Jed De Jong and I did the London to Port Stanley run again today, which was put on by Runner's Choice, a London, Ontario running store that sponsors a lot of local races and running clinics. John Ferguson, the legend, organized this run for Runner's Choice, and apparently its the 74th time he's run this route.
I wore my black shorts with the thin reflective band on the front, one pair of Champion socks (I'll have to get more from Costco before the race), my (relatively new) Asics shoes, my Westover Shore to Shore reflective vest (which is more like a thin tank top), and my New Balance running hat that I purchased from Runners Choice last week. I had my Garmin Forerunner 205 on my left wrist -- fully charged and ready to go -- and my Timex watch on my right wrist, just as a backup. Oh, and I can't forget the BodyGlide that I purchased at Runners Choice last week to stop the chaffing on my inner thighs.
I carried my Gatorade bottle, as per usual, but only with a quarter of it filled as I was able to refill it with Powerade at the hydration stops. I also carried 25 jelly beans -- one after every mile except the last -- 13 in a baggie in my hand, and 12 in the little pocket in my shorts. I never actually got to the ones in my pocket.
As you can see, by the time John, Jed and I did our Lucan cheer (John is now an honorary Lucanite -- at least to Jed and me) and headed on our run, I had every detail covered.
We left the park in London at 7:09 am -- a bit later than the last run in July. That was fine -- we were going to be running a bit faster, targeting 8:30/mile (5:19/k). It was also a bit cooler to start with -- 57 degrees F. (14 C.) but once the sun was up, it warmed up quickly. I think by the time we were done it was about 71 degrees F. (22 C.) so it was plenty warm enough for a long run.
We got an abbreviated tour of John's old stomping ground on the way up Wharncliffe -- and Jed and I were able to point out the home that John showed us last month where he lost his virginity many moons ago. He was a bit surprised that we could point it out -- and, quite frankly, so were we!
By the time we made it to the first water stop, the other runners who were doing the full distance had pretty much caught up. They were tracking at a pretty good clip -- and we were holding our own, doing a 8:21 pace in the first 4.45 miles, just slightly ahead of our target pace.
Our pace continued to be measured but strong through the rest of the first-half of the run. By the time we hit the fifth hydration stop, we had done 13.8 miles with a running time of 1:54:35 -- good enough for an 8:18/mile pace. Now, adding in the water stops took us up to a total time of 2:05:38 (9:06/mile) but that was still quite acceptable.
Another member of Lucan's Shamrock Running Club, Kelly Vivian, joined us at this point -- as did our Sponge Girls. Jenny and my daughters, Karen and Tori, had made custom t-shirts for their self-appointed duties to keep the runners cool by providing cold-water-soaked sponges between hydration stops. The sponge stops only took a few seconds but were certainly welcome by many of the runners -- particularly as we got near the end. Jenny's t-shirt said "Are you sponge-worthy?" on the front, and the girls' shirts said "Sponge Girl". [Jenny got a sort of weird/disgusted look from a woman in the Tim Horton's on the way back from Port Stanley later that day.]
The next 6.2 miles we went through St. Thomas and, thus, had a few hills to contend with. We did a 8:29 per mile through this stretch, though, so we were still on our goal pace. I started to deal with some potential issues during this stretch. Around the 14 mile mark, I started getting some pain in my left hamstring. Getting close to the 19 mile mark, I had pain in my right calf muscle and left thigh. In all cases, I just concentrated on running more loosely -- more relaxed -- so that I could work through the pain. It took a couple of miles in each case, but relaxing my legs worked. Reading up later, the cramps may be due to lack of salt in my system. On my next long run, I may take along packets of salt with my jellybeans so that if I feel myself cramping up, I'll have a bit of salt and sport drink.
It was really the last six miles where we were looking to do our best times -- so around this point, both Jed and I (without saying a word to each other) started to step it up a notch. We did the last six miles at a 7:59 pace -- basically marathon pace -- and our last two miles were at a 7:29 pace.
We both had energy in the tank at the end. We hit the finish upright and smiling. There was no crashing (a beer at the finish from my mother's boyfriend, Tom, helped!) nor even a potential sign of me crashing during or after the run.
So, the final stats were:
Total time including hydration, sponge and lift-bridge stops: 3:57:35
Total time running: 3:33:37
Average running pace over 26.2 miles: 8:09 per mile (5:06 per kilometer)
This was just slightly slower than are target marathon pace. 10 seconds per mile faster and with no stopping at water stations and we're going to Boston!
But, of course, the training isn't over when you cross the finish line. We took the time to go for a soak in Lake Erie which was incredibly refreshing. And after a shower and a change of clothes, we had a very good lunch at GT's in Port Stanley. I was hungrier than I was after the last long run, but still only managed to consume one large hamburger -- at least for the solid-food portion of my meal. Karen and I split a jug of strawberry smoothies, which helped to get carbs into me quickly. And the three Sol beers (like Corona) did the rest of the job.
When we got home, I had an ice bath -- with what little ice was left in the house after being used for the sponge cooler. Now, several hours after the run, I'm walking relatively normally.
Even with the frequent stops for hydration and sponges, this was a personal best run for me. But more than the finish time was the way that Jed and I finished that made this the best run I've ever done -- at least for the next month or so! Corning (and Boston?), here we come!