Sunday morning brought me a 22 miler. Normally I do my long runs on Saturday, but had to shift things around to accommodate my 3rd place Age Group finish yesterday. I’m still smiling about that one. 8-) I chose to run the bike path at Huntington Beach. It is about a 45 minute drive from my home, but worth it I think for the generally cooler climate at the beach, plentiful water and bathroom stops and well marked mile indicators. The only negative, especially in light of the terrain in Bellevue, WA, it that the trail is pancake flat. This makes for a nice run but doesn’t adequately simulate race day conditions.
Today’s run was a somewhat poignant affair. Celeste joined me for the initial 5 miles. This is likely the last run that we will get together. Celeste and I have worked together for the last 5 years. She is leaving Monday for a new job in Oxnard, CA, about 1.5 hours north. Celeste started out as a tech aide, moved into a full time position in the lab and then into Technical Services, always performing well above expectations. She was my coworker, running buddy and friend. I will definitely miss her.
Celeste was the third member of the little running group that formed at work, Brian and I being the first two. When Celeste joined the marathon craziness, I was the old man and they were the kids, they were both 20 years younger than me. Later on Terry joined our little trio. At least then we were balanced; two guys, two girls, two “kids”, two “adults”. Brian left us for dental school and life has been hectic for Terry, so Celeste and I have been the most consistent together. We made a pretty good pair, being about evenly matched for pace. Celeste and I have run three marathons together; most of the miles were really together.
Our first was Los Angeles in 2004. Brian was there as well. It was a hot, hot day, reaching the 90’s. In what became a signature move for Brian, he rocketed off early. This of course is not the best race strategy, but that’s another story. Celeste’s training for this one had not gone well. She had suffered a stomach bug that kept her out for a couple of months. Her longest training run was 16 miles. In the marathon we stuck together for 16 miles. She had been urging me to go ahead. My staying back was just upsetting her, so I finally took off. She was struggling from the heat. Soon after I left her I heard an ambulance siren and imagined that she had succumbed. Many runners that year had suffered heat stroke/exhaustion. Her biggest fear was that we would have to wait for her at the finish line. I caught and passed Brian who had burned out and then my right IT band refused to let me run anymore so I walked pretty much the last 6 miles. Somehow Celeste passed us both and finished first. Her fear of being last, keep her moving forward.
Later that year we ran Rock and Roll San Diego along with Brian. Brian repeated his performance at LA, leaving Celeste and I to get each other through. We stayed together until somewhere between 18 and 20. At that point she was hurting and urged me onward. There is no sense arguing with her, so again I continued on alone. This time she came in after me, followed much later by Brian.
Our final marathon together was Los Angeles in 2005 along with Terry, in an attempt to conquer the course in hopefully better weather conditions. 22 miles together this time before she fell back.
We were all set to run NYC in 2005, with Brian joining us from Boston, when Celeste suffered a stress fracture in her ankle. She was understandably bummed but made the best of the day by riding the subway to various points to cheer Brian and me on. This time Brian stayed with me, until I made a pit stop around mile 16 and finally finished a marathon strong.
The point of all this is to say that I have shared a lot of miles and marathons with Celeste, probably even more than with Brian. My log is full of entries “w/B,C&T, or B&C or C&T or just w/C. Since we worked together even the midweek runs were w/C. I missed Brian terribly when he left for Boston and I will miss Celeste too. When you spend that much time on the trail and road with someone, you know them about as well as you can know anyone. Good Luck Celeste. I know you will do well in your new job. It’s going to be hard for a while running without you.
Back to today’s run.
The morning started off cool and overcast, my favorite type of weather. I started the run at Huntington Harbor, Warner Ave and PCH. The first nearly 6 miles were out and back with Celeste, pretty much dead on 9:00 pace. Then I headed out for the rest of the run on my own. The first couple of miles ticked off in 8:30 pace; Slow Down Dude, or you aren’t going to make it 22 miles.
I missed the next mile marker and then ran into Tom, a guy I had met at Huntington Beach back in March 2005. I turned around to run with him a bit. He was nearing his turnaround point, so mile 10 was a little long. I missed the next mile marker as well from talking. Finally I got the next mile marker with an average pace of 9:18 for the last 4 miles. Running with Tom had been good for slowing the pace a little. Tom is retired as a Director of Public Health and still teaches at Loma Linda University. He can knock out a 2:00 half marathon, so he’s no slacker. At that point, he was back at his car, where I met his wife and her friend and continued on my own again.
Back on my own, Mile 12 in 8:41. Could stand to slow down a little, this is a training run not a marathon. Mile 13 in 9:08, under control again. Mile 14 went long because I missed my turnaround marker for a 9:43. Up to the turn around point the clouds were still holding and I had been running into a breeze. Just as I hit the turnaround the sun broke through and now the breeze was at my back. This combined to make the return trip a whole lot warmer. Mile 15 clocked in at 8:27. I really have to get this under control. Mile 16 in 9:02. Now that’s better. Mile 17 and 18 in 8:37 and 8:39. Here we go again! Then the downward spiral began. I was really started to get tired at this point. Mile 19 in 8:58 followed by a 9:16 and 9:17. At this point I really wanted to walk but I refused to let myself. I’ve been really excited about my last two runs with Jeff when I hadn’t taken my usual walk breaks and didn’t want to cave in now that I was on my own. Mile 22 was a whopping 9:44 and I still had about a half mile left to go to get to the car. That last mile was pretty demoralizing. If this is how the marathon goes, 4.2 more miles at that pace and I can kiss my 4:00 marathon goodbye.
All told I ran at least 22.7 miles today, maybe closer to 23 counting the doubling back with Tom and the missed turnaround. My running time was 3:25. Conservatively for 22.7 miles, if my math skills are right (they are better at home aided by a calculator and clearer thinking than in my head while on the run) my final pace for the day is 9:03. This is still good for a sub 4:00 as long as I don’t fall apart at the proverbial wall. I want to think that I will still make it but I won’t deny that the 9:44 mile has me more than a little concerned.
Miles for the week: 39.5
This is on the money for the original schedule but falls short of the 46-50 increased mileage goal.