Sunday, October 14, 2007

My Last Long Training Run

As a baseball enthusiast and a runner, I’ve been conditioned never to accept the current state of affairs as an indicator of future performance. Whether we’re talking about pennant chases or marathon races, I’m of the belief that one should not speak of athletic accomplishments until they’ve been achieved, not matter how likely one thinks they are to occur. (For specific examples, please refer to the NY Mets who blew a 7-1/2 game lead in the National League East with two weeks left in the regular season, and the countless runners who had aspirations of posting good times prior to the start of Chicago ’08.) Still, with mounting evidence stacked against me and individual assessments from those who know me best, I’m finding it hard to deny the fact that my training for NYCM has been going extremely well, and I’m running faster and stronger now than ever before. The latest proof of this fact came this morning when I was out with RB on our last dress rehearsal 20-mile training run before the big dance.

After the last of the summer heat and humidity was swept away by some recent downpours, autumn finally made its way into the city this weekend. It was a perfect day for running this morning. Temps were down, the sun was high, and the winds calm. I was slightly anxious about the run before it began because of the finality of the situation. After today, marathon taper will officially begin. As such, there will be no more opportunities to make up the run if I should fail for whatever reason. Not only that, but since it is the last long run before the marathon, today’s run will serve as a barometer for my speed and endurance.

RB and I started out at a somewhat slow pace for the first six mile loop. Both of us were entrenched in conversation from the beginning, which made those initial miles pretty mindless and effortless. That first 6 miles were completed in 45:54, which was a 7:34 min/mile pace. During the second loop of 5 miles, we were breathing harder and talking less. I took that opportunity to speed up to a more suitable pace. RB kept up with me for much of that second loop, although in hindsight, I should have told him to slow down and run at his own training pace instead of mine. The second lap of 5 miles took 36:46 to complete, good for a 7:25 min/mile pace. I lost RB at the start of the third loop (5 miles), and ran with my own lonesome for the remainder of the training run. I was able to maintain a 7:24 min/mile pace for that loop (5 miles), as well as the next one (4 miles). Although I was expecting fatigue and sorness to set in by the third loop, no major setbacks occurred and I finished my 20 mile run at 2:31:32, averaging a 7:29min/mile pace for the duration of the exercise.

RB came in about 15-20 minutes after me and told me how I was burning down the road in the second and third loop to the point that he was no longer able to keep up. I apologized and sheepishly replied that although I was running fast during those miles, it was not a conscious decision to speed up, but rather an attempt to improve my running economy while continuing to take even breaths. That’s when he made the observation that I was running very well, much better I had ever before.

Even now, I’m still having a hard time coming to grips with his commendation. We’ll see how I run at crunch time. For now, I’m just glad that training is officially over, and it’s time to taper. Woohoo!


Non-Runner Nancy said...

Excellent. You've done all the hard work, nothing more to be done now but enjoy the taper, let the work speak for itself. :D


I see you on Runner's Lounge but hadn't stopped by until today. I love the blog and the quote about looking back. That is very similar to what I posted on today. I don't run 7 or even 10 minute miles, so I have to cling to the inspirational stuff as I build up the miles :D I may use it sometime.

I've always found the kid doctors to be really good people. Glad I found you!

nwgdc said...

"Woo Hoo!" I love it! Now just keep the taper madness under control!

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