As a lot of people know, I have an ultimate marathon goal. No, it's not to qualify for Boston. Even if I could run a 3:40 marathon, there's no way I would ever do a marathon that starts well after 10am. Give me my 7am start time and I'm happy.
My ultimate goal is to run a 4 hour marathon. After this year's two great marathons, Houston and Austin, I felt like with a lot of hard work over the course of the year it wasn't an unreasonable goal to shoot for 3:59. My "coach" has the same goal, and although he is probably actually at that capability right now, he needs to continue his own hard work to maintain that throughout the summer months. It's good to have someone to keep you in check, and that's what he does for me.
I knew that it was very likely that after running two marathons, plus a half marathon and a relay I could very well need a break. But amazingly enough, although I was sick for a few days after the relay, my body is doing just fine. I "non-raced" a hilly 10k just 6 days after the marathon, sans Garmin, and pulled off a 9:05 pace (my PR is 8:36 pace). I've since run long twice, in addition to hills and speedwork, and my overall pace since the relay is 9:01. Take out the 8 mile trail run I did where I walked for a 1/4 mile at the turnaround and it gets me down to 8:57 pace. I have never in my life been able to maintain this kind of pace over the course of weeks, with long runs included.
I rarely look at my Garmin for my current pace now when I run. I'll check my mile splits as they beep at me, and although I might be surprised at how fast some miles are, if my body is comfortable I don't slow it down. So often I am surprised when a mile split comes through at sub-9 pace when I'm almost certain I'm running 9:30 pace.
This past Saturday I ran a 10 miler out at Brushy Creek. I planned to do it alone, but my coach asked if he could join me. He'd been sick and really needed to do something tough to get back into a rhythm. Little did I know his master plan was to kick my ass. We started off relatively slow and I was certainly having a hard time warming up. The poor guy is hacking up a lung still and telling me he's having a tough time catching his breath. But after about 3 miles we picked up the pace considerably. I was afraid to look at my watch and instead just kept pace with him. I think he may have used the term "10 mile tempo run." Really?? We took a short break at the turnaround and it took a good mile to get back into rhythm after we started back up, but then we were flying. I kept thinking that there was no way I could maintain a pace like that over the course of the last few miles, but surprisingly they just seemed to quickly click by. During the last mile, Coach just let loose and I did my best to keep up with him. It was tough, I'm not going to lie. I was hurting and breathing very heavy. His words to me were something along the lines of "this pace isn't going to get you a sub 2 half. Run faster, stop slacking." He's lucky I couldn't speak and I was too tired to beat his ass when we were done. When we finished, I was honestly shocked that my watch showed our time at 1:27:33 (running time, not including the break at the halfway point). My previous 10 mile PR was 1:31. Our last mile of this run? 7:41.
So I'm getting faster. I'm cautiously optimistic it will last. I need to take care of my body to keep this up. Yoga, strength training, core work, stretching, plyometrics.
It's going to be a busy summer.