Last night I went to bed planning on waking up at about 5 am to get ready for a 6 am run. On tap for the day was to be an 18-miler, with a average pace of 7:37/mile (per my training plan). Well, as is usual with a 2 month old baby, I woke up at some point in the night. And when I did, I had a very weird pain in my right knee. Nothing major, but it was something I took note of. Well, 5 am came up quickly, and I decided to hit that snooze button and made plans to *maybe* go for a shorter run once my daughter was off to school.
When she came and woke me up at 7 am, however, I didn't have that knee pain any more. Huh? Well, we got her all ready for school and my wife informed me that she was going to do some shopping all morning, so I could still do my long run if I wanted. Well, I suppose I should...
I headed out the door and everything felt pretty well. On these longer runs, I usually start out a little slower than my goal pace and speed up over the coarse of 3 miles, then on the fourth mile run slightly faster than race pace before I settle into my groove. Then, to make up for the slow running at the front end, I usually try and push the pace for the last few miles. Well, I ended up doing my first mile in 7:30, and didn't really feel like I was pushing, so I just held that pace. Now I should mention that I did great for the first couple weeks of marathon training, then took about a week off. So this was the first long run I've done, at this pace, in a while.
I felt wonderful up until mile 12. By then I could tell that my legs were getting tired. I also didn't really prepare for this run very well, so it very well could have been my lack on morning nutrition. Either way, I was starting to hurt. I was able to hold onto my goal pace until I hit mile 14. I had run every mile in 7:30 or faster, and mile 14 I ran in 7:37. My goal pace, right on the nose. And it was tough. As soon as I saw that, I broke mentally. I decided to walk for 90 seconds. I took in a ton of fluids, and when that 90 seconds was up, I felt a little better.
But my pace was much slower. Miles 15 and 16 were both in the 8:30 range. When I hit the end of mile 16, I had made peace with the fact that I was able to do 14 miles at or below my pace, and then had 2 crappy miles, but probably still averaged to be near my goal pace. I had now decided that I was going to jog in the last 2 miles, nice and easy. That was until I almost got hit by a car!
I was running across a driveway when a guy in a big truck came rolling up as he was looking down in his lap (probably texting). Now, I've been running for a few years now, so I've learned to always look for cars coming out of the drive way (think about when you drive, you always roll all the way up to the corner, not usually stopping prior to where the sidewalk would be), so I had spotted this guy. He saw me with about 10 feet left and slammed on his brakes, causing them to squeal. I may have let him know what I was thinking at that particular time. The positive of this whole thing was that it gave me a boost of energy! I looked down at my watch and realized that I could possibly have enough time to finish exactly at my goal pace!
And then I got to the very next intersection. I've had issues at this particular intersection before, with people coming up from behind and trying to turn right, with me in front of them. So, again, I have learned to look for this exact scenario. And of course, it happened. I turned to look for cars about 10 feet before I entered the crosswalk and saw a silver SUV coming in the outer right-hand turn lane. I enter the crosswalk cautiously, and turned to look directly at her. She began turning and heading straight for me, so I threw my hands in the air to catch her attention. She then slammed on her brakes, but was not concerned enough to get off of her cell phone. It must have been a very important call! And again, another boost of energy!
When I finished mile 17, I looked down at my watch to realize that I had right around 7 minutes to finish this last mile, and I would come in with a 7:37 average. So I gave it all I had. And as soon as mile 18 beeped on my watch, I stopped the time, began to walk, and checked out the average. 7:37/mile! Woo hoo!
All of this is great, except for the fact that I am not going to be running again for another week at the earliest. Oh well. As long as I can continue to hit the target paces during the long runs, I will keep my hopes up for the late February marathon, when I am hoping to qualify for Boston!