Weekend Runs Keep Goal In Sight

A new job, new commute and covering the 11-day span of the Kentucky State Fair had me working 19 straight days through this past Friday.

I had caught up on lost sleep during the week. With the fair over, I was back to getting off at a normal hour, but feeling too fried mentally to get back into much constructive behavior at home other than going to bed at a decent hour.

This had me extremely psyched about the prospect of a 3-day weekend. It would be a relief just to be able to sit and finish reading something without worrying about what time it was and how many minutes left before I either needed to be in bed or out the door to Louisville.

Saturday was going to be a gratuitous day of relaxation, with one exception, first I had to get up and run 8 miles.

I’m scheduled to participate in the Kentucky History Half Marathon on October 3 in Frankfort, which is a mere 25 days away, so my wiggle room for getting runs logged is gone. Saturday was time to take that step past 6 miles and go long.

Any run 8 miles or up is significant in my book, but factor in that I had not covered that distance in more than a couple years, and it became a real attention getter. For anyone training to complete a marathon or half marathon, runs of 3 miles, 5 miles, and even 6 miles, become routine. It’s running past those distances that makes the difference.

There is nothing natural about running 8, 10 or 15 miles, but it’s necessary to get you’re body ready.  Folks can show up at a 5K, or even a 10K if young and in some level of condition, and cover those distances. There aren’t too many people walking in off the street who can just nut up a half marathon – or at least I can’t.

I straight up don’t have 13.1 miles in my tank right now. I’m having to slowly acclimate my body to the pounding and physical exertion. At 48, no longer can I simply run out there, start covering some distances easily and have my body snap back into shape. The weight isn’t coming off easily either, but I grunted through 6 miles and I was ready to step it up.

I was running Saturday with my training partner, so there was no getting out of it. We both experienced nervous anticipation Friday. We don’t have time for our bodies to react poorly to this distance – they only go up from here. We needed to cover it, slowly, because right now it’s all about “time on feet.” The slower the better. Run the miles, and worry about pace later.

Scheduling this for 9:00 AM ensured Friday didn’t get too wild, and we left right on time from downtown in the morning. We should have run earlier because the temp was already rising. The first mile was a warm up that we concocted to add distance to an already established 6 mile course, then we would cover that first mile again at the end to get to the desired 8 miles.

Mile two took us up E. Main Street, which starts in the river valley of South Frankfort and goes up a dedicated incline to Kentucky State University. It’s like .6 or so of a mile with no break. That was rough, but this hill is included on the course of the half marathon, so we’re working it into our training to get used to it.

She was not nice to us Saturday. I huffed and puffed to the top, but a hill like that is equivalent to a body blow. It hits your wind and challenges your overall fitness level. It may not get you right then, but like a body blow in a fight, it can be sneaky and torment your muscles later in a long run by causing cramps or muscle seizures.

We turned right on MLK, then right onto the East-West Connector, which also has a nice steady incline, not a hill, but on foot it’s definitely upward, and right once more onto Old Lawrenceburg Road. We were running between 10-11 minute miles, not fast in any way, but enough that we were unable to hold much of a conversation. Both of us were concentrating on pain management, listening to our bodies, and were short of wind.

My buddy stopped and walked briefly a couple times. He doesn’t respond well to heat, and the temp and humidity were very present. He survives these runs. Regardless, it’s all about getting the work in, then when the temps cool we get stronger.

Once I hit downtown I definitely was fatigued. I had no running stride to speak of, but my marathon shuffle was looking fly. One foot in front of the other.

Between Gatorade throughout and a Cliff Shot energy packet at 5 miles, I was damaged but decent. Interestingly, when I hit the 8 mile mark, I didn’t feel like stopping so on I went.

“Run Forrest, Run!”

It wasn’t pretty. I trudged a big rectangle around the downtown area and added 1.5 miles, to finish with a total of 9.5 miles in 1 hour, 45 minutes.

I hit that 8 mile mark and knew it had been like four years since I had run that far, basically before my daughter was born. I thought, “you never know when you will be back at this distance again, but it will take running 8 miles to get there, so keep going and add to it.”

I went home and soaked in the tub for 30 minutes, chased that with a couple Aleve gel caps and some Michelob Ultras. I took Sunday all the way off, aside from playing in the pool with the kids most of the afternoon.

Thankfully this was a three-day weekend, so I could recover and get another run in Monday. I chose to wait until the evening to maximize my recovery, and went out for 5 miles and change in 58 minutes.

Again not pretty, but lots-o-sweat, and a solid follow-up run to 9.5 miles. With race day 25 days off, I’m guessing I will not be running much of anything shorter than 5 miles going forward. There really is little point in it unfortunately.

This Saturday I need like a 10 or 11 mile run. I’m not sure about the course yet, but I’m toying with adding in that awful hill on the bypass that starts at the Capital Plaza Hotel, and goes up past the National Guard. According to the odometer in my car this morning that is a solid 1.2 mile hill.

At 48 I don’t know that running pretty will come back to me, but I should drop this weight if I keep nutting runs of between 5-15 miles. I’m keeping the faith and driving that train – right up the hill to 13.1 miles.

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