Sunday, September 27, 2015

18 Miles to Start a VERY Long Day

Yesterday I woke up at 3:20 with no idea of what the day held in store.

The first thing to notice is the time. Despite being 3:20, the first thing I thought was "I'm late."  Late for what?  Late to get ready to go running to meet two people at 5 AM.  Why would waking up at 3:20 make me late?  Because I have a good idea of how long it takes my body to be ready to run and I know that my dog gets very unhappy if I don't walk her before I run.  So, I took care of what I needed to take care of including taking my dog for an easy walk around the block, recognized how late I was, gave a moment of consideration to driving part of the way to meet my training partner and her friend, decided against that but texted warning that I could be a minute or two late, and took off.

Garmin tells me that I started at 4:21.

I had to run over five miles to reach the two I was running with.  Not the pace at which I had planned to start my last longer than half marathon run before marathon number 7.

I left the house--in shorts and a tank top, water and a stinger in my fuel belt.  And started off at a pace I'm not used to starting at.  Even in my own neighborhood, I took a small shortcut to get out to the main road to try to make pace.  As I got out to York Rd, I eventually heard my phone (which was in the pocket of my fuel belt) make the noise indicating I'd received a text back.  I didn't really feel I had the time to look.  As I continued down York Rd., I saw a dead rat in Govans.  I think that was a first--just lying on the sidewalk.  Had never seen many dead rats (although I've been known to discuss the athleticism or obesity of rats along the harbor with my training partners) and certainly none that close to home.  

As I approached St. Mary's of Govans and finished my first mile I checked my pace--7:53.  Not a typical first mile on a Saturday.  Even less so when I am running on my own.  Felt good.

As I ran south through Govans I was surprised by the number of people out.  Particularly in moderate sized groups.  A few gave me strange looks.  When I passed individuals I would generally say good morning.  Many said good morning back.  I think they may just have been surprised to see someone running at that early and perhaps in those neighborhoods.  And at the pace I was going, it was clear that I was not just out for a light jog.  

Continued down York Rd and got south of Cold Spring.  Second mile timer signaled: 7:18.  I had not realized I had picked it up that much already.  It was not cold.  But it was cooler. And that pace felt comfortable.  Continuing down to just south of 34th street when the mile 3 timer signaled: 7:12.

At this point, I had to make a decision on where I was going.  I had gone west on 33rd or 29th or 28th a few times earlier in the summer.  The streets tended to be a bit dark.  I decided instead to go all the way down to 25th and then across to St. Paul.  My watch told me I'd gone 4 miles just before I turned onto St. Paul Street: 7:03.  Crazy, I thought.

Running down St. Paul, I then was approaching 5 miles as I neared Penn Station.  Was a little concerned about the time, so on the run (I pulled out my phone), saw that my training partner had agreed to start by going a little north on St. Paul to find me, texted her that I was already at Penn Station, and soon hit mile 5: 6:56.  I don't often text while running.  I don't recommend text while running.  But I didn't really lose anything. 

Then, I finished to run to St. Paul and Franklin and saw my two companions walking north.  I had arrived just before 5:03.  Just a little over two minutes late when all was said and done.  The first 5.6 miles in a 7:22 pace.  

I paused for introduction to my training partner's friend.  Training partner mentioned that her friend is the one she runs quickly with (besides me).  And we took off.  I'd apparently been running that last six-tenths of a mile even harder than the first 5 as my watch when it beeped soon after we took off down Calvert Street told me 6:53 for mile 7.

We chatted while running and found out that my training partner's friend was a second year law student whose husband was in a program at the School where I am Vice Dean.  It was amazing to carry on a conversation at the pace we ran.  We did my mile 8 in 7:21 and my mile 9 in 7:39.  My Garmin told me that my mile 10 was 8:39, but I had a hard time believing that.  Why?  Because I had left my watch running accidentally while we waited at what turned out to be a VERY long light.  Mile 11 was a little slower than how I'd started (8:00), but I think that was by design as we had dropped off my training partner's friend before we finished mile 10.  We had a long conversation and then took off again at a much easier pace completing my mile 11 (8:32) and ending up back at Christopher's place where my training partner and I met others from Back on My Feet.  There we paused again before I said by to my training partner, wished the rest of the crew a good run, they went south and I went north to head home.  Most memorable comment from hanging out at Back on My Feet was when I referred to the third runner from earlier as "Lauren's crazy fast friend," and her mother (who is also a member of Back on My Feet) said that it was good to hear me refer to someone else as crazy fast.  That is how Dee would usually describe my pace.  But, I am, after all, only human and there are plenty of others who are crazy fast compared with me.

In any case, I began by trotting along Madison, up St. Paul, cut over to Charles and passed mile 12 right around Penn Station a second time.  This time my pace was a lot slower: 8:57 as my legs needed to loosen up again after tightening while talking.

What really made an impression on me was what happened on the rest of the way home.  As I crossed Charles and North, I saw people getting ready to sell shirts and other accessories once the sun rose.  I picked it up a little and mile 13 (which I finished just a bit south of the main JHU campus) was done in 8:29.

Continuing up Charles St, I decided to go over toward Greenway and run through Guilford.  There are some beautiful gardens to see after sunrise.  At the time of morning I was there yesterday (it was still not 7 AM), it was dark.  I finished mile 14 while climbing up Greenway: 8:20.  I finished mile 15 as Greenway reconnected with Charles at its north end: 8:22. 

At that point I thought about how I wanted to approach the last three miles.  And I made one fundamental decision.  All the advice I got from Coach Shannon last year encouraged me to run my long runs with a strong finish  Prior to Philly 2014, I'd had a habit of really crashing at the end.  I have not done all my training runs that way this summer and fall and I really wasn't thinking about doing it hard.  But I had hills to go and I really wanted to make sure that I'd be ready for finishing the marathon in two weeks.  

So I pushed.  Mile 16 was mostly along Charles up past Loyola and Notre Dame of Maryland.  7:55.  I then went along Homeland to Springlake Way and climbed that street and then went along Northern Parkway.  Mile 17:  7:53.  And then I just had to bring it home.  And I did in 7:48.  All three miles under the pace I intend to help my training partner hold in two weeks.  Exactly what I'd wanted.

I ended with 18 in 2:21:11 or a 7:50 overall pace.  Not bad.  It was 7:03--just a smidge after the time I'd intended to arrive home but I had not planned on chatting twice.  My legs felt great.  Twenty-four hours later just the slightest tightness.  And I showed that I could come back and finish strong.  And even more importantly come back from stand stills.  That is a new skill for me.

That was only the start of the day.  Gave the dog a second walk.  Helped my wife get ready for a service activity at my middle son's high school.  Took my youngest to the bank and the bagel shop.  Ate.  Returned home.

Then we found that something had backed up our utility sink.  Water all around the basement.  Lots of clean up. Called the plumber.  Got the sink opened again.  But there were other issues.  Got an estimate on fixing a leak that was making water show up on our main circuit breaker box.  We'll be spending some extra money there.

Before the estimate, I'd run my middle son to boy choir.  After the estimate, wife arrived home and we talked about the plumbing and then prepared to take our son to his second hockey game of the season.  That was fun. It was a 5-1 win.  I had thought I would need a nap but made it through the drive both ways without a problem.  

Then, it was time to go to dinner with my oldest and his girlfriend.  Very pleasant and easy going two hour dinner at a Turkish restaurant.  She is a warm and wonderful person, and it will be fun to get to know her better over time.  

We got home just past 10.  I lay down on the floor waiting for Sherry to be done in the bathroom.  And I was asleep by 10:15.  I did make it up to bed before midnight. The day included a great run.  And was more than I'd expected. 

I am blessed to have good health, good family, good friends, and good friends of others in my family.

I hope everyone reading this is equally blessed.   

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