Monday, February 17, 2014

Return to the Lakefront Path

If anyone saw a weather report I definitely didn't head outside for a run today.  It is fun to run in the falling snow, just not in the wind and when the rate of snow is 1-2 inches per hour.  My return to the lakefront path actually occurred yesterday for my weekly long run.

How long has it been since I've been on my normal training grounds?  I had to dig deep to find an answer.  I did a 2 mile loop back on November 3rd while my knee was still giving me issues.  I ran 3 more times outdoors after that before taking nearly a month off from running to rehabilitate the knee and let the broken toe mend.  Those runs were a fun run from Roadrunner Sports, Rock and Roll Half Las Vegas, and November bonus pint night at Fleet Feet Lincoln Square.  I wouldn't run again until I hit the treadmill in the waning days of December.  I did manage to get through a 10K on January 11th along the lakefront path, but that was much further south than my usual stomping grounds between Oak Street and Wilson.

The plan to hit the path was sort of half baked.  I couldn't picture myself doing 14 miles on the treadmill.  I suffered through the 12 mile run I did 2 weeks ago and that was just torture.  I had thought maybe do part of the run outside and part of the run inside and even left my apartment with that being the plan.  I filled the 2 bottles on my water belt with Gatorade since it was about 25 degrees out and water would of just froze in the 2 plus hours the run would take me.  I figured I would loop back to the inner path between Diversey and Fullerton and hit the CARA water fountain that is kept on all winter.  I also brought along an Accel-Gel to try out.

My run started on the inner path near Diversey and headed north to the Belmont underpass where I turned south.  The first part was a little tricky since the path was still quite covered in snow, but I trucked along keeping the strides small.  The actual path was fine until I got south of Fullerton and saw that it was diverted to the upper portion above the ledges.  Everything here was a muddy quagmire and people made a path on the snow to go around it.  So much for the plan to just do loops from Diversey to Castaways and back so I could keep hitting the fountain.  I continued down until I hit Oak Street and turned back.  This is where the wind hit me and things became a struggle.  I've been running for other a month with no wind so I definitely wasn't prepared.  My face numbed and my eyes stung, but I gritted it out.  When I got back to Belmont I turned back to the inner paths to hit the fountain.  I was at 6.65 miles and figured I should just take my gel while I was there.  I liked the Accel-Gel. It tasted alright and went down a lot smoother than Gu normally does for me.  I continued back to Fullerton and onto the path and turned back north.  The wind wasn't as bad north of Belmont which helped me decide to just truck on with the run.  I wound up going a little bit north of Lawrence instead of looping around the Cricket Hill area like I normally do since the paths weren't plowed.  I was at 10.5 miles and turned south and still felt pretty good.  I had enough energy and the legs still felt strong.  I wound up picking up the pace ever so slightly.  I realized I didn't go far enough north and would have to add a little loop to my run to finish at 14 miles so I overshot Belmont by 1/3 of a mile before coming back and heading down the path for the final stretch.  My legs finally started to burn a bit that last mile.  I actually had quite a bit of Gatorade left and only hit the fountain once.  I guess the cold water helped me not need as much hydration.  I even had a negative split by a minute the second half.

It probably wasn't the wisest decision to make my weekly long run my return to the lakefront path.  It was probably crazier still that this was my longest run since the Chicago Marathon.  I got through it though and wasn't too bad today.  My knees were a little sore, but nothing that can't be worked out with some stretching and core exercises.  The one thing I did notice is that my form and cadence seem to be better.  I kept focusing on form and engaging my core muscles better while on the treadmill.  I think the consistent pace of the treadmill helped with my stride cadence.  My final mile with the burning legs was still only 1 second slower than my overall pace for the run.  The overall pace actually surprised me since I didn't feel like I was over exerting myself, yet was faster than the training I've been doing on the treadmill.

Anyone else have experience transitioning from the treadmill back to the streets?  How does your pace differ between the two?

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