24 Miles in 24 Hours

Okay, I admit it.  I was a little worried about the long-run-with-10K-chaser plan. I knew that getting through the 18-miler was the most important thing, and where I should focus my energy. I figured that I could get through the 10K one way or another, but I was really hoping that I wouldn’t end up so sore that I set back my training the following week. That concern was compounded when I realized that the next week was not an easy week, as I’d thought, but the final ramp-up to the first 20-miler.

Friday I focused on fueling up for the long run and composed a new 3-hour playlist for the shuffle. I’ve learned from experience to do as much of the more cognitively-demanding pre-run preparation as I can the night before, so other than an unfortunate pre-dawn oatmeal overflow in the microwave, everything went reasonably smoothly in the morning. I was out at 7:30, and energized by having some new background music for the run. (I’m always amazed at what a few dollars’ investment on iTunes can do.) I felt good, and the first 8 or 9 miles were pretty unremarkable. Somewhere after the turn-around at 9 an interesting thing happened, which I’d experienced briefly around mile 14 last week. My stride seemed to completely lock into a measured, synchronized motion of which I didn’t even seem to be entirely in control. I had the distinct feeling that if I thought about it too much, or even at all, it would only disrupt the flow my legs had found. It wasn’t that the running felt effortless, or even that much easier than normal; it just felt efficient and natural. I enjoyed just rolling along until mile 15 or so, when the sun finally broke through the marine layer. I started to wilt almost immediately, having skimped a bit on the hydration on the second half of the run. By the time I finished up and got back to the car the temperature had jumped to 77 degrees, and I was just relieved it was over. The rest of the day was devoted to re-hydrating and digging out of a thousand-calorie deficit. (This actually turned out to be less fun than I might have originally thought.)

Saturday night was pretty much a repeat of Friday, with pre-race preparations.  I needed to leave by 7:00 to get to Santa Barbara by 8:30, so I was up at 5:45 again.  I got out of bed rather gingerly, but was happy to discover that I didn’t feel particularly sore and none of my blisters seemed to be inflamed.  The drive up gave me plenty of time to drink my smoothie and digest, so the morning’s preparations were a little more leisurely than before the long run.  I made it to Goleta Beach just before the start of the 5K, which a few of my friends were running.  A woman took second place overall this year, and a 12-year-old boy grabbed 8th.  I watched a 7-year-old girl edge out a 69-year-old man with a 26:36 finish.  The kids–and there seemed to be a lot this year–all seemed to finish the race, stand still long enough to have their number recorded, and then immediately resume running around in anticipation of the ice cream delivery.

The 10K got off to a shuffley start at 9:30.  I wasn’t sure what to expect as I jogged off, and I planned to hold a very conservative pace for the first half.  The race is on a narrow bike path I did my best to settle in while weaving around other runners and dodging the occasional cyclist. My legs were felt great, though, and somewhere around mile 2 I dropped into the easy, efficient stride of the day before.  Having only previously experienced it deep into long runs, I had come to think of it as the result of getting lulled into a stride after many miles.  Finding my legs spinning under me two miles in was not something I had expected. I picked up the pace a bit on the way back, but was still a little wary of pushing too hard.  I finished squarely in the middle of my age group, which seemed like a solid performance given that I never pushed beyond an easy effort and had thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The ice cream, as always, was divine.  I think the last time I had ice cream was at the race last year, though, so that may have been influencing some of my Brazilian Coffee-infused bliss.  When I checked the race results online I realized that for the second year running, I failed to notice that I was racing against Drew Carey, who beat me solidly.  The only damage from the weekend’s events seems to be my left calf, which felt fine during the race, but tightened up immediately after.  I’ll be romancing the foam roller tonight, and I’m hoping the rest day today will get it on the mend.  I’m still kind of in denial that I have to start this all over again tomorrow.

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One Comment to “24 Miles in 24 Hours”

  1. Oh, McConnell’s! Miss it…please keep me posted on the alterna-reality of the Santa Barbara running world…

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