It was a tough run, I am surprised and pleased at the results, AND (after I win this pistachio-eating contest with myself) I am going to pass out.
To bring you up to speed, today's run is the peak of my three month half marathon training plan that I've undertaken with an awesome coach & friend, Shawn. There are exactly two weeks left before the race and today is my longest and most difficult run of the whole program. The run is 14 miles with the middle 7 miles @ race pace (7:55).
I have had similar training runs prior to this, but none as long or with as long of a tempo portion in the middle. For example, last week was 11 miles with 5 tempo miles and a couple of weeks before that was also 11 miles with 5 tempo miles. However, neither of those runs went off smoothly - one was riddled by blizzard conditions and I did it on a treadmill, the other was broken apart by me stopping to tell everyone my big news. So the point is that I had no idea how I was going to perform today.
Luckily I had Shawn with me to guide me through it, and boy was I glad he was there! I learn so much from him each time we talk shop so I basically had a closed audience session with him for at least 2 hours - sweet! Aside from the conversation, he was there to set the pace for me, calculate splits and motivate me to keep going.
We went to the Heritage Trail in Vancouver, WA. We were going to do the actual Vancouver Lake half mary course, but it was confusing to figure out the actual course (lots of out and backs). We opted to run this trail because it has a great surface and is marked at every quarter mile. This way we could gauge the real mileage and not rely on the Garmin. The trail is 3.5 miles long which would be perfect out and back twice for the 14 miles.
So, here are the results (keep in mind that all miles were continuous except for 2 brief breaks after the warm up and before the cool down):
Mile 1 = 8:05
Mile 2 = 8:26
Mile 3 = 7:56
Mile 3.5 = 4:17
Mile 1 = 7:30
Mile 2 = 7:37
Mile 3 = 7:37
Mile 4 = 7:41
Mile 5 = 7:48
Mile 6 = 7:32
Mile 7 = 7:44
Tempo Avg Pace = 7:38 (holy!)
Mile 1 = 8:44
Mile 2 = 8:46
Mile 3 = 8:31
Mile 3.5 = 4:13
Total Miles = 14
TOTAL Time = 1:52:43 Avg Pace = 8:03 Avg HR = 179
I just broke my previous 13.1 PR in a 14-mile run? Awesome.
Oh boy, this was tough, but seriously not as tough as I'd imagined. The warm up felt fast and it was...definitely faster than I usually go on these runs, but hey, I was with the coach and what he says goes, right?
During the tempo run it was definitely hard, but after the 3rd mile I was totally doing okay and feeling the cadence (left, left, left right left) and my breathing and kinda hit the zone. Of course I had Shawn guiding me through and I was able to have some conversation back and forth during this part. I started to feel the effort during mile 4 and 5 and you can see that I slowed down, but Shawn brought me back and we sped up a bit for the last 2 miles. Was I glad to finish this 7 mile stretch.
The last 3.5 miles were good but still tough. I was trying so hard to keep up a respectable pace and I feel comfortable with the results.
(I am going to need to wrap this up quickly as I am losing concentration and focus that only wine can cure.)
The overall run was just awesome. Like I said I got a lot of good info from Shawn during the run and really tested my limits. I am feeling really good about the progress that I've made over 2 and a half months and hopeful that the future can bring more. We ended the run all sweaty and muddy which made me feel even more like a badass (see pictures below). I feel prepared for a good race and have a good strategy in place to go as fast as my body and mind will take me. Man, it was awesome to have Shawn along to push me today, but if I can do this on my own during a race then I will really feel accomplished!
I mentioned above that I broke my half marathon PR on this run, and this run was 0.9 miles faster than a half! My one and only half marathon was Seattle in 2004 and I definitely did not train as hard. The course was also really hilly. Anyway, if I'd stopped today at 13.1 I think it would have been about a 1:44- yowza!
(As a side note, a little pre-race info (this helps me for future planning): Woke up at 8 a.m., drank about 10 oz coffee w/Splenda, one vanilla yogurt, half piece of bacon, an eggo and a bunch of water over the next 2 hours. Started running at about 11 a.m. During the course of the run I drank a few sips of Shawn's HEED potion and ate 2 Shot Blocks each before the tempo part and right after. I hate eating those, they get all stuck in my mouth and are just nasty in general. But...I can see the benefit so will continue to take them on longer runs. I didn't have any negative stomach issues afterwards, so I guess that is good.)
Here are some photos of our run today: