Sunday, October 18, 2009

Awash in a Sea of Endorphins - A Great 16.4 Mile Run

Today's Long Run was an incredible, inspiring run.  No, I didn't set a new distance record, or run an incredibly fast pace.  I didn't run in a new location, or see any new sights, just the same park, same woods and same trails I run every weekend; still, it felt perfect in just about every way.  It was one of those runs that reminds me why I run.  Not why I started running, but why I continue to run; why I love to run.  I got on the trail at 6:50 AM, about a half hour before sunrise, in the low, pre-dawn light  that comes shortly before the sun breaks the horizon.  It was a perfect fall morning, about 50 degrees, with an invigorating chill in the air.  Starting out, the cool air made the run seem effortless; I was in "the Zone."  Before I realized it, I was at the 5-mile point, enjoying the sight of the sunlight trickling through the trees as the sun slowly rose.  As the sun rose higher, it came with a light, cool breeze that felt so good as I warmed with the increasing miles.

This was my second week of training at a 16.4-mile distance (my longest distance to date).  My formula recently has been to repeat each new distance several times before increasing distance again.  I just wanted to run it more comfortably and a little quicker.  To that end, I started out pushing it a little, and I probably ran near Tempo pace through 8 or 9 miles.  As I started to tire a little, I decided, on this perfect morning, to forget about the time and savor this run for the running, not for the mileage, and not for the time. So, I slowed down a little and just ran by feel, and by instinct, and let everything else take care of itself.  To some extent, the process of training for a marathon can lead to focus on numbers, and sure, one has to pay some attention to the numbers to stay on track.  I have a tendency to get hung up on stats: miles, pace, heart rate, etc.  But on this special morning, this run itself was more important. Slowing down a little resulted in a second wind, and I was able to pick it up in the last couple of miles instead of struggling at the finish.  Felt great.

Back to the numbers: 16.4 miles, 2:53:50, 10.60 pace.  In absolute terms, nothing to brag about, but 3:17 under last week's time...

Sunday evening - Back through the park on bicycle before dinner, 7.4 miles, just to warm up again while still achy from the morning run.  Same concept as a recovery run.

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