Friday, October 16, 2009

Sweet Run = Free Cold Beer

Day 54

Boston Qualifying Training. Week 8, in the books and done. I am officially half way through the 16 week training program.

I woke up at 4:00 AM and I knew two things right away; 1) I was going to have a great day and 2) my day would not end until 12:00 Midnight or later.

It was a morning that was easy to jump out of bed. My stomach was still full from last nights pasta, but not so full that I felt bad. I had an abundance of energy and the goal of an 18 mile run was just the way to expend that energy.

Typically, I only need 30 minutes to get from my bed, to what ever exercising I am doing at LTF. However on these long runs, it requires I get up an extra 15 minutes early for the bottle drops. It is so much better to have these drops than to carry that much fluid around, well worth the extra 15 minutes it takes to drop the bottles and have feet moving at 4:45 AM.

It is always good seeing Jay at LTF ready to run… My buddy Bobalu told me long ago the value of a running buddy (buddies). Knowing that friend is depending on you and you them kills any notion of “well I can do that run tomorrow”, or “it’s just too cold… maybe later”. If you don’t have a running buddy he told me, get one! I have some of the best!

Jay always enters LTF in a happy mood, full of positive energy, as if he is just ready and waiting to attack the days challenge. We are dress and ready to go… Unlike other runs over the past 8 weeks, this time we will have company, Michelle. Michelle is also training for a marathon, the Atlanta Marathon on Thanksgiving day. Jay and I welcome the company. Corey will also be joining us on our route as we hit mile nine. It will be a good crowd and the miles will fall away easily.

I am eager to start the run, unlike last week where Jay and I ran way, way, way too fast and were hurting after only 13 miles, today we will follow the book and stay on pace.

Now, it is widely, though inaccurately, believed amongst my running buddies that I like to run too fast, that I have to hammer it, that I have no self control, that I must go out fast and not stop until every part in my body hurts and my lungs are screaming. In most cases that would be an accurate description. But not today! A challenge was placed, the gauntlet thrown, and a small wager was put on the table.

It was Corey’s belief that I could not, would not be able to keep a conservative pace of 8:35 for the first 9 miles and run negative splits on the back 9. The ante, a six pack of Sierra Nevada, a favorite.

In honesty, Corey knew I was a sucker for free beer and thought his ploy of a wager and the psychology of me winning would be deceptive enough to keep me in check. The reality, I would have run that pace anyway. I learned a lot from a poor run last week to know that I needed to change my approach. The fact that I could benefit with free beer from Corey, just sweetened the deal.

The run went just as planned, a nice easy pace of 8:35 even 8:40 in a few areas, for the first 9-10. It felt good and it felt easy. The miles just drifted away and it was nice to share a few new stories, at least new to Michelle.

As we neared the meeting point for Corey, our pace was perfect. He was waiting, and ready to go. We ran about 3 miles taking us back to LTF. A quick pit stop for water and “relief” (girls use potties, boys use trees, proof below) and we were back to the road. Four runners, on a nice cool morning.

After weeks of rain, the sky was clear enough to see the stars peeking through, the sign that the Atlanta rains had stopped for a day or two. Rounding mile 11, it was time to pick up the pace. We had carried our slow pace a bit too long. Having not stopped our watch, the pit stop had cost Jay an I a minute. A quick set of directions to Corey, (though not nearly clear enough, sorry guys) and Jay and I were off.

The hills and a faster pace immediately set off my left quad. I was favoring my right leg and running mostly on my left leg. Too bad. I evened my stride by focusing on an even gate. The next few miles were hard and Jay was frustrated with the amount of traffic we had to contend with while crossing the street.

When we started picking up the pace at mile 11, we were 8 seconds behind our 8:30 goal. By the time we arrived at mile 16 we were 5 seconds ahead of pace, with two miles to go… There was some fast running over those 5 miles. Likely too fast, but we both felt great and Jay was smart to keep somewhat in check. Around mile 14, I had enough energy that I could have really hammered it home at a 7:30 or better pace. But again… not the goal, not today.

Finishing the run I felt great. A quick shower and dressed, Jay an I were off to our ritual of Cracker Barrel for breakfast. Interestingly, we were not famished as we had been on previous long runs. Fitness and metabolism are adjusting as our bodies become accustom to the rigors of a long run.

Leaving LFT, I see Corey and Michelle, I was not clear in my directions and they had the benefit of a nice 19 mile run rather than 18 and I feel bad. I know I would not have been happy. The extra distance cost them time and they can not join us for breakfast. As I walk away, I assure Corey that I do not need the beer and the wager was not necessary. I’d rather go out and have a beer one night with all the guys. Hopefully that happens soon.

After breakfast, I am barely in my car and the business calls start… it will be a long day, but it is a great day, highlighted with my standing Friday lunch date!
12:00 Midnight... Good night moon.

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