I was disappointed in myself for not sticking with my planned mileage yesterday so I decided to get out for a long run today. It's not like I had any really good reason for cutting my run short, just wasn't into it for some reason. As a general rule I don't like to push myself too far past the point of enjoyment when I'm running (50's and 100's not included), and I knew that if I kept going it wouldn't be any fun, so why bother? But it wasn't like I was dealing with any major aches or pains, just my head. Since a lot of my friends were running the Mid-Winter Classic today and I really wanted to watch the race I decided to combine a long run with a lap of the race course so I could cheer them on.
The route I came up with started and finished at South Portland High School and headed into Scarborough before turning into Cape Elizabeth and picking up the race course at about 5.5 miles. It worked out to be just over 20 miles which seemed reasonable, although it's been a few years since I've run that distance on roads, probably not since the spring of 2009. I wasn't sure how I would feel today so I didn't have a plan other than to run at a comfortable pace and try to remain fairly consistent.
My right ankle was a little bit stiff when I started out so the first mile was pretty slow, but once I warmed up everything felt good and I moved along a decent pace. I was wearing a box fresh pair of Saucony Kinvara's that arrived yesterday, my first time taking them out so I hoped they would work out for me. I've heard a lot of good things about these shoes from a few other Trail Monsters who wear them, and my last pair of road trainers were from 2009 and showing their age so it was about time for some new shoes. My route offered a few bail-out options if for some reason I felt the need to cut the run short, but luckily I didn't need those options.
So I hopped onto the race course and started running the opposite direction of the runners, I caught the leaders at about 4.5 miles and soon after started seeing the steady stream of runners that included many Trail Monsters and other friends. The excitement of seeing all the runners coming past kept me moving at a pretty good pace, right around 7:30's and fairly consistent. Once the bulk of the crowd passed I stopped to visit a few TM's working an aid station at 2.5 miles, then continued backwards around the course to see all the runners again before they finished.
A short-cut through the school parking lot allowed me to see the race winner coming down the final stretch and a little more than 10 minutes later I started to see some of my friends coming in. Seeing them in their final miles gave me another boost and I picked my pace up a little, but as the crowd of runners coming towards me thinned out my pace slipped a bit. Maybe I was pushing it just a little bit too hard for a long run, at around 14 miles I definitely felt a little tired. By 15 miles all the racers had passed and I was looking forward to wrapping this run up. I considered a short-cut that would have got me back to my car in about 3 miles, but I couldn't face a second failed long run attempt so kept to the long way back. I was definitely slowing down on the uphills but was able to maintain an OK pace on the flats and downs. While I was drinking plenty and eating what I thought was enough for this run I could feel things in my lower back, glutes and hamstrings tightening up over the last few miles. Maybe yesterday's miles were catching up with me.
It really was a beautiful winter day to be out running, relatively warm for a February morning, clear skies and only a slight breeze. The roads were dry and and there wasn't much traffic. I finished up with a little over 20 miles, and although I felt great about finishing this run my body definitely felt pretty tired. I forgot how much road running can beat you up if you're not used to it. Getting something to eat and taking the dogs out for a long walk on my local trails in the afternoon helped me to fend off some of that tightness that had initially started to set in. A good day and great to see so many people running well in the 10 miler.
distance: 20.28 miles
weather: upper 20's, sunny, light breeze
gear: Saucony Kinvara (brand new), wool socks, tights, 2x long sleeve shirts, gloves, mittens, buff, Nathan HPL#020