Saturday, February 18, 2006

A 35K Long Run in the Rain

This morning I headed out at 6:45 a.m. for my last long run before my marathon on March 12th. It was raining gently, but the temperature was a comfortable 5C/41F, the wind was calm and the air fresh.

I headed over my normal asphalt route, over the bike paths to Karlsruhe. I reached my first turnaround point at around 11K/7M in 1:03:46, an average pace of 5:48/K (9:20/M), a little faster than planned.

By the 15-16K point my legs were getting really tight, they were taking a pounding on the asphalt. I reached my next turnaround point at around the 20K/12M point still averaging around the same pace. Here I decided that I had enough of the asphalt, so instead of taking my normal right and heading to the neighboring town of Blankenloch, I went straight towards the Graben Running Club trails and my normal weekday running route.

After another 2K I finally left the asphalt behind me. I wound my way along the gravel and forest trails of the running clubs trails, passed over the bridge spanning the railroad tracks that separate these trails from my own running route. I turned on to weekday training route and began running it in the reverse direction, at this point I had almost 9K to go. My pace slowed, my legs hurt, my step shortened, but I pushed on. Finally, after running almost 3 hours took a quick walk break and munched on a sports bar.

After a minute or two I tried to pick up the pace again, it was hard – I turned on my MP3 player – a little Toby Keith and Brooks & Dunn for motivation. After 10 minutes or so I took another short break and tried to stretch a little, too late, I ran again, about 25 minutes to go.

I noticed that I was gritting my teeth against the pain, so tried to loosen up. I thought about what I had read earlier this week in Thomas S. Miller’s book “Programmed to Run” – the energy that you use tightening up your face and upper body takes it away from the legs. I relaxed my face and upper body and tried to concentrate on my running form.

The kilometers clicked by maddeningly slow, 4K to go, then 3, a 30-second walk, then onward. I was on asphalt again, winding my way along the edge of the neighboring town of Spoek, less than 3K to go. I was running at about 6:30/K (10:28M) these last kilometers - I knew that I couldn’t stop. I pushed on, 2K to go, I could see the church steeple across the street from my house. Finally I crawled up the bridge crossing over the highway, one more kilometer.

I managed to pick my pace up just a bit the last kilometer, about 6:10/K (9:55). Finally, I reached the church and circled around towards my house and the “finish line”. My legs felt like lead – I walked around the block surrounding the church for 5 minutes trying to walk out the stiffness and pain.

With the exception of 3-4 minutes of walkig I had run for 3:38:50, or probably around 35K/22M. If this distance is correct this would be an average pace of 6:15/K (10:04/M), a little slower than normal, but considering that it rained almost the entire time, acceptable.

So my total for the week is 77K/48M, but I may go out for a shorter recovery run tomorrow afternoon, which will bring me over 50 miles for the week.

So three weeks from tomorrow is my marathon, I will start reducing mileage somewhat this coming week, and more the two weeks following. Next Saturday I want to run about 2-2½ hours – a medium long run – but all on forest trails. This time I have decided not to do any races until marathon day - with my last two marathons I ran a 10K or HM race two weeks before the marathon. This time my legs need some rest, I felt this today.

35k in the rain. You're my hero! ♥
wow, what a great pace to maintain for such a distance!

I've been meaning to pass these links to you. Have you checked out yet? And here's a good article on training for an ultra (I'm actually going to pay attention to it this time around :) )
Wow! Awesome job, that's a long run in the rain!!

I can't believe your M is just 3 weeks away!
Great job!! Yay for the taper weeks!!
WOw- enjoy the taper. What a good race to end this part of the training on.
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