At some point last night I began dreading today’s run. It wasn’t like a pure dread. I wanted to do it, but I just knew that it was going to be difficult. I woke up at 5:30 and had the opportunity to get out of bed and go running. I didn’t. I probably should have. As it was, I managed to roll out of bed at about 7:45. Looking at the weather report, I saw that the heat index was already up to 91 degrees. It wasn’t getting any cooler, so I headed out the door.
[Dramatic switch to present tense]
The route I’m following is the same one I followed 2 weeks ago. It’s out 3.5 miles and back for a total of 7. I arrive at the mall, strap on my Garmin Forerunner, the heart rate monitor, my mp3 player, and my Camelbak, then hit the trail for a 1 mile warmup.
“Warmup” is an understatement. I’m sweating within the first tenth of a mile. I finish the warmup and start my run, attempting to maintain a 10 minute mile pace. The Forerunner helps in this task. I find that I’m frequently running at 8:30-9:00 minute pace and I’m constantly telling myself to slow down. I do a good job of that and pass the 1 mile mark in 9:55, feeling good. I cruise up and down the first pedestrian bridge, then up and down the second. I hit the 2 mile mark in 19:52.
I’ve brought along a small bottle of Gatorade to consume when I hit the halfway point. I’m holding it in my hand, which is not the most comfortable thing in the world, but I manage. At 2 miles, I decide it’s about time for a water break. I manage to wrestle the tube of my Camelbak to my mouth using only one hand and take a few drinks without breaking stride. I’m up on the causeway now, and I continue across at the 10:00 pace. My hope is to make it at least to 3.5 miles without a walk break, but the sun on the open causeway is beating down and it takes its toll.
On the other side of the causeway, I take a 30 second walk break, then continue on to the 3 mile mark where I break again. This time, I walk for almost a quarter mile before running all the way to the 3.5 mile mark. I’ve completed half my run in 37 minutes. I open the Gatorade and walk for another quarter mile as I consume it. I run to the 4 mile mark and walk again. The heat is really getting to me, but I know that if I walk this frequently, it will take forever to get back and I’ll be out in the heat even longer.
I reach a shaded area and use that as motivation to start running again. As I climb back up onto the causeway, my goal is the five mile mark. The causeway is narrow and it can be hard to pass walkers with cyclists using the trail as well. I encounter a few walkers and have to increase my pace quite a bit to pass them while staying out of the way of others. Although these short bursts are tiring, they serve to cool me off a little bit as it’s the only way I can feel any kind of breeze.
I reach the 5 mile mark somewhat triumphantly, only to encounter a pedestrian bridge that is very tiring to even walk up. I walk for a quarter mile, then set my sites on the 6 mile mark. I’m not seeing much but the road in front of me at this point. I know my form is pretty bad, and it’s difficult to maintain my 10:00 pace. In fact, I’m tending to run much faster than that because I’m having more trouble controlling my pace now. I run down the pedestrian bridge, across the Walmart entrance and up the next bridge. At the top, I have to take a brief walk break. I walk across the bridge and then run back down and onto the 6 mile mark.
I know I’m in the last mile, but I feel as though my arms are about to liquify and slowly drip from my body to the pavement. I take a big swig of water from my Camelbak, remove my hat and spit the water into my hat. I toss my hat back on my head and feel the cold water rush over my head, down the back of my neck and over my shoulders. That helps. I start running again, thinking it would be great to run the rest of the way, but knowing I’d be fairly happy just to make it to 6.5 miles. I do manage to hit the 6.5 mile mark. I walk another quarter mile. With the 7 mile mark in site, I run the last quarter at 6:00 pace.
I ditch most of my equipment at the car, grab a fresh water bottle and pour it over my head. Then, I head back to the trail for a mile of cool down.
1 mile warmup
7 miles at 10:02 pace
1 mile cooldown
1 mile warmup
7 miles at 11:08 pace
1 mile cool down
I obviously took more walk breaks than I was hoping. One might argue that if I had enough left to run the last quarter at 6:00 pace then I could have jogged a lot more of the workout at 10:00 pace. Perhaps I’ll work on pushing an extra quarter of a mile before my walk breaks next week. During miles 4 and 5, I alternated 1/4 mile walking with 3/4 miles running and I was pretty happy with that.
I don’t think the Gatorade did me much good. It was really more of a pain in the ass carrying it for the first half and it didn’t seem to have any effect on my return trip. If anything, it might have hindered me a little in the first mile after I drank it. I believe I’ll leave it in the car next week.
My shins didn’t give me any problems at all. Hopefully that little bump in the road is behind me for good. I feel like I’m getting stronger and it certainly feels nice to have 4 weeks of pretty solid training behind me. Only 25 more to go.