Decisions to make! I was going to go on to say how I hate decisions but let's stay positive, right?
So, I had a fantastic 12 miler on Saturday! The first half was only so-so and I was getting worried by mile 5 but the second half felt great, even with it being more uphill. In fact, I really wanted to add a mile and make it an "even" 13 but decide to err on the side of caution, which was probably a smart idea. Everything felt smooth and fast on the way back and even with concentrating on going slow and then feeling slow for the first half, I finished in 1:44 for an average of 8:40 pace.
New things on the run - my Camel has mold in the tube so I went with my handheld as 10 miles is about my limit for no food or water. This was the first time I've used the handheld water bottle for any run of length (I've done a couple short runs just to get used to it and hadn't been a big fan) and I actually didn't mind it as much as I thought I would. I think I drink a lot more with a handheld and that is definitely good. It's nice to not have the rubbing on my back from the waist pack, too. However, while I did get mostly used to it it, I'm not a fan of the sloshing noise. Someone needs to invent a handheld with a bottom that moves up as you drink so that the liquid doesn't slosh much.
I also tried gel again, since it's time to switch to something else to make sure I'm taking in enough fuel and gel seems to be the way to go. You might remember that I tried gel once before with results such that I didn't want to try again. This time I tried Shelly's favorite kind - Accel Gel. Orange flavored. It's not SO concentrated that I needed to drink right away, but I did feel as though I needed to drink halfway through which I could see being a juggling problem at water stations but perhaps I'll get used to the consistency. I definitely didn't have the choking that I felt with the other brand. It was easy to open and eat on the run, unlike my first time around. It seemed to be a good size, too - I was able to suck it down quick and while I did spill all over my legs once, I think I'll figure it out and not do it again :) The only problem is that it's not available in Duluth so I'm stuck with ordering online only. I'm not a big fan of this since I like to be able to run to a store in a pinch so I'll have to try some brands of locally available gel brands, too. When I looked around, the Clif Apple looked familiar and I think that's what I tried that first time so I'll probably avoid that!
So the dilemma . . . Saturday was 9 weeks out from Grandma's and I'm just considering myself 'back' from injury in the last couple of weeks here. There's still time to get two 20s (or a 20 and a 22) out my schedule but it only involves one stepback week before the tape. So my long runs would look something like this: 14, 16, 18, 20, 12, 22, 12, 10, race.
I feel as though trying to run Grandma's hard is just not a good idea. I don't want to re-injure myself and I want to be prepared. I think a big problem I had at Whistlestop was that I didn't know my target pace well and I wasn't confident enough in myself to find that pace on my own, so I hung onto a guy who was going faster than I should have been. I need to know my target pace inside and out.
So. Do I forget about Grandma's this year and do the Sour Grapes Half the weekend before instead? I feel as though I have the time to be able to run a good Half. Fox Cities Marathon is September 19 and would be a good race to try for my 3:30 again. It seems like the smartest fallback choice - Whistlestop is only a week before Wild Duluth and there's not much for nearby marathons in the summer. September is a good time, hopefully getting cooler and it's before duck season :)
I could run Fox Cities as my goal race and still run Grandma's but I'm not sure I want to if I'm not ready to give it all and I don't know where I would aim. Do I try and just hit a 3:40 (my age BQ) and see what happens, just to make sure I'm in? Do I try for something bigger? Do I just have fun and not go for time at all (I'm not sure I can do that!)?
Now, the Eau Claire Half is for sure out. If I do Grandma's, I'm thinking about not doing most of the trail series. I need to do some track work and get my pace figured out instead of letting a weekly race count as that.
I don't necessarily need to make a decision now. Grandma's won't be filling for a while so I have some time to see what my knee is continuing to think. But thinking like that means I have to be training as though I were doing it so I guess I really do need to be making that decision soon.