I have three days until the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, and it's time to get all the nervous energy out. I have put more thought into this race than any other, and as a result I have worked myself up more for it than any other that I can remember. Not quite sure if I was satisfying some dangerous curiosity or properly preparing myself for the race, I started checking out who was in the field for Sunday. The Pittsburgh Marathon website lets you search for specific names, but doesn't give a complete list of entrants or elite fields, so I started entering in the people who usually terrorize the road race scene in Pittsburgh. I confirmed the three I expected: Ryan Sheehan, Jeff Weiss and Joey Zins. Trent Briney, the ummm, 4th place 2004 Olympic Marathon Trials finisher is registered. As is Luke Watson. Mario Macias and David Mealy also have low bib numbers, but I'm not too familiar with them. I was actually sorry I'd be missing the chance to watch Sheehan and Weiss go at it, though I know Sheehan will prevail. He's an animal who gets that much more dangerous when he's competing, though I can't remember the last time I saw him in a race where he hasn't had a comfortable lead midway through. Josh Eddy's running the full, so is Dave Mock, so no need to worry about them. From the times Eddy has run this spring, he should be in the low 2:20s. No Ian Fitzgerald, Curt Larimer, Dave McCollom, or Jay Dolmage, none of the Simpsons. I'm glad there will be a few guys racing hard up front- I'm not trying to win, just go under 1:11. Without being tempted to take the lead and compete for the win, I'll be able to focus on my race plan, though it will be nice not to be buried in the field like at Cherry Blossom or the Monument Avenue 10k. Chris Geddis, Eric Laughlin, Jim Hommes and Dave Masse are running the half. I've generally been faster than Masse, but he got me at the Great Race last year, and he is a big variable. Jim is a long-distance vet, who knows what he'll pull out of his hat. I don't know what kind of shape Geddis is in. It seems like Laughlin's been putting in some good training. Right now the extended forecast says 59-77 with a 70% chance of scattered thunderstorms. I'm not too tickled about that... Race course The course is deceptively flat for being in Pittsburgh. I see four main uphills- mile 4, climbing to East Ohio Street from the 16th Street Bridge, slight hills on the Warhol and Clemente Bridges and the climb over the West End Bridge. After the West End Bridge, you get a nice long downhill on West Carson Street to Station Square.
The Pirates schedule allowed the race organizers to make some big improvements. Restrictions on how late the race could keep the streets closed on the North Side forced the course onto an awful loop in Manchester last year, that was really boring. This year we still get to go through West Park in Allegheny Commons, and actually loop around it. The new stretch on the North Shore including PNC Park, Heinz Field and the casino will be flat and fast. Race Plan
1:11:00 is 5:25 pace, so I have to run just under that. It will be easier to resist the temptation to go out too fast, compared to Cherry Blossom- where I also shot for 5:25s, but was pulled out by everybody going out in sub-5 pace. I won't have that mob mentality Sunday... My 54:24 at Cherry Blossom had me on pace for 1:11:19. I also positive splitted ridiculously. I have the ability, it all rests in my execution, and the answer is to negative split the race. So, I start with 5:30s. How many? How many is reasonable to expect? Should I consciously slow down after my first mile, because I am going to go out fast anyway, or stick to a pace I think is a little too slow for a few miles than start pushing and hope my ability to get around 5:20 pace toward the end compensates for my slow start?How about starting at 5:30, then dropping a second each mile? The would bring me in at 1:10:57. It would be cool to do that, but I don't have the precision...
I think, most likely, I'll start out with a 5:25, straining like crazy to stay slow. I'll hit three 5:30s, then start speeding up to 5:25s again through seven miles. From there, it's a six-mile race, and I start hitting 5:20s from there.
Having never run a half before, it's daunting to think about holding a pace the entire time. It will be best for me to expect that as I tend, that I will race better than I work out. I will also think about my tendency to go out too hard and force myself, against my urges, to stay calm at the beginning, even though I will want, for all of my ego, to race up with the front guys at the start. The heavy work is going to come away from everyone else, without cheers from anonymous spectators and a few people I know. If I can get through the first seven miles in a decent time-- around 38:00-- then run the last 6.1 more aggressively. I don't want to be straining before PNC Park. Run my race... Look at the race in phases: Phase 1: Maddening Adrenaline - mile 0-1.5 I'm going out faster than I want, time to accept it. Phase 2: Collected Calmness - mile 1.5-7 Just cover the distance without going too far over my goal pace Phase 3: Rolling - mile 7-10 Take advantage of the flat North Shore to speed up, get excited for the West End Bridge crossing and the Carson Street stretch I love so much, despite its bleakness Phase 4: GO TIME - mile 10-13.1: Treat it like a 5k, and considering how I ran for my time trial in the heat on Sunday, I can handle anything for 5k. This time it's flat, and Smithfield Street always has a cool breeze. Balls out. They key is speeding up toward the end. I want my fastest miles to be in the last four, and I want the gas left in the tank to have an open-ended upside when I need to close the time gap. I want to be all out when I get to the Smithfield Street Bridge.
Last workout This wasn't technically a workout, but I wanted to run a few miles at about race pace on the road Wednesday evening to get a feel for them. I wanted to start really relaxed and go about 5:30, and I would up going 5:17. Then 5:20, then 5:21. Then 5:11. I'm not sure if this was good or bad. None felt too taxing, so that's good. I might be able to run faster than I think, but I'm not going to act like that on Sunday. I did that at Cherry Blossom, and though I PRed, I ended up slower than my goal pace. I'm not going to try to be a hero, I am just going to take the race in phases.
It's all light from here on in, and I'm tinkering a little with my taper. I don't want to mess too much with my metabolism, so while I am dropping my mileage a bit, to 50 or 55 this week, I need to keep a few medium-distance runs on the schedule. Monday and Tuesday I just did easy-ish eight mile runs from home. Monday's was unremarkable, just some tinkering with Woodley. Tuesday I developed more of the Great Falls-Westmoreland loop. I managed to stick to 7:00 pace for the first four miles, though I sped up later on. They're both great rolling roads, Westmoreland especially because it has a bike lane. Nice weather.
I got back to Washington a little before 6 am Tuesday and headed right for the office. Why not? With three hours to go until people showed up in government offices and I could start working, I went for a 10 mile run around the Mall and Hains point, averaging 6:54 pace. Not bad. Had I tried to run after work, it would have been a disaster. I like the feeling of running before work. If I could just manage to wake up in time...
Wednesday I went up to Bethesda to do a short five-mile run and some drills while the other GRC guys did a workout. I could only find two hurdles, so my HMDs were truncated.
Thursday I got a bit inventive- planning for a two-mile warmup, a four mile tempo at about 6:00 pace, then 8x800 around the Greenwich Mile loop. As is my style, I went way too fast on the tempo, averaging 5:45, and by the time I got to the loop for my 800s, my digestive system was a mess. I managed four 800s, around 5:15 pace, then called it a day.
Friday afternoon I did an easyish seven rolling miles around McLean. Saturday I did an easy 5.5 with Jake, Wiggy, Dylan some others from the Chevy Chase store.
I was planning to do the Vienna 5k Sunday morning, to get in a race environment and trash some people and give myself some confidence after finishing pretty far back in every race I've done this year. I got up at 6 to get ready to bike the five miles to the race and noticed the significant rain. Considering how tired I was, I figured I was better off getting more sleep and doing a workout in the afternoon. I was happy with that, and the 5k winner ended up running 18:20. I waited until 6 and headed out to the Venice loop to do a 5k time trial. It was about 78 degrees and miserably humid, but I managed to do pretty well- 16:08. I wasn't exactly sure of the mile marks after the first beyond the basic location between intersections, but I had 4;58, 5:03 and 5:33 (yeeesh) and 33. The loop pretty much had two hills repeated three times, and I was definitely feeling myself lose focus in the third mile, I just didn't think the dropoff would be so dramatic. On my cooldown, I hit a breeze that would have made the workout a lot easier.
I'll take the next week easy- down to 55 miles and only one fast run- 5xmile at 5:25 on Wednesday morning, just to remind myself what it feels like to run my goal pace.
I've had a lot of harebrained schemes. Boston was one. I thought things were tied up rather nicely when Jake Marren said I could go along with him and Ella. I thought it strange that he'd plan on driving to and from a marathon several states away, but I ignored that when I heard his travel schedule would meet mine exactly. It became apparent later that driving was not much of an option. I had not driven a manual since 1998, and Ella did not like driving near people. Both factors excluded driving back to DC as a viable option, because Jake would have just finished a grueling race. It worked for Melissa and me after Marine Corps, but Pittsburgh and Washington is a big difference from Washington and Boston.
The Trip Up When Jake told me he was going to fly, I was relieved that he had come to his senses. Obviously I would have to find a way there, I was glad he made the good decision to reduce the toll on his body. As it turned out, it would be crucial for him. Instead of doing the trip in stages, I decided to take a straight shot on a Greyhound. Big mistake. Last year, Brandon G and I drove to Boston from Pittsburgh with Sara Roberts, leaving around midnight so we would have most of the daytime to spend in the city. I figured I would be more likely to sleep on a 10-hour bus ride, but that was before I figured in that I would be one of the last people on the bus at 1:15 am, squeezed into the last seat on the bus. The corpulence of the passenger behind me prevented me from reclining my seat, but luckily with the aid of Benedryl I was able to become loopy enough to pass out for a bit a few hours into the trip, then wake up at 5:30 as we were pulling into the NY/NJ Port Authority Bus Terminal. I stepped into a world I hardly understood and greatly feared. First off, I had no idea where in the world the bus station actually was. I saw signs for the exit, but they told me to climb several levels. Was I deep underground? I explored for a while until I decided that was a bad idea, and hid in a corner until it was time to board the bus to Boston. By then the sun was up and sleeping wasn't happening, in spite of the cold medicine. I arrived in Boston at 11 and proceeded to carry my too-heavy bag around the marathon expo to get my 5k packet and see Jess Etchen at the Brooks booth. I then took the orange line out to Sullivan Square to find the hotel where I was staying with Brandon G for the evening. A few blocks into industrial Somerville on Broadway, I realized I was now in a bad neighborhood. After using some rudimentary Spanish, I managed to get more detailed directions to the hotel, and upon arrival promptly crashed for a 2.5 hour nap. I woke at did a 4.5 mile run to loosen up, and it felt really good. Having taken the previous day off helped a bit, but I was surprised I was not more exhausted, thanks to my lack of sleep. After dinner and a short walk, I worked on falling asleep on the pile of springs the La Quinta Inn called a cot.
B.A.A. 5k I did not wake up to the weather or sensations I was hoping to find. It was cold and drizzling at 5:45 am and I finally felt the exhaustion I was missing the day before. Thank goodness I was only running 5k. I figured I could gut it out. The warmup wasn't terrible- finding a bathroom and the bag check was, though. Upon reaching the starting line, I noticed nobody was doing strides. The BAA course marshals were telling runners not to pass in front of the start. Effing ridiculous. Eventually a critical mass decided that was unacceptable and we did a few. After a miserable rendition of God Bless America, I wanted to lie down and die. That would have to wait. The gun went off and I instantly was in 40th place. Having run the last three races with my intentions focused on running no faster than 5:20, it was a shock. My legs were already heavy from the start, but I decided since the race wouldn't last that long, I might as well hurt. After about a minute or so, I started to move up, but it was ultimately too much too fast. I approached the mile, after about 700 meters of climbing at 5:05. I figured my goal of 15:20, given the way I was feeling, was likely out, but 15:30 might still be reasonable if I had broken out of the intertia I felt at the start. Plus, I had the downhill to help me. I clearly didn't take advantage of it enough, because I was getting thrashed on the way down. I lost track of how many people passed me, but it was not encouraging. Then, I cross two miles with a 5:16 split, leaving my only hopes for a fast race to a sub 16. I don't remember too much, except trying to maneuver all the turns that I didn't remember from the course map. I mowed down a few people in the last stretch of the third mile in 5:17, but by then all hopes of a sub 16 were also dashed. I tried my best to hold on with a 33 second finish and immediately started figuring out what went wrong. The bus ride, the lack of fast-start preparation, and a general bad attitude torpedoed my effort. I skipped the afternoon run and instead hung out with the Richmond gang that ran- Watson, Hannay, Sherry, her dad and their gang.
Marathon I stayed with Shara Siegel right on the course, at mile 23.75. I got up at nine to do a run on the course before the races started, but I succumbed to temptation to watch an episode of Seinfeld before I left. I ran 5.75 miles out to miles 18 and back, speeding up on the way back, but was forced onto the sidewalk by the police with two miles to go. Bummer. I still kept my pace down, but there was a lot of dodging and leading out of the way to avoid pedestrians, chairs and food vendors. Afterward, I cleaned up and had a bit to eat and went back down to watch the leaders and eventually everyone else come through. I really don't know how to make this interesting, so I will just list the people I managed to see. Greg Costello came along, looking a little worn out. Jared Markowitz. I nearly missed Seann Mulcahy, because I forgot how slight he was. Jeff Watson. JARRIN and Chris Bain, looking tough despite intervening illnesses in their training. Matt Hannay, dutifully accompanying his wife Sherry to a PR and her first marathon under 3:00. Mark Hunkele. Matt Ernst, who hammed it up and also PRed. Mark Courtney. Shannon O'Neill. I missed Joe Vella, Matias, Nick End, Tim Schuler, Craig Gaites, Dave and Laura O'Hara, Moira Davenport. Sarah Taylor and Bizarro Bridget, and Joe Sikora. A number of people I hoped to see ended up not running- Larry and Brian Quinn, Paul McCaffery, Liz Kennon. I am really getting tired of writing this entry, because it reminds me of how tired I was at the end of all of this. So that's it.
I have a problem slowing down on my recovery days. This doesn't bother me so much in my base building, but with a little over two weeks until the Pittsburgh Half, I am worrying more about an actual taper. It's hard for me to just go out and run easily.
I thought it would help to run with a bunch of girls, so I went to the Lululemon running club Monday, the day after Cherry Blossom. Technically, it's the "run club" but I absolutely detest their resistance to using the gerund form of run. It's obnoxious and I hate it. Every time I see it in use, besides in its pure root intransitive form, I want to break something. Not focefully, by punching, smashing or crushing it, but by removing a few vital pieces so it's structurally deficient. Anyway, I didn't count on this dude Eric pushing the pace. Every time someone asked him if he ran the day before, in reference to Cherry Blossom, he said, "no, but I did go running." Dear Eric, nobody cares. After he decided to run ahead, I joined up with a nice fellow named Josh and ran with him for a bit until we gathered the rest of the group at the base of the Capitol. We had a more relaxed pace on the way back. That, and with a few miles I did beforehand, made nine miles.
Tuesday evening it rained a bit and I was reticent to go outside, but since nobody else would be outside I decided to see just how small a medium pair of shorts was. As it turned out, way too small, though they weren't constrictive. I ran a pretty easy 10 miles out and back on the W&OD trail, keeping the pace at about 7:00.
Wednesday, I gathered at the track with Dirk, Dickson, Mike C. and Jimmy for some repeat miles. I was hoping to do 5-6 between 5:10-5:15. My legs were tight for the first few laps of the first one, but I broke out of that rhythm with a 76 third lap to bring it to 5:12. The second mile's fast lap came in the second- 75, though I slowed it down to run 5:13. Mike took the third one, out in 75, and we slowed it down to 5:11. I then had to go to the bathroom, which is a trip up the stadium to the school, and I told the others to not wait for me. They heard me only say "wait for me," and when I came back they were still jogging around. Knowing that they had been waiting, I rushed into the next interval, which I split 80 for the first quarter, though I felt I was pushing as hard as I could. I rushed back after the bathroom- bad move. After that I jogged about and watched the other guys finish up their workouts.
Thursday morning was great for running the 12-mile route to work, which I averaged about 7:10.
After sleeping in Friday, I took the day off, because my travel plans for Boston are a little complex. I will take a 1:15 Greyhound bus, which is scheduled to arrive around 11:30 am. I will be heading to sleep for a few hours, shortly, and then will get up and take the metro to DC to catch the bus.
I have been hatching my plan to try to view one of the most spectator unfriendly metropolitan marathon courses. Sometime after running the BAA 5k on Sunday, I will rent a bicycle, take it with me as I do whatever for the rest of the day, then Monday morning get up in Brookline, take the subway out to Riverside then bike the 17 or so miles to Hopkinton to see my friends before they start the race- mainly to see Jake Marren's Goodwill warmup outfit, then see the race from selected spots parallel to the course until I get back to Shara's house in Brookline for omlettes and smoothies. Absolutely foolproof.
"It's go time." -Izzy Mandelbaum Well, racing season is upon me. I feel like I'm not ready, but I still have three weeks to work out my kinks before Pittsburgh.
The few days before Cherry Blossom alternated between hopeful and worrisome. With Wednesday's successful workout still giving me some confidence, I headed out for a 10 mile run in Falls Church Thursday night. It was hot, humid and pollen was everywhere, and I felt full of bad vibes. Then, 40 minutes into the run, the sky started spazzing out. Rain! A thunderstorm! The sudden universal relief that came with the rain relaxed me to the core. I amusedly traipsed along to the end of the run and felt like this would affect an improvement in a lot of the things that ailed me. My strained abdominal muscles were improving and I could breathe again. I was soaked, but didn't care. Friday, I slept in once again and did not run to work, as I had planned. Instead, I ventured out to Hains Point after work to check out the last four miles of the Cherry Blossom course with an eye toward the race. Though the weather was beautiful, the wind was brutal. I turned around after a few minutes along the Potomac and could take no more. Since I was short of my planned 12 miles, I decided to cut my weekly mileage under 70. Given the long race I had ahead of me, I could spare a few miles. Saturday I slept in and skipped the GRC run, just as well anyway. After getting my Cherry Blossom race materials, I met up with Nate Wildfire, who, along with his girlfriend Gillian and roommate Luke Clavey, had come to visit, though primarily so he and Luke could compete in an acapella competition in Alexandria. We had lunch, drove around and they left me to take a nap. I then took a four-mile pre-race jog and did some drills.
I tried to get to bed early, but it just wasn't happening. I made some pasta, but I wasn't pleased with it, and I ate an entire box of cookies to comfort myself to sleep. I think I fell asleep some time around 12:20, and I woke up around 4 and had some pop tarts, then went back to sleep until 5:30.
Cherry Blossom 10 miler
The warmup started poorly. My left knee has had some sharp pains when I have started running lately, and it was no different as we got going. It abated after a few minutes, and I started to feel alright. A little tired, but not hydrated, thank God. I lined up between Joan Samuelson and Adrian Fenty and behind a slew of Africans. They mayor here is fast. I wasn't in Pittsburgh... At the gun, I tried to hold back, despite the throngs sprinting ahead. 5:25, I told myself, would be the perfect first mile split. I hold that for a while and then move up in the second half. It was not to be...5:10. As we crossed into Virginia, I locked into an even pace. Luckily the Arlington Memorial Bride did not involve a climb and the breeze was light. I started hearing my name, and got some confidence from that, I wasn't alone out here. 5:21. More like it... I started pushing the next mile, knowing that I could easily get complacent and lose track of my pace. 5:07... pushed a little hard.... 5k in 16:13. Last time I ran a 5k outright I ran 17:08. A month ago I ran 16:54 on my way to 8k, two weeks ago 16:39 en route to 10k. Big improvement there. I felt like I wasn't done, either. 5:20 for the fourth mile, though I started to worry, seeing Chris Sloane struggling on that mile; I wanted to keep track of him because he's a lot more experienced than I am in running longer races. I realized only later that this was only my fifth race longer than 10k, and only one did I feel was run competently. A 5:24 later, and I was 10 seconds shy of my five mile PR, with another five miles to go. When I ran that PR, I thought I was in another world. Now, it's commonplace... Compared to 27:23 for 8k last month and 26:52 for five miles two weeks ago, I was doing pretty well. Pat Murphy had been a little ahead of me since the third mile, and I was started to get up with him. Having seen him run some fast workouts and races lately, I knew he was capable of some good things, so I tried to catch up with him. As I pulled closer, rather than slow down and lock into his pace, I just kind of kept up my chasing pace and kept going, putting myself too far behind the next guy ahead of me to be able to use him but also condemning Murphy to chase me for a while. 5:27. Plus, I was slowing. I needed to keep it up. Murphy passed me back and I didn't respond. I let him and a pack of runners from Charlotte pass me. I cursed the course for not taking the earlier turn as we rounded the point, and I just got slower. 5:39. No good. I'm in no-man's land, but I keep doing the math to see where my pace will take me. Turns out that wasn't the best time to be doing math. I was a total idiot at that point. 5:23?! Great! Just cruise like this for another mile! 6:06?! Brother of Christ! What am I doing? I stopped trying to overcome my pain and just dig in for more. Then I saw Sloane come up back on my shoulder. Either I died a lot worse than I thought and came back to him, or he clawed like hell from his agony in the first half and he came back. I tried to kick, but it was a mistimed surge. Right as we were hitting the hill not a half mile from the finish I died again. This time there was no coming back. Sloane turned and yelled "come on!!!!" but I did not follow him in the spirit I wanted. I pretty much eased it in, my characteristic gut kick absent. Billy took me down in the final seconds as I crossed the line with a 10th "mile" of 5:18 for a 54:24 final.
Gut reactions: Well, I PRed...by 84 seconds. I was also terribly disappointed, because I died terribly in the last four miles. Only the adrenaline that comes from smelling the finish line saved me. I wanted to average between 5:20 and 5:25 pace, and I fell just short of that- 5:26 The truth is, I died. Around Hains Point, I just died. My quads stopped feeling responsive, and I rationalized not pushing the pace more. I got too hung up on predicting what I would run for the rest of the race and let those expectations overwhelm me. And as a result, I am disappointed by the way things turned out. BUT Every time I race, I am getting faster over longer distances. I have always considered myself a 5k runner, and now I am working on the mindset transition to that of a long distance runner. It's my fifth long race, my third serious one, and I improved my time by over a minute from when I was in the best shape of my life. Just imagine what I could do if I wasn't so heavy. Jake Klim said it, not knowing exactly how my last few years have gone but taking a strong guess that it was the race of my last few years. He was right. It was my first PR at any distance (at which I had previously raced) since the Great Race in late September 2007. Though I ran almost a minute and a half faster at Cherry Blossom than the 2007 Spring Thaw, I still consider the latter to have been a better race because I just put it away in the second half. I got faster and started nailing those rolling hills and would have probably gotten faster had the race been longer. What I did there was push the pace with Shafer, Rich and Herb Cratty until five miles then run away, which I obviously couldn't do with the competition in DC, but the point was that I passed the time at a decent pace, then negative spitted by 70 seconds for the second half. I might not have scored a major win or an amazing time, but I made a major stride in putting training to good use. I have three weeks until Pittsburgh. That's time to crack down on my diet and sharpen my legs for speeding up and holding that pace for another 5k. I certainly will not go out in 5:10 in Pittsburgh. That is where 5:25 will be more my style. I won't be dealing with a huge field of people ambitious to run fast times, I'll be mixed in with a few half marathoners, marathoners and relay runners. The pace will work itself out to be more conservative and more conducive to me getting miles out of the way at a decent pace before I start attacking in the second half.
I got another 3 miles in that afternoon after brunch with the guests and the Spitznagels. Three weeks starts today!
I don't deal well with heat. During college, when I lived in Pittsburgh during the summers and would visit my then-girlfriend in Centreville, I would try to run at the same time as I would in Pittsburgh and it was a total disaster. It was just so hot in Virginia. Well, I thought by living here in the spring I would adjust incrementally. To do that, however, I would need the temperature to ease upward, not jump to the mid-80s. Unfortunately, that is what happened. Monday, I met up with Melissa for a jog around the cherry blossoms. The 1.5 mile jaunt from my office to our meeting place on the Mall, however, left me panting and parched. I invariably went too fast for the conditions, which she rectified, because she now only runs when we meet up. The heat was too much for her, too, and we truncated the run and I extended a little by running around east of the Capitol on shady streets that were thankfully light on traffic. Tuesday I tried to explore Pimmet Hills for the first time since my awful December Saturday run. I first had to drop off a long-overdue book at the library on Leesburg Pike, so that part was pretty awful. I also had a weird sensation in my right hip, and that was making running uncomfortable. I ended up skipping one of the out and back loops and heading back to my apartment. Wednesday, I foolheartedly showed up at B-CC for a 2.5 mile surge on the Capital Crescent Trail. After a warmup during which I really didn't feel like running and was already thirsty, we reached the appointed starting point- right in front of a bridge climbing over a road. Uphill starts blow. I tucked in between Klim, Murphy, Matias, Dirk and Mike and decided to just hold on as long as I could. They were shooting for 5:05s, I hadn't run that fast for one mile in months. Thankfully half-mile markers made the segmentation of the workout mercifully easier. We went through halves in 2:33, 2:30 (for a 5:03 mile, my season's best) then 2:33 again and about a minute before I started to drop. I was just so dry... I tried to spit but there was no fluid component and the detritus spread over my shoulder. Dirk encouraged me to stay focused, and I did, just at a slower pace that I would have liked. 2:35 for my next half, 5:08 for the second mile. Everyone else picked it up from there, so I lost a lot of my pack mentality, and they were too far ahead anyway, but even though my pace slowed to 2:37 for the last half mile, I dug in. I didn't run through the line as much as I would have liked, probably adding an extra second I really didn't need to be running, but I finished in 12:47. Lost in the agony of running in that heat was that it was technically a PR for an open distance, even though I obviously went much faster en route to 5ks, but the last time I ran about 2.5 miles was at the 2004 Peters Township 4k, when fueled by the fury of having gone off course the year before and maddened by the heat, I ran 12:51. I'll take it. The cooldown was brutally slow, and I was light headed as all get-out- stopping was always a bad idea on the way back. Jimmy said his GPS watch indicated the second mile was long, so I had that going for me, which was nice, but he is a Delaware track alumus and thus an associate of my arch frenemy ELI, so it might be a clever ruse to lull me into a false sense of confidence..
I ran much of the same long run route in McLean that I did about five weeks ago that made me so enthusiastic about running, but the result was so different I can't believe I'm the same person. I slept in on Sunday, really needing it, then I cleaned my room, ate a little, drank some water and fruit juice and took a three hour nap. Again, I needed it. At 5 pm, when it seemed cool enough, I headed out for a 15 mile run. I kept 6:45 pace up for the first seven miles or so, until the Chain Bridge. I failed to capture the same vitality climbing Glebe Road that I did last time, and once I hit Chesterbrook I was pretty much drained. I guess I didn't drink enough earlier in the day, or ran too soon after I woke up from my nap. For the rest of the route, I would run about a mile at 7:00 pace, then slow down and eventually stop. The rolling hills that were so inviting last time were cruel this time. I scoured a park for a water fountain, but I just couldn't find one. I cut about .8 off of the loop by heading directly home. Maybe my body is saving it up for great races the next four Sundays... No more long runs in April for me. I'll be heading back to Pittsburgh Memorial Day weekend for my friend Charlie Seymour's wedding, so I will be able to run the Kevin Gatons 5k in Greensburg that Monday morning, a Hounds classic, run in honor of our former training partner who died in 2006. I routinely finish fourth after falling apart in the third mile...
Tuesday: I planned for 3x2 mile with some GRC guys at B-CC. I was hoping for 5:15s, 5:10s and 5:05s. Wiggy and Dirk were going to go after it, while Karl joined Dave and me a little farther back to run a little slower. I led the first mile of the first interval a little fast, 5:10, but feeling fine. Dave took over at that point and eased us back to 5:13. The second, however, was a lot rougher than I had expected having put out a 10:23 effort a few minutes before. I was out of it by 800 and crawled in the mile in 5:30. I took a lap off then ran in the last 400 of Dave's second interval when Karl peeled off. It was Karl's first workout back after an Achilles-caused layoff, so he wasn't planning on pushing too much more, so we planned to trade off leading Dave through 800s. I took the first, in 2:32, then after
Wednesday: Ran a Pimmet-Idylwood 12 mile at 6:25 pace, with pickups each time I ran Venice. Felt good, though I got started later than I would have liked.
Thursday: Planned on a 12-16x400 workout on the track, but the George Mason HS track was in use, so I grabbed some flats and headed over to my Greenwich mile loop and ran 2x1 mile in 5:15 and an 800 in 2:30, then I ran around for a while.
Friday: I tried to run slowly. I really tried. I mapped out an 8.3 mile permutation of Woodley and hit my first mile in 8:00, just what I wanted. Then things went downhill. I didn't even realize that I had picked up speed, but by the end I had averaged 7:00.
Saturday: Jake Marren had a great idea- a five mile tempo at 5:30 pace, exactly what I used to do in Pittsburgh on Saturdays! Considering the ease with which I had been running 5:10 and 5:15 this week, I could surely do 5:30 for five miles. I already had twice. We hit the towpath for a three mile warmup- Marren, Klim, Karl, Matias and this new fellow Joe and I. Upon starting, however, I immediately felt like I was struggling to keep up. A mile in we hit 5:30 and my legs and lungs ceased to work. I pushed my pursuit, but everyone ran away. I hit the second mile in 7:22, more than half a minute slower than I run when I go out for 10 miles. I turned around and prepared for 5+ miles of awfulness. Luckily the guys were waiting at the end of their five miles for me, and I jogged it in with them. I cut the week's mileage down to 73 from my planned 80, but two botched workouts in a week is either terrible news or great news. I tend to work out well but race poorly or race well in spite of bad workouts. Hopefully this bodes well for Cherry Blossom, the BAA 5k and Pittsburgh. Otherwise, I am focusing on sleeping more and hydrating.