I've only ever run two half-marathons, although I have run 12 or 13 miles a few other times on my own. I think the longest I ever ran was maybe 13.5, back in June. So with today's scheduled run being around 14.7, I knew I was passing into a slightly new realm. I took better care of my body on Friday night this time, partly because I've been feeling a bit run down since the middle of the week and possibly on the brink of illness. Our hill workout on the Common Tuesday night almost put me over the edge--I will always run in wet weather, but this was a real deluge of 45-degree rain, and I was truly dripping wet and chilled through during my commute home. But a super laid back movie night yesterday (seeing the new Hobbit...for the third time) with Carl followed by All-Star Pizza Bar awesomeness and early bedtime left me feeling ready and not-sniffly on Saturday morning.
Thus far I have always chatted with others during the long runs, but today I was hoping to listen to some music to help with my pacing and get the adrenaline going. Nothing can get me flowing better than listening to the right tune, and I was kind of in the mood to push the pace up, which would make conversation too difficult anyway. Then I realized that I had forgotten my ipod at work. Still, there were a LOT of runners today, so I hoped to find a buddy that would maybe at least run with me, even if we didn't talk so much. As the crowd petered out onto the street, I started out alongside a girl in a purple top. She appeared to be following two quintessential-looking runner dudes (all skinny and wearing shirts that had things like "XC" and "26.2" on them) and as they made their way to Cleveland Circle, I kind of just tagged along. Their pace wasn't too aggressive, but it wasn't slow either--maybe around a 7:30. I knew I had a long way ahead of me, but I had laid down a loose plan: by the time I got to the Newton hills, I wanted to be tired. Last week I took them really easy, but I was ready to beat myself up a little today. She and I didn't talk except for a few brief words at an intersection; I almost started conversation but we were going a little too quick to easily speak. Plus she seemed to prefer being silent. So, at the first water stop right at the reservoir, as the three of them lingered over their drinks, I decided to move on. I figured they would catch me soon after, but I didn't see them again. We had exited Joint Ventures ahead of most of the crowd, so I knew that there were probably only a few people out ahead of me. Maybe I would see them, maybe not, but for now I was alone. I really wished for Nathaniel's ipod.
Aside from some people going in the opposite direction, the only person I'd seen were glimpses of a guy wearing the hallowed blue and yellow BAA marathon jacket up ahead. I passed him on Chestnut Street, but once I was on Commonwealth Avenue, I was yet again part of a pony parade of runners from all sorts of charities and training programs. I had managed to maintain a pace that I judged to be just a bit under 8 minutes, and was beginning to feel it. One runner passed me with a dog, who was exerting all sorts of extra energy by bouncing from side to side and shaking his toy. "I wish I felt that good," a lady runner muttered as we passed the hyperactive animal. I totally agreed, so at the base of Heartbreak Hill I was pleased to see John Furey and his Gatorade, and decided it was time for an energy gel.
Heartbreak Hill is not a particularly big hill in either length or steepness, especially compared to the ones back home. Its menace stems from its location, about 21 miles into the race. Apparently it is so named due to an incident back in 1936, when Native American runner Ellis "Tarzan" Brown, who had taken off at a record-breaking pace, was overtaken on this hill by defending champion Johnny Kelley, who gave Brown a sympathetic pat on the back as he passed. This action spurred on Brown, who rallied and passed Kelley to win the race, thus breaking Kelley's heart....regardless, with a comparatively measly 10 miles behind me, the hill did not pose a significant threat. In fact, by the time I reached the top, I could already feel the GU Roctane gel kicking in. I've only ever used them on my two half-marathons, but they had a rather noticeable effect on my energy levels. They're mostly just a ton of sugar and caffeine, but I'm pretty sure the Blueberry Pomegranate flavor also has cocaine and steroids in it because around the time I was passing BC I was developing an overwhelming urge to scream "BRING ITTTTTT!!!!!" at the road ahead in my best linebacker yell. I didn't. Instead I just continued on quietly while resisting the desire to start running really fast, since I still had about 3 miles left.
After Coolidge Corner, I managed to get my roid rage under control and finished in a reasonable manner. As always seems to happen, I began to feel a bit tired during the final mile. Aside from that, I didn't really feel like I had just run the furthest I had ever gone. The steady drizzle had kept me from overheating, and while waiting for Nicole back at Joint Ventures, I had time to fully stretch and foam roll it out. This past week I have found that, while my plantar fasciitis and posterior tibial tendonitis haven't been very bad, I have been experiencing muscle tension all the way up my right side, especially through my hamstrings and glutes. Looking in the mirror, I am definitely able to see that my right hip sits a bit higher than my left, no doubt the root of all this nonsense on my right side. I will definitely be bringing this up with Dr. Hagan on Wednesday, and hopefully he can fix my cooked body with his magical hands. For next weeks 10-miler, I'll probably take it easy again and slow it down so I can chat to pass the time.