Saturday, March 24, 2012

Building character on the Bethpage trail

Today's run (Bethpage State Park): 9.1 miles

Today is supposed to be the better weather day this weekend, so I headed to Bethpage this morning for my long base run. It was tough week in the office, and I addressed my sleep debt by getting eight full hours last night. I hoped the extra rest would carry me through what would be my longest run (so far) this year.

Although I have a brand new pair of Saucony Kinvara 3's sitting in a box, I decided to do today's run with the Spiras. I didn't want to discover any fit problems with the Kinvaras that I'd need to endure throughout the bulk of my run. Still, I was concerned that I'd have a recurrence of chafing at the back, along the Achilles, that I'd experienced last weekend.

Bethpage's lot had many more cars than usual, probably because it was the first weekend of Spring. I also arrived an hour later than I usually do, owing to my later wake-up time this morning. As I made my way through the initial hills, I saw numerous runners along the way, most of them heading north to the start of the bike trail. The Syosset Cross Country boys team were running hill repeats on the big hill and it reminded me of when I did that last year to prepare for the town of Oyster Bay Supervisor's 5K.

There must have been forty high school age runners on the path today, I kept seeing them coming from the other direction at different points in my run. They all looked strong and fast and I was glad they weren't going my way because it would have been humiliating to be passed dozens of times. Surprisingly, I was only passed a couple of times today.

I knew I was in for a better experience than last Saturday's because I still felt plenty strong at the Southern State crossover that led into the Massapequa Preserve. I came up behind a couple of runners that I hoped would pace me a little, but I ended up passing them because they were running a little too slow. I U-turned after covering four and a half miles and prepared for the second half of my run.

I had no issues with the back of my heel today but I did have some chafing problems with my small toe on my right foot. It got fairly uncomfortable, but I didn't stop because I knew there wasn't any quick fix for it. As much as I like the Spira's I'm noticing some small fit issues that come out on longer runs.

Despite the foot issue, I felt very strong throughout the run. It seemed to take little time to get to the seven mile mark today. I didn't take any anything for an energy boost and only sipped on a little water late in the run. At Bethpage, the last two miles is what I call the "character-building" phase of the run. There are some smaller rises and some steep short sections, with a few downhills to balance it out. But, inevitably, the last hill awaits. There's no escape.

Despite arriving at the 8.5 mile point, I still had good energy as I made my way uphill and I even passed another runner on that section. The best part of the bike trail is the short, steep downhill that leads to the parking lot. I embraced it fully today and carried my run an additional tenth mile back to my car.

So despite missing a couple of morning runs this week, I feel on track for my Half Marathon training. Next weekend I may need to do my long run on Sunday so I can get in some speed work on Saturday. Before the LI Half is the Marcie Mazzola 5K. I'm hoping that a good base and some fast twitch activation will yield a decent time for that race.

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