In my marathon build I am starting to get to the meat and potatoes. Sunday called for 20 miles at a 7:30 pace. I have not run this distance since Boston but I have had killer sessions at 16 and 18 miles.
The logistics of these longer runs definitely require some planning. I was lazy for a couple of hours before I started. I wanted to make sure that my oatmeal was consumed at least an hour before the run. I let it digest for about two hours before I started. The temperature started to creep up and it was now 45. I had on a short sleeved running short. No gloves or extra head gear for warmth. I also found my race belt and filled it with 4 gels.
My house is just off of Lake Thoreau Road which means the gateway is 5 mile (and a quarter) miles away and that Epley is 6 miles away (5.9ish – I always run past the station). A run to campus and back and passing my house to Epley and back would give me 22 miles. I certainly did not want that. In addition, it takes a little bit extra effort to run by your backdoor in the middle of these long runs. There is a force that tries to pull you home.
I decided to run to the gateway and then somehow get another 5 to 10 miles on campus. The weather was bright and sunny and I got on my pace easily. It is slightly down hill to the gateway and I ‘banked’ a some time. This is generally not very smart but I was running comfortable at 7:15ish pace. I reached the gateway a minute ahead of schedule. I took a gel, grabbed a mouthful of water and used the facilities. All the coffee from the morning needed somewhere to go. I lost that minute and an additional 20 seconds. I don’t like to pause the running watch on these runs. I run in real time.
I made the quick decision to run downtown. I wanted to see if there had been any progress on the trace extension. The trace bridge is complete but the actual trace is still grass and gravel. This slowed my pace a touch but it was not a big deal. I ran on the trace until the stop light (I not sure of the name of the street but if you turn right you will be near the Keg and Barrel). At this point I jumped on 4th and continued to Main Street. I hung a right onto Pine Street. I thought I would run around the Cloverleaf Mall. I also need another gel and some water to wash it down. Running down Pine is not the best. There are no sidewalks and I just kind of ran on top of the curb in the grass. There was a lot of hurdling of odds and ends. This cost me a little more time. I took another gel and ducked into the McDonalds bathroom for a quick drink.
Around the perimeter of the Cloverleaf I went. I jumped on the service road and got back on pace. When I first moved to Mississippi I lived in the avenues on Ridge Way. I have not run that neighborhood in a while and made a bee line. Leaving the Cloverleaf I was only at mile 10. I still needed to find 5 miles before jumping on the trace.
In the avenues I zigged and zagged back and forth for a few streets and then took Mamie from 21st to 10th. There was not much traffic and all of the cars gave me plenty of room. It was a nice run through the neighborhood. I then ran up 10th and back towards the west. I skirted around Kamper Park and turned north on 21st. I jumped around on side streets to get back to the trace. I knew this route well from living in the avenues. This is how I got to campus years ago.
Back on the trace I took another get and headed home. I was exactly at 15 miles. I would get my 20 just before arriving at home. And you know that the trace is a slight incline from the gateway. In my other long runs this month I had planned them to use the decline in the last leg of the sessions. This is a mental trick; it also allows for you to pick up the pace and finish strong. I was two minutes behind schedule and it would be difficult to make up time. Sure I could have blown it out and probably made up the time. 120 seconds to make up in 5 miles is 24 seconds a mile (I could not have done that math while running). But running slightly up hill at a 7 minute per mile pace for 5 miles with the temperature in the 50’s would be a challenge on these legs. Yes, I could have done that but my recovery the next few days might suffer. I stuck with the plan. My last miles were in the high 7 teens but not close enough to make up the time. I would keep pace and not pick it up until a mile to go.
I was still running easily and strong. The miles were racking up. This was a solid session. I was still feeling good. At mile 18.5 I crossed paths with Brandy from Pounds to Miles. I knew that she was running 18 but I could not tell where she was at. I normally would have chatted for a few but I was behind in time and needed to keep pressing the pace. After the fact she told me she was finishing up her run. Wow, that is a good sign if you can’t tell that someone has 18 miles in their legs!
I took that last gel at Jackson station and increased the pace for that mile home. I saw the seconds dropping from my average. I was thinking that if I had just run fast for the last two miles I could have come in under 2:30. My last mile was once again in the 6:40’s. I am happy with a 2:30:44 for the 20 miles. If you take out the non-moving time (the water and pee break) then my time was 2:29:34 – right on schedule.
All of my splits were on pace with the exception of the breaks. I still have a long way to go to meet my goals but I am definitely on track. And that is a good thing.