There was a time when I would gear up for my most challenging workout of the week – my long run. That was thirteen years ago when I was training for my first marathon. Now that triathlon has been entered into the mix, my long run today has become “only 9 miles”. Yes, after riding 52 miles followed by a 2 mile run yesterday, 9 miles is a bit of a relief.
Now, my run was not without challenges today. Primarily the temperature. The moderate climate of yesterday is gone and the heat has returned. Most of my run was in full sun and temperatures between 78 and 83. And then there are the hills. It is also labeled “easy” run, which means staying in my zone two to three being able to keep a conversation. That was put to the test twice along my run as well. Between miles 1 and 2 I ran past a friend’s house and he was out on his run too. He runs in the 8 minute range for easy runs and was kind enough to jog with me while we were climbing the steepest hill on my run. I was able to talk, albeit in a much more winded capacity than he.
I took a different path and went down a side street saying farewell to my brief running companion. The road is a cul-de-sac and I reemerged on the main road now with 3.25 miles behind me. Running toward me was another friend who is also training for the half iron triathlon I am doing in September. He also did the race I did early this month and is a much faster triathlete than me. After running 9 miles, he crossed the road and ran with me until just before my 4.5 mile turnaround point. It was a bit of a cool down for him, but I did pick up my pace. I would check my GPS and I was running between 9:50 to 10:10 pace and still keeping my heart rate in zone 3, but at the high end. Poor guy, he even walked with me twice when my heart rate crossed 150. I do try to keep my heart rate under 140, so I had to walk twice. While we were running, most of the time I could keep the conversation going. Through the entire 9 miles my heart rate averaged 135 and it maxed at 153, which is right at my current anaerobic threshold. This was my fastest pace running outside while keeping my heart rate down. I was very encouraged.
So much of my training is done by myself. Even though my training partner (who is back from vacation today, happy dance) swims with me, swimming by nature is also a solitary sport. Yesterday on my ride a guy came up next to me and road with me for a couple miles until we went different ways. Today I was able to run a brief period with friends as well. Having the company and brief conversation was a nice break in the action. I enjoy training by myself, it gives me time to think, process everything on my mind and pray too. But also having company, especially with others who appreciate the craziness of the training we do, is a treat. A reminder that I am not alone and there are many others on similar journeys.