Lost and battle scarred 18 miler yesterday morning [warning: pictures]

Bloody knee at the end of the run

It's been a while since I've taken a spill during a run...  seems like it's been a year and a half since my last fall, and almost 5 years since one similar in nastiness to this one, and that one was at mile 2 of a 10 mile race.

There I was, lost in a neighborhood close to Highview, on the edge of Fern Creek.  I had begun this planned 18 miler unsure if I could finish any more than 10 miles.

My first 5 miles were a familiar route that I've used before for 7 to 23 milers, part of an out-and-back route that makes an intentionally indirect weaving path through a neighborhood close to the Gene Snyder Freeway that forms the outer access belt of the county. It's a sidewalk and low-traffic neighborhood route that usually provides 6.8 filler miles in my wanderings through southeast Louisville. I've also used the route to the point that I pretty much hate it--more so than the treadmill.

And so, at mile 5, I needed a different route to keep going. I started veering off toward a route on the other side of Bardstown Rd., thinking that I'd just add a few miles off the busy street before continuing on my more regularly used route.

However, on my diverted route, I decided to explore a street I had never been through before. The first street of the diversion was easy enough to remember, but then I came across a nice little loop road that continued on to another neighborhood.  I took the loop road and then exited to another set of roads.

On my way back, I got back on the loop road and tried to find my way back--making at least two loops in the process. Once I finally found my way back to the street I started with, I was mentally fatigued from realizing that I was lost. As I went down the sidewalk on the road back, I didn't notice that there was an unevenness in the sidewalk, and tripped and went for a nice flop onto the concrete.

Because of the cold, the landing on the ground was a dulled shock to the system. I had shake off the cobwebs and force myself up off the ground. Somehow, that spill around mile 10 challenged my ego enough to get me through another 8 miles that were originally in doubt.

It took me a couple of blocks to get moving with any rhythm again, and my leg strength was weakened by the fall. Those last 8 miles were rough and hilly, but the fall somehow made me determined to finish the planned 18--I just couldn't quit because of a little fall.

I'm sure anyone who saw me those last few miles (including several runners) were probably horrified by the looks of the wound. Of course, the wound cleaned up in the shower into a tiny little scrape, but I'm glad that the skin on the knee doesn't seem to feel as much some other areas.

18 miles in 2:55:57

Bloody knee after cleaning

 

Do not try this at home.

I was aiming for 16 miles today, and planned to get moving as close to 5:30 as possible.

Instead, I intentionally disabled my 5:30 alarm at 5:15 and then woke up just before my 6:30 alarm. I ate one of those Little Debbie Brownie things for pre-run fuel. Awful nutrition, I know, but I didn't have any gels, so this brownie-like substance was going to burn off quickly.

I sat in the dark quietly feigning hamstring stretches, but I was really trying to buy time to wake up. Ever since my injury and subsequent backing off of double run days, I've struggled to wake up in the morning. I strangely miss the exhaustion.

On my way out, I did my usual run from Fairground Rd southbound on Bardstown Rd for a 3.4 mile segment that I double-back on for every run over 15 miles. Every once in a while, I come out on to Seatonville Rd and follow it over I-265 and out Broad Run until there is no longer enough shoulder width for safety.

Today, I decided to head down that path at about 2 miles into my run. The problem with improvising is that the end of the run WILL be full of surprises. This time, I passed up Broad Run and continued on Seatonville until Billtown Rd, intent on making a single loop without any scenery repeats.

I've seen a couple runners on Billtown Rd in areas with a decent shoulder, but cars go 60 mph down this 2-lane road with a soft or non-existent shoulder. They're crazy.

Today, I was one of the crazy ones. I found that there are 1/4 mile stretches where thick weeds consume the shoulder and pose a huge tripping risk. I was also more disturbed by two dead animals than usual. This was probably a once in a lifetime adventure, but I feel I empathize with cyclists much more now.

I also managed to run through the Gaslight Festival booths which were set up and just opening up at 8:30 am. Watterson Trail and Taylorsville Road in this area are generally not runnable roads, but have sidewalks in exchange. Due to the booths, I found that I had to run down the middle of the roads. Nothing all that unusual for me, except for the fact that this was probably the first time I had ever barreled down the middle of a road and not been in a race.

Since I had made most of my loop thus far on main roads, I committed myself to following as much of the main roads as I usually use for the rest of the loop, instead of cutting across neighborhood roads. This added about 2 miles to my course today. While I would have been short without doubling back somewhere along the way, I ran out of steam past 15.5 miles, do to fuel and general lack of training recently.

Results: 17.66 miles in 2:53:56 [ 9:51 / mile ]

Guess my 20 miler time: I ran 6.29 miles in the first hour + highest mileage week in a year.

This was not a set up for a good long run today:

  • I had a mid-back spasm in the first mile of my 5-miler yesterday morning that was still bothering me this morning. [Managed to fight for a 9'22" pace yesterday]
  • The first hour of the run didn't break 9:30 pace, the second hour was still about 9:12 pace.
  • It poured rain for at least the hour of my run this morning, making my shoes incredibly heavy until the water mostly emptied after about 12 miles.
  • I was wrapping up my highest mileage week in a year--75 miles--after 70 miles last week.
  • I was wrapping up my highest mileage month ever [312 miles].
  • I had two gels for a 20-miler [I usually use at least 3, but I take 5]
  • My last two 20-milers together averaged well over 10 minutes per mile, but my target was sub-9 [under 3 hours for 20].

The results were considerably better than expected.  I stopped for a potty break before mile 10, but also had to fight through running on the side of Hurstbourne Parkway that didn't have a sidewalk.  No, I didn't run on the road; I ran in the un-mowed uneven weeds at were at times knee-high.

My first 6 miles were okay, but slower than I expected, at a 9:34 pace.

My second 6 miles were more respectable, at a 9:15 pace.

It was at the 2 hour mark that I decided:  I only had 7.2 miles to go, and 8:20 [7.2 mph] is a comfortable "cruising" pace for me. Therefore, I should be able to finish in 3 hours.  At that point, my mental will recovered from 4 months of not caring and leaving my legs with no support.  Not only did I hit three hours, but I also had sub-8 splits a couple of times in the last hour.

Negative 6-mile splits
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Is it a bad sign to see vultures circling on your run?

Turkey Vulture
Image by TexasEagle via Flickr

I saw 5-6 turkey vultures today on my run at mile 5 1/2 [on Broad Run Road]. Before I realized that were swooping down on your garden variety roadkill, the sight of them evoked some disturbing [in a funny way] thoughts.

Of course, then, I started thinking that squirrels on Seatonville Road and Broad Run Road must not be as good at dodging cars as on the other roads on my route.  Then, I started wondering what I'm doing running on roads that so many squirrels have recently met their demise on.

Maybe I should go back to running with music on roads and sidewalks that are "safe".  I clearly have too much time to think on my long runs.

This was my longest continuous run in about 2 months.  Every single run since [including my Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon DNF] has had more than one long pitstop or a prolonged walk break.  And so, a 15 mile non-stop long run is my longest run in at least two months.  I can't completely confirm that my 20-mile long run through Iroquois Park and UofL were continuous runs either, but I know that there weren't many places that I could have stopped.

The pace for today's run was a 9'31"/mile average pace, which is about 50 seconds slower than I would have liked, but I'd rather be in one piece for my next long run than hit some time goal on a training run 5 months from my goal marathon.

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Progressive Long Run (16 miles) while watching the game #twit2fit #running

One of the things that's great about football season is that you can easily do a long run on the treadmill while watching the game.  I did mine today at home on my Sole F80 at a 1% incline (watching the UofL-UK game).

I've been doing my long runs at a progressive pace, starting moderately slowly (easy/recovery pace) and ending close to my tempo run pace.

Today, I started at 6.0 mph, or a 10'00" pace for the first mile, speeding up 0.1 mph for every successive mile.  This put the last mile of my 16 mile long run @ 7.5 mph, or 8'00" pace.  For the last mile, I also ran a couple "strides" in the last half mile at about 6'00" to 6'15" pace.

My entire run:  16 miles in 2:22:22, or average 8'54"/mile pace.

RunningAHEAD - Strings_n_88keys's log: View Workout.

I ran 15 miles at sub-9 pace the hard way #running #twit2fit

(and on the treadmill at 11pm)

I decided that I'd do a progressive workout, starting @ 6.0 mph (10'00") and going to 7.4 mph (8'06"?), by 0.1 mph increments per mile.  I have the speed to run 6'30" intervals, but I'm still hesitant to push for a sub-9 pace long run.

I started off in fits and starts as my splits were pauses stepping off the treadmill:

  • 1.5 miles in 14:55 (6.0 and 6.1 mph - average 9'57")
  • 2.59 miles in 40:03 (6.1-6.3 mph - average 9'43")
  • 11 miles in 1:34:14 (6.4-9.2 mph - average 8'34") - Ok, so the last two miles the treadmill got to me and I ran a 7'30" mile for mile 14 and ran mile 15 at between 6'36" and 6'48" pace.  What I felt in my legs was that I still had a comfortable sub-7 pace after 14 miles.

Why this weird progression?

First...  I get bored on the treadmill, and need to break up the workout to hit "milestones".

More importantly, I thought a progressive pace might help coax that speed out of my long runs again.  I did quite a bit of this when I was training for Flying Pig last year and was stuck on the treadmill for my long runs due to working weekends.  Between these sessions and the progressive race distances of 5k, 10k, and 10 miles of the Louisville Triple Crown of Running every other weekend 5-8 prior to the Flying Pig Marathon, I found an optimal speed and endurance training regimen.

RunningAHEAD - Strings_n_88keys's log: View Workout.

Negative splits on my 18 miler (streak day 92) #twit2fit

Last week, I ran a 16 miler in which I never got my legs under me.   My expected easy/long run pace is roughly 9:30 per mile, but I'm okay with 10 minute miles given the warmer weather. My result was a 10:19 pace for 16 miles, with the last few miles being a struggle to stay under 11 minutes.

This week's run started off slow (10:30 1st, 10 minutes for each of the next four miles). Starting about mile 8, I started hitting my stride, and finished with a nice, comfortable 9:42 average pace for the 18 mile run -- 2:54:43 for 18.03 miles.

Last weeks' run was roughly the same conditions as this weeks, but I made a few adjustments to get me a negative split (first half/second half):
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Change 1:
Two Fridays in a row with brutal afternoon conditions (~100'F Heat Index). Last week, I ran a 5-miler on Iroquois Hill in that nastiness. This week, I ran a 4.25 mile 2% treadmill run yesterday. Hydration and muscles were much better today.

Change 2:
Added the Camelbak Elixir electrolytes tabs this week... they're lemon-lime flavored with electrolytes but no sugar to mess up the Camelbak liner:

Change 3:
Last week was probably the first run in which I really needed to take in extra sugar before or during the run. I didn't take anything with me, and had to end up taking a detour to Wal-Mart (the gas station part) at mile 11 to get some orange juice.

This week, I got some Strawberry Banana GU and took them at miles 2.5, 6, 10.5, and 14. My normal pick is the Powerbar brand gels, but I thought I'd try the GU since it's a bit thicker. (By the way, this flavor was one of the nastiest gel flavors I've used of any brand, but it did the trick)

Course map:

RunningAHEAD - Strings_n_88keys's log: View Workout.

Almost a perfect 12-mile loop through Fern Creek/J-Town #twit2fit

12 miles, 1:55:06 (9:36/mile), 10 straight weeks running.

This was my longest run in almost 5 months.  I didn't get to start bright and early when the day is the coolest.  I didn't run in a public park today (not even through Vettiner).  I didn't run across anyone else who was running, and virtually no one was walking, either.  Plus, traffic had already picked up for a Saturday and I had chosen to run along Stonybrook all the way to Galene and Six Mile Ln.  I couldn't find a public restroom on my route (well I was on the wrong side of the road for KFC and didn't try El Nopal).  I had intermittent pains that threatened to stop me at any moment.

Nevermind all that.  This run was perfect.  Sure, I ran a 23 mile long run last year at a pace 80 seconds per mile faster.  Sure, I don't feel 100% healthy still.  However, today was a beautiful day; I knocked out a few more running crutches; and, more importantly, I finished.

Oh, and I almost found a perfect loop for a 12-miler between Fern Creek and J-town:

RunningAHEAD - Strings_n_88keys's log: View Workout.