Oh how sweet it is to have a good run! After last Saturday's mishaps, today was practically a walk in the park. Some might argue it was practically a walk in the park because I was practically walking. To them, I say "phhhhbbbbbbbttttttt!"
I learned from last weekend's mistakes. Firstly, I slowed down. Instead of going out at an 11:30 pace and then trying (unsuccessfully) to hang on to a 12:00 pace later in the run, I started out at about a 12:45 pace. Ahhhh, comfort. Sure it's slow, but the goal of the long run isn't to break land speed records. A long run is supposed to be about 1-2 minutes per mile slower than your goal race pace. So, if I want to run an 11:45 pace in my marathon (which may be ambitious for a hilly marathon, but we will see), I should do my long training runs at 12:45 - 13:45. It seems so slow compared to other runs I do, but as I so successfully demonstrated last weekend, going faster does not a fun run make. Especially when there are a lot of hills. We'll get to the hills in a bit.
Secondly, I carried fluids with me, so I wasn't dependent on two or three water stops to get me through the whole 16 miles. Having Gatorade ready for me whenever I needed it was wonderful. And I consumed my entire bottle of Gatorade (as opposed to last weekend when I had drunk barely 1/3 of my bottle). Combined with my Sport Beans, and a mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cup - I was well-hydrated and well-fueled the entire run.
Thirdly, I didn't try to "power through" the hills. Especially the early ones. I just tried to keep an even effort by keeping my heart rate in check. My body thanked me later when I had a BIG hill to climb from Miles 12 to 15.
What was the net result of all this? Well, I felt better the entire run. My heart rate stayed low for most of the run. And I was able to finish strong - my fastest mile of the run was Mile 16. Indeed, the entire last 8 miles were faster than the first 8 miles. Not by much, but considering that the last 8 miles were far more uphill, I think this is quite impressive. It can be hard to finish strong on a flat course, but to finish strong uphill means you did something right early on.
So, without any further ado, here's the run graph and map. The spikes in the pace graph (blue) are where we had to wait for a crosswalk signal. The elevation graph (green) is more or less accurate. As you can see, we basically ran into a canyon and then ran back out. Well, it sure felt like a canyon.
I had the privilege of running with a friend today. It's not often I can find someone willing to run my slow pace, but today was my lucky day. One of my FAST buddies, Jess, ran the entire 16 miles with me and it was so nice to have someone else there to chat with and to share in the suffering.. er, I mean... the fun. That's right, the fun!
Actually, it was kind of like a Team Scream reunion today. You see, back in October '09, we had a four-person marathon relay team for the Screaming Pumpkin Marathon. Our team - we called ourselves Team Scream - actually won the relay (it was a prediction marathon, not a timed marathon). Today, the four of us ran the same 16 miles. And then the four of us had lunch afterward. It was good times.
So let's talk about lunch, shall we? We purposely planned our route to finish right in front of one of our favorite cafes - Cyd's Gourmet Kitchen. The food there is fresh, tasty and, for the most part, healthy (unless you include the bakery!). It's perfect for post-run. There's nothing there that isn't good. And the bakery has a huge selection of sweet treats, which are also perfect for post-run. I had a Caprese Baguette - fresh mozzarella cheese and fresh tomatoes with basil pesto and balsamic vinaigrette on a toasted bun. So delicious! And then I followed that up with a Chocolate Chubby cookie. It was the perfect end to a good long run.
I must say, I'm glad that the upcoming week is a recovery week. The reduction in mileage will be nice, and my long run will "only" be 12. It's kind of funny to think of 12 miles as a recovery run, but after 16 today, it really will be.
Right now, I'm ready for a little catnap. Tonight, the hubby and I are going out for a nice dinner to celebrate our 6th anniversary (which is actually tomorrow, but our favorite restaurant isn't open tomorrow). Oh, and by the way, my hubby, who isn't even training for a marathon, was one of the Team Scream members who ran 16 miles today. What's he training for, you ask? A 10k. Or so he says... I think he's training for some secret marathon that he's not telling anyone about. Only time will tell...
Peace. Love. Train.