Dress Rehearsal

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Rusticus, that all the world should be dressed — in uniforms. And all went to be photographed, every one into city college. I had intended to break in my new shoes for the marathon, so I had new shoes on too. It was our longest training run, 23 miles, 13 of them at marathon pace, and we were to finish at the marathon finish (more or less).

As close as we’ll get to a dress rehearsal.

Mike tells me to run at a 6:40 pace.

I live just at the bottom of the HILL¹ and planned to run from home to where everyone was meeting — which was the finish area. We’d warm up there, then start, running backwards to mile 19.5, turn around and run to the finish. Then I’d run home.

It was still dark when I poked my nose out the door a little after six. Dark and very, very foggy. The HILL isn’t really that bad when you aren’t trying to go fast. It’s kind of fun to be out there when there’s no one else on the road and just the faintest of light from the intersection at the bottom.

Today was the day of the SB bike century. I hadn’t connected that with what we were doing, but when I got down to Leadbetter I found lots of people, bikes and bright lights. So our group was a little further down the beach from our usual spot.

A forty minute warmup after my 3 mile run to the start meant about 8 miles total (and so the run home would be just the right amount to finish off the day). Then we all trooped across the street to have a picture taken. There are a lot of us today. It’s still foggy, but almost light enough to take a good picture…

Finally we started. We’re now climbing the backside of the HILL; this climb is spread over 2 miles (rather than half a mile) but it’s just as high and seems to go on forever. We thought to go up at a 6:50 pace. Halfway up I realized my shoelace had come untied so I had to stop and tie it up again. This put me behind everyone else in my group, more like a 7 minute pace for me.

Ah well.

My glasses were fogging up too. They’d been OK when I was running easily, but now I’m running harder I can’t see. I have to keep wiping them.

But now it’s downhill for a bit and I run at a 6:12 pace as I try to catch up with my little group.

I don’t. They are going fast too.

Then it’s another slow grind of a climb this time it takes 3 miles to get up to the same height, so it’s not quite as slow… 6:33, 6:46, 6:41.

And then… half a mile or so of downhill, but the sad thing about this one is that we turn round at the bottom and have to go back up the wretched thing again. Average pace 6:44. Not good. I’m going slowly today. I didn’t feel that tired when I started out.

But I guess I am.

Hmm. Kary seems to be going slowly too. I’m actually catching up to her on a 6:37 mile. But when I reach her she announces that her shoe is untied and stops to fix it. Leaving me running after the dimly perceived figure of Eric, off in the fog in front.

Kary passes me again (of course).

I finally give up on my glasses. I can’t seem to wipe them clean any more. I just hold them in my hand. The world is much clearer now. Even my vision is better than foggy glasses☺.

And now it’s down Los Positas. This should be easy, but after a mile I see I’m doing 6:46. Very ug. I try to speed up, but the next mile isn’t much better. 6:41. OK, I’m supposed to be running 6:40s, so 6:41 isn’t bad but this is a downhill mile. I should be going faster because I know I’ll slow down even more on the HILL.

Which now lies before me.

The SB century also ends with this hill, and they’ve placed a happy little sign for us: One last little hill ☺

They’ve climbed ~9000ft in their 100 miles, while we’ve done perhaps a tenth that. It’s much more significant for us. It doesn’t feel little. At all. At all.

Two weeks ago I charged right up this thing at a 7:00 pace. Today I’m slow. I know it. Of course I’ve now run 10 miles while when I faced this hill two weeks ago I had run 3. That makes some difference, but it’s more that I’m just tired now.

I go up, as best I can, and at the top I see I ran a little faster than 8 minute pace for the half mile hill. I’ll probably be at least this tired when I face it in the marathon for real. The rest of the mile is almost back on track though, at a 6:46 pace.

And then it’s a glorious downhill run. Remembering Los Positas I’m a little nervous, but I don’t need to be. I run a 6:25 and a 6:23.

And my average pace was 6:41. In spite of everything. Even including my shoelace. Good. I hope that means I can run 6:50s on marathon day…

(And then I ran home exceedingly slowly).

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