After having a sub-par training week, I needed a good one.
Monday – Extra running
I ran a couple miles at tempo pace (8:00) to work on turnover. I felt sluggish during the aborted long run.
Tuesday- Key Run #1 Track Repeats (1000 m @4:23, 2000 m @9:06, 2 x 1000 m @4:23)
On the treadmill, I completed the intervals in 4:16, 8:49, 4:17, and 4:16. During the third interval I was strongly tempted by the thought of stopping early or at the very least slowing down. I thought about letting myself being talked into stopping, but before I pressed any buttons on the treadmill, I forced myself to assess how I physically felt. Much to my amazement, I realized that physically I was not tired. I was breathing well. My legs weren’t tired. I was not feeling any physical discomfort or pain. My wanting to stop was purely psychological. I told my brain to shut up and my legs to keep running.
Thursday – Extra running
There was finally a break in the humidity on Thursday. I didn’t have time to run fora long period of time, but it was too nice not to go out. I quickly grabbed a pair of trainers and went out to Prospect Park for an impromptu easy run of 1.2 miles. It was short and quick, but I loved being outside and not dying.
Friday – Key Run #2 Tempo Run (1 mile easy, 5 miles @8:38, 1 mile easy)
The break in humidity held on Friday and I was treated to a good day of running. It’s amazing how much easier runs are in more temperate conditions. My legs felt like flying and I finished the 5-mile run at a 7:55 pace. The overall time of 39:38 isn’t too far off from my 5-mile PR that I set a couple years ago under ideal running conditions. I’m feeling really excited after this run.
Sunday – Key Run #3 Long Run (20 miles @9:08)
I was a bit nervous about this run, despite the fact that I had completed three other 20-milers. The paces for those runs were far slower and this time I was attempting to do this at a 9:00 min pace. This was going to be epic. I knew I could hold onto 16 miles at 9:00 pace, but I wasn’t sure about the last four. Caper, one of the writers for Salty Running, was also going to be there and running in the 9:00 min pace group too. It was really terrific meeting her.
I’m super super super grateful that for 3 of the 4 20-milers there were supported long runs with pace groups. It makes a big difference having other people with you. The last two runs were hosted by NYRR and held at Central Park. This long run was hosted by NYC Flyers, a local running club. They arranged for our stuff to be held at a running store in the Upper East Side. There were several pace groups (from 7:30 to 11:00+) and three aid stations with water, Gatorade, and gels. Even though I wasn’t a member, I could join in a group for only $20. A dollar a mile is a small price to pay for company, support, and all-you-can-drink-Gatorade. Every year the NYC Flyers host a couple of long runs. The Three Bridges Long Run is kinda famous because the long run goes from Manhattan to Brooklyn to Queens, across three bridges, and actually overlaps a little bit (or parallels) with the NYC Marathon course.
The route was from the Upper East Side to run through Central Park and end up at the West Side Highway, run south and cut across the southern tip of Manhattan to run across the Brooklyn Bridge (1st), run north through Williamsburg in Brooklyn, go across Pulaski Bridge (2nd) to enter Queens, run through Long Island City, across the Queensboro 59th St. Bridge (3rd) to enter Manhattan, and then head to Central Park for one small loop before ending back at the running store for 20 miles.
The running went very well for the first 15, 16 miles. I was right at the 9:00 pace mark. The weather was a bit warmer than I would like, but I ran through worse. Although I’m not particularly sociable during a run (I prefer to be silent and stoic), I greatly enjoy running in a group. Once in a while I had a brief chat with a runner, but otherwise, I ran silently (and happily). The pacers were great. The volunteers doing the aid stations were incredible. Seriously those volunteers have the underappreciated task of manning stations, but we runners are so so so so so grateful. The success of the Three Bridges Run is in large part of having aid stations where we can refill our water bottles, drink some Gatorade, and have a gel or two. Everyone was so friendly and encouraging.
The entire length of the run is 20 miles, but you can drop out at any point. Many only do 16 miles. The third aid station was at about Mile 15, it was after this aid station where the group fell apart. Some runners were done for the day. Others slowed down dramatically. Others kept going at the designated 9:00 pace. I was in between the dramatic slowdown and designated pace. Luckily for me, I had a few other runners who were near me (including Caper) who I followed. I had no idea where to go, so I relied on their knowledge to get to the park. I followed Caper to the park and did my best to hang with her, but I hit a wall.
Frankly, I hadn’t been eating enough. I knew it while I was running, but I had a hard time getting more calories in me. The cups of Gatorade wasn’t enough calories and as I go faster, I don’t like chewing, so ShotBloks weren’t appealing (even though I love ShotBloks and can eat them like candy). I ate only a single gel, and I should have had more. Fueling is something I’m going to have to work on these last few weeks.
I slowed down even more. I felt a bit uncomfortable and had difficulty breathing from an intense side stitch. I tried to stick it out for the full 20 miles, but at 19.5 I said, “Good enough,” and stopped. I walked back to the store to rest and to get my stuff. The last 3.5 miles were super slow and it dragged down the average pace to 9:17. I’m a little bummed about that, but it is what it is. I think in the grand scheme of things, it was a decent long run. I needed to do a long run at a faster pace and I did succeed in doing that for most of it. Based on this long run, I have a new fuel plan that I’ll use for marathoning to make sure I get enough calories in me (ShotBloks early on when I have energy to chew, then gels, then Gatorade).
I can’t believe that in one month, I’ll crossing the start line for my first marathon.