Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Running is About Taking the Good With the Bad

I guess it was bound to happen, that I was going to have a total dog of a run sooner or later.

Which I did today, but before I get to that I'll flash back to Saturday, because it was much better. Turns out, our ACS group was dissolved for some reason, and I had the option of jumping in with the CARA group for the duration of the training.

I was definitely excited about that, because when I first heard that our group was not going to be together anymore, I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to hook on with anyone and would be going it alone the rest of the way. As I had mentioned in my previous posts, I had encountered the CARA runners a couple of times on the path, and it looked like they had great numbers in their pace groups, and as a bonus had coolers of Gatorade and water every couple of miles.

The only downer is that it is about 10-15 minutes further, which almost got me in trouble Saturday as I missed a turn and ended up parking about four blocks from the meeting point. After wandering around for a while I saw a few runners heading to the same place, so I just followed them. Fortunately, I got there just in time.

The group starts in downtown Wheaton near mile marker "zero", which is where the mileposts in every direction begin for the path that is in DuPage County. We turned north and headed up a nice, shady path that is a nice gravel-dirt mix.

There were about 8-10 people starting out in our pace group, and although I had run in the 10:50 range in my 11-miler last week, I dropped back and went with the 11:30 folks because I thought it would be best to be conservative as the mileage increases.

No one really talked to me at the beginning of the run, which was fine. I was listening to the leaders as we went along and we were going out a bit slow, I think 11:40 for the first mile, which works. After all, it was only 6:45 in the morning and I am always down with easing into things that early in the day.

After about a mile or so, one of the leaders worked his way back and introduced himself to me. Turns out Dan was a super cool guy and we ended up running together and talking for the rest of the run.

Remember when I talked about everyone getting to the starting line having a story? Dan is no exception. He started running six years ago to raise money for Autism awareness, as his youngest son -- now a junior in high school -- is autistic. He's running his sixth marathon and doesn't really care how long it takes him. He just cruises along and when he gets there, he gets there.

Given it is the first week in August, the weather was decent, although a bit on the humid side. It was nice to run in the shade, and even nicer to hit each water stop! They certainly made a difference as I felt a lot more hydrated and just felt better given I was taking in more fluids.

It started to become a grind around mile 10, as expected. By then our group had whittled down to four and none of us had much to say. Dan and I started talking again over the last couple of miles, and it was really nice to get back to downtown Wheaton and beat the heat.

So that was the good. We ended up running pretty close to exactly 11:30 pace, or if you factor in our stops we were around 12 or so. I'll take it...a five-hour marathon is 11:26 per mile, so 10 more weeks of training and hopefully some favorable weather on race day will make that happen.

I put in a 4-miler on Monday night back on my usual route, and felt pretty good. So given the way I'd been running the last few weeks I have no explanation as to what happened today.

I headed out at about 2:30 and while it was warm (83 degrees) it didn't feel oppressive or anything. But the last couple of days the lower parts of my legs have been really stiff and I felt like I had cement blocks on my feet. It was a real grind from the start, and I bet I didn't run faster than about a 13 minute pace.

When I'm training for a marathon, I try and use every run as some sort of race simulation. In this instance, it was all about how the last four miles might feel. Man, I just couldn't get it going, so I just focused on moving forward.

Things did begin to feel a bit better the last 1/2 mile or so, thankfully. I'm still not sure why my legs are hurting, whether it is just muscle fatigue or hydration or whatever. So I guess I'll work on the things I can control (like stretching and drinking) and hope it is just a bad patch.

Going seven tomorrow, hopefully I get back on the right track by then!

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