As we head into the final, epic weekend of training, unbelievably the weather has decided to cooperate. After taking one weather-related bitch-slap after another over the last couple of months and feeling like my entire life could be contained in one never-ending pool of sweat, I woke up this morning to find that there was something strange about the weather. What was it? Oh yes, it was actually cool. Well, it is all still relative, we’re talking about the low 70s, but I can’t remember the last time it was that cool at 8am in this area.
On tap for today 20 miles or (for the non-freakishly fast) three hours. Scene of the crime? Burke Lake, scene of one of my more recent running humiliations.
No long story here folks. A very short story in fact. No muss, no fuss, no drama. I felt good. Not just good in fact, but great. Easily my best run since Musselman, and in fact it may be one of my best runs of this length ever.
I started out running with Jason and after an abortive attempt to hang with our team-mate Julie (who quickly burned us off with the same cheerful disposition she displayed even when we were all suffering our balls off during Mountains of Misery) and we settled into a more rational pace. I thought Jason would leave me, but in the end we ran the whole way together.
It was a really relaxed run, with both of us talking all the way about the upcoming Ironman, various aches and pains, plans for next year, and so on. My HR was a little on the high side, but I felt great; more importantly, the HR was stable (looking at my data afterwards, in fact, I was locked in on pretty much the same average HR for the first 14 miles). It was also a gorgeous day; coming out of the woods onto the dam each time was glorious: cloudless blue sky, not a breath of wind, a mirror-smooth lake and a lot of people out enjoying themselves (not too many of them from the Team, however; we have a training camp going on at Luray this weekend, but I wouldn’t have thought so many of the Ironman peeps would be out there; don’t envy them doing a long run around that terrain either!).
We ran three loops and then stopped briefly to refill water bottles and grab more nutrition. Fatigue and a bit of muscular soreness was definitely setting in. Jason was beginning to talk longingly of spending time in his recovery tights. There may be a little bit of an unhealthy relationship developing there. But hey, there are worse deviations. It’s not like he wears women’s underwear or anything. Not in public at least.
The tale of the tape: Three hours 11 minutes of running. And we managed to get either 18.25 miles in or 18.5 miles depending on whether you believe my watch or Jason’s. Jason’s watch, however, seemed to be drawing its data from a parallel dimension: about a third of the way through it started displaying all its data as a mirror image. However, I only have the humble Garmin 305 rather than the fancy 310XT so maybe this is one of its high-tech user modes that I don’t have access to!
I was glad to be done, sure. I was certainly running a little slower on the final loop. But running in the mid 10s for a run of this length is something I haven’t done since. . .well, I can’t remember. Of course, I’m not going to be running this pace in the Ironman (this actually would have made for a pretty decent marathon pace for me). But I felt like my form was still good at the end, I felt strong and as if I still had more in me (also can’t remember the last time that feeling was associated with the end of a run). Perhaps most importantly, I was happy.
Now I’m just hoping to hell I don’t pay for this tomorrow on our 120 mile ride.