This week started out with another tough track workout - 2 x 1200, and then 4 x 800. I was back at the track for this week (instead of on the treadmill), and thankfully the day started off with very autumn-like weather, which helped me hit my goal paces for every interval - right around 4:42 for the 1200s, and 3:05 for the 800s.
Thursday tempo was succesful, also, but that one was done inside on the 'mill. I ran at 5am, and although I don't mind if the beginning of my run is in the dark, I don't want the whole thing to be in the dark. The last thing I need is to step in a pothole and sprain my ankle (or worse).
So I opted to stay indoors and relied on the Another Mother Runner podcast and some tunes to get through it. After my mile warmup, I did 3 miles at 7:18, then cranked it up to 7:10 for the 4th mile, and just under 7:00 for the 5th mile, then did my one-mile cooldown.
I don't mind speedwork on the treadmill - changing the speed frequently breaks it up enough that it goes by pretty quickly. A steady effort like a tempo run is tough, though. I covered up the display so that I couldn't see the distance ticking by ever so slowly.
The big effort this week, though, was my second 20-miler, part of which would be run at the Surftown Half in Westerly. I did this race the first year they offered it, and absolutely loved it. It was my tuneup race for Hartford, and I had a great experience. For various reasons, I wasn't able to do it the past two years, so I was excited to go back this year.
The course is absolutely gorgeous, and also very flat - great for PRs, and great for practicing marathon pace, which is what I planned to do.
A friend also had to run 7 miles beforehand (well, she actually only had to run 6, but I talked her into 7 - because when you're running that far, what's one more mile?), so we were there bright and early. One of the benefits of being among the first to arrive - clean porta-potties with plenty of TP!
We had time to get in 6.3 miles before having to get back to the start. The weather was absolutely spectacular. It was chilly when we got there, and I started out with a long-sleeve tech shirt over my tank top, but after 3 miles, I took off the long sleeves. And before making my way to the starting line, I was down to just a sports bra. It wasn't too warm, and I probably wouldn't have been too bad with the tank top, but it felt better without it.
I ran the first three miles with another friend, but we had talked beforehand and knew that we'd maybe split up when I picked up the pace after that point. We planned to run the first three in the low 8s, and we did just that - 8:13, 8:02, 8:06.
The race sold out, and there were a little over 1,500 half marathon finishers, so it was pretty crowded for the first few miles, especially when we wound through a residential neighborhood between miles 3 and 4. I began to pick up the pace here, as planned, and ran mile 4 in 7:49 - right on target.
The last stretch of road in this neighborhood was also very uneven - lots of big bumps and potholes. And it was also downhill, so at the same time as I was trying to take advantage of the decline and pick up some speed, I was also dodging obstacles in the road, as well as weaving in and out of other runners as I tried to find some clear space to run.
That little stretch was kind of stressful, and I think that's what led me to run a wee bit too fast - 7:23 - but once we got out of that neighborhood, I tried to settle down and back off a little bit. I had to keep reminding myself I wasn't racing.
It's so hard to be in a race and hold back, especially on such a great course and with such perfect conditions. I did my best, though - the next two miles were pancake flat, but I slowed down to 7:38 and 7:39. I was feeling a little tired here, I think from the 7:23 mile, but I was confident that if I brought myself back to marathon pace, I'd feel ok.
Just before the finish - thanks for the photo, and the cheers, Beth!
Next mile was 7:49, and as expected, it felt better. Dipped down to 7:40 after that, but then back up to 7:47 for the following mile, then down to 7:34. I would have liked to have been more even with my pacing, but I think being in the race setting (and being at the end of a 20-miler) made it difficult.
And the important thing is that I was still feeling pretty good. This was around mile 11 of the half, but mile 17 for me. I remember thinking several times during this race that I couldn't believe how quickly it was going by. Not once did I think "oh god, I can't believe how many more miles I have to run." As a matter of fact, as I passed the mile markers, I kept thinking - "wow, only xxx more miles to go?!"
What this tells me is that, despite the un-evenness, I was pacing myself well - and it was incredibly encouraging that I was running most of these miles under my planned marathon pace and feeling good.
Actually, I was feeling more than good - I was feeling strong, and confident, and unstoppable. I knew that I'd have no problem finishing that race either at the 7:50 pace or faster. That feeling is absolutely priceless, and I soaked it up and savored every minute of it.
I ran the next two miles in 7:40 and 7:43, and even though I wasn't racing, I couldn't resist a little kick at the finish, crossing with a 1:43:25 and running the last mile in 7:23.
I actually wasn't quite done after crossing, though. My Garmin read 19.6 miles, and there was no way I was going to run all that way and not make it an even 20. So I grabbed my water and medal and tacked on the final .4.
In the end, I ran 20 miles in 2:40:33, for an overall pace of 8:01. My prevailing emotion was disbelief. I know I ran 26.2 miles at that pace in Boston two years ago, but it's been a long, long, long road back (filled with many highs and lows) from that point, and it was kind of shocking to see those numbers today. Shocking, but incredibly exciting, too.
I'm not going to lie and say that those sub-marathon pace miles felt easy, but they didn't feel like a race effort, either. I think they felt like they were supposed to feel - slightly challenging - and I'm happy with that.
Given that I was supposed to run today's 20-miler at an 8:34 pace, I feel extremely confident about where I'm at in my training at this point, and can't wait to see what happens over the next 10 weeks.
I also need to stay healthy, and to that end, I'm heading in for a few PT appointments to deal with some tightness in my right hip flexor. I've had issues with it in the past, and it just went away on its own, but now that I'm in the midst of marathon training, I need to be proactive about it, so PT it is.
Hopefully it'll just take a few appointments and I'll be good to go. The extra foam rolling and stretching I've done over the past week has already helped quite a bit, so I'm not worried - just don't want to ignore it, either.
So week 6 ends with a bang - and with some great stats, too!
Surftown Half - (run after a 7-mile 'warmup')
7/179 age group
188/ 1,555 overall
Two 20s down, three to go!