8 on the 8th--Extra Challenge Division

Many thanks to Nancy for organizing yet another virtual race--although I still have the same complaints that there are far too few aid stations and mile markers are not clearly marked (or marked at all for that matter). As usual I registered for the Extra Challenge Division and did ten more miles than the required eight. That's right, 18 miles--Manchester is 27 days away and Newport is just 42 days after that. Here's how it went down.

After many and many weeks of saying "we're going to Philly to visit family" wifey and I actually went to Philly to visit family on Friday--which meant that I had to draw up and memorize an 18-mile route on Friday morning. I've run around Philly a couple times already, so I'm pretty familiar with the major running paths (and their lack of bathrooms and water fountains) and quickly put together a route going through some of my favorite places.

I woke up at 6:30am on Saturday and started getting ready for the half-mile walk to the subway from my grandfather-in-law's house. I was not looking forward to it. Then, just before I headed downstairs at 7am my very excitable and energetic uncle-in-law knocks on the door to the room saying that he'll drive me to center city so that I don't have to take the subway. Yes!!!! It's like looking at your training schedule and realizing that you only have to run 10 miles instead of the 14 you thought you had to run.

While eating toast with jelly I had to keep on defending my choice of running routes to my uncle-in-law. He keeps on trying to tell me that I shouldn't be running in center city, that there are runner-friendly parks around the city. And what I keep on trying to explain to him is that I will be running through the runner-friendly parks (i.e., Fairmount Park) but that I will still have to snake through downtown Philly to reach 18-miles. On top of that I've already mapped out 18-miles from Center City, so if I run elsewhere, I would have no idea what I've run. Of course, the whole time I'm trying to be exceedingly nice because he means well and he is offering to drive me at this crazy early hour on a Saturday. Eventually, though, he does give in and drives me to Market and 2nd Street.

It was a beautiful day, high 60s, bit of a breeze, the only thing I could ask for was some cloud coverage--but I'll still take the cool temps and be hapy. I started out on an incline in an effort to regulate my pace from the beginning--which works perfectly since I felt myself going too fast by the top of the incline. Immediately after that I faced a small detour from my originally planned route since it was so early and the gates to Penn's Landing weren't open yet.

After that, the plan goes according to schedule. I make a preemptive stop at Starbucks before Mile 5--since I know of no Miguel in Philadelphia--and then a water stop at Mile 8.5ish, another water stop at Mile 14 (also meant to be a bathroom break, but no need for it, bowels were rock solid after Starbucks!), and then a 30-second walking break at Mile 14.5 to stop a stitch from tearing apart my abdomen.

I did make one other stop along the way and that was to tie my shoes. I noticed early in the run that my right shoe was a little loose. I figured if it was really loose, then the bow would untie itself and I'd have to retie, otherwise it would be fine as is. Turns out I was wrong. The shoe was really loose, so much so that I developed a good sized blister by Mile 11. At Mile 12 I retied my shoe so that it was snugger, but the damage was done. When I looked at my foot after the run I had a blister half the size of a penny. It was annoying, but if I get a blister like that once every three years (yup, three years without major blisters), I think I'll be just fine.

As I rounded the corner at the end of Rittenhouse Square I looked at my watch and realized I was going to finish a few minutes under my goal pace of a 9:00. Sweet! I tried to pick up the pace, but really, I was just happy to be having such a good run without any major problems (not so for the last time I ran in Philly). Also traffic was picking up so I found myself stopping at every intersection thinking that I'd never make it to Independence Hall.

I made my final lap around Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell (how's that for an inspirational finish?). I stopped my watch at 2:38:13 for an 8:48 pace. The best part of it was that I felt like I could run another eight more miles--and that's the most important part, isn't it? It was a great run, which only makes me feel better about the Manchester/Newport combo that is so close.


Interesting to note: last week's New Yorker and September's Runner's World have the same cover story. Both are covering Ryan Hall as he gets ready for the marathon in Beijing. I just finished reading the RW story on the train back from Philly and will probably get through the NYer story tomorrow during my commute. I'm interested to see what approach the NYer takes, since the RW story surprised me but was otherwise poorly written.


Non-Runner Nancy said...

Should I give you an 8:48 pace for the 8?

Thanks for running with us even on the road. Your route sounded amazing to me!!

Amanda said...

I'd like to call you an overachiever, but that was a great post so I won't. I love those runs where you feel like you could keep going...and seriously I've yet to meet a non-runner that hasn't tried to talk me out of running in "strange" places.

Kevin said...

Great job on the run. That stinks about the lack of restrooms and fountains on the paths

Nitmos said...

Liberty Bell and Independence Hall? Why does everyone run in cooler places than me? Nice job.