Friday, November 20, 2009

Bring on Week 14

November 20, 2009

Day 89 Boston Qualifying Training. Week 13 ended this morning at 12:35 AM with the culmination of the last of five 20 mile runs. 89 days ago, I looked at the five 20 mile runs in the schedule and could only think, wow, that is a lot. It was over whelming to look at all at once.

With my failed attempt at Vermont, I wondered, can I do it. Though for Vermont I took a different approach, every run was geared at marathon pace or better and my body was not ready for that kind of pounding so soon. I broke down and only completed three of the five 20 mile runs during that training.

This time, I followed the program, I stayed on pace, sure sometimes a little faster, but within reason. The result, 13 weeks down, I feel healthy and strong. The next few weeks I will watch my diet and work to stay sharp.

As for the run itself, I had been having trouble sleeping the night before the big runs, too much thought about what lay ahead. Morning all to often came too soon, partly the interrupted or restless sleep, partly because we were leaving at 3:45 AM. Yesterday the idea came, to me, why not do it at night, 10:00 PM – 12:45.

The course mapped, I put the proposal in front of Jay. Surprisingly he agreed. The idea of sleeping until 7:00 AM sounded too appealing to pass up.

I made the bottle and GU drops, my idea was mile 8, 13, 17 and on race day, 21 for GU’s the city of Alpharetta was peppered with Gatorade bottles and water for our last 20 mile run.

Meeting at LTF at 9:30, we were off and running at 9:45. The first few miles were a little fast, they always are, and they were a little tough, after all we were running when we would typically be sleeping. Besides, those first few miles are perhaps our most difficult. At about 3.5 miles I still had not found the groove and briefly worried that maybe we should have waited until morning. Too late now. By the time we hit the first water drop, the body was warm and the pace was found. Jay and I locked in a pace and were much like a metronome for the next several miles… a steady cadence as our feet fell in unison.

Looking around I noticed the crowd at 11:00 and 12:00 PM are completely different that what you see at 4:00 AM. At 4:00 in the morning, you see the news papers being delivered, (a finite job that will likely be gone in 5-8 years) the occasional person who leaves for work way too early, the people heading to workout.

At night the it is completely different, when we start, there is still traffic coming off 400, the streets are filled. I am amazed at the number of people that are out. The number does thin as we close in on 11:00 and again the crowd is different, they are likely coming from a bar and it is a very good chance that they have had more than one drink this evening. We take extra precaution as we cross the roads. By 11:45, the only cars we are seeing are patrol cars. The streets are empty and we run down the middle of the road with no concern.

Another big difference is the smell. The smells are different and better! At 4:00 AM, you have the smell of garbage and it is not uncommon to have garbage truck pass you leaving a foul taste in your mouth. Last night we were treated to wood smoked grills, and a number of great smells emanating from the various restaurants.

We pass mile ten and I celebrate that we are half-way through our last 20 mile run. As we run by the theater, the is a crowd waiting for the midnight showing of New Moon. I know my wife and her friends are going today to the 10:00 AM show. She called to say every Mom in Alpharetta was there.

Passing the theater, I steel myself for the next part of the run, it is my least favorite, it is flat, but there is something about it that is not inviting. Mansell Road is only about a mile long, but it is dark and you can not see a thing. The path is narrow and the tall grass whips at your legs making them itch. Clearly I do not like this section. Jay and I muscle through a do our best not to pick up the pace.

Rounding off Mansell, we are back on Haynes Bridge. For the next 3 miles we will climb. The climb ends at the top of “Mount” Westside Parkway part way up we drink, feed and continue, turning the corner the most difficult parts of the 20mile run are done. We are on the home stretch. Up Old Milton Parkway, turning right on Roswell Road, we run past Pure, they are closing for the night. No sign of Ann Marie or the girls having fun on their "girls night out".

We continue with a slight down hill followed by an almost imperceptible uphill. The street is scenic and we run right down the middle of the road. I am almost euphoric as I know we have passed mile 15. Jay though is struggling, GI issues and some fatigue from a busy day that started at 4:30 AM, but he soldiers on. He is tough. He never breaks stride and never losses pace.

I wonder if my exuberance is bothering him, I tend to talk a lot on a run, today I have a lot to say. Jay says he is fine and we keep running. At this point I am ready to run 7 minute miles the rest of the way in, but do not knowing that would be a bad idea. We turn the corner and head down Hwy 9, it too is empty though we are smart enough to stay on the sidewalks. Nearly done. Jay and I discuss a strategy about the finish and which route to take. Once a path is settled we make our last stop for a Gu and sport drink. I try to convince Jay to take a Gel, he passes… GI issues.

Turning down academy it is all down hill 1.8 miles to go. We let gravity take us down the hill. It is effortless. It is my hope to feel this good on race day. The weather tonight was perfect, cool, not cold, a bright starry sky, and no wind. Turning on to Tradewinds, we finish… Done.

The capping of a strong 13 weeks. We have been diligent and it appears to be paying dividends. We won’t really know until for certain until December 12th, but it feels good now. For the next three weeks we will stay the course and sharpen the blade.

As I lay in bed I thank God for family, friends and good health. I have a smile on my face, I know I do not have to wake up at 3:00 AM. My body clock naturally wakes me up at 5:00 AM, but unlike the days before, I am comforted knowing I can roll over, the work is done, and I will have no guilt about sleeping in this morning.

Week 14, bring it on!

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