Boston Marathon 2018 training continues. This week we an 18 mile Sunday Long run in the cold and rain. Welcome to New England in February!
18 Mile Sunday Long Run
Last week the official long run was 14.3 miles, but I cut it to 10 miles since it was my first long run in weeks. This week we stepped up to 18 miles and I had to give it a go.
On Marathon Monday it’s these long runs that will make or break my day. Shorter runs can help with speed and getting your mileage count up. But it’s these long runs that build cardio-vascular fitness and help carry you to the finish line.
As painful as an 18 or 20 mile long run often is, it’s the price you have to pay to run marathons. I think most people who read this blog understand that you don’t just show up for a marathon and go for a jog.
There’s a lot of hard work and time that goes into getting to the start line and then the finish line.
It was a cold and blustery day
When I woke up I could hear the rain coming down. It was in the forecast, I just didn’t know how heavy the rain was or how low the temperature was.
After I got most of my running gear on I went to the front door to see what things looked like. As soon as I opened the door I could see that it was a light rain and that it was cold and raw out. Nice!
I opted to run in tights and shorts, figuring pants would just soak through and get heavy.
My phone said it was 37° out, but the rain and breeze made it feel much cooler. Garmin said the reel feel temp was 29° and I believe it.
I decided to wear a wool hat instead of a running hat. A running hat brim would keep some rain off of my glasses, but I was more interested in staying warm!
Traffic was light and I got to Bruegger’s in time for a coffee and bagel. I wasn’t hungry at home, but knew I needed to eat something.
The 18 Mile Sunday Long Run
Like a dummy I never looked at the map for today’s run. As Jim Carson explained it to the crowd, I realized I knew this course by heart.
We had about 35 runners even on a cold and blustery February day. Usually the combination of long distance and shitty weather keeps people home. Not today.
My buddy Don Keren and I ran the first 9 miles together. Don ran The Everglades 50K last weekend and was still in his recovery phase.
My knees are still bothering me so I was more than happy to run a reasonable pace with Don.
We ran up Main Street Melrose to The Fellsway up to Breakheart Reservation in Saugus for the first water stop.
After a slow first mile we did 9:11 for miles two and three. Miles four and five were in Breakheart and we had to deal with all of those hills. Both miles were around 10:20.
The next three miles back down the Fellsway to Main Street Saugus were all around 9:45. The Nine-mile water stop was at Wakefield High. At this point Don peeled off to head home and I headed out for the second half of my soggy slog.
The 9 miles home
I knew exactly where I was going so I didn’t have any concerns about getting lost. I knew there were some rolling hills but nothing like we had in Breakheart. At the water stop I took a gel and that helped re-energize me. Mile 9 came in at 9:09 and the next two miles were both under 9:00.
Miles 12 through 17 were under 9:47. Not great but my knee was acting up and I was beyond the range of any run in the past few months. It was to be expected.
At mile 18 I had to walk. This was a training run and there wasn’t a gold medal waiting for me or anyone else at the end. I was exhausted, sore and cold and wet. A splendid combination.
Probably around mile 16 I started bargaining with my self. I kept thinking of UMaine’s Coach John Winkin. In addition to being a very successful baseball coach at Maine he was also an avid runner.
Many times I would see him jogging on the roads near the UMaine campus. He often wore what looked like a cotton warm-up suit and never looked like he was running. When I was at Maine he was in his late 60s and looked trimmer than most students.
I kept telling myself to run like Coach Winkin, slow and steady. If he could do it at 65+, it would get a youngster like me home!
When my knee hurt I thought about Lindsey Vonn. I’ve been watching the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics for the past two weeks. It’s easy to get inspired by many of these athlete’s stories. No one gets to The Olympics by being born rich or pretty. No one gets to The Olympics without hard work, sacrifice and enduring a lot of pain at times.
Lindsey seems to have endured more pain than many, but she still gets out there and lays it all on the line for every run down those slopes.
I don’t have Team USA, a slew of medical professionals behind me or Lindsey’s level of motivation.
But I do have my level of motivation. A level of motivation that has gotten me to the finish line on Boylston Street seven times. I’m not a World Class athlete, but I know what needs to be done to succeed at my level.
So with Coach Winkin and Lindsey Vonn to inspire me, I bargained with my self to get to the next intersection. There were a few times when I had to walk. There were times when I jogged like Winkin.
With all of that, mile 17 came in at 9:47 and mile 18 came in at 12:10. It took me 2:55 to run 18 miles for an average pace of 9:43. If this were a marathon I have no doubt that the last 8.2 miles would all have been 12 minute miles.
Fortunately this was a training run and I have six more weeks of training.
Run well my Friends!