The weather gods were kind this past Saturday and delivered an overcast morning with temperatures in the low 70s. It wasn’t much to look at but as my training partner and I left the parking lot at 9AM we were both nodding approvingly as compared to the shining skies and elevated heat offered the previous weekend.
We needed 11 miles of running. That is no small request. Our strategy was to set out at 11 minute miles, which is slow, and keep that pace for each mile. That way instead of surging to a faster time in the first half of the run and then fading, hopefully we could maintain a consistent pace throughout and minimize the carnage towards the end.
It’s funny but keeping a steady pace can be difficult. Matt has a GPS watch, and it’s very helpful in checking specifically how far you’ve run and at what pace. Our goal was to maintain an effort level that would allow us to hold a conversation without going into oxygen deprivation.
That was a little tough to do going up the steep hill on E. Main at mile 2. All I could do was duck my head and keep going up – slow and steady.
Our pace strategy worked beautifully until around the 8.5 mile mark. During the week I did a 5 mile run on Monday, and a hard 7 miles on Wednesday. I took the next two days off to rest going into the 11 mile run Saturday.
My legs were beat up, mainly from the long run the previous week. I don’t have enough overall miles logged for my body to absorb and adapt to training runs above 10 miles – yet.
We both showed up Saturday still feeling depleted. When I stood still I could feel this low hum or buzzing all around my legs, from my hips to the bottom of my feet. It was my body working to repair the wear and tear I put on my legs.
At 8.5 miles warning lights started flashing on my mental dashboard. First it was my right hamstring. It twinged deep inside and gave me that mental awareness that if I wasn’t careful the muscle could seize. Then the tendon over my right knee became very noticeable. This was followed by the tendon above my left knee getting tight.
Matt and I both hit the wall at the same time. So we did something epically smart, which is rare for the two of us. We stopped running.
We had been running right at 90 minutes straight. That is a solid beat down. As we walked a couple blocks I ate a Clif Shot to regain some energy. Part of my issue was the pair of Saucony shoes I wore this day were not responding as well as my New Balance to the 200-ish pounds I weigh.
They seemed to ever so slightly pronate inward, so my heels were not getting fully supported, which really pissed off my right hamstring. We walked about a half mile, until we hit the 9 mile mark and then took back off.
I felt better but not great. I told Matt to continue at his pace and backed off mine. It took about 10 minutes for the Clif Shot to hit my body then I improved. I started putting a longer stride on my run, instead of shuffling. That helped surprisingly. It lightened my foot strike some and dispersed my weight better.
Matt was probably 200 yards up on me and I caught him eventually with a mile to go. Misery loves company.
Our course was slightly short on distance so we kept running through downtown until we hit our desired 11 mile mark at 2:02:02.
Age is a bitch. You can’t outrun it, and this training regimen is teaching me to respect my body’s limits at the age of 48. It needs time to acclimate to the pounding that two hours of running puts on a frame.
In another life I raced full marathons. This was back in the 1990s. I would finish a half marathon and keep on running for another 10-plus miles in training, so I know how this conditioning should manifest itself, but the age factor is skewing everything. Regardless of miles run, I’m beginning to think my body is going to remain challenged by the 13.1 mile distance.
I can’t get this weight off fast enough, and that is going to take an additional level of discipline to eat cleaner yet, and probably not eat what the rest of my family is consuming. Not that they are eating unhealthy, but with three kids in the house there is thicker stuff, like Mac n’ Cheese, pastas, rice, breads – all the yummy options, but with my slower metabolism it’s harder to burn those calories. It tastes great but weighs me down.
I’ve already made a huge sacrifice switching from German lager beers to Michelob Ultra. For the love of humanity what does a man have to do to stay trim!
It’s cool – I’m going to thin out my diet more, go look at buying one more pair of running shoes to help support and control my frame, along with giving my body some extra time to rest. The only residual pain I have now from Saturday’s run is a tight right achilles tendon. I’m just giving it the whole week off to maximize its recovery and hopefully have fresh legs.
With 16 days till the race, getting hurt is not an option. I need one more long run with two-plus hours on my feet, probably a 12-miler this weekend, where I maintain a slow, even pace, and come home uninjured. If my legs get squirrelly at all I’ll back off the distance and save it for the race.
I get a full week to taper regardless before the KY History Half Marathon on Oct. 3. My body has the endurance necessary already, it’s age, weight and the physical pounding that are giving me some issues. I’m adjusting and hopefully I can persuade my tendons and muscles to come along for another ride or two without bucking the system.
Fight the power baby, fight the power.