It’s Saturday, July 21, 2012, about 7 weeks out from Rev3 Ironman at Cedar Point.  My two kids have their summer swim club conference swim meet today at 9 AM, so time is a hot commodity today.  I will be in a nice toasty indoor pool area today from 9AM to 4 PM.  I decided earlier in the week to switch my long run and long ride days so now Saturday is the long run day.  Today’s workout is 18 miles.  I have a nice hilly, tough 6 mile loop around my neighborhood and I will do the loop 3 times so I can get nutrition and proper hydration from my house after each loop.  Lucky for me I have a CRAZY friend (Nick Tranbarger) who is also doing Rev3 Ironman, so he was more than willing to get up at the crack of dawn to get the long run workout done this morning.  I was up at 4:45 AM and on the road by 5:20 AM, as we started our assault on the course.

Just as a note….early mornings are usually the BEST time for workouts, no one EVER calls me and asks “what are you doing at 5 am??”, if I wait to get the workout done in the evening….something always comes up.  Getting the workout done when everyone else is in bed….really makes the day seem so long and productive.

Our goal was to get the run done by 8 AM and try to keep an even, steady aerobic pace and a banner day would be negative splitting each lap.  We got really lucky as the early AM temperature was in the low 70’s and the humidity was bearable.  It was totally dark when we started the run and my flashy lights and reflective vest help keep us visible for the few cars (mostly newspaper delivery people) that we saw along the course.

As we started to climb the first hill on our first lap, I was thinking….what are we doing???  Nick promised me that he would not push the pace and he would not put up any fight if I took the pace out faster….yeah right, I thought….more on that later.  We started clipping off the miles at an 8:10 pace.  It was not easy, but we were not really pushing it…we were working, but staying in control.  We got to the big hill on the course and Nick took it out a bit, nowhere near full-out, but he pushed the pace a bit.  I was content to hang back and just keep a good solid effort.  We made the hill and finished up the last mile of the first loop in a time of approximately 48:00.  Good solid first loop of the run, but there are still 2 more loops to go.  We got some drinks and gels and headed out for our second loop.  Nick started picking up the pace again, and we settled into a comfortable pace and the miles just started disappearing, we hit the halfway point at 9 miles and headed for the hill again.  Again, Nick picked it up going up the hill, and he dropped me like a bad habit.  I was thinking, why do I run with him??  I know why I do….just sometimes I question what I was thinking.  We headed back for the last mile and completed the second lap in approximately 47:00.  We were in GREAT shape heading into the third and final lap.  By this time the legs were hurting the breathing was labored and we were having a FANTASTIC time.  The work was very hard, but the rewards are AWESOME!!  After the drinks and gels again…we were off on the FINAL Lap.  This is where the fun happens the most.  You know you are almost done, so you are willing to lay it on the line a bit more than usual.  Nick started this loop exactly the same, I think he just likes making me suffer, taking out the pace, I checked my watch and saw that we were running between 7:20 and 7:30.  I just shook my head and tried to keep up.  This is where you make the workout.  I was checking my heart rate, trying to make sure it did not skyrocket, and just told myself to stay consistent.  We knocked out the first 3 miles and then headed for the hill for the last time.  The hill is a killer, it is about a third of a mile long and a nice consistent grade and it just takes the life out of your legs.  When we hit the bottom of the hill, Nick took off like a shot, he was going for it….17 miles in and he was going for the fastest climb of the hill.  The fastest climb to date is 2:04 and Nick has run a 2:07.  Today he went 2:14, but he was about 60 seconds ahead of me and I thought I was doing pretty well.  We ran the final mile and finished with a 46:00 third lap.  Our total time was 2:23 and we negative split all three laps.  Great Workout!!  Way to go Nick, YOU are a STUD!!