Saturday, May 21, 2016
On my way to completing a weekly 20 mile run over 20 consecutive weeks, I keep gaining new experiences. Each of these are filed away in my brain to be used when I need them the most, during an ironman. My most recent occurred during my 20 mile run in Central Park, NYC. I had timed this run to coincide with my 34th wedding anniversary trip to NYC with my wife. It came just 6 days after my last twenty miler, which was run just a day after a very solid 100 mile bike ride. When I headed out to Central Park, I thought I felt good. However, by the time I was coming around to finish the first loop in the Park (about 6 miles), I noticed that my quads were feeling sore. This is highly unusual, and may have been due to a couple of factors. First, I had literally done nearly 85% of an Ironman the weekend before. Second, I had walked a ton the day before, which was highly unusual for me and puts an unnatural strain on my leg muscles. Nevertheless, this was what it was. I put the pain out of my head and just kept running. I followed my usual protocol of starting with an easy effort and letting the effort get gradually harder. This meant that my pace at the beginning was around 9 minutes per mile, and this pace did slow a little during miles six through twelve, when my left knee started getting a little sore. I’m not used to the unrelenting ups and downs that Central Park surprisingly has. I did stop once to stretch, which actually helped my quads and my knee. My last loop was timed to coincide with a 10K being run in Central Park that day. There were a lot of people running and I was in a pack of people the entire time. I did have about 5-10 minutes in between my 12th mile and the 10K so I stretched some more and hoped that I wouldn’t tighten up from stopping. As soon as I got rolling (took about a quarter of a mile due to the number of people), I just ran hard, and actually managed to maintain an 8:30 pace most of the way. As usual, I just let the difficulty come to me, which it did, as did the quad and knee soreness that returned to my legs a few miles into the final 10K. But the thought of completing my 20 mile run never entered my mind. It just so happened that today’s run would be associated with quad and knee pain. This fact wouldn’t even have a huge impact on the pace I was running at. This has been the most mind blowing part of my weekly 20 milers. My commitment to doing this has trumped any self doubt or questions about my ability to not only run twenty miles, but to run it at somewhere in the vicinity of a 9 minute per mile pace, every time I go out!