Running for It, Week 29: In which I make new friends and toss the old

One is silver, the other…well, they’re also silver. (I am not very good at rhyming.)

I thought I could pull one last running season out of them, but alas, over the last couple of weeks or so it has become painfully obvious that it is time–nay, long past time!–to bid a fond farewell to my old running shoes.

not pictured: horrific odor

They may not look horribly horrible in the photo, but trust me: they’re pretty worn out. You can see that I’ve ripped a hole in one side there, plus I’ve worn through the inside padding where it meets my heel, plus the hundreds and hundreds of miles I’ve put on these things have really done a number on the soles. I’ve worn these bad boys through this entire training regimen so far, but they actually go back a few years. Frankly, I probably should have replaced them at the beginning of this thing, but the skinflint in me thought they had just enough life left in them to get me through this ridiculous commitment I’ve made to train for and run a marathon.

But check these new kicks!

the N stands for “not a very good runner”

Pretty fancy, eh? And they’re wicked light, made of this stiff mesh-like material that helps the feet breathe (although I am pretty sure that is not how physiology works). And they’re comfortable, too. Sure, there’s going to be a bit of a breaking-in process to stretch them a little here and there, and so my feet can grow accustomed to a slightly different fit, but I’m pretty happy with them so far.

I picked them up mid-week to give me time to get a few miles in them before my long run on Saturday. And this would not be just any long run; oh no, this would be The Big One. The Peak. La Corrida Grande: 20 miles. This was, according to Hal Higdon’s training regimen, as far as I’d run before Race Day.

And so it was that I was looking forward to this weekend with a strange mix of trepidation and excitement: trepidation because 20 miles is a significant marker, and excitement because… well, I don’t know, because it would be cool to say that I ran 20 miles? Anyway, I was prepared to get up early on Saturday and do my thing, and I had even found a new running path around a lake about half an hour from the house and I was eager to try it out.

And then life got in the way. Turns out I had completely forgotten about a church retreat thingy that stretched from Friday evening into Saturday afternoon. Desperate to get my run in early on Saturday, I planned out an alternate route that centered on the hotel, but then I realized that in order to complete the run and get back and shower and whatnot before retreat stuff started, I would have to get up at like 3:30am.

I did not want to get up at like 3:30am.

So I didn’t.

I decided that, as much as I hated running during the non-morning hours, I would have to run in the afternoon. And so, as the retreat wound down and we packed up to go home, we walked outside… into a steady rain. Oh, joy… 20 miles in the rain. Plus, I kind of had a headache, and they had stuffed us full of food at the retreat and I was feeling a little weighed down and tired. Long story short, I was not feeling up to this run. Nonetheless, dutifully, I got my running crap together and drove up to Smithville Lake to just get this thing done already, dreading every minute of it.

And then I proceeded to kick a** and take names. (Though I did not kick very hard and I subsequently lost the list of names.)

I’m not even kidding. It was probably the best long run I have experienced since the beginning of this ordeal. Check it:

a long and winding road

Make a note of that time. I ran 20 miles faster than I ran 18 miles several weeks ago. Frankly, I’m not sure what happened. You’re not supposed to run that fast on your long runs; according to Hal Higdon, you’re supposed to run them at an easy, comfortable pace, about 45-90 seconds slower than your expected marathon pace. That’s what I’ve been doing… that is, until Saturday. I ran about a minute/mile faster than I’ve run on any of my long runs so far. I actually kept trying to slow down and it felt weird. The pace I was running felt right, it felt good, so I just kept running it.

It helped that:

  1. The rain had stopped just before I started running.
  2. It was a cool, cloudy day.
  3. The running path was mostly flat, with a few gentle hills thrown in for variety.
  4. All that food I ate apparently gave me plenty of fuel to get it done (apparently that is  how physiology works?).

I can’t believe I waited until the last long run of my training to try out these running trails at Smithville Lake. They curve around the lake, where you can see herons and other big birds (of which I do not know the names) diving for fish. They wind through wooded glades, where deer without number run across your path or stare at you placidly from the treeline. They pass through a few campgrounds, where Boy Scouts and old folks in RVs wave at you and fishermen give you a friendly nod as you pass by. And I only covered maybe a third of the length of the whole trail system; there are miles and miles and miles I haven’t even touched yet. Fantastic!

But that’s not to say it was all pleasant. Those last couple of miles were a bit of a slog; I didn’t slow down, but I was getting pretty exhausted, and when I hit the 20-mile mark I’m pretty sure I didn’t have another six miles in me. Lesson: slow down a little. I got excited, and maybe went a little–though not a lot!–faster than I probably should have. I hadn’t planned on running that fast in the marathon, anyway, so I think I’ll be okay come Race Day.

And here’s the best part, I kid you not: 20 miles, and not a single episode. Come on, you know what I’m talking about.

If you don’t, then brother, you ain’t been paying attention.

Leave a Reply