Alain, The Jewish Stallion, and I met at 7:30 Sunday morning for a 20-mile long run. (Actually, The Jewish Stallion was doing about 19, Alain 32k because he's European, and I 20.2 miles because I'm weird like that.) We started off with a couple of nine-minute miles and some banter. About two or three miles in The Jewish Stallion posed to me the question you see in the epigraph above.
I misinterpreted the question the first time. I thought he wanted odds on our race, so I told him that it would be such a resounding defeat that Vegas odds makers weren't even willing to put a line on it. He then explained to me that he wanted to know what kind of minute handicap I would be willing to put on Prague. Would I give him a five-minute handicap and, therefore, have to beat him by five minutes to keep my pride? I never gave him an actual answer to his question because I don't think people should ask for charity going into a race, but I think my non-answer may have sparked one hell of a performance by The Jewish Stallion.
At about three miles in, The Jewish Stallion gapped me and Alain. We decided to let him go, as we were planning on running negative splits, and he began running close to the pace we wanted to average over the course of the run. The Jewish Stallion opened up about a 30 meter lead and then took a wrong turn, allowing me and Alain to close the gap. However, after another two miles The Jewish Stallion had gapped us again, and by eight miles into the run, he had a 100-150 meter lead on us.
During the ninth mile both Alain and I had to pee. We also realized at this time that The Jewish Stallion, a man who stops to pee on most ten-mile runs had not stopped to pee. We decided stopping at that point wouldn't put us at too much of a deficit, as The Jewish Stallion was sure to stop at some point also. After our pee break, The Jewish Stallion was ahead of us by about 300 meters, and he carried that lead out of the dunes and into Noordwijk.
Just before completing ten miles, The Jewish Stallion turned around, and Alain and I ran to the same spot and also turned around. From three miles into the run until that turn around point, Alain and I had been clocking miles between 8:03 and 8:15. For the first ten miles we averaged 8:24 per mile. Beginning with mile 11, the pace picked up, and no remaining mile would be over eight minutes. Our 11th mile was 7:46 and our 12th mile was 7:54, and that 12th mile would be our slowest mile on the return trip. As we picked up the pace, however, so did The Jewish Stallion. By 14 miles into the run, we still had not closed the gap. In fact, at points, we could swear that the gap was widening.
Mile fifteen was run on the road through Katwijk. Alain and I ran our fastest mile so far that day during that 15th mile, a 7:25. Funny thing, though, and unbeknownst to us until the end of the run, The Jewish Stallion, finding relief from the hilly trails on the roads, also ran a 7:25. As we saw our splits through Katwijk and saw that The Jewish Stallion's gap over us was still not closing, we started talking about what The Jewish Stallion was thinking. Was he trying to keep the inevitable from happening? Was this his day and we would never hear the end of it after he arrived at the end ahead of us? Was he peeing in his pants to keep himself from having to stop?
I asked Alain, "What if he does beat us back?"
"That's not going to happen."
Both Alain and I were feeling fine at this point, and we discussed the fact that we only really needed a couple of miles to close the gap. We could actually wait until we were out of the dunes to catch him if we wanted to.
While Alain had confidence in his speed yesterday, I was not necessarily with him. As you know, I put in a 23-mile run on Monday because my son was born on the previous Sunday morning, so this was my second 20+ mile run in seven days. As well, by finishing 20 miles yesterday I would have run 77 miles in seven days, which is the most miles I've run in one week. Add to that a lack of sleep from having a wonderful newborn in the house and a faster than necessary seven kilometer tempo run on Friday, and I had no business having such a quality run. Even though I felt great and was having fun, I felt some nervousness about how long I could keep going faster.
During the 16th mile, though, The Jewish Stallion eased up. In fact, Alain and I eased up too because we didn't want to catch him as soon as we were going to. We still had a big hill to climb, and we wanted to make The Jewish Stallion work that hill, hoping to keep his gap on us. We couldn't slow down enough, though, and we caught The Jewish Stallion during that 16th mile--a 7:48.
After mile 16, the pace picked back up as we all seemed to be testing one another, seeing what each of us had left. The Jewish Stallion mentioned that he would stop at his house--where I imagine he eventually peed, but Alain and I had to run a bit farther to reach our mileage goals. We negative split our last four miles: 7:31, 7:29, 7:16, and 6:59. Alain and I averaged 7:33 per mile for our final ten miles, meaning that we ran back about eight and a half minutes faster than we had run out. Yesterday, I actually ran faster for 20 miles than I had in any training run. (I have run faster through 20 miles in two marathons.) It turned out to be a fine run led by one heck of a rabbit.
Sunday's Run Details: Guerrilla Race by scarbellyracer at Garmin Connect - Details
Today's Run Details: Guerrilla Race by scarbellyracer at Garmin Connect - Details