Melrose Running Club Sunday Long Run Week 6
This past year I have been focused on 5K races. In order to get 50 races run in one year I had to stay focused and avoid injury. Sunday Long Runs, marathons and half marathons are not a great way to avoid injury.
I’m near the end of my quest and will be running the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon in October. Since I’ve only been running short distances all summer, I’m not really in half-marathon shape. As such I decided to go out for a run with The Club on Sunday morning.
This week we ran the Winchester Highlands route which is 16.2 miles of hills. Well, not totally hills, but many many hills. We had a large group show up for the 8AM start at Bruegger’s on Main Street in Melrose. Jim Carson went over the course in detail and told us where the water stops would be.
As we stood there listening to Jim the sun beat down on us and we could feel the temperature rising. In my mind I had decided to run the long course, all 16.2 miles even though I haven’t had a long run in several months. I planned to take it easy and just go for the miles.
Water Stop One and Decisions
At our first water stop people were deciding if they would turn back and do the half distance of 8.2 miles or continue on for all 16.2 glorious miles. It was hot and the run was just getting started. Quite a few people decided to continue on for the full 16.2 mile run. I was running with Don Keren and Don is in marathon shape. We decided to run the full course.
We had a nice down hill after the water stop and then the hills began. There were a few people behind us and Don had a map and smart phone. I’m not good with directions but thought we were in pretty good shape.
I didn’t have my watch so I was never sure exactly how far along we were. Somewhere around 10 miles or so I could feel my left knee getting tight. It wasn’t too bad but I knew it would hurt when I got home and on Monday and Tuesday.
A Glorious Day for a Run
The sky was clear and temperatures were in the 80s. The humidity was up there also. Not ideal conditions for my longest run of the year, but I felt great. As we ran up hills I began to focus on my quads and could feel each impact. In my mind I imagined the chemistry going on deep in my muscles. Sugar and oxygen being turned into energy and lactic acid!
I had been telling Don earlier how running a 5K puts a lot of stress on your lungs and heart. You have to run so hard and at times the heart and lungs just can’t keep up with demand.
On a long run or marathon I rarely get out of breath. It’s my legs that feel the stress and strain of the run. Sometimes my hips will ache and all of the flexors will scream out for me to stop immediately or else. Sometimes an Achilles will act up or a knee will get a twinge. Over the years I’ve worked out a lot of these issues and can avoid or manage these flare ups.
Not being in pain or gasping for breath, I paid attention to my body. The feeling of impact and forward motion. The feeling of hot air on my skin. Even the breeze was warm. It was just awesome. I was totally enjoying this run.
I didn’t have any electronics so I couldn’t track speed, distance or heart rate. I could feel my heart beating at a comfortable rate, probably around 150 bpm on most of the run. On the hills it increased to around 175. Well within my comfort zone. I felt relaxed and comfortable.
My shirt was soaked with sweat and I could feel chafing, so I took it off. Pretty unusual for me, but I knew what would happen if I kept it on. Running without a shirt felt even better. I could really feel the heat and the sun now.
We had many interesting conversations on the run and at water stops. At one of our last water stops we had a very interesting conversation that only two women who are runners could initiate. All of the guys participated in said discussion with no apparent discomfort and we all enjoyed the discourse. I participated as well, but wisely said less than I could have.
A few bridges too far
As we headed back the running group thinned out. Many runners were way ahead of us and I don’t think many were behind us. I stayed with Don for the most part but he began to drop back. Tom Gorman was in front of us and I was trying to keep him in sight since I wasn’t sure of the route. Eventually I lost sight of both Tom and Don and had to navigate from memory.
At Flynn Ice Arena in Medford, I almost took a right instead of a left. I made this mistake last year and missed the last water stop. With this memory I went back through the rotary and headed for the water stop in the parking lot of the ice arena.
AJ brought fresh blueberries and strawberries. I had been avoiding carbs so I could burn up my reserves, but at this stop I had to have carbs. Those berries were delicious. Just awesome. The taste of summer. I had a few cups of water and headed off by my self.
I knew where I was going and if I made a wrong turn, I was almost back to the barn anyway. Each little hill was beginning to feel like a wall. After I made the turn down Pond Street in Stoneham I walked a little more. When I had been trying to let Don catch up with my earlier I did some walking also, but now I had to walk.
On the way down the trail by Pond Street I caught up with another runner. I didn’t recognize her, but I must have looked spent and harmless. At this point I was running on fumes. I alternated walking and running down West Wyoming Street and took the short cut behind Main Street. When I got back to Bruegger’s I didn’t even go inside. I had a 30oz sports drink and it was mostly gone before I left the parking lot.
It was great to go out for a long run and spend time with my friends. 16.2 miles was a little long for me but it was a glorious day for a run and I’m glad I ran a few bridges too far.
Run well my friends,
© 2015 andrew nagelin