It has been nearly two years since I ran these kinds of distances. After my last half-marathon in 2010 — and the subsequent injury falling out of that — I started to figure that my long-run days were over.
Of course, we now know that might have been a little shortsighted on my part.
And, of course, I’m now getting reschooled and reminded in all the little things I’d forgotten about the differences between short runs and longer runs.
So, this is how it goes: I’ve been telling folks for years that my “window” is fourteen kilometers. Something happens to my brain, body, and spirit somewhere between a “short” twelve kilometer run and a long-ish fourteen kilometer run — to me — that flips a switch somewhere and changes the nature of things therein.
At fourteen kilometers carrying extra water and probably some additional fuel is non-optional (as I was reminded a couple weeks back) and suddenly I find myself a connoseur of sports drinks and little four-dollar packages of sports-fuel candies being sold by the running store.
At fourteen kilometers pace is a very real factor, narrowing the range to [ X plus or minus 10 seconds ] where [ X is my comfortable pace ] and where exceeding that plus or minus 10 second range will probably result in failure to complete the run.
At fourteen kilometers chafing is more than just an annoyance, but also tends to result in actual physical damage to parts of my body — if one is unprepared for that possibility — that are not supposed to bleed due to the normal wear and tear of life, a fact I was sorely reminded of yesterday, by a humbling sort of pain ever since, by the efforts of scrubbing two man-sized gobs of blood from the nipular region of my brand-new running shirt. (The new shirt didn’t help that either, by the way.)
We ran a little over sixteen kilometers yesterday, so all these points are starting to factor into this equation. Fairly obviously… especially if you were one of the unlucky few to have seen my shirt.
And for those still interested in the ongoing virtual tracking of my half-marathon training, as of that sixteen kilometer run I passed the two hundred and sixty-one kilometer count (as of nine weeks ago) a virtual distance that brings me from the corner right near my house all the way down the QE2 highway and whizzing on through the small city of Airdie, Alberta. I should be in Calgary by the end of the week and seeing as how I’ve yet to get any better suggestions will be trekking virtually westward from there and towards Vancouver. There should be a (cropped) map attached to this post of the distance so far.