Saturday, January 30, 2010

24 Miles

24 miles – For the first time in our training season, we are running 24 miles. For the first in the past few days, it has hit me that I will be running the Pasadena Marathon. Now that's 26.2 miles. I have already started to feel the race day jitters.

I arrive at the start for our Leggers run in a bit of a huff. I can’t find my other water bottle to stick in my fuel belt. Long run mornings have recently started this way - Searching for something. Searching for Gu. Searching for my new arm warmers. Searching for under eye sunscreen. Before very very long runs, I also have additional steps. I eat oatmeal. I throw some salt in my mouth. I pack on everything and then some. I leave my iPOD. We received an email that some runners with iPODS or other music devices were accused of not paying attention to the road. I always have my music on fairly low, but since I wear headphones, I don't want to give anyone the impression I am not alert. I leave the iPOD. It's almost 6, and I'm already late!

Luckily, my group doesn't leave on time. But soon enough we are getting in line for the run. I had wanted to safety pin some sort of handmade sign on my back today with something like "24 or bust", but that would alienate the people doing less miles. I also just didn't make the time. And it's true - Although we started with about 25 people, many of us had different distance goals in mind.

We start our slow and I remark to Jeff who I am running with that it would be better to run faster since we are already partially asleep. He tells me that we should because some of us are still completely asleep. Also, we will have to make up for our pace later on, which we do. I try to use my new watch, but I must not have set it right, because it is continuing from another workout. So the distance is ahead by a couple of miles, but the fact that I can see my current pace is a good thing.

Our course leads us south - south south south until we practically reach the airport. We go through Santa Monica, Venice, Marina del Rey, up Ballona Creek and into Playa del Rey. One noticeable omission from today is that there are no Roadrunners, anywhere. I later find out that they are doing hill workouts at Dodger stadium. Very good idea!

I have some tough spots today - At our turnaround - About 16.5 miles in - My shin start to hurt. Now, I have had shin pain before, but usually after a run. So I decide to take a couple of Alleve. And just like pharmacological magic, my pain eventually subsides.

Around Marina del Rey, one of the Iranian doctors who has been talking with a friend throughout much of the run, switches places with Jeff just after the water station. I have noticed that we all play musical partners, so I'm used to changing place or having things mixed up. I hope Jeff didn't mind. The Iranian doctor seemed to be curious whether I was Iranian; and once my ethnic identity was confirmed, the conversation poured. Luckily, it was completely distracting and made the next mile or two easier.

One other note, San San, a running partner from the past, fell early on in our run. I hope she is OK. I was surprised that none of the doctors or nurses in our group (and there were a lot of them) stopped to check. Don't medical professionals take an oath for this kind of thing? Then again we were told to keep going, and I imagine that if it had been really bad, then they would have stopped and helped. Let's only hope.

The end of these runs are always the hardest (along with the very beginning!). Rene, one of our mentors, suggests we do mile repeats for the last 2 miles. It was pretty much him and I for the last 3 miles or so, although we have a few runners who went ahead (if they stop, they can't start again) and the Iranian doctor and a few others are behind. I zone into Rene's pace, a faster clip (closer to 10:30) and make it back home. The last hill incline up from the pier has me wishing it is over, but mentor John is at the top cheering me on, so it is all good.

My 24 mile run today took about 4 hours and 52 minutes. Now I'm getting ready to run in Paris since I'll be out of town. More updates from there!

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