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Sunday, March 20, 2005

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

I would be a liar if I said today’s run was easy. I had to want to get in 20 miles. I didn’t have any particular problems, but it did feel like I just rode a century a few hours earlier. This is probably because I did.

The first loop of the park went well. My HR came up nicely and I knew I would have no problems getting around it. I let it level off around 75% and settled in to what I perceived to be IM marathon pace. It was cool, cloudy and raining lightly.

For this run, I was recording elapsed time. That is, I didn’t stop my watch for when I took a break (fueling, peeing, etc.). I wanted to simulate IM running as close as possible and they don’t stop the clock when I stopped.

During my second loop I had what I will call a Forest Gump moment. I was running along the bottom of Prospect Park and the lake was just off to my left. The park was still empty and very peaceful. Peaceful that is except for a bunch of geese congregating on the land between the road and the lake. They all started to honk as I ran past them. It was like the roar of the crowds as you come into the finishing shoot. I used their ebullient cries to urge me onward. I was glad to be alone to reflect on this moment.

At some point into my third loop, around 7+ miles, I started feeling muscle fatigue. My HR was still good, but I began to wonder if I would be able to complete another 4 loops. Negative images started to flash through my mind. A tree stump that I saw reminded me of the most depressing children’s book I ever read. It is called “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. I don’t feel like depressing myself again, so I won’t write down what it’s about.

I pushed these thoughts out of my mind, focused and continued on. I took a moment to take several large mouthfuls of fuel (Heed, plus Hammer Gel and BCAA). I started to feel a bit better soon after. My thoughts turned more positive and I felt better running. I think I remember reading that athletes may start to experience a lack of motivation as fatigue sets in due to lowering levels glycogen. It is easy for me to make this connection now that I sit comfortably ensconced on a couch watching TV with my children. I must try to remember this the next time it occurs during training or racing.

I continued with my visualizations to get me through the run. I thought of “Francie” the main character from “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”. In the book, Francie had to struggle to make it through life while living in poverty. I was very poor and struggling through life just then, albeit Carbohydrate poor.

By the time I hit more 4th loop, I started to really cruise. It was like I just started to run. The miles began to peel off and it became easy. I started visualizing what it would be like to cross the finish line at IMAZ and the accomplishment I would feel. About now I was really glad I pushed through the doubts I had earlier. There is a Latin saying Nil Sine Magno Labore – Nothing come easy without great labor. This never rang truer for me and I was glad I pushed through my earlier doubts and discomfit. I felt like an Ironman right then. I was strong, fluid and cruising. I finished this lap cleanly, without stopping. My pace was steadily increasing.

About 1/3rd of the way through the 5th lap, I started to feel some twinges in my left Achilles. I feared that I would not be able to continue on and even whether or not I should stop. It wasn’t severe, but it was definitely present. I didn’t want to risk injury so I started to monitor it closely. I was concerned though that I wouldn’t be able to balance normal concern with psychosomatic paranoia. If at anytime it became worse, I was going to err on the side of caution; discretion is the better part of valor.

Heading into the completion of my 5th lap, I was very cognizant of my stride and running form. I made sure of my foot strikes and the irritation in my Achilles subsided. I only had 2.5 miles left at this point and I was running very well.

My 6th loop was shorter than the rest, at only 2.5 miles. My HR started to inch up as I started to push it harder to the end. I suddenly felt like I had a rocket up my ass and I was blasting towards the finish line. I cruised in at a 7:30 pace.

Errata – At the one hour and 2 hour marks of the run, I took a Race Cap, an Endurolyte and a caffeine pill. Both times I felt much better in about 15 minutes.

Stats for the run:

Total Time: 2:56:15
HR: 143/166
TiZ: 0:15:15 / 2:12:34 / 0:28:29
Calories: 2365



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