Tues Night Worlds: In Hell Edition

Tuesday Night Worlds

It was hot.  Crazy hot.

The engine was overheating with every effort.

The breeze generated from riding through the thick, humid air wasn’t helping. The guys in the group were fiercely sweating.  It was flying off the head of one guy and into my face.  So I stopped riding behind him.  I was taking pulls just to get some air.

I couldn’t drink enough.  My stomach started to feel funny.  The spit was hanging from my mouth in thick strands.

After the sprint to the “finish” it took a few minutes for my eyes to uncross.

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Running Boston

BAA 10k 2013 JPMorganChase Corporate Challenge

I ran the streets of Boston again, for the first time since the Marathon bombing.

Thursday night, the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge.  Twelve thousand people crammed onto the Boston Common.  Eventually they would be spread throughout the tree-line corridors of the Back Bay.  I started in the front.  Ran fast, but within myself.  I continued my plan of running at threshold.  My heart rate danced around 175 beats per minute.  I was burning hotter than I had planned and I kept telling myself to slow down.  I felt comfortable until I cranked it up for the finish. I was in the 60’s with a time just over  20 minutes.  I had run faster in the past. But I had suffered a lot to do it.  Afterward, I drank beers with my co-workers and told war stories.

Sunday morning, the BAA 10k.  Similar course, but further out, all the way to Boston University, then back to the Common. Hot, even in the early morning.  Same plan as Thursday, but the heart rate wasn’t responding.  Maybe I hadn’t recovered from Thursday.  Or maybe it was the 50 miles I had done on the bike the day before.  The legs were okay.  But my heart rate would not climb above the low 170’s. The heat hung heavy on me and each time I pushed, I would get that throbbing in the back of my head.   I focused on running with efficiency and good technique.  I maybe found a new gear, a smoother stride and quickened my pace without extra effort.

I finished the top-70 with 37 minutes and 41 seconds.  I didn’t set any records, personal or otherwise, but I ran a smart race and felt barely taxed at the end of it.   I had started formulating a plan around running a marathon.  It was starting to feel realistic.

2013 BAA 10k

2013 Lincoln Steeplechase

lincoln steeplechase 2013 trail running

Last Sunday at the Lincoln Steeplechase I continued my program of running races below threshold in an effort to prevent running-inspired injuries that seem to crop up every year.

Last year I had run the double: Newton 10k in the morning and Lincoln in the afternoon. That was a long day. I ended up injured not too long thereafter. This year was much more manageable by comparison.

I made a good start, funneled into the first poison-ivy stretch of wood, didn’t trip anybody or get knocked down myself. I crossed the road with the front of the group, watched Eli start to pull away across the field, and passed some slower runners to work my way to the front. I checked my heart rate — 172 bpm — and committed myself to hold it there. Past the pool, wherre families lounged, I wanted to take a swim. Up the hill, my heart rate spiked, I backed off, and let the other runners go clear.

I was saving something for the final hill of the race. I got caught up by another runner and tried to hang with him up the hill. The hill was shorter than I remembered. I thought we were going all the way to the top. Maybe it was different last year. I was having a hard time thinking straight at this point. But I still had to back off to keep my heart rate down.

Once on the pavement, I settled in for the final stretch. I was running by the parents of the skiers who were doing the race. They were telling me to go faster. To catch the guy in front of me. To kick it to the finish. I told them I was good. Still, I picked it up a bit for the final rise to the line.

For me it’s progress to be able to hold back like that, to stay out of the red zone.

Full results here

2013 Newton 10k

newton 10k 2013

On Sunday, in the heat of the early summer, I ran the Newton 10k for the fifth time.

I ran past the fields and playgrounds were my son had grown up swinging on swings and sliding down slides, and along the streets that are my familiar training grounds.

I settled into an early rhythm of 6:00 mile pace, a heart rate in the low 170’s, cautious not to boil over, not to blow up, not to put myself into a world of suffering for the duration of the race.

It was hard to hold back.

I ran up the fractured cement section of Lowell Ave, watched the group of three leaders pull steadily away, then watched them tease apart, then watched as the leader disappeared up the road.

It seemed too quiet behind me.  I thought I could hear footfalls.  I suffered the paranoia of being overtaken.   It happened.  But only a few times and the third time was with the lead female runner and I pushed myself to keep pace with her and did so until the finish.

We ran along the rolling hills of Commonwealth Ave, past the Victorian mansions of West Newton Hill,  rejoining Lowell and the long gradual downhill back to the start-finish.  I was running even splits, give or take a few seconds either way, until the last two miles when the pace quickened and I dug deeper to stay with my partner.  It was getting hot and I could feel the pounding in the back of my head and I was suffering more now but I also new the end would come soon enough.

I had followed my plan, run steady, suffered well but kept my strength and endured the distance.  I kicked to the finish line, out of fear of being caught on the approach to the line.

I could hear my son yelling, “Go, Pop!”.

So I did.