I hadn’t done a run longer than 10 or so miles since the 17-miler that spurred my Achilles problems. I had put in brick style workouts covering the same amount of total time as a 20-miler, but maxed out at 10 miles on my feet. So, with a little over two weeks before race day, I tackled my final and only 20-miler of this training cycle. My goal was to just get the miles in and do it with some serious elevation as well.
Boston is anything but flat and that worries me. My biggest running weakness both mentally and physically are hills. So without being able to run much at all and especially not run hills I needed to get some hilly miles in to build my confidence. I also wanted to run rolling hills, not just uphill then downhill. With that in mind, I opted to run several loops around Golden. I knew three loops would probably get me close the same elevation gain of Boston, in fewer miles.
I felt great on my first lap and paid close attention to my pace. I didn’t want to go out too fast especially since there was no opportunity to change my mind on the hills. Anywhere in Golden is hilly, so if I got tired, I couldn’t really decide not to run as many hills as I had planned.
I planned my route so that I could come through home for water, fuel and some moral support. Evan is a total rock star and set-up a full-blown aid station for me. He even called out “water…electrolytes” and held cups out for me. He is the best.
After passing through aid station number one, things got rough for a bit. And by a bit I mean 3 miles or so. I had stomach problems, my legs felt totally dead and I just didn’t feel like I could move at all. Finally, that passed, and shortly after I opted to implement the 6 minute run, 1 minute walk option. The doctor had advised it for the entire run, but I have been feeling great, so I didn’t think it was necessary for the whole run. But as I started to fatigue, I wanted to make sure I didn’t re-aggravate my Achilles.
I passed through my trusty aid station again just shy of 17 miles. I told Evan I was going to run to downtown Golden because that was the flattest option to finish off my last few miles. Then one block later, I hung a left and headed uphill. I was feeling pretty darn good actually. Around mile 18 I actually considered running 21 or 22 miles. By mile 19 that idea was long gone. I attempted to pass through the aid station one more time with less than a mile left in my run just for more practice drinking out of cups, but I got trapped on the opposite side of the street. Trapped? I know, a weird thing to happen, but there was some sort of procession of tow trucks. Even weirder, I know. The road was blocked by police officers and they just didn’t stop coming for what seemed like ages. I suspect it was some sort of memorial service. Maybe it was disrespectful to keep running, but I did. I ran back and forth on the same 3 blocks to finish off my 20 miles. Then I waited very impatiently to cross the street and get to my Evan, more water and chocolate milk!
In the end, I felt pretty okay. Not the best 20-miler I’ve ever run, not the worst. I definitely could have run 6 more miles with no trouble at all.
Hopefully all of these hills make Boston and Heartbreak look like nothing.
My pace was at the high-end of where I would have like to have been – 9:22 average pace. I’m totally please with it given the elevation (about 1,200 feet of gain), how long it has been since I ran a long run (6 weeks), and because I walked a minute every 6 minutes for half of the run. My running intervals were mostly under 9:00s. Oh and I did 10 miles on Friday with 5 miles at tempo pace in the middle. I forgot that little tidbit.
Following my run, I took a little dip in Clear Creek. It must have warmed up since last time because I was able to stay in for 10 minutes straight. That would have been impossible a few weeks ago. Awkward photo, I know.
One last bit about my run or post-run. Warning: if you get grossed out by stuff, don’t read this. I had two little blisters, one on each foot, after my run. They needed popped and drained, of course. So I poked one, drained it. All good. Then I stuck the pin in the other and went to train it. It didn’t dribble out. It squirted. On my face. TMI? Sorry.
All-in-all, Friday and Saturday were two much-needed confidence boosting runs. I’m still not planning on or hoping for a PR in Boston, but I am confident that I will run a good race and not feel like death so I can enjoy it!
Time for some relaxation. And foam rolling.