I've discovered the secret to running long and fast. It involves pushing a jogging stroller with a 35 pound 2 year old twice a week over a very hilly 8 mile loop. I know, that's crazy. You'd think it'd never work. Pushing 50 pounds over hills is just supposed to make you tired, not strong. Well, it turns out it makes you strong too. I suspected as much last week when I was pushing Zane over the hills and when I finished up and looked at my watch, I found that I had completed the run averaging just over 8 minute miles. So I decided to put my strength to the test on Saturday by going long and fast.
Twenty miles. I wasn't excited to go out and do this run. Especially considering I had a timetable and needed to get back in order to get ready to go to the IRL Grand Prix of Sonoma, which was pretty cool by the way. Zane loved Turn 7. I would have bought him one of those little collectible Indy cars, but they were $500 and that's just a little much for a car that doesn't even have an engine.
Well, even though I didn't want to get out there, I still had to go and do it. I have a marathon in five weeks and skipping a long at this point just isn't acceptable. I started out conservative, running an 8:30 first mile and then slowly built up my speed. At the end of mile 10, I was averaging just at 8 minutes per mile. That's when I decided to turn on the afterburners and see what I could do. Surprisingly, the afterburners just kept on going. For the remaining 10 miles I averaged 7:20 miles. For miles 11, 12, and 13, I was running sub-7s. I backed off of that, but it sure felt good. I was only nervous about my last mile, which is a mile long hill. I usually run that last mile at about 9:45, due to the hill and it being the last mile of a 20 mile run. Not that day. I charged up it and finished it in 7:45.
When I completed that last mile, I felt like a lion. I felt fast again and wanted to roar, which I have done on occasion. The adrenaline and endorphins just get to me sometimes. At the end of the day, I ran 20 miles in 2:33 (11 minutes faster than last week), which is probably the third fastest 20 miles I've ever done. The fastest being the Flying Pig Marathon where I did a ridiculous 2:22 and the second fastest being a training run prior to the Pig when I ran a 2:29.
This experience tells me one thing. I haven't lost my speed. A sub-3 hour marathon is still attainable. This Saturday I have another 20 miler. I'm not promising to break 2:30, but if I'm feeling it, I'm going to go for it.
So thank you Zane. What I thought was just going to be nice father-son time running along the creek pointing at ducks, doggies, and horses has now turned into a serious strength training workout. Now if I could only avoid those thorns that keep puncturing the tires on your jogging stroller (three punctures in two weeks).