Sunday, April 1, 2012

Week in Review/Weekend Review

90 miles
4 doubles
7 days at home (!!)
16 miles with Jay
4 AFDs

All week long I'd been waffling about my plans for a Saturday workout. I briefly entertained the idea of doing a four-miler with prize money, but the relatively small purse in relation to the amount of driving required made my ambition wane with each passing day. Similarly, a solo hard effort on one of the same loops I do every single morning held little appeal. Then I received a passing message from Jay saying that he and Josh (two of the three J's, for those of you who remember my male escorts from last weekend's half-marathon) and another friend from NYC were contemplating a whirlwind trip to Boston to check out the race course. Naturally I jotted down a quick email to Terry, and naturally he wrote back with minute-by-minute bulletpoints of exactly how everything was going to go down. I'm learning to expect nothing less from this master logician--I'm not sure if that's a word, but in my mind it means a magician of logistics, which is precisely what he is--but he then proceeded to go above and beyond by not only planning their entire trip, but facilitating it. He offered to pick them up from the train station, drive them midway down the course, drop them off, park the car farther toward the city, run a few miles with them to talk race strategy, then pick them up at the finish line. With such an overwhelming outpouring of generosity from someone who didn't even know them, I felt like the least I could do was join in on the action. The fact that this offered me a convenient excuse for avoiding the previously outlined workout options was just a bonus.

That said, I still harbored some intentions of tempoing part of the run. In the end, that idea sort of fell to pieces thanks to the weather--drizzly, at times sleety and into a direct headwind--and the brisk pace established practically from the outset. Though Jay insisted that all three of the boys were looking for a "really easy run," I suppose the excitement and emotions of the course got the best of them. After an initial mile hovering around the 7-minute mark we immediately dropped into the 6:40s. It wasn't difficult, but I knew it wasn't exactly 7:30 pace either. After eight miles of this comfortably hard running I attempted to launch into an uptempo section, only to split a rather underwhelming 11:45 for two miles (one of which was considerably downhill). About 400 meters into my half-hearted third mile I encountered the one tricky interstate crossing on the entire marathon course, and several frustrating stop-and-go minutes were all I needed to pull the plug on the entire thing. Less than a minute later I ran into Terry coming from the other direction, so we turned around and jogged back to the rest of the guys before soldiering on together to the Newton hills. From this point onward I felt pretty horrendous and almost got dropped several times on Heartbreak--although it does make me feel better to subsequently learn that we split sub-6:30 on this extremely tough mile--and when I had the choice a mile later to either stop at the car with Terry or continue on to the finish line, I didn't hesitate. I'd covered almost 16.5 miles in 1:48, quick enough to count for something even if it wasn't quite the "workout" I'd envisioned. Even better, of course, was the chance to spend time with Terry and Jay and his friends and relish some of the exhilaration that is Boston in marathon month, even when it is a cold and soggy and entirely unromantic day.

Sunday, in contrast, dawned beautifully sunny and clear. After dropping Jordan at the airport for his weeklong trip to the Carolinas, I traveled back in the same direction I'd come from the previous day to meet some of my BAA friends for a group run starting at Brett's house in Natick. She and Matt live steps away from some great soft surface options that weave through Natick and Wellesley and the surrounding areas, and the miles fell away easily thanks to the easy chatter and group comradery. At the 90 minute mark Matt split back for the house with Jenn and Justin, which left Brett, Carly, Emily and I with a beautiful and scenic wooded loop around historic Wellesley College. As we passed within yards of where the marathon course will cross in just two weeks time, it was utterly impossible to imagine this quiet reverence shattered by hundreds of screaming voices and cacophonous shouts. I guess it's one of those things you can't truly imagine until you witness it. Today the only voices heard were ours as we trotted together back to Brett's house. For the next few hours we over-ate a delicious homemade breakfast (most of us), drank fancy beer (only some of us) and had a great time socializing (all of us). As per usual, this is my favorite part of the Sunday long run!

Looking back on this week as a whole, I only logged a few more miles than last week, this time on 11 runs instead of eight. There was no great strategy involved there--although I'd be interested in hearing the arguments from either side on why one approach is better than the other--rather, I was just following the mandates of my schedule. Last week I was traveling and working long hours but with later start times, while this week I was back in the typical office routine of early mornings and relatively early evenings. I had plenty of time to double at night, so I did. Next week promises more of the same uneventfulness (not that I'm complaining!), so I'll likely adopt a similar schedule. I continue to feel stronger and fitter every day, which means I just need to keep doing what I'm doing!