Saturday, October 24, 2009
A Poignant Last Long Run in a Wonderful Park? (And a New Distance Milestone: 18.2 Miles)
I had mixed emotions while running my weekly Long Run in the park. It was another great run, on a perfect morning for running, crisp and cool, 49° at 6:30 AM. I'm moving to Beaumont, TX next week, 60 miles away, so this is probably my last Long Run in this park. I like Beaumont, and there are some nice parks there, but running today in this park brought back so many memories. In this park, I was born as a runner. Here, I evolved from a walker/hiker to an occasional runner, to a dedicated runner. In this park, I ran my first continuous 2 miles in 2005. I remembered how good I felt completing my first 6 mile run here on July 2, 2008. I run the streets in my neighborhood on weekday mornings before work, and run in the park on weekend mornings. However, the weekday runs are mostly for routine base mileage, while my distance runs, my milestone runs, my long, sweltering summer runs, and my great, inspiring runs have been in this park. My original schedule was to repeat at 16 miles a third week today before increasing again, but decided to try for 18 miles today to leave this park on a new distance milestone.
I ran with these thoughts through about 9 miles, and as I lapped the start of the trail, Mike was just starting his run. I've run with Mike occasionally, when we happen to get on the same part of the trail at the same time. Mike's a strong runner and a quick runner (compared to me); he's an experienced multi-marathoner and races at or under 8 minute pace. He's currently building his mileage back up to run the Houston Marathon again in January. I told Mike I was trying to finish up at 18, and he paced me the rest of the way. That was really nice, because he wasn't going to run that far today; he's been doing his long runs on Sundays. We talked as we ran, and Mike always has a lot of good training tips. Having someone to pace against helped me stay in a good rythmn for the rest of the run, and amazingly, I didn't struggle too much in the latter miles. The only negative: I got a little side stitch in the last half mile that really slowed me down. I don't know where that came from; I never get a stitch!
A good run, a new personal distance milestone, 18.2 miles, 3:14:28, 10.68 pace. Hollaway Park, I will miss you.