28 March 2010

Springing out of Winter

Two Saturdays, Two long runs.
One week ago, March 20, the day we crossed the spring equinox. The morning began with a 17-mile run in the Morton Arboretum ... with snow falling and accumulating on the road.
Yesterday, March 27, the first Saturday of Spring, an 18-mile run in the same park ... cold and sunny, but more sunny than cold. And sunny enough that after a couple of circles I started to shed accessories and layers. I ran the last 3-mile loop in shorts, a long-sleeved light-weight jersey, with my head band providing just a bit of extra coverage around the neck. The breeze, light as it was, was cold! 

I began the run with layers, a head band, and light gloves. The 3-mile loop warmed me up pretty well, but I stayed "bundled" for the 4.5 loop, just to see how the various directions and exposures would be. The wind, light as it was, was still cold (air temperature was right around 40, but the sun was nice). But my hands were cold, and I thought removing the head gear would regulate my warming core temperature. So as I repeated the 3 mile (counter-clockwise, against traffic this time) my gloves and band were tucked into my waist band. Always the careful "traveler." It was clear that I was still going to have to shed something. When I got back to ground zero, I pulled off the tights and left my accessories. At first, it was pretty cool on the legs, but they warmed up reasonably quickly. The zipper on my pullover helped me regulate my torso/core temperature, but that pesky cold wind made me committed to having something over my jersey.

It was something else that made me decide to drop the jersey. My first experience with chafing - if not the nipples proper, at least that general vicinity. I'm still trying to figure that out. I wasn't wearing anything I haven't worn, and I've been running in layers for 2 months. The distance was only 1 more mile, but in any case the sensation kicked in at about mile 13/14. Gotta watch that because I have a bit of running still to do, and don't want to spoil April 25 like this! It wasn't terrible, just uncomfortable. I wasn't bleeding or anything. But I can see how that could happen, and would like to avoid it!

So my last 3-mile loop was in shorts and a light long-sleeved jersey, with the headband providing that neck warmth in the wind. It was a glorious, if tired, circle, on an early Spring Saturday one month before race day.

A word about my training options. A few weeks ago I switched to the Hal Higdon novice training schedule for guidance on my long runs. This week I began a change-over on the week-day runs. I am keeping to the sequence from Dave Kuehls, because the pacing (and the commitment to cross training) works so well for me. But I am taking my distance cues from Higdon. This will build my miles over the next couple of weeks (before tapering), without adding a lot of extra time.

This week's short runs (4.5, 8, 3.5) total somewhere between Kuehls and Higdon. The pace on the first two turned out to be 8:00 miles, surprisingly fast for me, and not what I intended or set out to do, but satisfying. The third was slower by design, 8:42. My 18-mile run averaged out to an 8:40 pace, and was pretty consistent throughout.

And now, onward to my last long run before the Marathon. I will do 21 miles, and am supposed to do that this coming weekend. Which, as it happens to be Easter weekend, and I am Quite Well Occupied all weekend, thank you very much, I am trying to find the right time for it. I am slowly, begrudgingly, realizing that it will almost certainly have to come on Easter Monday ... the day of my annual first long bike ride (50+ miles). Now this marathon training has gotten personal.

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