I'm trying to be better about updating my blog, so here you go! I figure a quick training update would be good since we're now 8 weeks from the Houston Marathon.
Last weekend was our 25K training run (my program throws odd distances into the mix rather than even miles every few weeks...so we get 20k, 25k, 30k, 35k). Because I'm training with a group on a plan for the Austin Marathon, which is 5 weeks after Houston, those of us also doing Houston have to alter that training to fit with Houston's timetable. So my buddy Karen and I occasionally have to get in a few extra miles before the group starts. It's working well so far and we're enjoying a little break between our "extra" miles and when the group starts. Makes finishing strong a bit easier.
So anyway, last weekend we had 25k scheduled but the group was only doing 10 miles, so we set out about an hour early to get an additional 5.5 miles in. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I miscalculated the distance and we ended up at 6.2 miles before we met back up with the group. Not a big deal at all. Extra miles never hurt anyone and it made us feel a little more hardcore.
It was a pretty humid morning and a bit warmer than we had hoped for, but not really much to complain about. We took the 6.2 miles pretty conservative and finished in 1:01, so a nice easy pace for us. I was hoping for about a 1:35 on the additional 10 miles to finish at a decent pace. The first several miles were pretty uneventful and I felt okay. I had to dial it back a couple times when I could feel myself speed up the pace too much, but otherwise we were running pretty well. The turnaround point comes with about 3.5 or so miles left and I could definitely feel the fatigue setting in at that point. There was a water stop at about 13.5 miles and Karen and I took that opportunity to stop, refill our bottles, and take a 2 minute walk break. After that we pushed through the final 2.5 miles and finished very well. I wasn't expecting any sub-9 minute final miles like what I typically have on shorter runs, but that was okay. I couldn't really chat at all in the last mile or so, and I was certainly ready to be done, but I'm very pleased with our final pace. We finished the 16.2 miles in 2 hours, 37 minutes for about a 9:42 average. The fact that about 75% of the run is on dirt trails that can sometimes be sluggish, I'd call that success.
Today we joined the group for their 20k run. We only technically had 10 miles on our modified scheduled, but I don't like to do fewer miles than the group so 20K it was going to be. Unfortunately, Friday's beautiful 40 degree morning was long gone and we were faced with 68 degrees and 90% humidity on this morning. Yuck. Add to it the fact that I started the week off with strep, and had run the last 3 days (the last 2 pretty hard), I was a bit fatigued to begin with. It was evident within the first 3 miles that this was going to be a bit of a tough run.
I decided that walking while taking Gu and after refilling my water bottle would be good strategy for keeping my body from getting too overexerted. It felt hot out there and I was sweating quite a bit. The strategy ended up working pretty well. I managed to maintain close to a 9:45 average for the run, even with about 5 minutes total of walking. When I was running I was actually running very well. There were several middle miles in the 9:15-9:20 range and yet it felt like I was running much slower than that, so I call that a big fat positive. To feel less than stellar and still be able to maintain comfort at a 9:15 pace is huge for me this year. I really thought I was running more like 9:45. I finished the 12.3 mile run (just short of 20k) a few seconds under 2 hours. I was thrilled I managed to get that run in at less than 10 minute pace considering everything else going against me.
So overall I feel pretty good with the last two runs. I was faced with less than favorable conditions, two pretty tough distances, and I pushed through to finish well. I really do think I could be on my way to a 4:15 marathon.
The next 7 weeks of long runs look like this:
11/26: 8 miles (a BREAK!)
12/3: 18.6 miles (30k)
12/10: 13 miles
12/17: 21.5 miles (~35k)
12/24: 10 miles
12/31: 13 miles
1/7: 6 miles
1/15: HOUSTON MARATHON!