Sunday, May 22, 2011

Is it the end of recovery or beginning of taper?

Today I ran my one and only long run between Big Sur and Steamboat: A 17-miler. Since I had run a hard 10K race yesterday, I knew this would be a bit of a challenge, made even more so by the warm weather, about 65 degrees at the start and closer to 75 or 80 by the finish, with lots of humidity.

I met up with the DART group at 7 a.m. as usual. Jeremy had already run 7, Todd was up for 17, Matt and Tim only wanted to do 10, and new runner Heather was interested in 10 as well. After a minute or two, Chad showed up, having run 3+ miles from his house to the start, and already drenched in sweat. We decided to run a 10-mile loop, then go for 7 more with whoever was still interested. Despite the heat, it was a gorgeous morning, and we all chatted about our races the previous day and got to know Heather, a former college cross-country racer who was starting to move up to longer distances. Chad and I tried to take it easy, both having raced the day before and knowing we had a long day ahead of us. Despite our best efforts, our first 10 miles were a little fast, between 8:20 and 8:30.

Back at the CVS, we hydrated as much as possible. I refilled my fuel belt and Chad bought two bottles of Gatorade to add to the two water bottles he was carrying. Since all the Gatorade wouldn't fit in his bottles, I took several big gulps of one of his bottles. I didn't want to drink too much because Gatorade doesn't always settle well in my stomach.

Todd, Chad and I said goodbye to the rest of the group and decided to run on hilly Grey road for those last 7 miles. It was now quite warm, but at least there was a breeze to cool us off a bit. Our pace now slowed into the 8:40s as we went up and down the hills. When we got to the top of the last hill, we took a break and I drained my two 8-ounce bottles of liquid. We were soaked through with sweat. Then we turned around and headed back to town, trying to push the pace where we could but slowing a bit on the hills. We ran the last mile at a 9:26 pace. Surprisingly to me at least, it didn't feel any slower than the other miles we had run -- we were simply that tired.

After the obligatory coffee at Summit, I gave Chad a ride home and then headed home myself. As I peeled my shoes and socks off I saw that my toes were wrinkled, as if they had been sitting in a bathtub for a couple of hours. Which, I guess, in effect, they had.

Starting this week I'll begin a full taper, with Steamboat just two weeks away. Weekday runs will be shorter and easier, and next Sunday's long run is only 13 miles.

Details of today's workout are below:

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