10.20.2018 This year has been the first in twelve, that I’ve really stepped out and pushed myself to accomplish more challenging runs.
Beginning in January, I started re-developing a solid training base for an eventual marathon. That marathon was run in July was my seventh since 2007.
My plan, as I continue forward, is to run progressively longer and more involved challenges. The first hurdle, was to run a solo, self-supported non-event marathon. I did that out at a local park a few months ago.
Next up, was another marathon distance run out and back from my home three times less than three weeks ago.
Yesterday was significant because I ran 26.2 miles solo, and self-supported, and point to point. I met a neighbor and coworker just down the street and he gave me a ride to the start of my run. Coincidentally, my place of employment is exactly 26 miles from home. Convenient. I drove the route a couple times scouting for shoulder conditions and to see how many places there were to stop to make purchases. Fortunately, and as planned, I didn’t need to stop anywhere.
My last marathon was on October first, with twenty two additional training miles in between. In retrospect, I should have tapered longer to give myself fresher legs. It was a very challenging last five miles.
The gear I took along weighed just at ten pounds with the majority of the weight being from the nearly one gallon of Gatorade, and the hydration backpack and twin bottle carriers themselves. Additional weight consisted of twelve Nature Valley bars, 14 Slim Jim’s, four oranges, four Gatorade energy chews, and some mustard packets.
I began my run just before sunrise and wore my red flashing LED headlight for another hour after daybreak to increase my visibility. The first three or four miles had a rather narrow shoulder and involved stepping into the tall grass frequently to avoid the many morning commuters. The rest of the run was on a gravel shoulder with occasional concrete sidewalk and pavement.
The total run was just over six and a half hours. Given my normal leisurely pace, I think the time was respectable given the extra weight I carried and the general incline the entire route. The Strava app I used kept track of miles and terrain well, but I did manage to somehow pause the app and lost about three miles of run data.
I listened to my own music library, as well as NPR’s Fresh Air and All Songs Considered for the bulk of the run, and then switched to YouTube for saved songs for the last hour and a half. Just a word of note, I’m much more mindful to keep the volume lower than would normally be comfortable. Over the hours, the ears and mind can be easily fatigued from the constant bombardment of noise. Typically, I like to listen to spoken audio to pass the hours, and music when I need a boost of energy. The best of both worlds here are one of my favorite podcasts, The Hawaiian Concert Guide. I’ve been a longtime fan of Polynesian culture and find their music very peaceful and cathartic. The two hour podcast is an easy and enjoyable way to pass the time.
Over the miles, my pace did slow as expected as I fatigued and took more walk breaks. To the best of my recollection, I didn’t stop to walk until around mile 18. Upon returning home, my legs and feet were pretty sore. I usually finish up tired, but not often sore. I attribute it to the hills, extra weight, overall distance, and only eighteen days between marathons. I remembered to trim my toenails before beginning. A sharp edge can easily cause some pain with the 50,000 or so foot strikes. Unfortunately, I must have missed a sharp edge, because I bloodied a toe and didn’t realize it until I removed my socks. The pain had been there all along; I just didn’t recognize what it was.
At seven AM the next morning, I’m sore, as expected, but could still loosen up and go run another ten if I needed to, but will exercise good judgment and recover fully. My next challenge has yet to be planned. With a 100 miler on the horizon, I think a 50K or two should be next. My pacing and training have always been extremely conservative. I could probably push harder, but I like to play the long game and and mental confidence is critically important when it comes to being out on the road or trail for that many hours.
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