It’s all downhill from here. (Figuratively speaking of course. I’ll still be running on my normal, rather hilly regular route. Plus, the marathon is in San Francisco of course.)
Today I ran my third twenty miler of this training cycle, the last regular long run. Only a sixteen miler and a twelve miler remain before I tackle 26.2 for the fourth time.
After two fairly lackluster twenty milers is this cycle (not bad…just not what I had hoped), I wanted to “go out with a bang” so to speak. I wanted this one to go exactly according to plan. For some reason, in my mind that meant that I would run this twenty miler as fast as someone who routinely qualifies for Boston. On top of that, I would feel strong and invigorated the whole time.
I’m not sure why I was so deluded. Nearly every marathoner I know dreads or at the very least dislikes twenty or twenty-two milers no matter how many times they have run them in training. By the time you’re running the last five or so miles, you don’t feel so great, but that doesn’t mean that the run didn’t go according to plan.
I say all that to say that this was a superb run, despite my strange, grandiose expectations.
When I set out, the only pace goal I had was to run a pace that I could maintain throughout the run. For some reason I thought that that pace was relatively close to race pace so I made a conscious effort to pull back just a bit. (I’m all for running my long runs much slower but it’s almost as if I’m allergic to 10 minute miles, unless I can absolutely help it.)
The best way I can describe how I felt when I started (and throughout the run in fact) is that I did not feel fresh. That’s what I’ve wanted for a while and what will hopefully come with taper now that the last peak week is over.
Things did not feel hard, per say, but they did not feel as springy or “fresh.” In fact, around mile six or seven, I felt pretty frustrated with how sluggish I felt. I usually slump about this point in a long run. Thankfully, my second favorite song came on then, “Feel this Moment” by Pitbull. Say what you will, that’s a fantastic running song. (Side note: it’s obvious one is obsessed with Doctor Who when instead of hearing “tallest building in Tokyo, one hears “TARDIS building in Tokyo.”)
I wish I could say that I felt strong throughout the remainder of the run but I did not. Things once again started to feel a little bit tougher towards the end. (Ironically, my pace increased 5-10 seconds at this point. There’s probably some correlation there.)
Three hours, eight minutes and fifty-seven seconds later, I finished. That’s my second fastest twenty miler yet. (The twenty miler of New River training has this one beat by a minute and a half, but that one included an actual half marathon that I tried to race.)
While I’m supremely pleased with my time and pace, I do wonder if I’m capable of holding a pace that’s a little under half a minute faster than that in hilly San Francisco. I may have bitten off more than I can chew.
I’ll definitely be paying close attention my training over the next three weeks to evaluate (or reevaluate if need be) my sub 4 goal plus make detailed race plans.
Only three weeks left!!!!