Posts Tagged ‘long run’

The other day I ran 16.7 miles. Right, so what?

It’s not the 16.7 miles that has me writing this post. It is what the run meant, to me anyway.

I have a friend Mike. I have known him since our college days. I owe him. He took me in after I graduated from college.  At the time I had no idea what I was doing with myself.  He was attending his sophomore summer and had a room in our fraternity all to himself.  Or so he thought.   When I arrived at his door a few weeks into the term, he very happily put me up on his couch for the rest of the summer.   I stayed, rent free, for nearly two months. He never complained – not once.  Over that summer, Mike became one of my dearest friends.

Years later, unbeknownst to me, Mike came dangerously close to losing a battle with a liver condition.  With the help of a team of doctors here in Boston, he fought back, got healthy and is now looking to pay it forward by running with the American Liver Foundation’s Run For Research Team in this year’s Boston Marathon.  This will be his first marathon.

What does this have to do with me?  What does this have to with 16.7 miles?

The Boston Marathon has been a dream of mine for a little over a year now.  The idea of running the same race the Kelly’s, Katherine Switzer, Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit, and Alberto Salazar all ran is something that I find absolutely exhilarating, but as many of you know, one cannot just sign up for Boston.  One must either run for a charity team like my good friend Mike or qualify for the race by running another marathon within a certain amount of time.  I have nothing against charities.  In fact, as a family we have worked very hard to raise funds for both big (Autism Speaks, St. Jude’s) and little (the Autism Alliance of Metrowest, Playground funds, Pre-School Programs) organizations.  But very early on, I decided that I wanted to run Boston because I had qualified.  It will require my running a 3:20:59 or better marathon.  I am not there yet, but I hope to within the next year or two.  I digress.

Mike has chosen a different, and in some ways more admirable and selfless path.  His desire to run Boston has put him in a position to help those who helped him.

Mike signed up to run and has been fairly successful in raising funds for his team.  However, he was having some difficulty with the long runs.  When he first started his training, he very happily drove down to where the team was meeting every Saturday with the hopes of spending the next 2 hours or so chatting with other runners.  What he found though is that many of them would plug-in their ear buds and zone out for the bulk of the run.  I can relate to that.  I do it quite frequently when I am running my long runs…alone.  Having limited experience at running for long distances, Mike feared that he would struggle to stay focused on his own.  He doesn’t run with music so I can totally understand why he would be think that.

So when he emailed me a week or so ago and asked if I wanted to join him for a scheduled 14.5 miler, I said I was game.  I hadn’t run more than 13.1 since November, but “what the heck”, it would be nice to get a truly long run in.  We had a great time chatting for two and a half hours.  We even went an extra couple of miles, finishing the day at 16.7.  It was the most pleasant long run I have had to date.  No hurries, just running with a friend, chatting pretty much non-stop for the entire run.

At the end of the run (it was both the longest time – 2:35:00 – and distance he had ever covered) he looked at me and thanked me, saying that he didn’t think he would have made it to the end without the company.  I frowned.  It may have been more of a struggle had he been on his own, but I told him he would have finished just fine.  He thanked me nonetheless.

My point is this: we may not have the time nor the inclination to dedicate ourselves full-time towards a particular charity or what have you, but during these unsure times, the very least we can do is help those who are helping others.  Did I accomplish a huge feat in running those 16.7 miles?  Did I “make the difference” in how Mike has raised money for the liver team? No, absolutely not.  My contribution to his run was three hours out of my weekend.

A drop in the bucket.

But drop by drop, the rain fills the bucket.

You can find Mike here.

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Don’t care how, I want it now! – Veruca Salt

I really do enjoy running outside. But I have a problem when I do.

I am, without question, a part of the MTV generation 1.0. I was part of that first wave of young kids gawking at the TV when the Buggles popped onto our screens and Martha Quinn & company began providing us with a 24 hour feed of music videos. I am firmly a part of the  immediate gratification generation.

As a result, I lack patience.

There have been countless runs where I have said aloud that I was going for a long, SLOOOOOW run only to end up running a tempo run or faster. I’ll start slow, with every intention of keeping a relaxed pace, but all too often, I end up speeding up less than halfway through. At first it’s unintentional, but then I see the split on my stopwatch and it’s all downhill from there. I refuse to slow down.

I’m starting to think that the injuries that I sustained in April and September were direct results of being impatient.

Early on, a friend of mine pointed me to a couple of training sites that help you figure out what pace you should be training at based on past race performances. Before my personal triumph at the Chilly Half back in November, I had not run a race that extrapolated out to a 3:20 marathon or better (a BQ for someone my age). The best result I had put me at about a 3:32 marathon (the Chilly put me at 3:17). I didn’t want to hear that. The various sites would tell me that I had to run my long runs at a certain pace. They also said in bright, flashing, red letters that I needed to train at the level I was, and NOT at the level I wanted to be. I didn’t want to hear that either. I plugged in what the long run pace should be for a 3:15 marathon. I wanted room to spare. The resulting number still seemed slow to me. I could run 15 miles at a much faster pace (or at least, that’s what I told myself). I ignored the numbers. I would go out for long runs of 12 – 16 miles and run at close to marathon pace.

Inevitably, I got hurt.

I had to stop running for nearly 4 weeks (which quite honestly was probably not long enough). When I returned to running, I still didn’t heed the numbers and went out at paces that were where I wanted to be, not where I was. The result was a crash and burn at the Manchester Marathon. I held up great for 16 miles, hit a wall and then froze up at 20. I play back that marathon in my head from time to time. The first mile was a killer (the 3:30 pacer decided to go out at a 6:30/mile clip), and I probably didn’t hydrate properly, but the more I think about it, the more I believe that my training philosophy was all wrong. I was training where I wanted to be, NOT where I was.

That’s impatience.  That’s the Veruca Salt training method.

So this year, starting today (an arbitrary day resolution), I resolve to be more patient with my runs. Run at the pace my racing legs say is where I’m supposed to be. I now have enough races under my belt that I should be able to comfortably rely on what the numbers say.

If I do it right, run patiently, I have no doubt that I have a qualifier in me for October.  I’m still going to run Hyannis (I think), but it’s going to be for fun.  At least, that’s what I’m going to tell myself.

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