Ending the week with a solid Long Run!

Yesterday was a great day! I got to play a Klingon in the play "A Klingon Christmas Carol" and had the best time ever!  What a great experience!  Of course, that meant I did not get home until after 10pm, at which point I finally ate some dinner (way later than my usual dinner time).

My friend Mike and I had planned on putting in our Long Run today -- an 11-miler!  So my first thought was "Am I going to get enough sleep?" and "Am I going to be up for this run if I don't?".  When I woke up at 8am, it was really raining outside so I thought perhaps Mother Nature had answered the question for me.  I am not a big fan of running in the rain.

Then I got a text from Mike saying "I am up for it if you are".  And then the rain started to subside.  So I figured "Let's do this!".  So at 10:23am (it was raining again but only lightly) we headed out on the Illinois Prairie Path, starting in Algonquin and heading towards West Dundee.  The temps were in the upper 30s but without the wind, it wasn't very cold at all.  Thank the Lord for that because rainy AND cold would have made for a lousy run experience.

We started off at an 11:00/mm pace, slow and easy, and pretty much made it all the way to RT 72 in West Dundee (at the Dairy Queen) without missing a beat.  We only had to stop a couple of times due to traffic at road crossings (I was NOT going to tangle with another SUV!).  So with almost 6 miles under our belt, we turned around to head back.

I took a PowerAde gel at the 4.5 mile point with some water.  I was feeling very calm and determined, with no pains or twinges in either my legs or my hip (I was wondering if the left hip would complain at all, but it was quiet and agreeable).  I checked my HRM and at the 11:00/mm pace I was running, my heart rate was only in Zone 1!  That, in and of itself, was amazing because that means my heart and body were expending a basic level of effort to propel me forward, burning fat rather than sugar for fuel.  This is the optimum scenario!

As we headed back towards Algonquin, Mike and I continued on our set pace.  At the 8.5 mile point, we took a bathroom break, and I took my second fueling -- this time a Clif Bar.  I have to say, I was not feelin it.  It was dry and kinda hard to swallow without chugs of water.  I didn't like that.  So note to self: stick with the gels or sport beans for the race.

Mike decided at Mile 10 that we should speed up the pace a bit, to see what was 'left in the tank.'  So we slowly increased our pace to 9:00/mm and kept it there for just over a 1/2 mile.  Then we slowed down to a 10:20/mm pace until we reached the last tenth of a mile.  Then Mike started to speed up and pulled ahead.  Of course, I had to catch him.  And i caught him just as we reached the end of the path, running at a 7:30/mm pace!

Whew!  That was amazing!  So I guess my tank still had some octane!  This is good to know for the Half Marathon.  If I conserve energy the first 6 miles, then kick it up a notch for the next 6 miles, I will still have some reserves 'in the tank' to give that last mile a good, strong run to the finish.

So in the end, we ran 11.3 miles, with our warm-up and cooldown walks bringing the total miles to 11.96.  Pretty pleased with that!  My legs were tired and felt a little tight, but nothing out of the ordinary that stretching and the foam roller wouldn't resolve.  So this adds up to a total of 19.7 miles for the week, and just under 60 miles for the month of November!

After going home, getting out of all the wet clothing, showering, foam rolling, etc, my son and I met Mike for lunch at Around The Clock in Crystal Lake for a well deserved lunch.  Grilled chicken breasts with new potatoes and peas, washed down with unsweetened iced tea.  Oh, did it taste heavenly!  We all had a great time laughing and talking about Disney and all kinds of other stuff.  And I realized that running in the rain wasn't so bad after all. (Now my next new experience needs to be running in the snow!)

I am telling you, there is nothing better than running with good friends and sharing in the experience.  It makes the runs so much more fun, and the time just flies by.  I don't mind running solo -- I do it several times a week.  But I never miss the chance to run with someone like Mike because it adds something special to the experience.  We never ran out of things to talk about (and of course we talked about the Klingon play since he came to see me in it yesterday).

So what's next? This week includes another Hill Run!!!!  Oh yes!  Another crazy run up this killer hill in the neighborhood.  An all-out run up the hill -- about 1/3 mile -- then brief rest, a walk back down, and do it again... three times!  Then after that, I get to do an all-out run down the street (thankfully flat) for 3 minutes, followed by a walk back to the car.  I did this last month and surpisingly completed it all.  It will be interesting to see the statistics when I do it this Thursday.  Thank goodness this is a cutback week so my Long Run next Saturday is only 3 miles, with a total of maybe 11 miles for the whole week.  (And hopefully no SUV encounters).

Disney Countdown: It is now only 35 days before the Disney 5K and Half Marathon.  Things are getting 'real'!!!!  I cannot wait for this race and all the park fun!  And, I cannot wait to spend a day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter too!  Life is good!

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