While spending several hours on Monday watching coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings, I noticed that some running clubs were encouraging everyone to wear a race T-shirt the following day. I was planning to anyway, as I had a 24-mile long run scheduled as part of my marathon training. The attack on one of our nation's oldest and most famous footraces was tragic and definitely worrying, but I wasn't going to let it deter me from continuing my quest to finish my first marathon this June.
I got a late start, intending to leave by 9 a.m. but not actually starting the run until nearly 10. I had yummy overnight oats for breakfast and packed several energy gels. The weather was sunny and around 60 degrees, but windy, so I wore long pants and kept my jacket on for the first several miles. I followed mostly the same course as for my 22 mile run three weeks prior, adding loops around Stow Lake and Spreckels Lake in Golden Gate Park to add the needed mileage.
I hadn't visited Stow Lake in years, and had never walked (or run) completely around it before. I opted to skip going up Strawberry Hill in the middle, having plenty of other hills to deal with (~1500 feet of elevation) in this course. Lots of ducks and turtles. Same with Spreckels Lake (much smaller), plus remote-controlled miniature boat races. I enjoyed these scenic additions to my route.
Got to my turnaround and restroom break (got it down to five minutes this time) at Stern Grove and noted that I had already run over 12.6 miles. I knew my homemade Google Map was not all that accurate, especially when trying to draw lines around the lakes to estimate the total distance, but I hadn't thought I overshot by this much. I figured I would end the run well before I got back to my original starting point at Pacific and Hyde, which was fine by me.
I was feeling reasonably good, especially after the restroom break, until about mile 17, when noticeable fatigue and muscle soreness began to set in. Every time I do one of these long runs, the onset of fatigue and soreness comes later, which is a good sign. However, I knew I had gone out too fast on this one (as I was trying to get home by a certain time and got a late start), so I knew I was paying for it now. By miles 19-20 my pace had slowed considerably. My knees still felt OK, but I was really dragging. I tried to dissociate from the discomfort and enjoy the views on my second trip around Stow Lake, which helped a bit, but didn't make me any faster, especially as the temperature was rising.
By the time I exited the park and reached mile 22, I was planning to turn onto California Street instead of continuing up Arguello into the Presidio. I would follow the 1 California bus route for the remaining two miles, then hop on and ride the rest of the way home. Just as I began to execute this plan, my watch, which had been giving me low battery warnings since four hours into the run (it has a five-hour battery), displayed "Run Saved" and shut itself off. I had been running for five hours, five minutes, and five seconds (hey, five is my favorite number!) and had covered 22.8 miles. I could have continued to run/walk for one more mile at a slow pace (and I had a backup, non-GPS watch), but a bus was coming right then, and I decided I was done.
Riding a crowded bus home, without a cool-down walk, was not the way I'd planned to end this run, and I felt guilty about cutting it a whole mile short. But I did run a full mile farther than ever before, and at a pace 30 seconds per mile faster than in my 22 miler. I still have two months to go before the race, and have 26 and 28 milers planned, three weeks apart. If I can complete those without injury or complete exhaustion, I should be in excellent shape for the race on June 16. Though I will have to do the actual marathon at a faster pace; at today's 13:24 min/mile pace, I would barely make the six-hour cutoff time.
boyziggy congratulated me upon my arrival at home (right on time, thanks to the bus), and crowned me with a wreath of flowers which he's making for this weekend's SFLasertag event winners.
I spent the rest of the day lounging on the couch, eating, watching TV, and web surfing, and am still resting today. No knee pain, which is very good and significant, but my legs are a bit sore and I'm quite tired. I should have spent more time icing down my legs and eating protein-rich food immediately after my return home. (Normally I pay very little attention to protein, as long as I'm getting sufficient calories from whole foods, but it does help in muscle recovery after endurance events.) I expect to be fully recovered by tomorrow.
Two months to go until the race! Wish me luck!