On Sunday, I completed a 20 mile training run sponsored by the Hansons Shoe Store. Well, really they sponsored a 16 mile raining run, I did the first four sponsored by our creator, who supplied the sunshine, oxygen, and miracle of Mitochrondia who supplied the energy.
The 16 miles was then offered up by the Royal Oak Hansons shoe shop.
You know the group. The Brooks-Hansons Distance Project sponsors many elite athletes who train together, including recent Olympian Desiree Davila. If you’ve watched any marathons, you’ve seen the unmistakeable checkered yellow, black, and red jerseys. And the Hanson brothers seem to show up everywhere. Run a race in Michigan, and you’ve seen them, but I’ve also seen them in Chicago and the Boston Airport.
The Hansons are incredibly active in the community, and have a very popular, unique, and maybe even controversial marathon training plan. The plan focuses on fairly high mileage, speed, marathon pace runs, and most notably, the absence of the sacred 20 miler run.
"you're not running the first 16 miles of a marathon, you're running the last 16. We're duplicating that final-miles feeling." Traditional programs overemphasize the long run, he says. Twenty-plus mile efforts sap most runners and compromise the quality of subsequent workouts.
In other words, the plan is designed for solid weekly mileage, hard workouts, and to stop people from making mistakes I make. Yes, that is me. I’m one of those who runs those 20 mile runs and sometimes more, yet the result is I am often then left with dead legs and unable to nail a good work out for many more days. (especially this training cycle where I’ve done five 20 milers already)
In my defense
1. Rather than the 45 minute slower than MP that the Hansons suggest, I do lots of marathon pace miles in my long runs, and have done progressively faster longer runs where the last half are at or below marathon pace (of course, I don’t' even know what my MP is right now? But vaguely I have it down to something like 7:59:48, give or take a tenth of a second.)
2. After many years of trying, my Boston Qualifier run finally came after, among many other things, I ran my longest training run ever of 23 miles.
3. I don’t want to always be training, sometimes I want to just ‘run’ and I get the most joy and deep-rooted running highs when I’m chasing the dragon down between miles 15 and 20.
4. My long runs have been separated by 14 to 21 days, so I have been able to hit some (but not enough) hard workouts of mile repeats, hills, and mid-range marathon pace runs in between.
So, since the Hansons training run was only 16 miles, I got there early and did 4 by myself. Well, I say mostly by myself, but there was a handful of other runners who were doing exactly the same. Yep, I saw them. I’m not so odd. There’s sanity in numbers. Plus, unlike the folks who, if they were following the Hansons plan, did 6-8 miles the day before, I was coming off a much needed 4 day mini taper.
After just a mile in I could tell that the major debilitating soreness and tightness from earlier in the week was gone, but I was faced with something new:
My throat was sore. Really sore. Well, maybe a 6 out of ten on the soreness scale, where the days before it had only been a 3 or 4 out of ten.
|Damn it. I woke up wondering if this was the universe telling me not to run today, or was this just a barrier to test my resolve? Is this an obvious reason to stay home, or just a regular annoyance of training, trying to test if I am man or mouse? Will I shrivel in fear and stay in comfort, or blast past barriers and rip this sh*t till my bones collapse? As you can tell, of course, I wanted to run, so I was going to rationalize the latter.|
Not to mention, the day before I was having a deep discussion on the adage "you will regret the things you do not do, more than the things that you do do." And damn it I needed this run due to some unique and significant emotional stressors in my life.
The phlegm flew fast and furious to the sidewalk the first few miles, but my legs felt fine. After four miles done, a quick pee break, a change of shoes from my Nike Pegasus to my speedy Kirvana 3's, pre-run instructions in front of the Hansons shoe store, we were off.
There were about 100 of us, I’m guessing, and it was a perfect 55 degree day. The course hasn’t changed in the ten years or so I’ve been running it.
The only way I can run a progressive speed 20 miler is first to go into it rested, second, I need to try and bore myself and force myself to hold back the first half when the urge is to push. I get myself geeked to explode as the miles build, and then when the faster miles do come, the goal is to push myself forward when the urge is to slow.
In this way, the progressively faster long run mimics marathon day.
After the first loop where I was warmed up but hardly anaerobic, I let my legs run free, never fully sure if they’d respond, but happy with the results.
I ran the first 4 at 8:45, then 8 at 8:30, then splits of 8:00, 7:50, 7:40, 7:40, 8:00, 7:55, 7:35, 7:58
I felt great. Maybe not great enough to run 6.2 more at this pace, but I wasn’t supposed to be there yet.
Of course they had refreshments at the end, and offered a discount on store items for runners. I came close to buying a Brooks-Hansons distance project t-shirt, and asked the salesperson if I wore the shirt around would I be mistaken for one of their ‘elites’. “It hasn’t worked for me” the salesperson said, and so I put it down and remembered my allegiance to cross-town competing shoe store, Running fit.
Things I learned or relearned
As important as it is to mimic race day during these training runs with timing, diet, regiment, there are things you can't recreate. For example, on race day I can't park at the Mcdonalds across the street from the start, change my shoes after 4 miles, pee behind the Used violin store, and I won’t have to dash through intersections trying to hit the green lights.
Trying to hit green lights makes for some great fartleks.
The most dangerous drivers are those coming out of fast food drive thru's since their noses are usually buried in their bag of goodies.
Sunday early morning walkers have a great aura too them. Sunday is the most spiritual day of the week. The collective spiritual unconsciousness of the human race is just in its best place on Sundays.
On the flip side, I love running by cheap motels with strung out folks outside smoking their morning cigarets. Not sure why. It just reminds me of ghosts of my former self and how I've changed. There were a handful of these hotels up and down Woodward, and I felt the stare from the strung out eyes of cheap motel inhabitants as I cruised on by.
Even in a training run, it's more fun to pass people and do negative splits than to be passed. I've been on both sides. And when somebody is passed, they can't help but try to speed up just a bit. Again, I’ve been on both sides.
Bikes along the route supporting runners: I kinda hate them. There was a biker who was there cruising alongside with aid for a runner, (but there was already aid on the course) and here I was running many strides alongside with lots of effort with a bike right in front of me taking one easy pedal every ten yards or so. It just wasn’t’ right, but thankfully I passed them. This happened during a mile of my recent Ann Arbor marathon course and it struck me the same. Grrrr. Pet peeve. (and I have this feeling they are going to read this post and flame me right back.)
Shhhhh, dont tell anybody, but I always bring Gu to these events, yet still grab one of the Gu’s offered and put them in my pocket to use for the next 20 miler. It's part of the circle of life.
I need to fix my ipod play-list. The playlist is front loaded with the faster songs. I had to maintain a slow pace listening to The White Stripes and Eminem and Led Zeppelin, and the faster miles were run to songs like Empire State of Mind (on there since I’m running New York) and even a Neil Diamond song (don’t ask).
My Kirvana 3's make it hard to tell how fast I'm running. My last 8 miles all felt the same perceived effort, yet they were 20 seconds apart. The Kirvana's are like an out of control Quidditch broom.
I’m on the fence about running with my Kirvana 3’s altogether for my next marathon. They are so ‘dope’. That's all I can say. Putting them on is like spiderman and his evil black spider suit.
Football Sundays are made much more magnificent following a Sunday morning 20 mile run. Monday mornings, however, always feel a bit blah and a tad bit useless even.
The Day After
I woke up today, the day after, with a sore throat that is much worse, probably a 8 out of 10 on the soreness scale. No surprise. As long as I don’t’ need more than 3 or 4 days of rest to deal with this cold, no regrets. Otherwise, it will be lessons learned. But sometimes you just want to run for today and the hell with tomorrow, and Sunday was one of those days.
Besides, my primary care physician is a marathoner, so If I go there and explain I got 26 more training days for the NYCM, I’m thinking she’ll stick an IV in me and pump me full of some turbo powered, possibly illegal antibiotics or radioactive material that will get me back on my feet.
The Jade Rabbit, on Amazon.
$3.99, the story of a miraculous marathon run.
STRAY on Amazon $2.99