Monday, March 07, 2005

Sunday Epics

I had been facing this Sunday’s long run with a certain amount of apprehension and perhaps even a smidgeon of trepidation. After the debacle on the preceding Tuesday night and the lingering muscle stiffness I had suffered all week, I was not too sure how 40K (25 miles) was going to feel, or more importantly, how my body was going to respond. True, I had postponed my MAX VO2 test until this coming Thursday, but I was still somewhat taken aback by the consequences of my over enthusiastic speed workout on Tuesday. I was really beat up for a few days. When I rolled out of bed on Sunday morning I was relieved upon giving my limbs a shake, to find that they felt reasonably fine. The quick 10K time (46 minutes) safely sandwiched into the 20K on Saturday seemed not to have done any damage. In fact, I felt pretty good. All the muscle stiffness that had been plaguing me all week was gone. Now to take the legs out for a test drive.

The entire marathon clinic had spent a week in recovery (I’ve been dying to say this), and it was time to start ramping the mileage back up. Sunday’s 29K (18.5 miles) run was the longest that many of the first time marathoners had ever run and there was fair amount of nervous tension before we set out. And all kinds of people were asking me about what route we’d be taking for our first 20 miler the following weekend! Talk about getting ahead of yourself! With all the different pace groups and clinics assembled, there must have been two hundred people present at the Running Room. With only two bathrooms and one cash register, it was well worth the effort to turn up early and take care of any business you might have beforehand

Seymour had been off with an injury last Sunday but was back and had reclaimed the four hour pace group. Anthony was back with the 3:30 group and I had my 3:45s back. After the pace Anthony had put them through on last week’s 20K I think that for once, they were glad to see me. I have been trying to start everyone out very slowly for the first ten minutes on the long runs and then slow them down for a similar amount of time at the end. This morning you could tell that everyone was feeling their oats as I looked down and saw that we were at marathon pace right out of the gate. I reined us all in and even I had to admit that a pace twenty percent slower than race pace felt very slow. In fact we were within spitting distance of Anthony’s group for the first six or seven kilometers. The funny thing was, my heart rate was rock steady at 138, several beats slower than usual at the same pace.

Our route took us along the exact same path as my usual Friday run, up the University of British Columbia hill towards Wreck Beach. With the Burrard Street Bridge thrown in, we had a few long hills on the run. The group was very disciplined going up and we had a lot of fun working on our running form on the down-hills. Over the course of my endurance running and training the past five years, one of the things that has changed the most dramatically for me is my stride. Due in large part I think to my proclivity and love for going very long in training, the distances I have subjected my body to have really shaped my running style. My stride initially in my marathon training was one that I would describe as very athletic. I ran like a sprinter. I did a lot of bounding and bouncing and I took very long strides. There is nothing like running for four or five or six or ten hours to beat that out of you. My body seemed to, for the most part at least, naturally find a more efficient way to cover longer distances. The most noticeable side effect of this evolution has been the way I feel after very long runs.

Even though the times might not be appreciably faster, I now have very little muscle soreness after my long runs. And as I have become more efficient, I can clearly run faster at the same, or amazingly enough to me, at an even lower heart rate. Which brings me back to the run yesterday. After the 3:45 pace group finished the 29K scheduled run, a small group of us added another 11.3K to run a full 25 miles. Sean actually kept us stopped for about eight minutes while he ran into the Running Room, and purchased a new pair of runners! Of course, being the true techno geek and chemist he is, he had already done all his research about what kind of shoes would be best for him, and it was all a matter of fit. Watching him was like watching a NASCAR pit crew in action.

From the Running Room we headed back out onto the Seawall and slowed our pace down to according to the guidelines that I’d received from Jeff Galloway for going out on the extra extra, long slow distance runs. We ran three minutes slower than marathon pace and switched from ten and ones to five and ones. Even after four hours, my heart rate dropped to 126-128. Michael and Sean were absolutely astonished that they could run so far and still feel so good. Laura has already run a marathon and gone out on these long runs with me before, so she wasn’t the slightest bit surprised.

Throughout the run, my legs felt great and my heart rate was normal to low normal. So my little scare on Tuesday left me properly chastened, and relieved that I hadn’t done any permanent damage to myself. Certainly I will try to keep a curb on my enthusiasm. Out on the optional extra, Michael felt well enough to pull out his digital camera for a little documentary touch. Sean learned the value of knowing the mileage you can actually get out of a pair of runners, and that once you are past 20 miles, there is no such thing as too much personal lubrication… As for Laura, I’m just amazed she was able to put up with three men for that length of time.

By the end of it, fours and forty minutes, we had all had enough and were ready for breakfast. And a lot of it. Better yet, my confidence has returned and hopefully I’m a little wiser as well.

The 3 Amigos at 35K

I can't believe I just ran 25 miles...

Why we run... breakfast!

After 40K (25.1 miles) and AFTER breakfast - Michelle, suffering from heat exhaustion (rehydration?, what's rehydration?) and delirious from dehydration, strokes my, quadricep.

After Breakfast, time for a nap!


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