Week 13 was exactly what I needed. I had so many doubts and questions about pace and times and heart rate and everything else that it was making me crazy. Then our 19 mile long run happened. I decided before the run I wouldn't check my watch throughout and that we would just run by feel. We ran four <5 mile loops around town and hid a water bottle and oranges in bushes. On our third lap around the water bottle was missing! I could have really used that Gatorade but knew it was a lost cause. Luckily the oranges were still there and provided enough juice to quench my thirst. At the end of the 19 miles I felt great; I never hit a wall and NOTHING on my body hurt! To top it off, I was pleasantly surprised to see that our average pace was 8:33. The only mile that was over 9 minutes was when we were searching for the missing water bottle. This run was a huge confidence booster for me.
Then week 14 happened. On my easy, recovery run on Thursday I noticed the ball of my foot felt a little sore. Didn't think much of it, but by the time I was 5 miles into the long run on Saturday it flared up pretty badly. At the end of the 12 miles I could hardy walk into my house. I iced it and took a few days off and ran on the treadmill on Tuesday. The pain came back at about 4.5 miles. That's when I decided to skip Wednesday's tempo run and Thursday's easy run. I went to the pool instead, and even tried aqua jogging for the first time.
Then a PT friend helped me put these Ball of Foot Pads into the right place in my running shoes.
Fresh off from a few days of not running and with some new pads in my shoes, I was ready for THE 20 MILE LONG RUN; the run that I have anticipated for the past 15 weeks.
-new route (some minor hills, mostly on trails, new scenery)
-fueling was spot-on (Gatorade in new handheld water bottle, ate about 3/4 of Power Bar)
-ball of foot hurt off and on first 5 miles, but then went away. However, my feet were sore from the Ball of Foot Pads. Takes awhile to get used to them.
-heart rate was high even though our pace was slower than usual.
-Left IT band flared up from miles 17-20. I stopped right away and stretched it and that seemed to help a little, but it was still excruciating.
How can I do a 19 mile run that seems so perfect (effortless, pain-free, low HR, fast pace) and then just two weeks later do a 20 mile run that is crap (hard, painful, high HR, slower pace)?
I'll never know the answer but I need to stop focusing on it. I am going to clear my mind and rest my body.
Let the taper begin!