Today's Long Run – November 14, 2021

Today was long-run Sunday, and while I was eagerly awaiting it for most of the week after last week’s good effort. When it got here this morning, I wasn’t all that thrilled about heading up to Waterville and running 10.0 miles (ca. 16 km).
This is what I felt like doing this morning
The weather wasn’t bad, in the mid-’40s and a breeze, a bit more than the 2 mph that Strava’s weather app gave, that is for sure. It was more that I am a bit tired and really do need a cut-back week. However, I have one more week to go before tapering for Millinocket, so suck it up, Harold.
Okay, enough whining.
I get to run, so I did. 
After going back and forth, I decided to run from Quarry Road and do the uphill route for a few miles. It isn’t as aggressive as Millinocket will be, but it gave me a good idea of what to expect from the old body. 
While I wasn’t pushing the pace that hard, I wasn’t going super easy either. For the run, I ended up in what is known as the “No zone”, which is where I usually feel most comfortable running. Not fast enough to be helpful, but not slow enough either. Going uphill for that many miles was a reality check. I might have gone sub 1:55:00 for 13.1 last weekend on the Rail Trail, but I would have been a lot closer to 2:10:00 if I had gone that far today. 
The hills took the starch out of my legs and even though I did get some sub 9:00 splits coming down the hills, adding on another three miles would have been tough this morning. This means that I would adjust my goal times a bit before the race to something more realistic for that difficult Millinocket course.
Below are elevation comparisons of the route I ran today and the Millinocket Half course.
Today’s course

The Millinocket Half Course
If today’s course got my attention, I know that Millinocket’s will even more.
I did get to say “Hi” to Brendan G a couple of times and that was nice. There were a few other runners out and about, so I wasn’t the only one out there on the roads today.

What did I learn today?

I found out that the Honey Stinger fruit gel worked quite nicely and didn’t upset my stomach, but I do need a little water to wash it down. Though, they are messy and sticky if you get them on your hands. Also, my hydration belt is difficult to get the bottle out of. I have a couple of other options that I will try out this week since I don’t really take in a lot of fluid during a run this time of year until I get over the half distance.
On a different note, the new lightweight socks I got and tried for the first time must have had a little puckering on my right foot. Which I noticed when I put my shoes on but ignored because they didn’t bother when I tied them up because there is a wear spot under my right ankle bone. Nothing serious, but it was noticeable and a distraction the last few miles. I don’t think I would use them again for long runs, but for shorter stuff, they will be fine. I do think they played a role in how the bottom of my feet felt by the 8.0-mile mark. This is a me issue and will most likely be the thing that holds me back from training/running a marathon going forward. However, socks can make more of a difference than we think many times. 
My Saucony Speed 2s continue to impress. No issues with the shoes on wet leaves on the Messalonskee Stream Trail or the Quarry dirt road.  
The problems with the bottoms of my feet are going to be an issue going forward and it is what it is. I know that I am fortunate to be running as well as I am, so I will take whatever the body allows and keep smiling. Sometimes you can’t control things and have to make choices based on the things you can control. All I can do is experiment with different running shoes to see which ones feel the best on my feet. Those that allow me to run the furthest I can without experiencing significant discomfort or injuring myself by attempting to do too much.
However, I am ready to run Millinocket and have a pretty good idea that the body will hold up to finishing, just not at the pace I really want. I guess a month to prepare for an EXTREMELY tough half-marathon isn’t quite enough time to get in the best shape to achieve what I want. So, I will go there with the idea of having fun (6 miles of mostly uphill to start the course — that’s fun???) and see how things turn out and smile when I finish.
Now, to get the COVID-19 hospitalization levels down to more reasonable levels. If they continue at the present levels or begin to increase, I will drop out of Millinocket and just wait until next year to race. Just the way it is, and yes, it is my choice.

Come with me now — the best is yet to be.

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