Anatomy of the Perfect Long Run:
Yesterday’s long run didn’t start out perfectly. I woke up tired. Tired and groggy and very lazy. I rolled around in bed for at least a half an hour before I could even muster the courage to get up. When I did, and when I finally peeked through the curtains I saw cold, gray skies.
Do I really want to go running?
I looked at my running shoes. I looked outside. I looked at my running shoes. I looked outside again. And then I shuffled to the kitchen. I made coffee. And then I took out the garbage. And then I took a shower and ate breakfast. And then I puttered. I read a book. I called my mom. I positively dawdled away the morning. Then it was 11 AM, the sun was just beginning to peek between the clouds and finally running didn’t seem like such a bad idea anymore. So did I run?
I plugged in Phil (Garmin 405), made another cup of coffee and thought about where I could run. Mostly I stick to long trail runs. It’s great and the trails have given me powerful but gigantic thigh muscles (I call them my Sequoias). Running on the road is a different animal. It’s faster, but harder on my body. I weighed my options and decided on a 18-mile road route that was relatively flat, but that had some rollers at the beginning and the end. It would be a good last training run before CIM. I lazily got out my running gear. I put on some Tupac Shakur. I danced around my apartment. I tucked Espresso Love GU into my pockets. I put on my arm warmers. I filled my hand-held water bottle. I sung along to Eye of the Tiger, I smoothed BodyGlide between my toes, I pulled on my socks and finally my shoes. Finally, it was time to hit the road. It had only taken me 4 hours to get ready.
My first two miles were OK, but I felt off. I need awhile to warm up to a long run but I tend to panic when Mile 1 doesn’t feel good.
If Mile 1 feels bad, how bad will mile 14 feel? If I’m slow now, how slow will I be later? Maybe I should just call it a day.
I gently corraled the negative thoughts and pushed them aside. I told myself to relax and not worry. I rolled through the first couple of miles and started to find my stride in mile 4. Things seemed to be clicking into place. My plan was this:
1. Drink some water every mile
2. Eat a GU every 5 miles
3. Keep my heart rate below 159 for the first 13 miles
4. Be conservative. Don’t push too hard.
5. Run the last five miles at whatever speed seems good, but stay within reason!
6. Don’t forget to take the electrolyte pills every hour.
So I did exactly that. Phil monitored my heartrate. I drank small amounts of water every mile and took a GU every after the first 5. I tried not to think too much about my pace – but of course I did. I tried to not think too much about the upcoming marathon – but of course I did. I tried not think negative thoughts or worry that I’d started too quickly -but of course I did! I did my best to think good thoughts. The sun was shinning. My legs felt strong. My stride felt even and Phil was reporting back some seriously impressive numbers.
I’m too superstitious to say my pace out loud. The marathon is just two weeks away and I can’t hex it by shouting numbers and goal times from this virtual rooftop. Instead I’ll just say the run went well. VERY VERY well. Better than well. Dare I say it was the best long run I’ve ever had? I think it might have been. It was textbook. It was fun. It was fabulous. The California International Marathon is only 14 days away and I could not have wished for a better run for my last long run.
There are only two questions left unanswered:
Do I have a goal time in mind for the CIM now?
Yes, I do.
Am I going to taper for this race?
Yes, I will.