Sunday, April 13, 2008

Let the Taper Begin!

I can say without hesitation that the best part about running (such as it was) 20 miles in training for a marathon is that upon it's completion, the taper begins. Between now and May 4, just three short weeks, the longest run on the schedule is a "mere" 12 miles.

The weather for Saturday was kinda iffy. We had a nasty thunderstorm Friday night that had threatened to hold over until Saturday, but it wouldn't have mattered. There was no chance these feet were gonna see a treadmill on Saturday. It was all pavement for me, rain or shine.

The TnT group was scheduled to meet at 7:30, but with my eldest baseball game on the schedule for 10:45, I decided to get an advance start.

I arrived at the park at 6:15 hoping to get in 5-6 before the group run. At that point, the sun was just at the horizon, the air was cool, with a nice mid-50's breeze. I was off. I felt very strong early, and my 10:36 downhill first mile showed it, but that would not last. At 2 miles, I got to the mall, hoping that the Starbucks was open for a bathroom break. Unfortunately, coffee drinkers would need to head elsewhere and there was little life inside despite the 6:30 opening time on the door. No worries, I was headed back to the park where I knew a bathroom awaited. After a few intentional detours to increase the mileage, I was able get in about 5.5 miles including a run up the last hill, a 350 ft incline over half a mile.

Once the group got under way at 7:40 the sun was up and temps low about 60. Shortly after we started a brief rain shower hit, one of several to muddy up the course. As the miles ticked off, I was keeping an eye on my time, hoping to maintain an overall pace of 12 minutes/mile. If I could do that for the full 20, I'd be very confident in a better than 5:30 finish at Frederick. At 10 miles, I was a few minutes to the good of that pace with 10 to go. At 12, I lost the pace I was hoping for and was surprised to be struggling this early on. Still 8 miles to go. I ran most of the next 2 miles, but from there, it got pretty tough. I ran as much as I could, but at the last two miles, I had nothing left and walked almost the entire length at 17 minutes per mile.

Final tally: 20.00 miles -- 4:27:17 -- 13:22/mile pace.

So, it's done and despite the pace, I know there are some positives here:

  1. I'm still not 100%. Lingering effects of the cold still kept me pretty snotty through the run. That should be gone soon.
  2. My ankle ailments seem like a distant memory. 20 consecutive miles with no pain.
  3. The course is not as hilly as the weekly runs, other than a few significant inclines between mile 16 and 18. Pretty much downhill from there.
  4. The design of the TNT runs have water stops every 2 miles. These become social calls, which is fine, but it's sometimes easy to relax here. I think I'll lose much less time walking through water stations at the marathon.
  5. If I had to, I could have gone another 6.2 miles. Not sure how fast, but in the midst of the race with the TNT coaches on the course pushing me along, I'd get it done.
Now, it's time to taper and let my body rebuild after all of these weeks of heavy mileage. 21 days and counting!

The rest of the day was pretty much recovery. My feet hurt, but not a lot else. I ate. A lot. Dinner was burgers and veggies on the grill, baked potato and two ears of corn. Yeah, baby, a meal fit for a long run day.

Up until 8 this morning, I was thinking about a Sunday ride with my group. It's been pretty sparse since November, my last ride with them. Temps today were just in the upper 40's. My mind kept saying to go, but my body said otherwise. Just muscle aches in my lower extremities. Pretty much from my butt south. Not sure I'd make it a mile. Oh well.

Route:--Elev. Avg:389 ft
Location:Columbia, MDElev. Gain:+3 ft
Time:06:15 AMDifficulty:4.4 / 5.0
Weather:Partly Cloudy
72 F temp; 45% humidity
72 F heat index; winds N 13

Distance:20.00 miles
Speed:4.5 mph
Pace:13' 22 /mi
Pace (min/mile)

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Terry said...

You are doing great. Hope the head cold clears up totally quickly for you.
Good luck with the rest of the training.

Andrew is getting fit said...

20 miles is extremely impressive to me!

It must be getting quite exciting knowing the event is just a few short weeks away.

With a bit of luck all traces of that cold should be gone by race day.

Dan Seifring said...

Great job Jeff. I was thinking about you yesterday.

J-Wim said...

You are ready to go from where I sit.
Sounds like maybe you had a chance to perfect the farmer blow too. LOL

Pokey said...

WOW!! So did your marathon just sneak up on me, or what? 3 weeks??? Dang Jeff...youre gonng rock!

20 miles is amazing. I cant even imagine that distance yet. And the fact that you know you could have gone more is FANTASTIC!

I'm so excited for your first marathon!!!!!!!!

(living vicariously thru you sure beats having to run it myself! LOL!!!!) :P

Emil Von Runner said...

I second Pokey, I have no designs on a marathon, I want it more for you than me!

Glad to see you gain comfort off the mill as well. Don't be afraid of the weather. It only took me a couple snowy runs to learn that it wasn't that bad. Your body warms up after 1/2 a mile or so, at least mine does.

Amuldoon said...

Oops.. I posted on your 'activity' blog.

Here it is again:

Well hello there Formerly Fat Guy Running! Love the nickname.. because I guess I could say the same about myself, although I would probably phrase it "Former fat bastard running".

Firstly, you look amazing. Secondly, kudos to your mileage!! 20 miles?! Jeepers.

I look forward to sharing your running journey with you!

Rob said...

20 miles, very daunting term. Great job.

Rob said...

20 miles, very daunting term. Great job.

Marathoner in Training said...

Great job on your 20. I also did 20 this weekend. I will do 20 again on your marathon weekend, for you. I am looking forward to hearing the details of the marathon.

Chief Wahoo said...

Awesome job on the twenty miles! I still can't imagine going that far!

Enjoy the tapering in the lead-up to race day!

J~Mom said...

AWESOME!!! ! I am so excited for your marathon!