Saturday, October 31, 2009

The toughest seven miles so far

Last week's relay had me thinking a lot about both my potential and limits for distance running. This weekend's NY Marathon has me thinking a lot about the fact that around 40,000 runners will start that race on Sunday morning. I don't think runners need to qualify for NY like they do for Boston but I suspect that most people who go through the process of signing up (there's a lottery that limits the number of entrants) probably have designs of at least finishing the race. That's a lot of people who can run 26.2 miles in a single day, usually within 4.5 hours. During last week's Cape Cod Marathon relay I was observing the marathon runners (who could be differentiated from we relay runners by the color of their numbers). When I resumed the race for my second leg at mile nine I looked for signs of fatigue amongst those committed to the full course. I couldn't imagine needing to cover another 17 miles (I got to roll off after 5.7) and I wondered what goes through the head of person who knows they'll be running for three, four or more hours without stopping. I guess it all comes down to expectations and conditioning. I knew after my 9 miles last Sunday that even doing 13.1 would be a struggle. As for running 26.2 miles in one shot? Unlikely.

All the same I really do want to break the ten mile barrier so upon AG's suggestion I decided to focus one weekend day on distance and location and the other on either speed or recovery. In terms of location, the idea is to get out of the neighborhood and see more interesting things than houses and cars. I headed over to Bethpage State Park that has long paved bike paths, trails and a cross-country course that overlaps through soccer fields and (possibly) golf courses. When I arrived I saw numerous yellow buses and groups of high school age students running in packs. There was some sort of XC meeting happening so I decided to head to the bike paths because the crowds seemed to be avoiding those. The entrance to bike trails starts with a steep but short hill and I felt fine through the first few miles of rolling hills. I'd decided to run about 30-40 minutes in one direction and head back at that point. The first 3.5 miles were fairly easy despite some frequent hills at the beginning. Most of the rest was either level or downward-sloping. I appreciated that in the moment but dreaded the hills for the return. I passed most runners that I encountered on my southern leg but on the way back I was passed by three very fit (and friendly) runners, one of whom I encountered again upon his out-and-back as I was coming in near the finish.

I averaged 9:20 for the first half and 9:40 for the return, covering 7.1 miles around 9:30/mile. With all those hills I was happy to make the pace that I did and I was exhausted from the workout. As far as being able to cover 10 miles in single run I still have work to do. When the time comes to tackle that distance I hope the route is less challenging than today's tough run.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments that promote or link to commercial products will be swiftly deleted.


blogger templates | Webtalks