By Saturday it was feeling almost normal, though, so I decided to give the easy five on my schedule a try. I got through the whole thing with nary a twinge, so declared myself good to go for my Sunday long run.
Officially the workout was 14-15 at 8:43 pace, and I kind of went back & forth about whether I wanted to do 14, 15, or somewhere in between. It was a warm day so I decided to wait until early evening. Admittedly I ended up waiting a little longer than ideally I meant to, but the upside was that it was early dusk when I finally got out there and the temperature could not have been more perfect for a run.
I decided to park my car by Kezar Stadium & run loops of the eastern half of the park (one loop = ~3.7 miles). This is one of my favorite ways to do long runs because I can throw BodyGlide / Nuun / gels / dry clothes in my car & grab them if I need them and also because it means that rather than running basically downhill for 3.5 miles & then basically uphill for 3.5 miles, I can get more of a gentle rollers-type of workout. I also wanted to try running part of the way in my relatively newish Brooks Launch(es? Pluralizing that feels weird), & looping by my car would give me the option of switching into the Adrenalines
if when my feet got tired.
If you've never had a late-evening run through Golden Gate Park, you should really make a point of it sometime.
This was just one of those runs that felt fabulous right from the start. I settled into a nice, easy, super comfortable pace & just cruised. My first mile was in 8:51, which made me happy because 1) my first couple miles always tend to be the slowest, and 2) it felt really, really easy. I don't know if this happens to other people, but on some runs I just feel "out of phase" - like my limbs are an awkward mess, my muscles & joints bumping awkwardly into each other, I can't manage anything even remotely like good form to save my life, & the whole process just feels horribly inefficient & like I'm expending three times the amount of effort I should be. On other days, I feel like I'm hitting my body's "resonant frequency" - my strides feel smooth and quiet and natural and everything is in perfect rhythm, with all the different parts of my body working together effortlessly. This was one of those from the first miles.
Technically I'm supposed to be running my easy & long runs at around an 8:43 pace, but realistically I pretty much always run them by effort & try to aim for a pace that's comfortable, without pushing or dawdling too much. Depending on the day, this can mean 8:10 or it can mean 9:20. I figured a first mile of 8:51 was a good indicator & I would probably be able to hit 8:43ish just about perfectly.
I wasn't trying to speed up, but mile after mile, my splits kept dropping. I tried to slow down a little, but I didn't feel like I was working all that hard, & slowing down too much started to disrupt that wonderful, smooth, effortless feeling. Eventually my pace settled right around 8:20-25ish, which was more or less where I stayed for the rest of the run. Around maybe 10-11 miles I could feel my hamstring starting to talk to me a little, but I wouldn't even call it pain, just the sensation of working maybe just a little harder than it really wanted to.
Okay, so maybe it wasn't so gradual...
After 4 laps I was at 14.75 and still felt great so I figured there was no harm in just jogging another quarter mile & making it a nice round 15. I felt strong & comfortable, the entire way, and like last weekend's 16 miler, this one was over before I knew it. Also in the category of "Things That Never, Ever Happen," we can file the fact that I had no shorts chafing or sports bra chafing whatsoever. (This may in fact be the first time in recorded history that I have run farther than 10 miles without one of those things happening.) No pain, no injuries, no soreness.
So, hamstring issues aside, here's how Week 5 shaped up:
Grand Total: 25.4 miles, all easy.
- Monday: Abbreviated karate class, thanks to the most epic clusterf*** on the Bay Bridge that I have ever seen. It took us over two hours to get from the Trader Joe's in SoMa to the dojo in Berkeley, which is just under 10 miles. We seriously could have walked there faster, if they would have let us on the bridge.
Tuesday: 5.2 easy. Not great, & still some Achilles/calf pain (seriously, what is UP with that???)
Wednesday: Karate + strength work + hamstring fail
Saturday: 5.2 easy. Surprisingly good!
Sunday: 15 long.
Not a terribly impressive week, but that fantastic long run made up for a lot.
Barring any stupid injuries, I'm hoping to get back up to 40ish this week, which should not be too difficult since I have an 18 miler on Sunday. (I'm starting to remember the realization I had during CIM training last year, that when you're doing legitimate long runs on a weekly basis, getting in high-ish mileage becomes a LOT easier. Stupid injuries nonwithstanding, I mean.)