They are nothing if not consistent, those voices. All week they’d been telling me to do a 14-miler on the towpath on Saturday, followed by a really long run of 30 to 40 miles on Sunday. They never wavered. Thus I found myself going a long, long way this morning. But let’s start at the beginning.
The voices can be good (“go for it - you can do it”), or evil (“you’re having a bad day, so you may as well quit right now”). Much of the time, I’m not entirely sure whether they are good or evil. When they say something like, run about 50 miles over a weekend, is that a good thing or a bad thing? Some would probably simply classify it as a stupid thing, and I don’t have a good come-back for that. Except perhaps to say, lookyahere: I’m planning to be running even more than that on New Year’s Eve, and I’ve got to be ready. I do know that I have to do what they say, because I don’t know what would happen otherwise.
The weekend of running began with Saturday’s run. At Station Road Bridge, I met up with Ladd, Debbie, Dan DeRosha and Chuck. We did what is a familiar route for me: south to Lock 29 in Peninsula and back. It’s 14 miles of familiar towpath trail. The inch or so of snow didn’t bother us as we started out slower than nine minute pace, gradually picking it up the whole way. Chuck picked it up even more with about 4 to go, and I went with him because the voices told me to. Our last three miles were all under seven minute pace, something I haven’t managed to do in a couple weeks. Would I be able to recover from this towpath trail tempo trot in order to run long the next day? I felt tired, but otherwise fine. Time would tell.
Good thing I got a nap because Saturday night’s MCRR party at Second Sole went on till 10pm – way past my bedtime. Good time, by the way. Why would my bedtime be so early, you ask? Because the voices are also consistent about telling me to get up extremely early for my runs, and the longer the run the earlier the start has to be. This is another area where the voices work in mysterious ways. My best guess is that they don’t want me to spend the entire day out running.
It was about 3:18am when first the alarm, and then the voices, told me to get out of bed. Even though yesterday’s run on an inch of snow on the towpath wasn’t bad at all, I wasn’t excited about seeing the same thing this morning. Actually the snow is fine; it’s the accompanying ice and slush that I dislike. The voices know that I feel this way, so they told me it was ok to begin my run on the treadmill. Working with the voices, I had refined my plan a bit: I’d do something on the order of six 6-mile segments. Yes, for some reason, 36 total miles sounded about right to both the voices and me. I had been thinking of doing my outdoor 6-mile loop those six times. Now on the mill, I thought I’d take a break every six miles, although I’d still have to figure out how many such segments to do before heading outside. At each break, I’d chug some Vitargo that I’d mixed on Saturday. Vitargo is pure carbohydrate with no sugar that you can supposedly take gallons of without upsetting your stomach. It has to be mixed well, preferably in a blender. Another thing going on was the brand new shoes: Nike Lunar Glides for the mill work, and another pair of Pegasus 25’s for the outside stuff. I’d really liked my previous pair of Pegs.
I fired up the mill at 3:55am, turned on a movie, and quickly got down to 7:30 to 8 minute pace with .5% elevation. I pretty much stuck to that pace and to my plan to break every 6 miles. I found myself staying on the mill longer than I thought I would. In the process, I watched a Val Kilmer movie where he was an assassin with amnesia who was supposed to kill the president, a really silly documentary where Ben Stein compared some professor’s firing to the Berlin Wall. The professor had taught about “Intelligent Design”. We don’t waste our time arguing about the world being flat, or at the center of the universe anymore because these concepts are so totally disproven; to continue their debate would waste everyone’s time. It’s exactly the same with creationism and climate change denial. There is simply no scientific evidence to support the concepts (they’re not even theories), and yet some people want to continue to ‘debate’ them. And everyone’s time is, indeed, wasted. Except mine; I was getting my miles in. I also watched part of a Denzel Washington / Whitney Houston movie, and a bit of Fox News, where they had a "debate" about whether climate change was real.
Before I knew it, I was getting a lot of mill miles in. The most I’d ever done was 24. This day I stepped off the mill at… 24 miles, and then prepared to finally go outside. It was 7:20 or so; I’d done pretty good so far. I think the Vitargo had helped. By the time I’d gotten my clothes over my sweaty body and got outside, over a half-hour had gone by. The other breaks had been much more efficient. I had also put the Pegs on – my feet had begun to take a beating from the Lunar Glides. The Pegs felt better.
As I started out, the voices informed me that it wasn’t a good idea to continue with the plan of doing two more six-mile segments. Since that last break had taken so long, perhaps it would be better to simply stay away from home for the entire final 12 miles. In retrospect, I think the voices were incorrect about this one, but at the time, I did as suggested.
Running through jello. Know the feeling? I knew those first few outside miles were slow, but I didn’t know how slow until I glanced at my watch at mile three: 28 minutes. It occurred to me that it would be a long morning. But then something funny happened: I started running faster. As I did one loop around the high school, and then ran up to and around North Park, the miles got faster and faster. Not blazing fast, mind you, but down close to 8 minute pace. The final four miles home were a little slower again, but still under nine minute pace.
Why did I think the voices were wrong about my ability to take a break and get back on the road? Because I was able to do so, for four more after the twelve. Even the extra four (on my familiar four-mile loop course) were pretty good – about 8:30 per mile. So the entire 16 outside miles were completed in two hours and nineteen and a half minutes. Add this to the 24 mill miles, and you have a pretty good day of running.
Now I think I’m ready for the 24-hour run, if only the weather will be good for us. Let’s hope the voices cooperate.
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