This was it. The final "long" weekend run. Taper down is officially over for the long runs.
This felt weird and special at the same time. Anxiety and nerves start to set in thinking of the big dance next week (i.e the actual Race day). The hardest part now is going to be able to keep the legs injury free and show up at the race.
Months of training and all that running and it's come down to this.
The run was not bad at all, decent weather though it was a bit warm by the time we started. I did notice that having a conversation (which seemed unreal at some point) was possible and made the miles fly.
This was my last opportunity to experiment with carrying things on actual race day. I wanted to make sure it would be convenient to keep the phone along and keep some of the electrolyte packs as well. Logistically it somewhat worked out but I don't think I'll be making any changes to my routine and gear at this point. It's GAME ON now.
In other news, this weekend was the first taper down run! This is exciting since the hardest part is done, it's all downhill (no pun intended) from here.
11 miles, felt so easy but made me worry that the big run is just 2 weeks away now and this taper down will relax me way too much. It was a decent run at Los Gatos trail, quite shaded and the Cloud Gods were smiling which helped the run quite a bit. I did hit my knee pain again (IT-Band, not even the fun kind of band) but the good news is, I can expect that now and better prepare myself to handle it.
Also tried out ice in water for a quicker knee recovery and oh boy, boy it was cold. Might try it once more for the fun of it....said no one ever. But it did help me quite a bit. I may need to do it a few more times just to make sure I can calm down the legs a bit.
Anyhoo, 1 more weekend with a short 6 mile run before the grand finale. And then hopefully I can finally turn off that horrid 4/5am weekend alarm.
I must mention that coming this far wasn’t easy without support of the group I’ve been training with and the coaches/mentors at Asha for Education! But I’ll save that Oscar speech until after the run.
Final 22 miles long run is ✅ and taper down runs begin. 2 more weekend long runs (technically, short ones now) before the big dance!
*Side note* - I’m running this marathon to create awareness and help raise funds for “Asha for Education”, a non-profit org to help support underprivileged kids in India, more on that at www.sarthakgrover.com) So if you can, please donate! Every little bit counts.
So, this run was supposed to mimic the final run as closely as it could and the backdrop/weather couldn’t have been better - at the Golden Gate Bridge.
And ofcourse, things that could go wrong did go wrong and that was the best part about this run, lots of lessons learnt and managed:
1. Mile 8, left knee starting acting up. Aid station had some “Tiger Balm” but that didn’t help. Well, only solution was to slow down the pace a bit and move forward. I was almost a block behind my pace group by mile 10.
2. Mile 11.5, the Runkeeper app I was using to track my runs....went 💥. It zeroed out, battery on the watch went nuts and the watch shut down. I was only half way through, with a hurting knee and now I lost all my metrics and my HR/pace. This threw me off quite a bit mentally. But moved along somehow.
3. Mile 14, the hill at Presidio came by and just when I thought this was going to be easy cheesy, the knee said nope. Hellz nope. It was hard to even walk down that slope, forget running. I almost thought the day was a wrap at this point, it was not worth injuring myself further. But....miles to go!
4. Mile 16, made a pit stop and refueled and stretched some more. It was time to conquer the Golden Gate bridge. Mile 17.5 and I had to tell the rest of the gang to keep going and that I was just going to walk whatever distance I could. It was game over. Almost.
5. Walked 1.5 miles up the hill to GG slowly dragging my leg around carefully, and soon enough I was at Mile 19. About halfway past the Golden Gate Bridge and met the folks who were on their way back. Quick selfie and we decided we will regroup at Sports Basement since it would be a while before I catch up anyway.
6. Started jogging lightly to not fall behind too much and suddenly I was starting to feel better. It was weird! The knee wasn’t complaining as much or much at all. I picked up the pace a bit and dodging the pedestrians at GG was able to start heading down back towards Crissy.
7. Mile 20 and of course the left knee is feeling good but the right knee say heyyyyy...and then the back muscles go woahhhhh...it was like trying to keep the machine working while systems were going down left and right. So a quick stretch along the way and I was back on my feet and heading back to the finish, slow but steady.
Finished the final mile walking back to the car and realizing that the hardest part of the run was over. When the actual run happens, the crowd will drive the rest of the 4 miles.
Easy cheesy. Onwards!
This was fun. No, not really, this was a bit tiring but feeling good at the end of it all. Super hot weather but running part of the way with the running group helped a lot!
No music or headphones on this run courtesy the fellow human runners who made it easier.
Did about 6 miles with my running buddy before the Asha group got started, then joined them in for a 10 miler (and motivated one of the fellow runners to go another extra mile with me) and then it was down to the last 2 miles.
The last 2 are always the hardest. It was already hot, the rest of the group was done but I had to wrap this run up. Without any music to keep me going, this was a little challenging but not unfamiliar territory at this point.
Hill training - Every Thursday. It is brutal, challenging but much needed specially when training for hilly terrains like you'll encounter at the SF Marathon.
It's a short hill and you climb up, trying not to sprint through but pushing yourself enough that your heart rate starts to hit your 90% peak or so. Then you turn back around and run back down on repeat.
The key is to manage your stride efficiently while trying to breathe at a consistent rate. This can mean you have to slow down a bit or make your steps shorter. Use your torso to lean forward a bit and use that upper body weight to pull you along. The legs follow suit.
Turns out, running down the hill requires a whole bunch of work too, you would think gravity would do its job and it does and then some. The chance of injury is high if you accelerate out of control. So make sure you keep your pace under control, watch your steps as you
A good stretch before an after the training is very important, don't forget that!
It was interesting to see the heart rate graph after the run. It is pretty clear how quickly the HR shot up as you hit the peak of the hill and when you start to trend down the heart rate slows down quickly too. Notice on #5 and #8, the cool down is slightly longer and the reason for that is....water breaks.
Stay hydrated, stay healthy and keep running!
There's something to be said about long runs on Weekdays, lots of logistical and time planning.
I could not run over the weekend so I knew that unless I finished the run on one of the weekdays I would miss that week and missing a long training run was something I did not want to do, come what may. It would throw me off my training plan and would be a mental barrier too. Also, waking up that early on a weekday would throw me off my schedule but in a way it was good training for the final run since it would require waking up at an absurd time and getting ready and heading up to the city.
Ended up starting as early as I could, around 630am and finished the run close to 10am followed by stretching and the usual shenanigans. Fortunately I had access to the gym which was close to work so I could get ready there and head in to work after the run.
However, it worked out well, best long run so far in terms of pace and timing and feeling goooood. Pumped but the legs beg to differ.
Run update - Good run today. Well, the leg Gods were not too impressed later but they are sometimes finicky.
Was able to finish it quicker than the 15 miler last weekend l, mainly because the weather was nice and I decided to run with the hand-held water bottle instead of the backpack. Big difference apparently.
This run was a little more challenging not because of the mileage increase but because I realized my headphones were not working just as I was about to get started. So I had to run without any music. *gasp*. Lesson learnt - always have a backup pair of headphones.
Thankfully found some company with the folks from the Asha training group for a few miles but I had to finish most of the miles on my own, listening to myself go huff and puff which was only entertaining for the first 10 seconds.
Today, I went for an outdoor run and ran the farthest I have *ever* run on our planet Earth, 15 it-was-so-hot-outside miles. But I felt good at the end of the run. Like not-destroyed but actually good (and more on that in a couple of paragraphs below)
So, I've decided, this year, on July 29th, I'll be running/moon-walking/whatever-it-takes-to-finish the San Francisco Full Marathon.
In 2007, I ran my first "official" run in La Crosse, the Maple Leaf run, 5 miles of total destruction for someone who never really ran unless for some good Indian food.
But over the next decade, I kinda got over the trauma of running, 'winged' a few half-marathon's without much training and as expected, they were not the most fun runs, reminding me that running is an evil activity.
A couple of months ago, I came across an opportunity to train for a marathon with a non-profit org Asha For Education - Silicon Valley Chapter with the mission of helping support change in India through education of underprivileged children.
In turn I will be helping them raise funds for the children's education projects they support in India.
It's a completely volunteer-run organization and literally they are all tech/few non-tech workers (I mean it is Silicon Valley after all) with full-time jobs who go the extra mile for the mission. The whole funding process is completely transparent with all records on the website and anyone can be a part of the bi-weekly chapter meetings and have their say regarding supporting various projects like Rescue Junction (http://ashanet.org/project/?pid=985) / Basera-E-Tabassum (http://ashanet.org/project/?pid=628) and many more.
Having a structured training program just makes you more accountable and ofcourse you pick up from other's experience too. This was an easy win-win opportunity and I most definitely was not going to attempt 'winging' a full marathon
For now, I need some ice packs. Let's do this.
tl;dr - I am now training for and running a full marathon in July this year and helping raise funds for underprivileged kids.
Today was a milestone run for me. Not because of the fact that I ran a half marathon on a weekend just to see if I can do it but because I had never been past 13.1 miles in a run.
I've run 3 half-marathon's in the past, winged all 3 of them and barely made it through each. This one was different, I went a little more than 13.1, 13.55 to be precise but for some reason it didn't translate completely from RunKeeper to my watch's reading.
Anyhoo, I went a little farther just because I'd never done this much ever. I've done 13.1 but never again had I crossed that barrier and today was the day I wanted to do just that. Not too much but just cross that barrier. And so it was done.
It felt great having hit the 13 mile marker after 2 years (In 2016 I did the SF first half marathon) and it was PR since I had been training this far and had the proper nutrition and hydration plan to go with it. Huzzah!
So today was an interesting day. I finally got to try the run with a larger group. I thought it'd be a quick 2 miler run but it took a while longer than usual.
First, we went for a short warm-up run, maybe 0.25 miles and I was already speculating why are we wasting precious energy on this? Turns out, it is actually quite important to get your muscles and body warmed up enough to do stretches.
So ofcourse, next came stretches, of all kinds and shapes. I had never done stretches before any run. That was a terrible idea but I was learning a lot here already. After about 1/2 hr of various stretching and other exercises, we went for a run.
2 miles, easy cheesy but that was not the end of it. Just as we got done, we had to stretch out again. And then do some core strengthening exercises (more on this later). I thought going to the gym was sufficient but these side planks and what not, they will get to you.
Avg HR: 177