I remember the days when getting a run in was a simple affair. Yesterday morning I felt like a pack mule as I gathered all my necessities for the long run. I had water bottles (half water, half Gatorade G2), a couple a gels, the belt to hold them, sweat cloth, ipod and earphones, Body Glide, shin support, medical tape, and a banana. Plus my keys, wallet and cell phone. I stuck all that in a grocery bag just to carry it to the car. I also had a small cooler to keep my new favorite recovery drink, chocolate milk, cold.
I had originally agreed to meet Mike at 6:00 a.m. I normally start my runs at a reasonable 7:00, he likes to get going by 5:00; we split the difference. Mike called on Thursday with a work committment that was going to preclude his run. I could have joined the Cruisers at 7:00 but decided to stick to the 6:00 plan since I had already scheduled the rest of my day around that time.
Than plan had originally called for a 22 miler today. When my shin began acting up again, I scaled it back to a 20 miler. This would be my first of two for Tennessee and my first since February 16. Eight months between long runs. I felt like I had to prove to myself that I could actually cover the distance again.
Finishing was my primary goal. Pace and time were secondary. I had set a loose expectation of staying below 10 minute pace. I set my watch for the 7:1 run:walk intervals that I've been using. I also started the chrono but didn't really monitor it. I started off in the dark on a street so I kept the ipod off. Once I hit the beach path and the sun began to rise I turned on the tunes. I've only recently began running the long runs to music and I am actually enjoying it.
I took sips from my bottles at most of my walk breaks. I hit the 10 mile turn around point right at 1:39:21, as close to 10:00 pace as I could hope for. I just hoped I could maintain that, since I hadn't given myself any leeway, but I reminded myself of goal number one to finish.
Once I hit about 13 miles I stared questioning marathons. The half distance is so much easier to do. I wondered (not seriously) if I could adjust my goal to half marathons in half the states. The music became a dominant force in the run during the second half. My playlist had mostly Christian pop/rock but I had added Jackson Browne's Running on Empty as well. The album showed up around mile 13. I hoped the title was not prophetic. I was still feeling pretty good at that point. "You Love the Thunder" has a great beat to run to. A couple of songs later these words in "Load Out/Stay" rang true - we've got the time to think of the one's we love while the miles roll away.
A couple of songs later during mile 15 or so the lyrics were - I'm tired of putting one foot in front of the other. The song "A Breath or Two" by Jimmy Needham is more about the status quo and self centeredness but was appropriate at the time.
Mile 16, my new favorite song came on, "Today is The Day" by Lincoln Brewster. I know I picked up the pace pretty significantly during this one. I debated for a second about keeping it looping but doubted I could keep up the pace for four more miles. It was one of the best four and a half minutes of the run. Although this isn't a subject I normally breach on this blog, I thought I would include a video of the song here.
Along the way I had taken half a packet of gel at mile 10, 13, 15 and 17. Although I was getting pretty tired I stuck to my 7:1 schedule and was pleased beyond pleased at my final time of 3:20:42, a 10:02 pace overall. Darn good after an eight month hiatus. After the banana and the chocolate milk I drove home to start the rest of my day.
Tennessee is lookin' better all the time.