Dear God, I thought. I'm dehydrated.
I did something Thursday night that has left a warm feeling in my heart, and I think that its going to last for a long time, but that's the rest of the story.
Thursday is long run day on my basic training week. I'm always concerned about long run day because it follows on the heels of tempo day, and Wednesday, I really pushed the tempo. The prior week, I had done 3x8 minutes in zone 3. This week, I did 2x4 min. at 5K pace, and I followed this up with 3x4 min. at half marathon pace. At some point in this process, I twinged my Achilles tendon and the little stabilizer muscle on the right ankle. I was noticeably favoring my right leg on the cool down.
Is it just me? Or does it take forever to get ready for a long run?
For some reason, I had it in my head that I needed to run to the QuikTrip gas station down by the interstate. On my last long run, I had stopped about half way through to refuel, and I was surprised at how awesome I felt not being dehydrated. :-) So, QuiksTrip (pun intended) it was, but which route should I take? When I run my circular 8.3 mile loop, there's a 3/4 mile stretch of the sweetest downhill. I could take the loop and cut off to the QuikTrip, or, I could take the loop in reverse, run UP 3/4's mile of the sweetest up hill, and make it an out and back.
I've grown tired of my lack of motivation to push myself. I chose the latter. In keeping with my new mantra of pace, not heart rate, I changed the screen on my Garmin to show the following fields: time, lap pace, previous lap pace, and cadence. With a full fuel belt and music in my ears, I took off.
The first thing I noticed was that it was rather cool out. High for the day was 91, but it felt much cooler. The breeze helped. I was delighted with a first mile of 10:35-ish. I usually come in a minute or so over that due to my warm up protocol. Two miles into my run, I hit the 3/4 mile hill. I quickened my cadence, shortened my stride and powered up the hill without stopping. At 5 miles, I made a loop through some neighborhoods which dumped me back out on the main road by the QuikTrip. I opted not to stop as I had only drank 2 bottles in the preceding 55 minutes. I know, I should do better.
Up to this point, I had been managing sub-10.5 minute miles with no walk breaks, but the six hills I had tackled had taken their toll, and my pace began to slow. On the way back, the 3/4 mile downhill was still just as sweet as ever. I dived into the drug store two miles from my house to refuel. If I kept going, I would come in at 11 miles. I had actually decided to do this before stopping, but again, HTFU reared its ugly head, and I headed down a side street for half a mile before turning around and heading back.
Mount Doom was there, as usual, to say "Thank you for coming!", and Ass-kicker? well, it kicked me arse. Nothing like two big hills within a mile of the house to wrap things up. I did manage two 10:18 miles in miles 10 and 11. For the last mile, I just didn't worry about it too much.
I still have long swim today (4000 yards) and a race simulation this weekend (5-5.5 hour bike, 45 minute run), but for all intents and purposes, the hard work of this training cycle is over. After swapping a wee bit of run training for reffing soccer matches, I have put my training back on track.
In looking back, I've come a long way from the 235 pound couch potato who's only form of exercise was beer-ups! I've always taken a mollified approach to my training, in the form that I rarely pushed myself week after week after week. Even during my last Ironman training, I never had consecutive weeks of longer, long runs. My workout calendar, for the past three weeks, shows progressively longer runs ( 10.2, 11.5, 12.1 ) at a progressively faster average pace (10:55, 10:52, 10:35), and on hills no less.
While I may not be breaking through on speed, although I suspect I AM getting faster, I am getting much much better at handling an increased training load, and my recovery times are also getting much faster (no doubt due to my change in diet, but more on that later). This newly adapted ability to handle more gives me great hope for the future.
Have a great weekend, everybody!