I missed running a lot while I was up in Vail skiing. I was in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, enjoying a thrilling activity and eating amazing food, and yet I often found my mind wandering to hard 6.3 mile runs in the darkness of a frigid January morning. Perhaps that's why some people say runners are obsessed!
Be careful what you wish for. Yesterday I finally got my chance to hit the pavement again, with a 12-mile afternoon run. The plan was to start off on my own, then meet the DART group for a 6-miler. I decided to challenge myself with some hills, so I headed off on Grey Road, planning to turn back in time to meet up with the group at 6 p.m. I did a little figuring as I ran, and settled on 24 minutes as the turnaround time. This took me down the toughest hill, and halfway up to Abersham on the other side. Then I turned and ran back. As I started back up the big hill, a couple bikers passed me. Sometimes, riding my bike up this hill, I've been tempted to get off and walk, so I challenged myself to keep up with the bikers. After they lost their momentum from the previous downhill, I was able to match their pace all the way to the top, trailing them only by 20 meters or so.
It was a warm afternoon, in the lower 70s, so it might not have been advisable for me to push things only a few miles into my run. I was sweating a lot, and I didn't have a fuel belt with me. But I continued to feel good, so kept up the pace all the way back into town. In the car, I had a packet of chomps and a liter of water. I ate four of the chomps and drank about two-thirds of the water. That's when things stopped going so well. First, my iPod stopped working; I think my sweaty earbuds were shorting out. Next, no one showed up for the DART run. The final 6.5 miles would be on my own, with not even an iPod to keep me company.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I was worried that my iPod was broken and I'd have to shell out for a new one. I'm fine running without an iPod on any given day, but day-in and day-out I like to have some entertainment. Plus, I'm a fan of several podcasts and this is really my only chance to listen to them.
I decided to try out the Davidson trails, which is where the Thursday DART run usually goes anyway. It was pleasant, but warm, and for the first few miles I kept up a good pace -- 8:30ish miles. I entertained myself by working on a problem that has been bothering me for a couple years: Is the Garmin accurate on winding, wooded trails? I had a hunch that the Garmin always measured the Davidson trails a little short. As it happened, I was about 50 meters short of the 1-mile marker on the trail when my GPS beeped indicating I had covered an even 7 miles up to that point. Assuming the mile posts are accurate (and I have seen the Davidson coaches calibrating them, so I believe they are), all I had to do was see if my GPS agreed with the 2-mile marker. As it happened, the timer beeped again when I was even with the marker, suggesting that the GPS was short-changing me by 50 meters on Mile 2 of the trails. Mile 3 was accurate, but my timer beeped 50 meters past the Mile 4 marker. So between Mile 2 and Mile 4, I had to run an extra 100 meters for the Garmin to credit me with those miles. That might not seem like much, but at an 8-minute pace, 100 meters takes 30 seconds. Over two miles, an 8:00 mile becomes an 8:15 mile—not a trivial difference.
Why were just those two miles off? I think it's because the trail passes through the same, very curvy section on both miles. Check out this close up from my Garmin record of the run:
If you look closely, you can actually see that the GPS record cuts off some of the corners, shortening the route. Over the course of two miles, that adds up to about 100 meters. The rest of the trails are relatively straight, so there's no opportunity for errors to be introduced.
After keeping up an 8:40-ish pace for 9 miles, the heat of the day started to get to me, and I slowed down on Miles 10-12. I was hoping for some water at the end of the trails, but the handle was missing from the water fountain by the practice fields. I kept going back to town, running an extra couple hundred meters past the CVS to assure myself of an even 12 miles.
I finished my quart of water, then went home and drank two more large glasse. As it happened, I had weighed myself before the run, so I weighed myself again, and found that even after consuming about a half-gallon of water, I had lost six pounds through sweat over the course of the run. That's about 10 pounds of sweat, total! I spent the rest of the evening trying to re-hydrate.
This morning I went for an easy five-mile recovery run, and found it anything but easy. I was still sore from yesterday's run. Plus I ran in to Chad and Chris G., and ran with them for a few miles at a pace that was a bit faster than I had planned, and going further than I'd planned: 6.25 miles. Hopefully I haven't plunged into running again too quickly after my ski trip. I've got a 10K race scheduled for tomorrow and I'd like to see how well I can do. Stop by tomorrow afternoon for the results.
Details of the last two workouts are below.