Without really intending to, I just completed a 20 day stretch of running every single day, twice on a few days. This finally dawned on me yesterday when I actually looked at my training schedule and saw that the last rest day was a few weeks back and the next one was still a couple of weeks away. It seemed like 40+ days in a row might be a little excessive, so I decided to take yesterday off. The thing is, I was actually more sore yesterday than I am on a normal day when I run....I don't know if my legs were in shock that I wasn't abusing them some more, or if it was just the 20 days of running catching up a little bit. All in all, 20 days in a row isn't really all that profound of a feat, I know several people who have gone months or even years (and I will soon be one of them), but it is, for now, a personal record.
The thing is, all that running didn't seem to slow me down any. Smack dab in the middle of that streak was my first ever sub-20 5K and at the end of it was an 18 miler on Saturday where I absolutely, positively could not force myself to run slow. For long runs, I would prefer to go at an easy 8:30-8:40 min/mile pace to save my legs some. But on Saturday, I was consistently reeling off miles under 8:15. I kept on trying to force myself to slow down, but as soon as I stopped thinking about it, the pace went right back up. I actually stopped after five miles and forced myself to walk for 30 seconds, hoping that I could get all the switches and gears reset and slow down, but it didn't work. I had a few slower miles on the hilly portions of my route, but ended up running the whole thing about 30 seconds faster per mile than I wanted to. With two miles left, I said to hell with it and cranked out a couple of sub-8:00 miles just to get done. So, I ended up with the fastest 18 miles I've ever run outside of a marathon. Not sure what that means, if anything, but I'll take it as a good thing for now. And, even after that, I still felt good and ended up hiking around in the woods for three hours that afternoon in a feeble attempt to kill a deer.
Maybe I couldn't slow down on that 18 miler because I was so pumped up from watching the Olympic Trials Men's Marathon that morning. Most people would think it crazy to wake up at 5:30 AM on a Saturday morning to watch some guys run laps around Central Park. That may be true, and if it is, then I guess I'm crazy. I was pulling for Ryan Hall and he flat out kicked ass. He didn't even look like he broke a sweat and ended up winning by a couple of minutes and breaking the OT Marathon record in the process. Freakin amazing. I would be ecstatic if I could run one 4:32 mile and he was running that pace toward the end of the marathon. I'm looking forward to the Olympics in August. An American hasn't won gold there since.....well, hell, I don't know when, but it's been a long time. Ryan Hall is probably our best shot in the near future.
As exciting as Hall's dominating performance was, it was countered by the sudden death of one his close friends and another elite marathoner, Ryan Shay. Shay collapsed just 5 miles into the marathon on Saturday and was given CPR immediately and transported to the hospital by ambulance, but was declared dead on arrival. Apparently, he had an oversized heart and early indications are that he had a sudden heart attack. You occasionally hear stories about marathoners dying in a race, but they are almost always about older, slower runners and often involve heat and/or dehydration. Shay was only 29 and definitely wasn't slow, nor was it hot in New York on Saturday, which makes his death even more shocking. Can you even imagine how Ryan Hall must have felt? One minute, he's on top of the world after crushing a field full of America's best marathoners, the next he hears that one of his best friends just died. Crazy...