November 7, 2014 by scratchtype1
I have some compulsive tendencies. While some people can find running the same routes over and over tedious, it doesn’t bother me. I almost think of the practice as a kind of homage, a way to remember where I’ve been and renew it at the same time. Even within in a single run, I can do that. When I trained to run a marathon in 2009, I did my last long run on a park loop that measured about .82 miles. I ran around the loop 25 times Halloween day, in gusty winds and sometimes rain.
Now this has been almost a full year of running. Since it’s felt kind of new again because of the break from running between December 2010 and July 2013, I’ve found myself thinking of ways to remember and pay homage to 2007 again. Part of that is because the 2007 half-marathon still stands as my personal best in a race, although I can also now say that maybe a half-dozen times or more now I’ve run faster on long runs that have gone 13.1 miles or more. So while in a sense I can say that the 2007 race is a slow time for me, it still stands as the most successful half-marathon race I’ve done. Better than 2008, faster than 2009, faster and more emotionally uplifting than 2010. Well there was hardly anything that could have been uplifting emotionally about 2010. That year was a nightmare in many ways.
One option I had considered was to do a repeat long run of the last one I did in 2007. I remember the route and if I had stuck to schedule, I would have done it tomorrow. But I woke up today and had the time to run long. The blood sugar was at a good level, everything was almost perfect except for the wind and sometimes rain and chill. But I also felt more adventurous and exploratory. So what came to my head was to run out the way I walked in early April 2007 when I did that walk to check how well the broken ankle had healed. Strangely enough, I’ve not been all the way out along the route since, but today I put on shorts, a knit cap, the 2008 tee shirt from the Dash 4 Diabetes, and the Xeros.
I didn’t have springy legs. I expected that. I ran a little over 40 miles 2 weeks ago, almost 33 last week and had already run nearly 24 miles this week before today. Also included in that has been some harder runs. I start those harder runs off easy enough, but will end up including a few miles of effort that feels like half-marathon effort or somewhat faster even. And there’s also been the drills. Hill sprints, skips, buttkicks, high knees. All trying to sharpen me up and get me ready. But still even though the legs felt tired, I felt good with it. My legs are different and stronger now. Even when they are tired, I can keep going. It’s simple. Just keep running. It’s a weird thing, I’ve never really had running legs like this. I guess that’s a measure of the nearly 1500 miles I’ve run since August of last year, over 1100 of those miles this year. The legs adapt over time. It’s not always obvious, but the more you can run without breaking yourself, the more you can just run.
So I easily covered the distance to where in 2007 I had walked to. And then I kept going. I then ran all the way to the next major road and turned around. Maybe not enthusiastically, because I just had a stretch of running almost a mile in length and almost all downhill. But with almost 5.5 miles done, I wasn’t going to become timid. So I relentlessly consumed that uphill and then at the t-intersection where I had turned right while running on the way out, I turned right again and went up another steep little hill of gravel road. I followed that for some distance before finally calculating in my head that if I turned around, I should probably get back home up near 2 hours of running.
That’s what happened, as I hit stop on the Garmin after 11.25 miles and 1 hour 52 minutes and 29 seconds of running. It had been a very hilly route. It almost always felt like I was going up or down and I got to say that one hill after the turnaround to come back is a grinder. Nearly a mile long but it never really bothered me. The only uphill that bothered me was a short steep just after 8.5 miles. That was one of those dark moments you can have on a run. Cold, gray, some spitting rain, a steep hill, wondering why the hell you’re doing this and the fact that you still have nearly 3 miles to get home and where it’ll be warm, there’ll be food and eventually a hot shower? Why indeed?
Because I love to run now. Because I want to do better than I did in 2007. In 2008. In 2009. In 2010.
So simply here are the list of goals —
1. The easiest, beat 2007. The only way I fail on this one is some sort accident or injury or a diabetes curveball.
2. Under 2:10:00, this is very soft, I’ve done a number of long runs with faster stretches of 13.1 miles.
3. Under 2:05:00, the goal time I signed up for. I believe this is also soft.
4. Under 2:00:00, not so soft, this means I will have to run at least somewhat faster than easy long run pace.
5. Under 1:58:00, basically try to run faster than 9 minute miles. I believe this should be possible with the legs properly tapered and springy. But there are reasons to doubt it being any sort of cinch.
I sometimes play in my head how I want to run the race. First mile, start off easy, I won’t mind anything between 9.5 and 10 minutes. One thing I’ve noticed now that I’m older is that I like my first mile of running to be easy. The body needs time to warmup. Then begin to work some in the second mile and use the downhill to accelerate as we descend towards the Delaware River. Hit goal pace by the 3rd mile. It’s in the 4 mile where I will begin to feel like I need to work some. The race leaves the river and heads into the city, so it goes uphill some. After getting out of Center City Philadelphia, use the somewhat downhill nature to run somewhat fast through mile 7. Mile 8 will have the first testy portion, it’s got a significant enough uphill and it slows you down some. Work it, but not too hard, then crest it and use the next downhill to regain some speed through mile 9. Then comes the hard part. This is where resolve will come in. Mile 10 has the big uphill in Philadelphia. Grind it out, get up it, get to the mile 10 marker and know there are 5 kilometers remaining. So fly down that downhill to get alongside the Schuykill River and run, run with everything that I have left. It’s only another 20 minutes of discomfort, it can be handled.
16 days away now.