Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fastest 14...and Valerie's First 10

With Surf City only two weeks away, you would think Valerie and I would be sticking very close to our training routine. However, Valerie has to travel for work tomorrow morning, so she needs to move her long run up a day. She is particularly concerned about how her week long trip will affect her training because she will not have any time to workout...so she wants to do her first 10 miler today (longer than what is recommended on her half marathon training schedule).

I am shifting my run because Valerie claims to need my encouragement. I have mapped an out-n-back that will allow me to stay with her for the first half of her run, but with a desirable extension so I can get my scheduled total. We are driving to start near the beach so that the route mimics the expected amount of elevation change she will experience during her half marathon. At the very least, this should give her a better idea of what kind of pace she is capable of achieving.

I am not used to skipping my short, fast run...which usually gives a pace boost to the subsequent long steady distance workout. My legs have been feeling the accumulation of distances since my peak training week. Thursday, in particular, felt a bit rough.

We run down from the parking lot to the bike path and continue along RAT Beach to the Redondo Beach Pier. I start slow, not just so Valerie can keep me in view, but also because my legs are a bit stiff. When I reach the pier (exactly 2 miles into the run), Valerie is not far behind and looking strong. I stop to take a photo of her. She does not stop...even though she doesn't exactly know where we are going.

I finally catch up to her again as the bike path turns right through the pier's parking lot. I yell to her, motioning her to join me. I prefer to run on the sidewalk just outside of the lot (partly because the GPS does not function properly within the parking structure). We continue our run past Kincaids, around the International Boardwalk, and down Harbor Drive. I wait for Valerie to catch up to me at Herondo. Again, she is not far behind and still looking strong.

I lead Valerie to the dirt trail that becomes Veterans Parkway and tell her I will stop at the 1 1/2 mile marker (which should be our five mile mark...and her turnaround point). No longer needing to give Valerie directions, I do not need to hold back. My legs feel loose now and my joints appreciate the softer surface. Time to up my pace.

I reach the 1 1/2 mile marker and take photos while I wait for Valerie to catch up. When she does arrive, she stops across the intersection from me. Apparently her Garmin already claims she reached 5.0 miles. My Garmin hit 5.0 exactly at the marker. Whatever. I walk back across the street, take a few photos of her, and check her watch. She is maintaining a steady pace faster than ten minutes per mile. If she can keep this up, she will easily finish her 10 miler before I can complete 14.

Valerie turns back and I press forward. I feel particularly good as I continue through Hermosa into Manhattan Beach. I am kinda surprised that I have felt no ill side effects of having consumed a Behemoth from the Grill 'Em All Truck during yesterday's lunch. Not once. I mean, here's a sandwich comprised of two full-sized grilled cheese sandwiches as the buns for a generous sized hamburger patty (with bacon, beer soaked onions, pickels, and sauce thrown in for good measure)...shouldn't some of this tasty monstrosity still be residing somewhere in my gut? Now I am starting to wonder if I have found the perfect pre-race food.

I reach my turnaround point at the 3 1/2 mile marker. I feel good enough to continue all the way to Fry's, but realize I do not need the extra distance. Swapping my long and short days has already disrupted my scheduled weekly distance totals...and puts this seven day period dangerously close to my peak training week (just one week earlier). I stick to the plan.

As I start back through Hermosa Beach, I realize I need to pee. I do not want to stop running now as I have really hit my stride. A quick glance at my pace suggests I could break my half marathon PR today. I figure I can hold out at least until I pass the restrooms around the International Boardwalk.

I decide to make that pit stop. Before continuing, I review my run history. I am still on track to beat my best half marathon time...and, if i can maintain my pace, by a surprisingly significant amount. That said, my legs are starting to tighten up...and I am feeling a blister that has been on the ball of my right foot for the past week. I must get moving!

After passing the Redondo Beach Pier, I run up George Ferth Way to the pedestrian path that overlooks the strand. Fearing the incline and path have killed my pace, I attack the stairs at Knob Hill. I skip every other step with barely a break in my stride, but am terribly winded by the time I reach the Esplanade. I have less than a half mile to go to reach my half marathon split, so I decide to consume what energy I have left to see how much lower I can set my PR.

I cross the 13.11 mark at 1:41:47...pausing to celebrate / record my victory and catch my breath. My previous best was in the 1:43's with gravity assistance, so this shows significant improvement...and suggests that, despite starting my marathon training a bit late, I may yet have a chance to PR at Surf City. I start wondering if I might catch Valerie before she finishes her 10 miler.

Having achieve this unexpected result, the rest of my run is gravy. Rather than continue to push, I just let my legs go as fast as they feel running. I finish the 14 miler with a 7:44/mi average pace...far faster than I figured I would have run today. I would have been happy with a flat 8.

I drive up to my mom's house to meet up with Valerie. She reached mom's just 10 minutes before me, completing her 10 miler in 1:38:23. Her average pace of 9:49/mi is faster than most of the runs she has ever attempted (at least those I have record of...because she may have run faster on Maui while I was wearing her watch). It is hard to believe this is her first 10 miler. I am so proud of her!

My data

Valerie's data

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