It's been a physically tough weekend! It got off to a bad start when I worked the "Goblin Golf" game at my daughter's school carnival. You wouldn't think this would be a demanding assignment, but I had to bend over and get the ball our from under the wooden putting green all night, and it was no easy feat! By the end of the night, and especially the next day, my upper thighs were sore. But I did have a great time at the carnival. There aren't enough parent volunteers (has anyone else had this problem) so a small group of us did a lot--prepared a basket for the silent auction, baked two cakes for the cake walk, donated candy and toys for the prizes, setup and disassembled the three kindergarten games, worked the games all night, etc. My wife and I also make snacks every day for 21 students (popcorn, goldfish crackers, baby carrots, grapes, cheerios, etc.). We love doing it, but when you ask other parents for help (or money) you can hear the wind blowing.
Saturday we spent the day catching up on all the things that had been ignored during carnival week--laundry, house cleaning, working on the carpet stains from last week, etc. Then my daughter and I walked down to a local outdoor art festival in the park near our house. She had cotton candy and two hot dogs! I had some baked peaches with raisins and a cinnamon/sugar sauce. Excellent! We listened to some music, she played on the playground, then we walked home. It was a nice day to be outside and we really enjoyed ourselves.
Today I took the rare occasion to sleep in and do my long walk in the afternoon. My wife and daughter had afternoon plans so I walked at about 1:45 pm. It was a good day to walk--it was sunny when I left the house, but by the time I got to the lake it was overcast and occasionally sprinkling (and in the 80s!). My plan was to do 20 miles and to do some hill work, and to do it at a 12:30 pace. So I used the "Virtual Partner" mode on my Garmin to track my pace. I started at my usual spot and repeated some smaller hills around the 0.5 mile mark. Then I went around the lake to about mile 7 and left the lake to walk in some of the neighborhoods around the lake.
Specifically, I walked "Loving Hill." There is a street near the lake called Loving Avenue, and it is a straight, long and pretty steep hill. We used to train here during my Team in Training days. So I decided to do some hill repeats on Loving Hill. I'm not the only one who had that idea. I saw several bicyclists doing the same thing. The square I use (up Loving, then west, north and east back to Loving Hill) is almost exactly one mile and I did it five times in a row. I was really exhausted but I held my pace most of the time and recovered well on the downhills. I hope to keep increasing my repetitions on that hill to train for future ultras.
I also remembered why Heartland was so painful. After Loving Hill I got pretty tired and my ankles started to hurt. But I still had eight miles to go so I had to suck it up and keep walking.
Throughout the entire walk I had stayed well ahead of my virtual partner. If you don't have a Garmin, the Virtual Partner allows you to set a plan (Pace/Time, Pace/Distance, Time/Distance) and then it shows two little running icons and tells you how far ahead/behind you are. It's a good training tool and a lot of fun because you can actually start to visualize this person following you (or ahead of you, as the case may be). Well, after about 14 miles I ran out of fluids in my CamelBak. I had to stop twice at water fountains to drink, and on my second stop that sneaky little Virtual Partner passed me! I had about five miles left and I was really feeling tired, but I wasn't going to let this guy beat me. I stayed more or less even for several miles (but it was a struggle) and then I finally pulled away at about mile 18 and put some distance between myself and my little digital nemesis! I ended up finishing the day 4 seconds below my intended pace.
Something I learned today: I actually speed up on hills! That may be why the hills took so much out of me at Heartland. I found that I increased the distance between me and Virtual Partner on hills, which I thought was interesting. I kept pushing on hills today because that was part of the intention of today's training, but in races I need to ease off and take the hills at a more moderate pace. That will help me last longer and stay strong to the end.
That's all for now. I'm going to get out in the morning for a recovery walk. I want to get my body used to walking while tired, so I'm going to start walking the day after my long walk. We'll see how that goes!
Distance: 20.02 miles