Half-marathon distance on pavement whupped my ass today! I headed west on the Rillito River Path
from Campbell Avenue. It was a beautiful 60-ish degree day, with a slight breeze to ease the sweat off your body. Johnny
and Ash headed out with me, to run part of the half-marathon distance, to a playground along the route. Since J has the 50k trail run with the TTR group
tomorrow (the one that I went out and helped scout for last Sunday) he wanted to take it easy and just get in a "warm-up." I ran into a colleague at the start who did a 50k last weekend in Phoenix, and who might do part of the TTR 50k tomorrow. The first five-ish miles were great - beautiful fall colors, nice breeze, great conversation with my boys - then it went downhill (not literally, unfortunately). My right calf began cramping. It was twingeing before, but now it really kicked in. My left hamstring where it connects to my knee on the inside of my leg also began complaining - loudly. I kept going, jogging slowly, since J commented awhile ago that I have a tendency to stop for brief breaks or walk during longer runs. He wanted to know how far I had actually run non-stop. I couldn't figure it out - maybe 5 miles? So I was focused on running all the way to the turnaround point - just over 6.5 miles.
Whew, I did it. I limped up to the park, used the facilities, refilled my water bottles and stretched out my aching legs. I just kept reminding myself that today's run was not about the time - it was about covering this distance on flats. Pemberton has a long, seven-ish mile stretch of barely downhill service road that I'll have to cover twice (it's a double loop), and I know I've been running trails with much more elevation change than Pemberton. They are great trails for strength-building, but I know that last six miles at the very end of the race will be the hardest - I need to be training for flats, big time!!
I tried to start heading back to J and Ash, but kept having to stop: retie my shoelace, stretch my legs, etc. Argh! Suddenly, a guy on a bike with a pit bull pops out of the bushes ahead of me. No one is in sight, and I get nervous. I pull out my pepper spray in preparation - there are so many strange/weird/homeless/vagrant/scary/scuzzy people who travel the river path, so I am always prepared. He stops to let me catch up (red flag! red flag!) and tries to start a conversation. I sort of grunt at him (don't want to ignore him and make him mad, but don't want to engage in a conversation either). He tails me for about a quarter mile, then spies a bridge up ahead (the river path goes down under each of the main roads that cross it - so every mile or so, it dips under a bridge, where homeless people like to hang out, drink and sleep - they are dark and no one can really see under the bridges). So he's speeding up to enter the bridge ahead of me, then starts looking over his shoulder to see how far behind him I am, and if I'm following him (danger! danger! abort! abort!). I veer up to cross the road at a nearby crosswalk - stay in the public, away from the bridge where no one would see me, etc. - and cross back to the north side of the river (I had been on the south bank to hit the park with the drinking fountain). I look back to the south side bridge, but he's nowhere to be found. I didn't see him traveling on the south bank, either, so I have no idea where he went - and I was safe, whew.
My legs were really beginning to kill me by now. I was looking forward to meeting J and Ash at the park; I figured I'd sit down and rest for a good 15 minutes before heading home, but alas, they had left the park and ran to catch me. So I started walking. I took the last of three gels I had brought with me and related the story of the scary man while Ash fell asleep in the stroller. After about a third of a mile, the fuel kicked in and I began running again.
Never underestimate the power of running with someone with whom you can have a heated discussion. Hoo boy! J and I got into it on the way home, totally misunderstanding each other's feelings over our topic of conversation, and I began speeding up - hell, all the pain went away! I managed to speed up all the way home, too cool.
Not counting my 10-minute break half-way through (but counting the other little breaks), I did 13.1 miles in 2:40:32 - 12:15/mile, not bad at all! The hot shower after helped my muscles feel better, and I actually managed to do dishes, clean the house and vaccuum after the run - pretty good for me, I usually crash!
So, new plan for prepping for Pemberton - one 8-mile tempo run each week with Barbara in the mornings; a couple 30-45 minute jogs throughout the week (I didn't do that this week and it shows); and a long run on the weekends - with two weekends having back-to-back 15.5 mile days - one weekend with a 20 - 25 mile run - and I haven't figured out what the other weekend will have....we'll see.
I am entering my monster month on Monday, wish me luck!!!
Oh, and I was wondering - do you fuel on your training runs, and if so, how?