Monday, November 9, 2009

Fast Finish Long Run - 22 Miles

Although a little too late to fully implement this time around, I've recently bought into the "fast finish long run" idea from Greg McMillan. He suggests alternating "regular" long runs with the fast finish long run every other week starting no sooner than 8-10 weeks out. As it is, I'm just 4-5 weeks out from my race, so instead of being able to get in 3-5 of these types of runs, I'll just be doing 2 of them.

Perhaps not surprisingly, my first fast finish 22 miler yesterday yielded mixed results (and by mixed results I mean massive doses of muscle protesting, wheels falling off pain, not to mention the failure to run fast at the end). Yet, I'm still very glad I attempted it.

THEP PLAN: Run the following splits for 22 miles:
2 miles @ 9:36
7 miles @ 9:22
8 miles @ 9:15
3 miles @ 9:05
2 miles @ 10K pace (7:53)

What actually happened:
2 miles @ 9:36
7 miles @ 9:22
8 miles @ 9:15
3 miles @ 9:04 Wall....wall...wall..of..pain.
2 miles @ 8:40 OMG.. OMG...OMG...I.. Can't.. Run.. Any... Faster. Stop ...Telling... Me... To... Speed Up!... Garmin...(

And along the way:

As you can tell, things were looking just groovy through 17 miles. In fact, the very first hint that this was not going to end well came at mile 17 in the form of niggling low back pain. That pain, combined with the knowledge I had to pick up the pace in the next 1/2 mile or so to 9:05, well, that was the beginning of the wheels coming off. It seemed like my low back went from an ache to a full blown pain in the course of a 1/2 mile. The worst part, though, was trying to fix my form to make it feel better. My brain could literally not locate my deep abs. I was like, "Am I using my back muscles to pull down, or my abs to pull in? Who's body IS this, anyways? As the pain grew more intense, I grew more and more tense, and well, you already know this ends badly.

2 more miles at 9:05. Now just 1 more mile at 9:05...OMG. OMG. There is NO way I can kick it in at 7:53 pace. I could maybe sprint 50 feet at that pace, but then the ambulance would have to come. Yet there goes Garmin (pbtn), telling me it's time to: "Run 2 miles at 7:53".

9:05 turns to 9:08. Ew, that's not good. OK, c'mon, I tell myself, get it together. The next time I look at Garmin (pbtn) I see 8:36 pace. Then I get beeped at. Says Garmin, "Speed up!", to which I honestly try, but 8:36 turns to 8:44.

"Speed Up!". Now I'm starting to get pissed at Garmin. Like alright already! Have you no compassion, man?

I walk up the hill (the same hill that 2 loops ago had me gleefully thinking, "I think I'm getting the hang of hill running! Yipee!!") seriously contemplating turning Garmin (pbtn) off. "Just until the downhill", I think. I must have looked pretty pathetic in that moment, because this very nice older gentleman (obviously a wise and seasoned runner) said to me, "Don't worry. It will get better soon." I remember thinking how sad it was that that was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to me.

Somehow, I finished this run from Hell.

22 miles in 3:20:59.
9:08 average pace.
A 3:59:22 marathon equivalent. (4.2 more miles? Riight.)

No blisters
No chafing
Weirder still, no fatigue or muscle soreness (except my low back) afterwards or today.

A day later... a slightly different perspective.

As bad as I hit the wall yesterday, I'm very glad I did that run the way that I did it. I learned an awful lot. It reminds me of something I just read in an article in Inside Triathlon: "You're always rewarded for risking big things for big results. You may not get the rewards you were after, but you always get rewarded."

Who knows what the outcome of my race on December 12 will be. Maybe I'll crash and burn. Maybe I'll break 4 hours, maybe not. Or maybe I'll have a great race and reach my goal of qualifying for Boston. I don't know, but I suspect that in the end, it won't really matter that much, because I know that ultimately it's the journey that rewards you.

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