14 Miles in the mountains of Sewanee, Tennessee

July was a very unusual month. First, I was away from home attending conferences for half of the month which made training difficult. Second, the average temperature for the month was 95F (with many days above 100F). Third, I was struggling with some hip and knee issues which caused me to pull back on my training runs. And lastly, I gained almost ten pounds due to 'conference eating' that threw my normal nutritional routine out the window.

So while June was a 100+ mile month, July was a modest 67.1 miles. Hopefully, this won't impact my marathon training too much (Total Marathon Training mileage to-date: 118.7). I feel pretty confident that my base is solid given the amount of running I have been doing all year, but still, 26.2 is a long way off.

Last week, I only did two of the four training runs on the schedule. Partly to allow my hip and knee to recover from the RnR Chicago Half, and partly because of the conference I was attending last weekend.

My first 'post-race' run was on Wednesday evening at the LifeTime Fitness location in Schaumburg (my regular club was closed as they upgraded all their equipment). I decided to go with the Treadmill option since it was 100F outside at 6pm. I went for a total of 4 miles (including the warm-up/cool-down mileage). The run itself was for 3.4 miles at a 11:50/mm pace. I ran the last 1/3 mile at a 9:45/mm pace just for fun.

The funny thing: it was hot and humid INSIDE the club! Not 100F but I bet it was in the 80s. And very humid. The place was packed and I just don't think their A/C was beefy enough to keep the place comfortable. FAIL!

The Long Run

The second run was my Long Run scheduled for Sunday. I was attending a Youth Leadership Conference in Monteagle, TN from Friday-Monday but I decided not to cancel my Long Run. I had contacted the Conference Center to ask if they had running/bike paths. They said no, but that they had a fitness center. Well when I got there, I could not find any fitness center on the property.

The entrance to the campus of Sewanee of the South

The entrance to the campus of Sewanee of the South

So, I picked out a route following Highway 41 (black top) that would take me from the Conference Center to the Sewanee Theological Seminary about 7 miles away so I could do an 'out and back'. I drove the route on Saturday and that is when I noticed just how hilly this highway was! Up and down and up and down. Okay, this was going to be a challenging run. The nice thing about it was the beautiful scenery.

The first thing I realized on Saturday night as I laid out my gear, was that I had packed assuming I would be on a Treadmill. So I brought no hat, no fuel belt, no iPhone holder, no pepper spray. I did have two water bottles and enough GU, but nothing to hold it in.

Imagine wearing this on your back while running for three hours

Imagine wearing this on your back while running for three hours

The one water bottle had a hand strap, the other was designed to fit inside my fuel belt. So I had to wear one of those drawstring backpacks to carry my fuel, the second water bottle, sunscreen, and my iPhone. I had never run with anything on my back before so I was worried this would cause back/shoulder pain.

I started out at 6am. It was a nice 69F at first, but got progressively warmer throughout the run (it was in the 80s by the end). The sun was out in force! The run out was pretty nice, mostly in the shade of the trees. But I knew I would pay for that on the way back where would be little shade.

I was running on the highway itself (no bike path and very little shoulder) so I ran against the traffic to see the oncoming cars. I was a little worried at first but the drivers were all very considerate and gave me plenty of room.

Nice long rolling hills!

Nice long rolling hills!

Tennessee is black bear country so I was had these fears of running into one (this area is definitely 'country'). Of course, if I had, there would have been nothing I could do about it. I read online that if you are attacked by a black bear, you need to fight back (playing dead does not work on them like it does for grizzlies). Yeah! Right! Luckily, no bears to be found.

I did something on this run that I have never done before: I stopped and bought stuff! With 2.5 miles to go, I stopped at a Piggly Wiggly store to see if they had Muscle Milk. And they did! In a cooler no less! So I bought one and a bottle of cold water (my two water bottles were empty).

Then at 1.3 miles from the end, I stopped at a McDonalds for a quick bathroom break and to buy two sausage patties (I was going to miss breakfast at the Conference Center and I wanted something to eat when I was done). I threw all this stuff in the backpack and kept going.

When I returned to the Conference Center, I had run my longest Long Run ever at 14.13 miles in 3:07 hours (a 13:14/mm pace). Getting that 14 miler done was good for my mental game -- it was hot and humid, hilly, and sunny. And I completed it at a pace faster than my recent Half Marathon race. I was very pleased.

Yesterday, I finished my last training run for July. Once again, due to the heat I decided to run it on the treadmill at my regular LifeTime facility. I put down 4 miles -- 3.21 miles of which were run at a 10:50/mm pace.

I really don't like running after working all day. Evening runs are hard because I am already tired mentally as well as physically, so it just feels laborious and tedious. This one was particularly hard because I had only slept for 5 hours since returning from Tennessee just after midnight (an 11-hour road trip). But I knocked it out because I know I need to get back to my regular run schedule.

My last few runs were definitely impacted by the heat and humidity so my pacing suffered. Add to that the extra weight that I am carrying too. I need to drop those 'new' pounds and hopefully shed several more 'old' pounds before the Marathon. The less I have to carry around, the better.

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