After the awful run I had Wednesday, I approached this run with quite a few nerves.
On the plan for today was 16 miles with 10 of those at race pace, a scary 8:35.
I haven’t had much luck with marathon pace long runs. During the training cycle for San Francisco I kept running the marathon pace miles half a minute too fast. (That turned out to be a great predictor for how I ran that race.) Two weeks ago the heat and humidity prompted a change in plans and the dropping of the marathon pace miles. Instead I focused on finishing.
Since we’ve had a brief window of opportune summer weather (for South Carolina) I decided to go for it today. (Plus, the tightness in my back muscles had almost completely disappeared. I’ve got a post coming soon about that. I promise.)
Before heading out I opened my kindle app and my Advanced Marathoning book to refresh my memory on how exactly I should run these 16 miles. (I’m so glad that I own the book now.)
Armed with this knowledge I headed over to the Swamp Rabbit Trail.
I started off conservatively with the goal of gradually increasing my pace through the first six miles until I reached race pace. As my splits (which I’ll insert later) show, I managed to do just that.
I was a bit worried at first that I wouldn’t be able to reach the 8:35 pace much less maintain it for 10 miles. Recent history (10:15 average Wednesday, 9:30 average last Saturday) didn’t predict success.
Well, it seems like the authors of Advanced Marathoning know what they’re talking about. By the time I got back to the water fountain by the Furman parking lot (my starting spot…I ran three miles out and back for the first six) my legs and body were warmed up and ready to go.
After refilling my water bottle, I told myself “Let’s take these legs out for a spin and see what they can do.”
I’m not sure how many times I glanced down at my Garmin throughout those 10 miles. I was determined to find that 8:35 pace and lock into it. (Yes, I know. I need to adjust the screen of my Garmin so that it displays the average pace not the current pace. I’ll get around to that eventually.)
I felt good as I ran, really good. I kept waiting for the honeymoon period of the run to end and it never really did. The pace did feel a bit hard when I was chewing my chomps but I’m pretty sure that’s because my breathing was off. It’s difficult to breathe normally while running at that pace and chewing. Good practice though.
About three miles in I could tell that a group of runners was slowly coming closer to me about to pass me. Our paces were almost identical because it took a little while for them to get around me. As they did we carried on a mini conversation. I have to admit that I was pleased to hear them say that I looked strong and that they’d been chasing me down for quite a while. They asked what I was training for and when I told them MCM, one of the guys mentioned that his son is a marine and had been one of the marines handing out medals at the end of the race either last year or the year before.
So cool. It was awesome to run with these guys for that little space. Soon they started to slowly pull away. Admittedly, I wanted to stick with them but I held myself back and tried to stick with my 8:35ish pace.
As I ran I kept finding myself surprised that this pace really didn’t seem hard. Each time I took a couple chomps and the pace got hard for just a bit, I was soon out of that tiny speed bump and cruising right along.
I hated having to stop for street crossings but I’d rather not be hit by a car or two. 🙂
I also paused momentarily about a mile and a half from my finish to rearrange a few songs on my playlist putting all my power songs together for the last little bit.
When I finished I couldn’t believe my time: 2:20:51. I knew without checking my stats that my average pace including the warm up would be under 9 minutes. So excited.
Though I did experience a temporary set back with the tight back muscles on the car ride home–I think my car seat hates me!–the muscles soon released their tension and I got to check my stats.
Textbook perfect. I am absolutely thrilled about those numbers.
After I finished I couldn’t help thinking back to my first, ill-fated, 16 miler. You know, the one I ran in Spinx Marathon training before I was ready? I had to check the stats on that one.
That’s right. It took me almost an hour longer!
3:45:00 Marine Corps Marathon, here I come!