Sunday, March 29, 2009

Weekend Warrior

In the past two days I have run 30 miles: 10 Saturday and 20 Sunday. This was a high-mileage week for me, closing with these two long runs back-to-back. I decided to do both on the Lakelands Trail, a rails-to-trails linear state park which extends from Stockbridge to Hamburg. Saturday I was up early and at the trailhead in Stockbridge at 8:00. 10 miles were on tap and I was eager to get them done in the beautiful weather.

Not bad, eh?

Contrast this scene with six weeks ago on the same trail:

Um, yeah. So glad winter is over.

This was not supposed to be a pace run, and I knew I needed to take it easy to be fresh for my 20-miler the following day, but trying to keep my pace down is easier said than done, at least lately. I started off okay, with miles of 9:11 and 9:21. Then I hit this stretch of trail:

Spring thaw + gravel trail = glop.

Which did this to my still brand-spanking-new shoes:

At least now they have "character." I don't look like an insufferable running noobzilla any more.

They looked even worse by the time I was done, trust me. It took quite a bit of water and several rags to get them looking halfway decent again.

After mudbogging my way to a 10:28 mile, I took off and put out the next four in 8:44, 8:46, 8:45, and 8:51. By then I had doubled back and once again hit that nasty stretch, but this time I did not let it slow me down quite as much and I splashed through that mile in 9:41. After an 8:45 for mile 9 it was time to kick it for the final mile, which I did in 7:58, feeling strong the whole way.

Saturday 10-miler: 10.33 miles/1:33:55/9:05 average.

Sunday morning I was out at the other end of the trail in Hamburg for the first of three planned 20-milers. Before I left and during my drive to the trailhead it was raining lightly but steadily. I arrived earlier than my running partner in order to do three miles alone since I would be running 20 and he was only running 17.

On my way out of town I had stopped at the bakery to get some coffee. I read this article in the New York Times the other day and decided to put it to the test. Normally I do not drink coffee before exercise, but I thought, what the hell, why not give it a try? Anything to ease my passage through 20 miles of running.

Well, that coffee espresso-trained itself through my system and by the time I had run 0.75 miles I had to pee worse than I ever have in my entire life (save one time I had an unfortunate accident when I got lost while driving through downtown Amsterdam, New York, on my way back to college...but that is a story for another time, my friends; that story is quite possibly my best story ever. I don't have a lot of stories but that one's a pretty fucking awesome one if I do say so myself). Anyway, the call of nature turned into a bellowing stampede of wildebeests and water buffaloes and zebras, and with a frantic scan of the trail to make sure no one was nearby (no one was; what kind of nutjob goes running in the rain at 9:30 am on a Sunday, anyway?) I pulled over to the side and took care of business right there without any sheltering underbrush whatsoever, not even a tuft of grass, since I was on an elevated railbed with swamp on both sides and it was either use the 18 inches of grassy berm next to the trail or I was going to be getting my feet wet or worse. And then the worst thing of all happened, which I should have known was going to happen anyway, since my GI tract and I have a long and not-so-loving relationship, and coffee makes it even worse. Oh, crap. Literally. Well, not much I could do about that. Shit happens, you know? And when shit happens in the woods when no one's looking, one has to make the best of the situation by using whatever piece of woody debris happens to be laying around to, uh, clean up the scene.

Good thing there was a swamp just down the embankment.

After that I felt so much better. I zipped through my second and third miles in 8:58 and 8:45, stopped back at the parking lot to collect my running partner and my CamelBak full of Gu and Ultima, and we set off for a 17-mile round trip. The rain stopped and I took off my hat around mile 5 and stuffed it into my CamelBak. Around mile 7.5 the paved part of the trail ended and turned back into gravel. We were now passing through the town of Pinckney.

The old Pinckney train depot.

A few miles later we turned back. This sign was affixed to a bridge over a small creek near the turnaround point:

As with many things of this nature, you know they had to put this here because someone actually did jump or dive off this bridge and hurt themselves.

Not long after we came across a box turtle inching its way across the trail. It retreated into its shell when it saw/felt us on the trail, and after picking it up to look at it, my running partner put it into the grass by the side of the trail.

Run free, little turtle! Or...creep free? Well, whatever. The water's that way!

By now I was working on mile 15 or so of my run and I was starting to feel it. My knees felt surprisingly good; no unexpected or unwanted twinges or explosions had occurred. I had been taking in Ultima and Gu at regular intervals and so my energy level was high. know, it was mile 15. I was ready for the damn thing to be over. Even so, my pace had been decreasing steadily following our turnaround. Mile 12 was 9:16. By mile 17 I was at 8:37. Whereas until that point my running partner and I had kept up a steady stream of chatter, silence descended, disrupted only by the whap of shoes against pavement and my increasingly hurried breathing. Mile 18: 8:38. Mile 19: 8:26. I heard Garmy beep for mile 19 and knew I only had one more mile to go. Just finish just finish just finish just finish was what I kept repeating to myself. And then it was over. 20 miles. Last mile: 8:20. Well. Clearly I had more left in the tank than I thought. And lo and behold, I ran my 20-miler faster than my 10-miler. So much for taking it easy.

Sunday long run: 20 miles/2:59:33/8:58 average.

Running was followed by carb replacement at nearby Zukey Lake Tavern in the form of one Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale and one Bell's Two-Hearted Ale. Protein intake in the form of turkey burger. Salt and fat from onion rings. Much-needed rest in the form of nap when I returned home.

As it turned out, I could not have timed my run any better. The rain that ended so early in the run returned while we were at lunch and by the time I was on my way home it had become the dreaded "wintry mix." Then it started snowing. Seriously. But for the three hours I was on the trail, it was fine.

This week I am going to experiment with a mini-taper as I prepare to run the Martian Half Marathon next Sunday in Dearborn. My goal for the race is to break 1:50 and I want to have as much zest as possible.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!


MCM Mama said...

Glad the necessary potty stop happened before you met up with your running partner. Oy. Good job on the two long runs.

Yum on the beers! You have good taste. ;o)

Kristin said...

I am wildly impressed (as usual). (And sympathetic about the potty stop--I will not run on a route where I don't have potential bathrooms staked out.) The upcoming half marathon should be a piece of cake!

joyRuN said...

Glad to hear both knees behaved themselves during both runs - that's great!

And dumping in the woods - been there. I guess that's why they say to pack wet wipes with the gu, but who's got room for all that?

Spike said...

awesome job on the runs this weekend, and a very fast 20M run. I've done the Martian Half, its a nice out/back, so enjoy!

Carolina John said...

glad you avoided the rain. and 20 miles breaking 3 hours? awesome! the beer sounds good too.

Fritz said...

Funny thing is, now the trail probably looks more like the "before" six weeks ago pic than it did yesterday morning.

gotta love Michigan Marchs; in like a lion, out like a lion!

mr loser said...

Good slog. Please post the bio problems in Amsterdam tale for immature readers who enjoy scatological humor and who, for reasons similar to those in your post, no longer purchase white under garments.

Emma said...

Great pictures.

And I knew there was a reason I couldn't be a distance runner... bathroom hangups. ;)

tfh said...

That is some impressive weekend mileage and paces. Seriously. And no knee pain? Wondeful. Plus, I learned that it's always convenient to run next to a swamp!

P.S. you owe us the Amsterdam, NY story.

Kristin @ The Southern Summer said...

Great run report!! Hilarious replay of the crapping situation. I really hope I never go there but I am sure I will at some point!

I usually drink coffee before my runs, but I give myself about an hour, to ugh, let it work through my system :) Great job and good luck at the race!

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Pfffftttt! Typical liberal media, giving you a bum steer on the coffee!

Still, way to pee, poop and run! If anything earns one a beer and a turkey burger, that does


muh said...

FWIW, i drank zippfizz a lot while biking - it has some caffeine but seems to be easier on the stomach than coffee.

Nitmos said...

I love the rails-trails projects. I haven't hit this one but there is another great one going from Traverse City to Suttons Bay for about 17 miles if you are in that area.

jen said...

Great pics! Sorry about the emergency stop. That is why I don't drink coffee before running.

Good luck this weekend! With a sub-9 pace for 20 I have no doubt you can run under 1:50. :)

Shayne said...

the Weather here is nice but I have to say that nothing beats Michigan spring in the woods. Great photos

Shayne said...

PS I never minded pit stops in the long as it was only #1

Anonymous said...

Great post.

Great picture of the guy hitting his head on the bottom of the pond.

Excellent all around. Five stars.