Last Saturday represented the watershed moment of my Vermont KeyBank City Marathon training – a 20 mile run. I was either going to run the 20 and feel good about my chances on May 27 or descend into a dark place, filled with doubt and self-despair. Thankfully for me (and you for not having to read about me complaining – again) the run could be considered enough of a success to make me feel optimistic about race day.
For the 20 miles, I decided to run the VCM course, minus the Beltline loop (I also avoided the two treks on Church Street as it was a sunny, crowded Saturday afternoon and I’m not a “Hey, look at me people, I’m a RUNNER” type of guy). Also, apologies in arrears to all the Champlain College graduates and their lovely families; I hope I didn’t photobomb too many of your special pictures. It seemed as if the entire graduation procession exited onto Willard Street just as I was running south down it. Again, sorry.
Things were going fine as I progressed into the south end and looped around the nice real estate of South Cove Road and I entered Oakledge Park (mile 8 or so) with a full head of steam. When I reached the halfway mark, just south of ECHO, I still felt great, as if I had only run one mile.*
* A brief interlude to acknowledge the seemingly obvious benefits of sticking to your training program. One of the reasons I have yet to attempt VCM prior to this year is I never conceived I could run 15 miles, forget about 26.2. Now I’m at the point of facing this weekend’s taper-approved long run of 12 miles with relief, as in, “Phew, only 12 miles, easy peasy.” So, thank you Hal Higdon and you also, Coach. I remember staring at my training program and thinking there’s NO WAY I can run 8 miles in week 1. We’ve all come a long way, indeed.
I was at the halfway point when I had to wait for someone who was joining me for miles 11-20. Instead of doing the smart thing and slowly running around Waterfront Park until he showed up, I stopped and walked around. BAD IDEA. When he arrived a few moments later, unbeknownst to me, the damage was done. The first part of our run was right up Battery Street. So, to sum it up, I had just run 10 miles (at a pretty decent clip for me), stopped, then resumed by immediately running the steepest part of the course. Idiots are born every minute I guess. By mile 13 my IT Bands, which have been mildly problematic but not crippling during my past few long runs, started acting up. The combo of stopping and then starting with a steep incline was too much for me. For the rest of the run I had to tread gingerly at a reduced pace. We made it, but not without considerable grimacing and wincing on my part. Thanks to Chris for helping me through the last few, tough miles.
I can tell you though that I survived and learned yet another valuable lesson. The combination of the miles I have put on so far and the lessons I have learned (from both my own bad experiences and the wisdom of experienced runners) make me confident that on May 27 it’s not a matter of will I finish, but in what time.
Now, a couple of extra tidbits in case you missed them in the past week in the RunVermont blog space.
- The RunVermont staff has put together an EXCELLENT string of FAQ posts. I learned something new from each one of them and I highly encourage you to check them out.
- Sarah had a great post on tapering, and what to expect during the next few weeks.
- The good stuff isn’t limited to those few posts, the entire RV blog has been heating up with all sorts of useful and fun information. It’s a daily must check for me.
Enjoy these last two+ weeks of training, happy running.