Sunday, May 17, 2009

New Territory

After sleeping in, I headed for the entrance of Percy Warner Park to begin a training run that would take me past 15 miles, my previous distance PR. Running solo, I attached my iPod, put it on "My Top Rated" and grabbed a bottle of water. On my car front seat, I positioned extra water, Body Glide, fig newtons and energy gels I would need for upcoming pit stops.

Running conditions were good - high 50s, windy and overcast skies. The first three miles weren't fluid, cause for concern in my attempt to break new ground. I stayed on a 10:00/mile pace, finally loosening up as I neared my car on the first 5.5-mile out-and-back.

I kept the Garmin running at my first pit stop, simulating race conditions. My average pace dropped to 10:18/mile as I headed back down Belle Meade Boulevard before turning right on its cousin, Tyne. After a brush with an angry golden retriever I reached the turnaround at Hillsboro Pike, the 7.5-mile mark. Back down Tyne, I cruised a slight downhill for more than a mile, then turned up Chancery Lane and Herbert Place before working up Chickering Lane and Page Road, arriving back at my car at the park entrance at a 10:16/mile average pace with 11.5 miles under the belt.

I was tired and sore, knowing more of it was on the way. Refueled and now on a 10:26/mile average pace, I headed for another out-and-back on BMB, hoping to get back to the car at a similar pace. Miles 12 and 13 hurt, but went OK, as steady noon church traffic passed. I slammed my third energy gel, just as the serious hurting began.

My left achilles ached, as did many other parts. By the time I reached the turnaround at the 14.25-mile mark, my back was sore. My knees hurt, too, for the first time during my training. So did my butt. I realized every muscle and bone from my lower back to my feet were telling me, "Are we done, dude?" A song about not getting enough air appeared on my iPod. I skipped to the next one. We'll listen to Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown later. I'm gonna do this, dammit.

I walked uphill one-tenth of a mile to get my energy back and to see if the pain would subside a little. It did, enough to get going again as my average pace stood at 10:37/mile. I can't let that drop anymore, I thought. We're getting into slow territory, even if I'm not having my best day.

Two hills caused trouble, enough to bring me to a crawl at their apexes. But I kept going. I returned to the car, completing 17 miles, in just over three hours with an average pace of 10:36/mile. Everything hurt like hell, as I walked back down the boulevard and noshed fig newtons and drank Gatorade.

After a stretch, more like a bend-and-groan, I climbed into the car, almost semi-deflated. I thought to myself, I used to be proud of running four milers at a slow pace when I was overweight, and I can't even give myself credit for running 17 miles. I'm still kinda beating myself up, five hours after the run.

Another thought: The farther I run, the more respect I have for marathoners. Trust me, I started with a ton of admiration before going on this trek to run 26.2, but it's now plural and exponential. You 26.2 lurkers know who you are. Tip of the hat, y'all.

Somewhere, somehow, I need to summon up the strength and guts to add another nine miles to my new distance PR.


Donna Clements said...

Hats off to you! That is a long run, but doesn't it feel great to have that one under your belt. :) Thanks for the post; I was thinking about that long run and was happy to hear that you got to crank out those miles. Congrats!!

Jim said...

Thanks, Donna. How is your return to running going?


Ronni Gordon said...

Give yourself credit. That's great!

PJ said...

I'm proud of you, Jim. Your running descriptions make for compelling reading. You can do it!

Donna Clements said...

Thanks for asking. I have really enjoyed running again - and although I haven't done any long runs, I have worked on building my strength back and trying to be faster than your average bear or turtle : )
I have been doing shorter runs and weights on MWF and 4 miles on T, TH - but I have let myself off the hook if Francey doesn't make it through the night... but for the most part she's been a great sleeper :)
Again - congrats on the run! Once you've made it that far, you have put yourself in a new bracket! And I know you will run that far again... and even farther (i.e. 26.2)