I had to make my big decision before I went to bed. I had a commitment in the mid-morning (dress rehearsal for my symphony concert), so would I wake up early & run a smallish run, or would I wait until after rehearsal to see what kind of run I might be able to fit in.
The early morning had its draw - I mean, I'm used the early morning runs. Since I had some extra time, I'd be able to a little more than my standard 4-6 miles. I'd be able to get a 10 mile run in, head to rehearsal, and then play the rest of the day however I felt like it. But an afternoon run, well, I might be able to test just how "on target" I was for the May 1 marathon.
The kids were up early, and that kind of settled things. Duffy tried to deal with a persnickety CJ for awhile, but something clicked in my mind, and Leila decided that she wanted to play - so I relieved my wife in the kid-watching department. After getting them dressed and fed and keeping them entertained . . . well, it was to head to the dress rehearsal. That's ok, though, I really wanted the afternoon run.
Following the dress rehearsal and lovely family brunch, it was back home. Duffy wanted to run, so I got myself ready as I watched the kids and my wife ran. Then, she was home, and I went out.
My goal was 18 miles - this is the pretty standard "ready for a marathon" run, the theory being that adrenaline is enough to keep somebody going for 8.2 miles . . . although, damn, 8.2 miles is a long way to run on fumes. It was actually a nice-ish day - some cloud cover as the temperature neared the 50's. I left at 3:30, and if I could manage eighteen 10:00 miles, well, that fits neatly into three hours (and puts me well on pace for a 4:30 marathon).
Now, when I'm really running a long distance, I just try to keep things even. I don't want to be "too fast" so that I'm truly sucking wind mid-way through. At the same time, there is nothing worse than sprinting the last mile of a long run and feeling like you still had a lot left in the tank, that you took things way too easy at first.
I'm not even a mile into the run (I have Runkeeper set to chime in with my splits every mile, which is the only reason why I know the approximate distances throughout the run) when I hear something behind me. It's another runner, and he flies right by me. I know I'm not fast, but I have really fucking long legs - to feel like I'm walking as Usain Bolt sprints past? Well, it sucks.
So, I try to process being left in the dust. I knew I was taking it easy, and, ultimately, I'm running my run, he's running his run, so some random runner being faster than me makes absolutely no difference. I absolutely refuse to pick up my pace, even as he gets smaller against the horizon. In fact, I intentionally slow down....and then I hit the first mile mark, which I've hit in 9:02. I was convinced that I was running a 13:00 mile, so that's something.
I continue running in & out of the neighborhood, and then in & out of my own neighborhood, and then in & out of another neighborhood, consistently marking times between 9:00 and 10:12 / mile. I'm feeling good, but then I hit the golf course.
Somehwat near me is the Army Heritage museum, which is a really great little place. It's a walking trail that takes you through US military history - from Revolutionary War forts to Cold War tanks to Vietnam-Era helicopters, to World War II bunkers. It's also adjacent to the Carlisle Barracks golf course, which has a 2 mile jogging trail around it. I hit this right around the 10 mile mark, and my goal was to run everything three times and then work my way back home.
I'm used to running this, though, in bone dry conditions. It's packed pebbles, which aren't too bad to run on when dry, but in melted snow, wearing Vibram Five Fingers? It's pretty icky. Still, though - this was my plan, so I run the jogging trail, and then through the walking path, and then through the jogging trail, and then the walking path when it started to get dark.
Well, it was getting dark, and while I wanted to hit 18 miles, that number was just an "out of the air" number, and didn't really hold any significance. I'd work my way back home maybe run around my own neighborhood once or twice if the mileage isn't just where I want it.
As I ran through the muck, my times started to slow, but I really thought I attributed things to the icky conditions. I was stepping much more carefully, so 10:30, 11:00, even 12:00 miles weren't all that bad. Slipping and falling would be disastrous.
But, when I got back on the road, there was simply no picking up my pace. I could sprint if I needed to, but my "go" simply was turned down a few nothces. I made it back home, hitting the 17 mile mark at the very top of the biggest climb during the entire run. It was dark, and I was rapidly approaching three hours on the road. I decided to skip my 18 mile requirement and sprint my way back home.
17.25 miles in three hours. I was tired. But, I was able to lift my kids and climb the stairs and do all of those things that you're afraid to even try to do at the end of a run.
The Gettysburg marathon is in 60 days, and I'm feeling pretty good. Due to a blister on my right foot (a small hole opened up in the rubber coating the shoe, and I suspect a small stone snuck in - good excuse to buy a new pair of shoes), I took Sunday completely off, and I have early morning work commitments on Mondays, and Duffy runs on Tuesdays, so it will be Wednesday, at the earliest before I get to run again, but I may actually spin, instead, waiting for my new shoes to arrive (although I guess I could run in regular sneakers, but Super Troopers isn't going to watch itself, meow).
My favorite part, after a long weekend run, is how I feel a day or two later. My legs are mostly recovered, but they want to go. My hamstrings aren't quite tight, but I can feel them, as if they were springs ready to be spring. It actually takes restraint to sit at my desk and not just do jumping jacks or sprint to the end of the hall. I absolutely love this feeling - where your body is still in the recovery phase, but, at the same time, it wants more. It's nearly as addictive as logging that next mile.