obsessed with the incredible tiled artwork, decorations, and sculptures in the Park Guell. If you are in Barcelona, I highly recommend Park Guell and it is worth it to pay the 8 euro to get in to the closed off areas.

In addition to the lizard, who is pretty much now my new boyfriend, my other favorite part was the beautifully decorated seating area.  It was such a gorgeous time of the evening when I was there, and I was really tempted to join others who were napping.  I also could have spent HOURS just walking around exploring the details of the entire sitting area.  It was gorgeous.

Can you tell how tired I am in that last picture?? I spent the afternoon there, and then eventually just crashed and almost started crying as I tried to get myself back to my hotel.  I returned to my hotel, used the hot tub a little, did a bit of e-mail, had a glass of wine, and slept hard.

Today I feel like crap and like I want to continue to stay off my feet and do nothing.  It is a travel day for me, which means, airplane time.  So hopefully having time to sit is helpful, I just will need to continue to stretch out.  I'm at the airport now and about to do some super cool yoga moves to stretch my legs, and then hopefully catch up on sleep once I'm on the actual plane.  My legs and feet hate me today.  I want to hate them too for feeling so crappy, but I love them.  And it's my fault that they're tired today... so thanks for hanging with me guys -- both my legs and you readers :)

OH!  And that reminds me... when I went back outside to finish running and get my Garmin to "beep" at 20 miles.  The first song that came on my iPod running playlist shuffle was "Don't Fail Me Now" by Melanie Amaro, which was the PERFECT song to listen to at that stage.  I love running music that somehow has lyrics that relate to me in the running moment, and this is totally one of them, "I've walked the longest road, so don't fail me now, feet don't fail me now, I've never got so close so don't fail me now, feet don't fail me now.  I see you in the distance, it won't be long before you're mine."  I also was singing it along to my Garmin, not just my feet, "Don't fail me now Garmin -- we just need to get to 20 then you can die again!"

And sometime I WILL do a running playlist and share with you what I listen to, as some of you have asked me to do.  It's on my mind and I will do it, I promise.  Stay with me!


  1. I *LOVE* this blog post! First, congratulations on all of your progress so far -- you are going to nail your marathon! But I also have to wait for that beep, otherwise it doesn't feel official or real to me (not that I have ever run anything NEAR 20 miles). I 100% relate to everything you wrote about here and would have done the same thing with my Garmin. Also, KEEP AT IT!!!! And how cool is it that you've been training for your marathon all over Europe?

    1. Being in Europe has been fantastic! I'm starting to get really, really scared for the marathon because the traveling has really disrupted the process (as I expected it would) but I am enjoying myself immensely so trying to keep both marathon and travel in perspective as life experiences!

    2. *Exactly* -- amazing life experiences! And I bet you're ready for the marathon NOW. I'll be cheering you on from Albany when it comes!