Sunday, August 19, 2012

International Travels

Two weeks ago I was supposed to have run across the Austrian border. But I decided to go on a different path that another runner recommended. It was an interesting path with a big uphill section in the woods, a flat part that went along a stream, a section that reminded me of the California desert with short, scrubby plants and miniature pine trees, and then another part through the woods. It was part of the 25 km Plansee Rundfahrt (Lake Plan trail). The desert-type section reminded me a bit of Lone Pine, California, where my mother lives. I was surrounded on all four sides by mountains. I would like to run that trail again to see where it eventually goes, but not as a long (3 hour) training run for a marathon. The uphill was long and grinding, which made the run more difficult. I had to walk on part of the uphill section. When I came back down, it was a little hard on the knees. But maybe one day after I recover from the marathon I will drive out there to the starting point and run it.

Today's run was 3 hours and 15 minutes and I stayed on my usual path to the village of Griesen and then over the Austrian border on the bike/hiking path toward Ehrwald (an Austrian ski town). I'm not sure if Griesen even rates being called a village. It's one of those places that you'd miss if you blinked your eyes driving through it. Back to my run...I was off to an early (7:20 am) start because we are in the middle of a heat wave. The only way to beat the heat is to get an early start and carry a big bottle of diluted Gatorade. I was lucky because there is a lot of shade on the route from Garmisch to Griesen  due to the combination of a lot of trees and the sun being below the mountain peaks. The Austrian section was also very shady. There was definitely a big temperature difference between the sunny and shady sections. Fortunately, only about 25 to 30 percent of the route that I ran today is in the sun. Even though this route parallels the main road into Austria, it is still very scenic because it also runs next to the Loisach River. I think that the river also helped to keep things cool.

All in all, today's run was a good one. I started off slowly, though I noticed that I picked up the pace rather early. I was hitting my checkpoints faster than I did two weeks ago, when I ran for three hours (last week I hiked instead of running). Even on the way back, I was faster than I expected to be. It almost seemed a little too fast for the time/distance I was running. I felt great and ran at this relatively speedy pace until the 2:55 mark. Then the legs started to protest. I walked through my refueling stop at the 3:00 mark. (I walk through all of my refueling stops to simulate walking through the water points on race day.)  When it came time to run again, I had to really slow my pace. I really need to work on reining in my energy in the middle section of my training runs or the marathon won't be pretty. My very long training runs seem to follow a pattern: the first 30 to 45-60 minutes is at a nice easy pace, from 45-60 minutes to 2:00-2:30 I have lots of energy and tend to go faster, then the last bit of the run is very tough. I can still run through the last part, but I'm definitely slower and I spend a lot of time wishing that I could walk the rest of the way home.  If I can hold my slow early pace for the first 90 minutes, I'll be in better shape for a marathon finish. I expect to finish the marathon in around 4 hours and 15 minutes. Now my knees and left Achilles tendon need some ice. Then they'll be fine and not so stiff.

On the subject of marathon running, my husband made a comment about it last night. I was telling him that my mother thought that I'm crazy for wanting to run a marathon at my age. OK, she thinks it's crazy to run a marathon at any age. Then my husband said that marathon running is a sport for emaciated Africans. I'm not African and I'm definitely not emaciated. Neither is my stepbrother, who runs the Los Angeles Marathon every year. My former running partners, who also ran marathons, were also not emaciated Africans. But the marathon is a physical and mental challenge that very few people can accomplish. The feeling of crossing a marathon finish line and getting a finisher's medal is hard to put into words. Any runner who has ever finished a marathon will immediately understand how it feels to cross the finish line. To me a marathon finisher's medal is like an Olympic gold medal. That medal represents all of the time, training, sweat, getting soaked by rain, bug bites, and ice on the knees that went into earning it.

FIY, the Munich Marathon is on 14 October. Less than two months to go!

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