Originally the plan was for the group to run 14 miles this week. It's a step back week down from 18 last week. The flood caused us to run from the store instead of the dome and the plan for the group was updated to 15 miles. The same 3x5 mile loop route we did a few weeks ago. Since Erin is a little behind due to injury we decided we'd run 4 miles to the store giving us a total of 19 for the day.
As we headed out it was in the mid forties and the air was dead calm. It was the second run of the year where I got to run in shorts. Quickly we settled into a conservative pace. A thick layer of fog blanketed the city, but didn't extend more then about 15 feet high. In many places it went up just short of the street lights making for an interesting effect. The run to the store didn't have the same feeling most training runs do. It was more about exploring the city in the dark and the fog then having to run X number of miles. I really wanted to take a longer route to the store, but we didn't allow much extra time and stuck to the 4 mile route.
When we reached the store we saw that turnout was good today. The warm temps tend to take away peoples excuses to sleep in as does the rapidly approaching date of the marathon. We had a few minutes to chat with friends and then it was time to get started. The first loop had a bunch of people all running at our pace. Rick, Kristy, Erin and myself were just ahead of Erik, Maria, Lamont and Eric and about halfway through the loop our 2 groups merged. I don't normally run in a group that large and enjoyed the opportunity. With about a mile to go Lamont had an issue with his asthma and went down on the sidewalk. He got up right away and after a short bit of walking we ran the rest of the way back to the store. The rest of the group was happy it's wasn't a more serious issue.
When we got back to the store I made a mad dash for the bathroom. We took a few minutes to grab some food and fill water bottles before heading back out. Erin and I shared a snickers and some pizza flavored combos. In the past couple of weeks I've started to really like combos for running. GUs and shot bloks tend to get a bit sweet after a while and it's nice to have something a little more savory. Lamont wasn't heading back out with us, and Eric ran ahead to catch up with some people he had seen running alone so it left the 6 of us to run the second 5 mile loop together. Rick and I had an opportunity to talk about fueling and hydration strategies for Trail Mix and talked a little about what he and Kristy's plans might be regarding the race. We changed the route up a little from the first loop which helped keep things fresh and soon found ourselves back at the store with loop 2 complete.
As we were fueling up for our third loop I could feel some tightness start to creep into my legs. I was feeling tired and didn't really want to go back out. I reminded myself that after running 14 miles this was a normal feeling and focused on keeping up with my hydration. I remember having a similar conversation with Rick a little over a year ago after doing 10 miles, it was nice to see the progress I've made since then. The 6 of us headed back out on loop number 3 which we decided to run backwards. The first half of the loop went well, but I was struggling mentally on the way back to the store. My 30 miler a couple of weeks ago really helped get me through the low points because I remembered how much worse I felt at that point in the 30 mile run and how I still made it through the whole thing. Erin started to push the pace and Erik and I let her go ahead. He had decided that since he was missing the group run next week he was going to do another 5 mile loop and get a 20 miler in. I remember my first 20 miler and how grateful I was to have Rick at my side. Erik's decision to run the last 5 by himself impressed me, I'm sure he's going to do great in May. Erin finished her longest run ever with a last mile time just a few seconds off from her first mile of speedwork just 2 days prior. Looking at my heart rate data I also had a great day. We steadily increased our pace the entire 19 miles and my heart rate responded well to that, never really getting that high during the 4 hours we were out. It was good to see so many people having success at the same time. We spent a little time at the store relaxing and chatting with people before heading out. Since Erin and I both ran to the store Rick was kind enough to drive us home.
The tenderness I felt in my foot last week is gone. A combination of rest, compression socks, stretching, and icing seemed to do the trick for me. I had made the comment to Rick that my birthday run was the first long run that I really needed time to recover from. I've been lucky so far in that after both marathons I've run I've recovered very quickly and could get back to running almost right away. We'll have to see how the recovery after Trail Mix goes. Hopefully I can learn from the past few weeks and have a quicker recovery.