Monday, October 24, 2011

Let the taper begin!

Yesterday I completed my final long run before the Richmond Marathon — 22 miles with Chad, accompanied for nearly that distance with Todd, and for 15 with three guys who will be running Richmond with me: Tim, Matt, and Terry. Tim is an amazing runner who generally destroys his age group (55-59) and often finishes races in the top 3 overall. Matt is an amazing runner who just joined my age group on the low end, so I'll be glad in January when I exit this group! Terry also regularly racks up age-group placements, as do Chad and Todd, so it was a great group to run with.

Fortunately for the rest of us, Tim had run a half marathon on Saturday, so he was taking it easy. In fact, all of us were running at a relatively easy pace, just hoping not to break anything as we got ready for our race. It was a perfect day for a run, about 45 degrees with a bright sun just peering over the horizon. I focused on good form and an easy stride. I had been hoping to run this at a consistent 8:45 pace, but as we proceeded, the pace quickened a bit, and we ended up doing quite a few miles in the 8:20s.

I was feeling okay for the first half of the run, so I didn't let the fast pace bother me too much. About 12 miles in, however, my thighs were starting let me know they didn't appreciate being worked this hard. It was nothing that concerned me, but I think all those 60- to 70-mile weeks are just beginning to add up.

In addition, this was a new route and it was taking us along some very busy roads with little-to-no shoulders. Matt would later post on Facebook that I was a "cult" leader, and they were all just blindly following me on a road to ruin. I had to agree, while the first 10 miles were great and took us along some beautiful roads, there was a stretch of 3 miles or so that was very unpleasant.

At Mile 15, we said goodbye to Matt, Tim, and Terry, and headed back towards Davidson. Now I was really starting to feel tired. Not winded, so much, but sore in my back and thighs especially. Chad wasn't feeling great either and we slowed to an 8:45 pace. This was the pace I had been planning for the whole run but somehow now it felt a little bit like a letdown. Meanwhile Todd cruised ahead.

15 minutes later, at Mile 19, Chad and I limped into town and had a chance to say hi to Todd before he hopped in his car and headed home. Chad and I had three miles left, so we ran the Town Day 5K route. I really wasn't feeling great but knew I needed to gut this out. It was a struggle to keep those final miles under a 9:00 pace, but we did it, finishing the 22 miles at an 8:33 overall pace.

This run marks the end of the intense workout phase in preparation for Richmond. Now, the taper begins. This week I run 49 miles, then just 42, and finally only 23 in the week leading up to the race. That might seem like a lot of mileage, but I'm now used to running 56 to 70 miles a week, so this feels like a real break.

Chatting with these experienced runners, however, made me reconsider my plan for next Sunday. I had had 17 miles on the schedule, which again isn't especially long for me, but they argued that 17 is too long for two weeks before the race. I decided to shift some of my warm-up miles to another day, so I'll only be running 15 on Sunday.

Details of yesterday's workout are below.

Inspired by Matt's description of my route on Facebook, I labeled this run "The Cult of Dave"

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