This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Saturday's Long Run

Tim and a 'piddly' five miles (his words, not mine) and I had a 'taper' run of eight miles. Next Saturday is my 20K.

I was wondering how my legs would feel after a day of not running. I did "swim" Friday but swims the day before my long run seem to make my legs stronger rather than more tired. I just have to make it to the poll. :-)

Tim and I started out together into Umstead, from Old Reedy Creek (ORC). It's pretty much an immediate uphill, then a slight up to a place we call Overlook, then it gets hilly. But the end is the bomb, because you then go down the slight up and downhill. This is where most runners get their runner's high -- at least I do...almost every time I run it, so it's a great way to end the run.

BUT, in order to end there, one has to go through all the crappy hills. And I was trying hard not to think about what I had to look forward to, which was even more difficult since my iPod is still out of service. It was just me and mother nature...and my OCD brain counting.

Weather was excellent and when Tim ran ahead of me, I enjoyed my surroundings. It was so beautiful that I stopped for a second to take a picture of the trail. This is approaching Overlook from ORC:

My run at umstead today... on TwitPic

I had a brisk pace - in the 9s - during the run. But it felt strenuous and I started thinking about next week's race. Doubt sets in.

I start thinking about the route. It's very hilly in the beginning and the very idea of those hills burning my legs, as I was feeling throughout my run at Umstead, was daunting. How can I fare those hills again?

When the trail leveled out, I thought about the American Tobacco Trail portion of the race. It's pretty flat...I thought: okay, I think I can keep pace during the flat part. But again, the negative thoughts seep into my brain: but by that time, my legs will be burned out from the hills of the first half! I'm doing eight now and my legs are working way too hard for my comfort. How can I add four-plus more and hit sub-2?

Stop thinking. Stop thinking. I'm just going to do what I can do.

Back to my long run. My route was four miles out, then turn around and run back. Four miles out ended up being on the tail end of the "S" hill. As you can imagine, it's a winding hill, and from the direction I started, it would be on the decline. Thus, I had to turn around and run UP the "S" hill.

And I did it. I kept my head straight down to the ground, the bill of my cap blocking what was ahead, and just concentrated on running up while repeating "suck it up. suck it up. suck it up." with each step.

I got through that and then, more hills. I got close to passing one dude when I noticed cemetary hill in the future. I wanted to take a pic of this too, but I didn't want to move anything except my feet. I did it again: head down, just start running.

But before this, I had been toying with the idea of walking up the hill, as I would still have three miles to go afterwards. And then the debate in my head happens: don't wuss out. You will love knowing you ran up the hill after you finish. But my legs are tired. Don't be an ego-maniac. Just walk and make this run enjoyable.

So I decided to be an ego-maniac and run up the hill. Head down and just count my way up to the hill. It seemed like minutes when I finally looked up and noticed I was only half way up cemetary hill. I took about six more trots when I said "screw it" and just walked the remainder of the hill.

That mile ended up being in the 10s and with a few more lumpy hills, I reach Overlook and I know it's home free. So I booked, with two miles to go. And it wasn't _that_ easy, it was great. I was booking and I thought: I am running fast, with two miles to go. I have to remember this for my race. For any race. I have enough in me to run fast my last two miles.

This would have been the time I needed more runners going in the same direction. I remember similar runs, where I take this route and find my fast pace, and end up passing people. I love it. But I was solo, although I passed many runners going the other way, who seemed to be surprised to see someone going fast. I even said hello in between my pants. I was so happy. And I was close to done.

Tim had rock blaring from the minivan as I approached the end. I was thankful that he had parked right at the end of the I40 overpass. I finished strong, as my coach often asks me to do.


  1. Sounds like a great run, and you should feel great that you finished so strongly. I also love that downhill portion on the way back to the I-40 overpass since it gives you some payback for having endured. Have you ever started at the Dynasty end of the Greenway, run to ORC, and then on to the Overlook? It gets rid of the hills and let's you pick up the pace when you'd rather run fast than chug up the hills.

  2. yes, i have done the dynasty to ORC into Umstead. I just assumed that four miles from ORC wasn't going to be _that_ hilly. I think I figured it out once I got close to Graylyn and I was like: hmmm...this is not going to be good no matter what I choose. I was trying to stick to an entirely soft surface as my shins and calves have been achey.