Run Long

Made the long run this weekend.

Well, kind of. But more on that later.

Drill weekend. Turns out we’ve got a new guy in the unit who’s training for the Marine Corps Marathon. He’s one of “them” – the fast guys, the guys who are used to running long. But, being as he’s in from Boston for drill weekend, he was happy to let me tag along with him for the weekend. Me, in true “being smart made me fat” form tags along.

Here’s the kicker – this was PRT (Physical Readiness Test) weekend. Nothing serious – pushups, situps, a brief run, and the famous verification that we sailors aren’t to fat to touch our toes, also known as the “sit and reach”. Pushups and situps I kind of slacked on – did enough to get the grade just higher than passing.

But for the run, dunno – something clicked. I started, trying not to run off the front of the pack, and for about the first 100 yards I was successful. But, I kept feeling like I was going too slow, so I started passing a couple of guys to run at what I felt was a comfortable pace. Next thing I know, I’m off the front.

Stayed off the front for a while, too. Everything felt strong and smooth, I didn’t feel like I was going into the “red.” High green maybe a little yellow, but definately not “red”. I was extremely conscious that I had another whole bunch of miles to run after the PRT, and I didn’t want to go ahead and blow up on the 1.5 miles. At the same time, every time I kept hearing footfalls behind me, I semi-consciously kicked it up a notch. There have been precious few times I’ve ever been in the lead on a race, and I wasn’t about to lose it without at least making the other guy work for the lead.

At the turn around, I was well ahead of the next guy. Plus, the observer said “Woah, you’re flying…” as I ran by. I took this as a sign that I was closer to the “red” than I’d anticipated, so I consciously let up on the way back.

Still took the other guy halfway back to the start/finish line to catch me. We run together for a while. He says “Hey, are you training for something?” Yeah, I told him, Mystic Places and/or New York. Asked him if he was training – he’s going to do the Hartford Half next week. (Speaking of which, I will discuss with the wife and the boys and I may be there for the finish). I tell him I’ve got another long run to do as soon as we’re finished, and he calls me crazy. I say yeah, tell him to go for the finish, and we’re done.

Bop across the finish about 15 seconds or so after the guy, breathing a little hard, but not exhausted. As I approach, the timer’s counting “fifty-seven, fifty-eight, fifty-nine, Ten Minutes”. Crap, I think, trying to do the math in my head. Wow – that’s sub seven minute miles. Today, I googled my last PRT results on the site – 10:30 back in April. Started really catching my breath, math getting better – hey, that’s an average of 6:40/mile for the 1.5. Googled that too – 6:41 the only time I tried it on the track.

I’m feeling better about this running thing.

The run after the run – Well, that’s another story. It’s a good story – Mack and I head out, running south from the base along the Thames. Past the Coast Guard and Conn College sailing teams, under the IH-95 bridge (comment from one former Groton-based submariner to another “That bridge always looked better heading north than heading south”). Past Paul’s Pasta, which is probably responsible for a pound or two that I still need to lose. Past Electric Boat, birthplace of the finest submarines known to man, and a prime example of the 20th century industrial juggernaut that the US used to be. Past Pfizer, birthplace to a billion blue pills, and a prime example of the marketing and research juggernaut the US will be for the 21st century. Down to the turn at Avery point, with the beautiful, gleaming white New London Harbor Light to the left. Ahead, the beautiful Ledge Light offshore. To the right – The University of Connecticut at Avery Point.

Turned left to continue shadowing the shore, kind of. Good stuff. Decided to make it a loop rather than a out-and-back. Which ends up being a mistake.

Actually, the mistake was two-fold. First, running with only the stopwatch on the groovy new iPod Nano, and with a faster runner, I was FLYING. Felt great until about mile 10. Then we stopped for a gatorade. Which leads us to mistake number two – I waited until mile 10 to stop for a gatorade.

The 7+ miles back to base were not so good. Managed three or four more decent miles, until we hit a really hilly road through base housing. Walked for about a mile, catching my breath, etc. Hit the highest point on the run, and started running again, about 50/50 with the walking, stopping to walk when my calves cramped up.

So I ended up with only 19 miles for the day, short of my 20 mile goal. The whole effort – Two hours and 40 minutes. Add 7 more 10 minute miles and I’m in at 3:50.

Which is why I’m setting pace bands for 4 hours.

Last week’s rant – exceptionally cathartic. Having gotten all of that crap off of my chest seems to have helped.

But I’m exceptionally happy overall. I now know that I can do 26.2, assuming I can hydrate and stick to a reasonable pace. The soreness hasn’t been so bad – my legs really feel like running tomorrow. Schedule is for 15 on Saturday, but if I feel good, I might try 20 again. At a reasonable pace…