As I have said before, this running thing is mental. I headed out the door for the 20 mile long run (really a tempo 20 mile run). I have never done these long runs at pace. I mean, I have run a lot of long runs but they have always just been for mileage. My tempos have always been separate from my long runs.
Last year I ran a lot of fast long runs but they were in race situations. This year I did not go that route. I didn’t go that route for a couple of reasons. First, I felt I peeked too soon in the race season (I think that might have happened again this year). Second, I am not sure that I was able to fully recover from the longer, harder distances. I went back and re-read some of my blog post and the 25K (6:53) and 30K (6:55 pace) races took it out of me. The Wall 30K was probably my best race of the season – 18'.6 miles @ 6:55 pace!
Anyway, this 20 mile long hard tempo run was looming over my head. I needed to put in a solid effort and at the same time not push too hard and effect my recovery. Mardi Gras is only 3 weeks away. This would be the last big push for victory. I put the run off until all conditions were in my favor. I changed my running route so that it could finish on an easier section. I posted about the run for accountability.
I headed out and ran towards campus – out and back is just over ten miles. I hoped that I had the resolve to not stop at the house at the half way point. I had my race belt full of 5 gels. Just because of the water stops on the trace I took the first gel at just over one mile.
The first 5 miles were easy. I was hitting all of my paces and my heart rate was in check – actually pretty dang low. I was just cruising along. I took the second gel at the trail head next to campus. I was still cruising along. I got passed by a few friends and heard some works of encouragement. Looking at the virtual nemesis I was already about 100 feet behind due to the two water stops.
I made my way to the third water stop at Jackson Station and I had lost more time. I was running by pace but keeping everything in check by heart rate. My heart rate was still in low zone 3 – I was still cruising. I crossed paths with a few more friends and heard more words of encouragement.
At about mile 8 or 9 Charles from the running club met me on the bike. He would pull me along for the tough middle section of the run. These were the hardest miles – miles 10 through 16. These miles would be slightly up hill on the trace. My pace was slowing a bit but the heart rate was still in check.
I turned for home at mile 15 and Charles left me at mile 16. I was still cruising along but was starting to hurt. The pace had been slow for the past few miles. I stop at the last water stop and took the last gel. I had not looked at the virtual nemesis for many miles – he was really far ahead. With two miles to go I put my music back in my ears – some upbeat high tempo dance music. I felt my second wind and picked the pace up where it should have been for the entire run. Mile 19 was the fastest of the run – 6:55. I was hurting and I am sure that my form was starting to falter. But I was able to keep the charge going. I miscalculated the distance of the run (my math goes to pot on these runs) and had to go past the house by 3 tenths of a mile. Let me tell you, that was a long 3 tenths of a mile and back.
I was glad to have the 20 miles banked. I was disappointed with the overall pace – 7:18. This was supposed to be a M+15 long hard tempo run (M being marathon pace which is 6:50). The run became M+30. However, my heart rate average for the run was only 161 (with the last two miles being in the mid 170’s). The Wall 30K my heart rate averaged 168 beats per minute. With a solid taper I may just be able to pull off this marathon goal of sub-3. It is going to be TOUGH.