They say you will never forget the first time, well last night I did my first ever 20 mile run. I'm not sure there was anything especially memorable about it, but it will always be the first one I suppose.
Physically this has been a really rough week for me, I have felt sluggish and stiff since we got back from Atlanta on Monday, I don't know if it was just from a non-stop 3 day weekend or if it was running the monstrous hills last Sunday, but I have pretty much sucked it up ever since. I started Thursday morning with a 2 mile walk while John ran, I thought I would run, but my calves were so tight I didn't even bother.
My only options for my long run this weekend were Thursday night or Friday morning. In order to get 20 miles in on Friday morning before work I would have had to start about 3:30am or so. And while I am lucky enough to have a 24 hour gym membership, I didn't want to be stuck doing 2 hours of this run on the treadmill when there would be not a thing on tv to keep me entertained, so I opted to do it Thursday night.
I have had hits and misses with evening long runs, my most recent being a major miss, so I was a little nervous how my body would react, but it held up pretty well considering. I started as soon as I got home from class, and had a plan to hit at least 10 goal pace miles (9:30 or less) and I didn't care how/when/in what order they came, as long as there was at least 10 by the time I finished. I also consider miles in the 9:30-9:40 range to be quality, just not goal pace anymore.
I started my goal pace miles a little earlier than I usually do on purpose, because I had been thinking about how I always start almost 20 seconds slower and don't pick it up until I am thoroughly warmed up. I felt like I was making it easy for myself to hit my goal miles by building them into the middle when I warm but not yet tired, and then doing a "cool-down" so to speak. When marathon day comes, I will likely not be starting out slow for 5-6 miles and then hoping to make up ground and hit times below goal pace, so I figured I might as well get used to running near goal pace from the start, or at least sooner, and more at the end to make sure I could get near it when tired.
20 miles- 3:11:00 (9:33 average pace)
Mile 1- 9:50
Mile 2- 9:48
Mile 3- 9:45
Mile 4- 9:28
Mile 5- 9:23
Mile 6- 9:12
Mile 7- 9:13
Mile 8- 9:28
Mile 9- 9:42
Mile 10- 9:40
Mile 11- 9:22
Mile 12- 9:26
Mile 13- 9:21
Mile 14- 9:45
Mile 15- 9:39
Mile 16- 9:42
Mile 17- 9:31
Mile 18- 9:29
Mile 19- 9:40
Mile 20- 9:35
When I finally pulled up my stats this morning I was actually really surprised. I knew I had hit exactly 10 goal pace miles, with 4 more in the 9:30-9:40 range, but this run was nothing stellar, it just felt average- not slow, or quality, just decent, but I was so surprised to see my average pace so close to goal pace over the entirety of the run.
I am not going to sugar coat it, this run was tough, certainly not the toughest ever by any means, but I definitely felt more worn out than I have for any other long run, and it wasn't even in the last few miles that I was dragging, more so in the middle. I actually got a 2nd wind about mile 16 (maybe it was the gatorade), but after I was finished, and especially this morning, I can feel a major difference in my recovery than other long runs, I feel like it's already moving slower, normally 12 hours later I am fine, maybe a little stiff or sore, but fine, and never hungry. Today my joints are so stiff I would swear I had arthritus, and forgotten to eat yesterday because my stomach will not stop begging for more food.
Mentally I thought I held up well, I zoned out quite a bit and was thinking about all the other things that I have going on and need to get done, I actually only used my ipod for the first 5 miles to get into it, and after that I went solo. I thought a lot about the remainder of my training, and to be honest I think I may have had the training bar set a little too high for my first marathon. This was supposed to be my first 50 mile week, and my body just revolted, depending on how I feel the rest of the weekend I still could hit 50, but I am not going to force it. I feel like the quality of my runs has been slipping as my mileage has increased. When I was at my base mileage, almost every was intense and of high quality. I know I am training for a major distance and at this point being built up to the distance is more important that speed, but both are important and with 3-4 weeks to go, I find myself thinking about making sure I have the right balance, and I'm just not sure what I think that is. I know by now I have the distance built up, but I guess getting more comfortable with doing it faster is going to be the key.
Doing the math, if I replicate this run for the first 20 miles during the race, then I could actually drop to a 10:00 pace for the last 6.2 miles and still finish just under my goal. That leaved me feeling much more confident about my capabilities for this race, knowing that I am pretty darn close to my goal times during training means I have at least been doing something right, I think the biggest question is what will be the right balance to make sure I stay healthy and finish training strong.
Ok enough reflective running babble...This is a football filled weekend I have ahead of me, so I am glad to have my run out of the way. Gator game Saturday and Jags game on Sunday, this will be my first Jags game since I was kid, and the first since I moved to Jacksonville in 2007, so I am really excited! Hope everyone has a great weekend!