I’ve run several marathons and done a couple of 50s. I have some doubts about the long-term safety of endurance training nagging at me. And yet it’s still exciting to head out for a long training run. Today it was 20 miles. I wanted to get one more 20 in before IMCDA and knew I didn’t want to do it inside three weeks before the race, so it had to be this week.
The Lad and I had a fine morning, eating some of the leftover pear-ginger crisp for breakfast, an only-slight variation on the classic pie for breakfast theme. Then later we hiked over to Mount Tabor for a picnic in the sunshine on the summit. By 2, I had made the delivery to the madre and by then I knew what I wanted to do with the last fleeting hours of the holiday weekend: Get that long run done.
Glendoveer, the soft 2-mile track that goes around a golf course on the far east side of Portland, was the spot, and I brought along a couple of icy Perpetuem water bottles, an Amazing Grass bar and a Larabar, determined to do a better job on the nutrition front. My thought was to run each of the first 10 miles over nine minutes and the second 10 each under nine minutes, working on familiarizing my body with the rather foreign concept of a negative split. My first mile was 7:32. OK, first mile excitement. I toned it down severely on the second mile (10:32) to even things out, then fell into a pretty good grove. Actually, I really fell into the groove after hitting four miles, which is when I left my handheld water bottle at the car. I can’t believe I did the entire Mount Hood PCT 50-miler holding that thing. Don't get me wrong, it's a beautifully designed piece of equipment. It's just, I hate holding anything while I’m running. Today, once I put down that bottle I immediately felt faster. The great charm of running is its simplicity. Unemcumbered is the only way to go.
With Mile 10—yeah, a mile early—I cranked the pace up to 8:35, and stayed well under nine minutes for each of the next 10 miles except for one, the 15th mile, when I stopped at the car for a final hit of Perpetuem and the Amazing Grass bar (the Lara bar after 12 miles went down well and gave me a nice lift).
There was a little left Achilles pain from time to time on the second half, but nothing too bad. That’s part of what makes a long run exciting: You know you’re going to have to deal with some stuff. I concentrated on relaxing my legs from my knees down, leaning forward a bit, keeping my hands high and back, all that chi shit. It worked great, and the pain would fade and I’d feel myself rolling along, turning in easy 8:11, 8:25, 8:15 and 8:27 miles to finish the run out in 2:57:32.
It took until about now—three hours and a lot of food and drink after finishing—to feel back to normal. Even though I drank 20 ounces of Perpetuem and had a big sip of water every two miles from a golf-course water fountain, I was sucked pretty dry. My before-weight with my shorts, shirt, socks, shoes and Garmin on was 170.2. After the run—and after drinking a bunch more water, and eating a banana—I was at 165.6. I could have used a good 24 ounces more of water during that run. (You think?)
By the way, that 165-170 pounds is carried on a frame just a hair over 5-feet and 8-inches long. Which is to say, I don't have a classic runner's body. Doing 20 may not be a big deal for a 130-pound dude, but when you're built like I am you do subject the muscles, limbs, joints—the whole system—to a good deal of abuse. So even after going pretty easily, it doesn't surprise me that it took three hours to stabilize.
Last thing: the graph at the top is my percentage of max heart rate over the course of the run. The big dips are when I stopped to pee or grab something to eat or drink from the car. What I noticed, and liked, is that I was generally under 70 percent for the first half, and even on the faster second half still below 80 percent most of the time. For me, that’s a controlled run. That’s what I wanted. I didn’t need to kill myself. Now I’m hopeful I’ll recover well and be able to hit the bike hard on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Big Week continues.