Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Wrote this on Tuesday. Just getting around to publishing it now

I finally got my longest run of the year in on Sunday – 18 miles on a windy but relatively mild day.

Five of us met at Lloyd Hall at 8:00 am for a run that would take us down West River Drive, over the Falls Bridge, up through Main Street Manyunk, and back. Of the five, only three of us would be doing the full 18 miles, with the other two falling back at 6.5 miles for a total of 13 (they’re only training for a half marathon).

I hadnt run in two days – the day prior, Saturday, had me timing a big race in the am with Tim, and the Pickle immediately after. Friday, I took a rest day. So, I had fresh legs going into the run on Sunday. As a test, I wore the track flats for the entire 18 miles, and I will get into that later

We lucked out with the weather – it was a bit warmer than its been, but the windy was fairly strong. The wind was only a limiting factor on parts of the Drive where there’s no cover from the wind coming off the river.

I started out the run with four full flasks of low-cal gatorade on my Fuel belt, and four GU gels. In retrospect, I should have used the GU electrolyte replacement drink mix that I have in lieu of the Gatorade, which is really nothing more than flavored water.

The “out” leg of the run was great. The Drives have been completely plowed and were clear of snow, with the exception of some small patches of black ice here and there. Once we got into Manyunk, we run the length of Main Street. Normally, the group I was running with wouldnt even attempt to go down Main Street – they would jump on the Canal path that parallels Main, and then eventually dumps out onto the Bike Path that stretches out towards Valley Forge and beyond. However, the Canal Path was completely snowed over, so we had to improvise. However, this improvised route posed a challenge: when we reached the end of Main Street, we had to add-on some mileage in order to make the whole trip a full 18. In Manyunk, there’s really no where to go but up. Manyunk is infamous for “The Wall” – the monster climb that pro cyclists ascend fourteen times as part of the US Pro Championships. Needless to say, Manyunk is hilly, and what did we do? We climbed.

We made right onto Leverington Ave which parallels the Wall. As we started the ascent, I said to myself - “I cant believe we’re going to climb this thing. Maybe Diane is going to make a another right which would flatten us out and run us parallel to Main Street.” I couldnt have been more wrong. We went up. And up. And up until we reached the top of Leverington, at which point we made a right onto a street whose name I cant remember. That street was flat, and we ran it the length to Shurs Lane, which provided a longgggggg descent downhill back to Main Street.

So, in the middle of an 18 miler, I ran one of the largest, longest hills in the Philadelphia area. Granted, I wasnt sprinting up the damn thing, but it was a nice accomplishment that adds a bit of bravado to the long run.

The “back” leg was uneventful, although, I could definitely feel the miles wearing on me. Around mile 12 is when I think I noticed that my feet we really starting to ache, and my calves were tight. The cushionless track flats were catching up to me. But, on the positive side, I didnt feel as though my quads were being taxed as much as I would have perceived if I were wearing “normal” running shoes.

Mentally, as we cruised back down West River Drive, I was starting to get a bit antsy. I’ve come to this point before in other long runs. Its the point where you know that you’re almost there, but you’re far enough away to make the miles in-between you and the end seem like an eternity. I hit that point somewhere around mile 13. Additionally, the distance from where I was at on the Drive to the Art Museum was not enough to even out the 18 miles. Our trip would have to take us past the Museum out to the Schukyll Banks Trail, for another small out and back leg. Mentally, this is big. This is like running Broad Street (for those of you who have) and reaching the Navy Yard, thinking that you’re done, only to find that you still have another quarter mile or so into the Navy Yard to finish the race. Its a killer.

Anyway, we do the out and back leg, and around mile 17.5-ish, our route takes back out in front on the Museum, around the side, to the finish in front of Lloyd Hall. As we I rounded the corner in front of the Museum, I suddenly felt great – good enough that I had a nice kick back to Lloyd Hall.

Yesterday, I felt “ok” – much better than I thought I would but sore enough that I only managed to scrape out 3.2 miles last night with the running club. As I sit here on the train, I am still kicking around the idea of going to the gym now, and maybe getting in three (or more). The other part of me is telling me to go home and take a night off, and maybe do eight tomorrow – 3 or 4 early miles in the am and 5 tempo miles after work.

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