Friday, December 09, 2005

The Fog Of 18 miles

My fascination for 18 miles continues. It's never treated me right. I sit here in the depleted fog of having risen early for the sole pleasure of shuffling 18.2 miles up and down the streets of Eastport in the dark. My thoughts are fuzzy and my mind unfocused as a cloud of fatigue surrounds me. A huge bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, a box of couscous & 5 apples for lunch along with 2 large coffees minimally aleviate the the symptoms. Why fight it? 18 is not a magic number; it's never liked me, and sometimes I am forced to admit the feeling is mutual:

Oct '04: Mile 18 sits at the top of a very steep hill and I had to concentrate to rise up the hill with as much economy of motion as I could muster....as the race gets hard physically and mentally. I found that physically, short of stopping there isn't any remedy.

Nov '04: Red flag #4 happened right at mile 18.... I tucked in behind him as we zigzagged around a few tight corners and onto a treelined parkway. Then the first "hitch".
Sep '05: Today's workout is the one that is the hardest of all the workouts in the week. It is the dreaded 18 mile mid-week run.... 18 miles seems to be approaching that never-never land of depletion. It's just past the end of the feel good miles...
Oct '05: Bad enough my vacation is over. Bad enough it's another Monday. But doubly bad when I have to run 18 on a Monday....Ugh.
2:58:48. Two hours, fifty eight minutes, and forty-eight seconds. That's how long it took me to wander about town in pursuit of 18.2 miles. I stopped twice at the house to load the woodstove, eat some honey and drink some water. But at 13 degrees & sleepy, I was in shuffle mode.

And that would have been OK. But nooooo..., if something is to go wrong, it will go wrong on the 18 mile day. And that is what happened.

It's hard enough getting up at 4am on the last workday of the week. It's hard enough to deal with my foolishness of overdressing for 13 degree days because I don't want to be "cold" during the 1st 1/2 mile ("uh, what about the other 17.5 miles?" - I forget to ask). It is also hard enough to run 18 miles at the end of the workweek, near the end of the training week, and in the pitch dark. Yet, complain would I not if that was all that was wrong. Today's 18 miler was fraught with the danger of simple things about to go wrong.

First, as I am climbing the hill at mile 4 I spied Eric zooming through the intersection at the top. Not having run with him in a few days, I decided that I'd pick up my pace a little bit and catch him so we can run some miles together. He's not exactly slow these days and it took me a mile to pull up beside him in the blackness. (He didn't suspect company until I said "hello" as I came up from behind). Unfortunately, being one big tender spot these days, the effort to catch him, while not very impressive in terms of speed, made a startling impression on my right calf muscle. The whole exercise of catching Eric only served to slow him down as I pleaded soreness and brought the pace back down to shuffle. He obliged me and we had a nice visit. The calf muscle bothered me the whole way and especially up hills and any sort of pace increase. We ran the next 8 miles together before our courses diverged. The calf really had me down because I had been so careful during the buildup and now to have a possible showstopper making an appearance was disappointing. But then I thought of the faux advice, "Most running injuries are 'underuse' injuries thus cured only by more running". By slowing down the pace, I was able to get the pain to subside and to actually feel at times that the slower pace was sort of a therapeutic massage for the muscle (runner's fantasy?). No matter, I lied to myself enough to keep the clocking running and the legs moving.

So now that I'm shuffling through 18 miles before work on a cold morning, knowing my morning routine at the house is shot because I'm way behind the clock, what else could go wrong? Well, my pants could fall down.

So they did. The 15 year old running pants that are stretched out at the waist and jury-rigged with a string of yarn (only 16 days to Christmas) to hold them up overcame the yarn's best efforts at maintaining moral order and temperature control to hand me yet another classic 18 mile challenge. With 3 miles to go on a glycogen depleting, calf muscle straining, out-of-time shuffling, sleep depriving Friday workout I now had to run "one-arm" as I had to use my other to hold up my pants. This did not help my pace nor my standing in the community.

Imagine the concentration needed to avoid reflexively using the wrong hand to wave to my neighbors as they drive to work.

Training this week:

Mon 15 miles 2:25:09
Tue 10.4 miles 1:32:54
Wed 15.4 miles 2:09:36
Thu 12 miles 1:53:49
Fri 18.2 miles 2:58:48
Sat 10 mile shuffle
Sun 22 miles easy (13 with Steph & Mike)

Good news: Calf muscle feeling much better. Just needed a little ice & Motrin.

5 Comments:

Anonymous woody favinger said...

Nice run, I especially liked your comment about "under-use" injuries. I've always been a firm believer that running more and running slower will cure most injuries. I also just want to say that waking up at 4am is pretty impressive, especially in cold weather. Here in Pullman it's been really cold lately (below 10 with windchill) and it makes running horrible. But I think running in it makes you tougher and more of a badass. Keep up the hardwork.
-Woody Favinger and the Washington State men's XC team.

12/09/2005 7:43 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Talk about adding insult to injury, I can't believe you almost lost your pants! I'm curious which Lydiard book you are going by, if you would like I'd be happy to send the schedules I have (just email me from my blog profile). You might have a good read on the shorter time-trials being marathon pace and the 90 minute runs easy. Still fumbling through for me, almost 21 weeks in! Keep up the good work and good luck hitting 100 next week.

12/09/2005 8:20 PM  
Blogger Dawn - Pink Chick said...

Sorry Andrew, I couldn't help but laugh as I pictured you running and trying to hang onto your pants. With the weight I've been losing lately I hope that doesn't happen to me.

12/10/2005 10:30 PM  
Anonymous tb1 said...

Thanks for the comment you made on Mike's blog about the aerobic being locked in during the coordination phase of Lydiard training. For some reason I left that part out.

12/12/2005 10:43 AM  
Anonymous steph said...

Hee, hee. Very funny. You know duct tape has worked wonders for my cold feet. You should try it on your pants, maybe get another season out of 'em!

Woke up this morning after our wonderful run yesterday and my heels felt GREAT! No drugs or anything. Perhaps you were right about it being an underuse injury.

Now my back is killing me...

12/12/2005 9:56 PM  

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