The Road to Boston continues with week 9 of our Sunday Long Run Program, SLR.
We are starting to get into some serious mileage as we approach the two-thirds point of our fifteen week program. This week we ran 16 miles which is the shortest distance we will run until we start to taper during week 14.
Anyone who isn’t ready to run a full marathon is beginning to feel it on these progressively longer runs. And I count myself amongst those feeling it each week. Last week I managed 12.6 miles running and a bit of walking to get to 12.9 miles out of a run that was supposed to be 18.1 miles.
Starting the Road to Boston Week 9
Over the past week I only ran four miles on Tuesday night and that was a bit of a challenge. On Wednesday night, my PT suggested a knee brace and did a search to show me a few examples.
Saturday I went to the local Dick’s Sporting Goods and bought a Shock Doctor Level 3 knee brace. Level 1 is basically a compression sleeve but level three has Velcro straps and hinges. I’ve seen people wearing things like this before, and it looked pretty serious.
I wore it around the house Saturday to get a feel for it and make sure I knew how to wear it. On Sunday morning I strapped it on and headed for Melrose.
We had a small crew on this frigid February morning. The snow that fell Saturday was still on the ground Sunday with the temperature holding around 20 degrees. This was our coldest or second coldest day for the Sunday Long Run.
I started out slowly as usual, to see how the brace would feel on my knee in real world use. It didn’t feel too bulky or restraining like I thought it would. So far so good.
As we ran down Main Street I chatted with a few people but ended up running most of the distance by myself. I used to run at the end of the fast group. Now I’m running a bit ahead of the slower group.
By the time we reached our first water stop at about 3.7 miles, I knew my knee was not ready for 16 miles. I wasn’t sure how many miles I could go. But I took a Honey Stinger, some Gatorade and was on my way.
While I’m familiar with this route, we ran it three weeks ago, I also know there are lots of turns and that I always miss one when I’m on my own.
So, my goal was to keep someone in my sight as much as possible.
There’s Pain in Them Thar Hills
Running hills isn’t usually painful. It can be tough and it can be challenging, but it’s usually not painful.
When you are training with an injury, the first step of a run can be painful. Add some major incline and now you are talking pain.
After our water stop we ran down hill for about a half mile. As I’ve mentioned before, the pounding from running down hill can be more challenging than running up hill. And at the bottom of our hill was another long uphill.
I was happy to have someone in front of me so I didn’t miss any turns. He kept getting father away, but I did my best to keep him in sight.
To cut a bit off of my run I skipped a side road we always take and continued up Highland Ave in Winchester. I’m not sure that I saved my legs any as Highland is one long hill.
The map that we had for this week had two short cuts that we could use if we needed to. I printed the map, but it was wrapped up with a bunch of other stuff in a zipped up pocket. So like a real runner, I just kept on running to the next water stop.
If you look closely at the map below, you can see the dotted lines where the short cuts are.
The water stop was at the bottom of the hill where Highland runs into Rt. 38 in Winchester. I had found the pain in the hills of the Winchester Highlands. And I still had miles to run before I could stop.
I had another Honey Stinger and more Gatorade. The guy I was following headed out a bit before I was ready, but I managed to keep him in sight. And then someone else came up and passed me.
Finishing the Road to Boston Week 9
As we ran through Winchester Center my knee was a constant level 5 of pain. I knew that it hurt but I was in that frame of mind where I kept pushing it out of my consciousness.
How do you ignore pain? This ability may seem magic. Who wouldn’t want to be able to do that?
During a long race, you have to put the pain out of your mind. It’s the only way to run through it and keep going. Even the most elite marathon runners will tell you that they feel pain when they are running a marathon race.
Races are different than training runs and the level of pain you can tolerate is different. I don’t remember who but one runner said, “it’s a matter of how much you want it”. During a race we all want “it”, what ever that means at that moment in time.
Running miles 8 and 9 through Winchester Center and climbing the hill out was challenging. It was around this point when I realized I had entered that zone. It’s not that the pain isn’t there it’s just that it’s 2nd or 3rd on the list of things the old brain is working on.
Number 1 was keeping the guy in front of my in sight. I knew we were headed back to the first water stop. But even the guy in front of me stopped at two intersections to get his bearings. My “it” was not getting lost.
At the water stop I finally looked at the map and decided to use the second short cut on the map. Instead of running 16 miles I ran 13.1 miles. I basically cut 5K off of this long run.
As I ran down West Wyoming towards Main Street in Melrose two other guys on this long run passed me. They were running at a pretty good clip and they looked strong. A quick word of encouragement kept me running even as the road turned up.
You might just as well run a Half Marathon
When I got to my car, Lee Romprey was there changing up after his run. I told him I ran 12.89 and he said I’d be crazy not to jog around the parking lot to get in a half marathon distance.
Part of me just wanted to go home. But when he said, “you’ll feel so accomplished running a half”, I knew he was right.
So like an old shot up bomber trailing smoke from both engines, I jogged an additional .21 miles with a great deal of effort. And I stuck the landing!
While I was truing up my half marathon distance Matt Kerton rolled in. He had run the full 16 miles and seemed to be in pretty good shape. He did have a few icicles in his beard and kind of looked like Jack Frost!
I hung out with the guys for a bit and celebrated my “half marathon.” Lee was right. It felt pretty good to go the distance and not settle on a random number because I was beat.
This really was a mind over reality run. My knee was at level 5 most of the run and spiked up to 7 or so a few times. But when you are miles from your car or anyone else’s car, what are you going to do? Call Uber?
Run well my Friends
2 thoughts on “Road to Boston SLR 9”
Wow, great job with that knee!
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