Slow But Steady Wins the Race to Complete a Marathon

Today's run was my best long run since starting up training for the Santa Barbara Marathon 4 months ago. An 18 mile out and back down Sycamore Canyon to PCH, the good ole' Turf to Surf run.  Today's total run time was 2 hours, 25 minutes; 1:09 to PCH and 1:16 on the turnaround...not a bad "split" given return trip has much more uphill (and heat).

As readers of this blog may know, I've had one injury after another over the months, but have battled back from each one.  Most of the injuries have been minor irritants. The most debilitating problem was a lower back spasm that took me away from solid training for 2 to 3 weeks. But that problem is gone, thanks to a great Camarillo based chiropractor.

My biggest concern today was, how would my body react to running long again. Although I did run 15 miles 2 weeks ago, I wondered, would it feel like I'm starting from scratch today?  That's a feeling many runners have after taking a break.  How will our bodies react?

The good thing is, our bodies have "muscle memory" - those long runs 2 months ago may feel irrelevant from a mental standpoint, but somehow the Bank of You the Runner has logged those miles in an account. While your legs and lungs don't pay interest on those miles, they treat them as if they were FDIC insured.

So stepping back for a sec, last night I was determined to get to bed by 11 p.m. and wake up, without alarm, at 6 a.m. One thing led to another and I was in bed by 12:15 a.m. I awoke at 7:15 a.m., but within minutes was fixing my 3 year old breakfast (scoring brownie points with my still sleeping wife)...then minutes later his brother was up and before I know it, I'm not out the door until 7:40 a.m.  A bit behind schedule.  I'd prefer to have run much earlier, but hey, no big deal. Weather was somewhat cooler today too.

In preparation for the run, I loaded up my Nathan waistpak with 2 bottles of water, 2 bottles of Orange Gatorade and 3 GU packets (Vanilla, Chocolate and Banana). I wore a hat, glasses, sunscreen, slathered up the toes with petroleum jelly (as usual, no blisters for me!).

I'm fortunate to live in close proximity to Sycamore Canyon in Newbury Park. Where else can you do a serene, largely shaded, 8 to 10 mile run to the Pacific Ocean, with multiple places for pit stops/water, half paved, half well kept fire roads, WITHOUT cars to deal with!?  There are plenty of cyclists in Sycamore Canyon and they often fly by on the downhills, but are very courteous. Added bonus is the wildlife...deer, coyotes, bunnies and other attractions.

Today's goal was to run at a moderate, steady, conversational pace (though I'd be talking to myself as I was running alone).  Taking in fluids at roughly 10 minute intervals, I felt perfectly fine when I reached PCH and said hello to the Pacific. The return trip immediately felt 10 degrees warmer to me, as the sun peaked out from behind the mountains. But I continued on, neither slowing down, nor speeding up.

It is rare for me, one who speaketh his mind, to end a long run admitting I'm feeling GREAT, but as I approached and started up the 800 foot humbling, grinding asphalt ascent into civilization, I realized I felt just fine. Hot and tired, but in a good way.  In fact, I DID feel great! Both physically and mentally!

And to think just one week ago I was depressed!