Sunday, September 16, 2007

Marathon training update: week 11, day 7

Yesterday was my 16-mile run. It went very well, although my knee has been hurting since Tuesday's treadmill run. I've decided I'm not running on treadmills anymore, since they only seem to break my heart. But my knee didn't hurt yesterday (although I was aware of it, in a certain way, the way you're not usually consciously aware of body parts that are just functioning normally).

When the alarm went off yesterday at 5:40 it looked like a wretched day to leave the house: pitch black, cold, rainy. When I made it up to the park it was still really dark out, yet the park did not seem threatening and I knew all of my would-be muggers were sleeping soundly on their piles of stolen handbags. This run was unlike any I've ever done with the Road Runners: it was not scored, it was not timed, and you didn't have to attach that computer chip to your shoe. Instead they broke us down into groups based on our running times, and they released us with staggered start times. Consequently I ran with a huge pack of dozens of other nine-minute milers.

I really enjoyed running with my nine-minute pack. Nobody was jockeying for position or cutting people off; we were just running in a big, friendly clump. The people seemed to have the same intenstiy level as me: everyone was sort of in shape, sort of serious about it, but no one had that Emaciated Marathoner look I assumed everyone developed, where your wrists are constantly getting snagged on your hipbones. It was a sixteen-mile run, but I never felt winded or out of breath; it was a very comfortable pace, and as it ended I felt like I could have continued on.

Great things that are happening: a run of 26.2 miles is beginning to seem plausible and perhaps even enjoyable. My comfort with longer distances is really increasing; now my basic unit is 6 miles, so I can look at a 16 mile trip, break it down into one six-loop and two five-loops, and be pretty much ok with that. I did not expect these things to happen, but I guess it's part of the mental training.

When I came home my good wife L had left the bed open for me to crawl back into; she made me some delicious eggs, I took a shower, slid into some pajama pants and took a blissful nap as the first autumn weekend of the year unveiled itself. A good training day...

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