This wasn’t what the plan originally called for and after the run (even during) I realize why. (I’ll get to that later.)
Nine weeks ago I was supposed to run 13 miles with 8 at race pace. Nine weeks ago happened to be the middle of August, in South Carolina. I can’t remember the exact reasons that I scratched the goal pace miles but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with the heat and just wanting to finish. I rescheduled that run for week seven but that was the week that life got on the way and I had to make edits to the plan once again.
That left me with only one goal pace long run. While it went exactly according to plan I wanted to get that other goal pace long run in. That led me to alter today’s long run to include those miles.
This run was tougher mentally (and a little bit physically) than I expected. My body didn’t perform exactly how I wanted it to and with only two weeks before the marathon I’m nervous. (Disclaimer: I’ll share my splits in a little bit. They’re almost on track and the run itself was great. It’s all in the expectations.)
I’ll share the lessons I learned first, then a recap of the run. One, it’s probably not a good idea to try race pace miles the week after a 20 miler, especially one that was almost my fastest ever. Two, I need to work on my mental toughness and stop beating myself up/doubting myself. (Okay, I’ve learned that before. I guess I just have a hard head.)
Now to the run.
During the first four miles, intended to be warm up miles, I kept wondering if I was going to be able to kick it into gear once I started the goal pace miles. I think that’s usual for me.
When my Garmin beeped at mile 4 and I started those goal pace miles, I was frustrated that I couldn’t seem to get my average pace above 8:40. I didn’t want to go too fast. (That was my problem on these types of runs during San Francisco training.) At the same time I couldn’t seem to find 8:30 and lock onto it.
That brings up another slight issue with my run. I spent the entire run thinking that my goal pace is 8:30 when it’s technically 8:35. Five seconds may not seem like much but over the course of a marathon it adds up.
Two miles after I started the goal pace miles (and got through the TR hills on the Swamp Rabbit) I finally found my pace and tried to locked on. (I’m pretty sure I never really “locked on” to the pace.) I felt good and hopeful about my prospects in two weeks.
I keep saying it but it’s true. I really need to work on getting my internal Garmin regulated. By that I mean that I want to be able to judge (within a reasonable range) what my pace is based on how I feel and what kind of effort I think I’m making. That’s why I’m seriously considering getting a coach for Hilton Head.
I kept glancing down at my Garmin but it’s notoriously unreliable for pacing purposes so I’m not sure that it did me much good.
Around mile 10 it started to feel hard again. That’s the usual place too. Not the 10 miles but the actual place on the trail, two miles from my starting point for both “halves” of my run. It starts to get mentally tough here too. I tried hard to avoid the negative thoughts but I seem to be plagued by them at that particular point on the trail. I kept wondering how I was possibly going to hold this pace for 26.2 miles in two weeks when it felt as hard as it did. I even contemplated dropping back to normal long run pace since these race pace miles weren’t originally on the schedule.
I’m too stubborn to do that though so I kept plodding on. Six miles later I finished, once again surprised at how quickly the run had gone by. (That’s a new, welcome, regular occurrence. I’ll take more of that gladly.)
Not that bad. I was disappointed when I first looked at the splits with so many of them being 10-14 seconds off goal pace. Then I remembered that goal pace is 8:35 not 8:30 and that makes those miles look a little bit better. They’re still not exactly where I want them to be though. I know I should be okay with that but I’m not quite yet.
Overall, this was an amazing run, my fastest 16 miles ever. (Yes, I did go back and check all my Garmin stats.) I’m going to take it, learn from it and embrace the taper. The biggest difference between today and marathon day in two weeks? Taper
My goal for the next two weeks is to make sure that my legs are rested and ready for this marathon. Bring on the Marine Corps Marathon!