Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dude, Where's My Car? - Training week 9/14 to 9/20

"I ran. I ran until my muscles burned and my veins pumped battery acid... Then I ran some more." - Narrator Fight Club

Sunday - 22.5 (est.), Just thinking about it makes my legs hurt. Read the story if you are interested.

Monday - Rest - See above.

Tuesday - Rest - See above. :-)

Wednesday - 5.1 miles /hybrid run. One of the great things about my Trabucos is that I can run more than a quarter of a mile to get to trails. Ran to the closest trail crossing of the Bay Circuit trail about 1.5 miles from my apartment, ran a couple miles on the Bay Circuit and then back. Everything felt fast at first, but was actually slow, and the trails were VERY technical, resulting in 10+ pace. Pushed the pace on the roads heading home, about 7:10 pace. Felt somewhat fresh at first, but technical trails and fast running were sort of a bad idea. Somewhere I tend to think that Sunday's run was more of a strain on my system than Cape Cod will be. I could be wrong, but I have no anxiety about running 26.2 on roads at my current level of fitness. We'll see.

Thursday - 4 miles - More fun without the sun! Over to Bradley Palmer to do some trail work with some others from GAC. As usually, good times, but I must say that I am still trying to get used to the running trails in the dark. I would have thought that with my eyesight issues I wouldn't really have too much of a challenge after dark, but I realize now that I still rely on the same cues that other folks with better vision do. At least these runs are much better among friends.

Friday - 3.1 miles - just some easy mileage on the roads to decompress after a LONG week at work. Probably not the best idea seeing as I am probably going long tomorrow. Some have booze, some have drugs, I have running.

Saturday - 25 miles - Yes, officer I can explain! See, what happened was this crazed psycho just got in my head and forced me to run all of these miles. I swear that is how it happened!

Originally, the plan was to run 20 today. I had a great plan where I would use my trunk as a makeshift aid station, and I would run 5 miles out, 5 miles back, refresh my fuelbelt, and then head out in another direction to run 5 out and 5 back, easy, right? The basic goal of the run was to get the mileage in and do so in the easiest pace possible, so heading out I took it VERY easy and planned on dialing back my pace anytime I felt like I was going a bit too hard. As I studied local road maps the night before I decided I wanted to run routes that I hadn't previously run before. I also noticed the Merrimack River was only 7 miles away from where I live, and I thought it would be cool to run out to the river.

Got out of the house at about 6:15 am, a definite chill in the air - so much so that long sleeves and gloves where needed, and started westward on Route 133, which barely had any traffic for a change. Made it to the Rowley/Georgetown border, first mile done in 9:36. Not too bad because I wanted to go easy and I still felt like I was still tight and not quite awake. Cruised into and through downtown Georgetown, rattling off miles of 9:30, 9:10, and 9:21 - I guess a little concerned that my pace was slow, but I was more interested in completion more than anything else, and I felt good, so no worries! Crossed over into Groveland and negotiating a couple nice sized hills, and passing a section next to a lake with pea soup fog, just sort of running locked into easy. Started down a long descent and saw the edge of the Merrimack River. Got whacked in the face by the sign of an Obama supporter out in front of a cafe who clearly did not hear me scream "excuse me, sidewalk!" I guess the sign was better than becoming a hood ornament for the Escalade that came whipping around the corner, causing me to jump up on the sidewalk in the first place. Oh well. Crossed the bridge over the Merrimack, again, VERY foggy, entered into Haverhill for about 10 seconds and started back east. Mile splits 9:07, 9:04, 8:50.

Heading back the next 7 miles were still really controlled and felt fairly comfortable. With the increasing daylight and advanced hours I had to be a little more attentive of those drowsy drivers that were on a crusade for their morning caffeine rush, not at all interested in yielding to a runner wear a fluorescent yellow vest, but otherwise it was a very nice. Averaged 9:05 pace for miles 8 through 14. Got back to parking lot and refilled my bottles, thought about calling it day and going back into the apartment, but made haste and headed south to finish up with three out and three back.

This time I headed south on an out and back I knew. I knew where the three mile turn was, then I started thinking about going a little further, running perhaps 40 minutes out and 40 minutes back, as that would bring me to about 3 1/2 hours, and then it became a little more. I just had stopped looking at my watch and continued to just feel as if I could keep running as long as I didn't push too hard, which then became a discussion of 'well I wonder how far I can go with this ache in my legs". Almost making in to downtown Topsfield, I turned around and headed for home as my watch turned over at 3 hours. I didn't look at my watch for splits during this 'out' segment, only seeing how close I was to three hours. My mentality was simply to keep moving at a pace that I could handle, keeping in mind to stay as close to manageable as possible. 9:19 pace for this leg. The 'back' section was pure guts because I knew that if I finished this section I would have run 25 miles without any walking breaks. I can't really say that I felt like I was hitting a wall at any point, I just felt like I had been running for a long time and my legs were sore, tight, and heavy, but I was still moving forward. It was so different from last weekend when I got to a certain point and my legs were simply done.

At about twenty one miles I choked down my "emergency" power gel I had stashed in my shorts. Laughed at a barking dog threatening to chase me, realizing a.) my legs were hurting so much so that quick lateral movements were DEFINITELY out of the question, and, b.) if anything wanted to eat me bad enough I had no additional gears left to utilize.

Turned for home, looked at my watch - 24.9 miles - headed up the road to acquire the final tenth of a mile, and slowed down to a walk, unable to completely stop as my quads were not ready for complete rest. Last 6 miles were around 9:30 pace with mile 25 being a 9:43. Opened the trunk, took in the remaining gatorade and cooled down with a little walking, absolutely pumped that I ran 25 miles. Time: 3 hours, 52 minutes.

As I sit here 36 hours after the run, I think I may have taken a huge risk by doing this mileage, but this was my last significant long run before race day, so I wanted to push myself. All things considered, physically I feel excellent right now. I am still slightly sore, and yesterday was definitely filled with slow walking from place to place, but if I had to run 3 miles today, I probably could have.

On the positive side, I think I really did well making sure I hydrated early and often, and made sure I took in calories at the right time. It was cold and I really didn't want to consume as much water too early, and there was the temptation to take in fluids less often, but I stuck with my original plan. I think that has made all of the difference in my quick recovery. Additionally, I felt the hurt that seems to be present in longer endurance races and I learned how to co-exist with it. Yes, there is a part of me that sees the writing on the wall as far as break 4 hours for the marathon, but, honestly, the challenge or starting, enduring, and finishing the race is the most important aspect of this challenge. Putting things in perspective, a year ago I was hoping to get enough fitness to finish a 5 mile road race in under 40 minutes... this Fall I am in a MUCH different place, and I am so proud to be here.

I am almost positive I am going to go ahead and send in my application for the Stonecat Marathon as well. If I am recovering this well from my run yesterday, two weeks should be plenty of recovery between marathons. I also have no pipe dreams about Stonecat. I am hoping to run Cape Cod in about 4 hours, Stonecat could easily be closer to 4:45 or 5:00. On race day I am simply going to find a pace, find someone to tag along with who is running that pace, and just enjoy the experience, and try to accomplish the finish line running with people, instead of against the clock. With it being a trail race I am positive there will not be a shortage of friendly people.

So now the training changes from a build phase to a fine tuning and slight taper phase. With Stonecat in the mix I think I am going to do my longer runs on trails whenever I possibly can do so, which should help in discovering what pace per mile will work at Stonecat. So perhaps 13 or 15 miles at Willowdale next weekend.

Not that I believe too many people are reading this blog, but if you do happen to read this, remember that anything is possible. Things that may seem nearly impossible at first will become possible, and perhaps even easy with the proper approach and the proactive passage of time. Life is too short to EVER resolve that you can't accomplish or achieve something that seems hard at first.

Until the next update...


Dan said...

Dude, 25 miles? You're either crazy or insane! Just kidding man. Great job. There's no question you will go the distance at Cape Cod. I know I'll see you at Stonecat. Maybe we can do some miles together?

Btw, I know people are reading your blog. I see a lot of out clicks from people viewing mine and then going over to yours. Keep writing. I enjoy reading!

RunninRob said...

Hi Dan,

Thanks, it was definitely an experience, and, short of writing about 5000 more word, I am not sure I can capture how it all felt. Though, I think anyone who has run has felt it before and knows what I mean.

Definitely, as far as running some miles goes. My weekends are really flexible, so anytime you want to meet up here or I can head down there to Saugus (my Mother-in-law lives down there) for some longer stuff. What do you have on the docket for this weekend?