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Saturday, May 7, 2011

PR, Not BQ

Comparing my long runs from week to week, I have this week added 1.6 miles, and in my time, taken away one second.

It was a good morning.

First, allow me to apologize for the oddity of this font, as I'm sure it's different. I wrote this in a text edit program first, as I didn't have internet access earlier.

This was one of those mornings where I woke up and had no idea where I was, or what I was supposed to be doing. When I wasn't sure what day it was, even. And the reason, I think, was that I actually got a little extra sleep last night. We had dinner and went home, and I was in bed well before 11 last night. We've got other plans for this evening, but figured it'd be nice to be in bed early before a 17 mile run.

After a few minutes, I was clear-headed and ready for the morning's challenge. I'd set out everything the night before, including loading up my energy gels, filling my Camel Pack, and putting all my necessities into a convenient pile. I dressed quickly and did my glute-strengthening exercises, which also serve to warm up my legs.

As I headed down the hill, I started thinking about the run ahead. I'd planned a new course last week, involving lots of new roads, several cute neighborhoods, and some killer hills, particularly in the first three miles. Before bed last night, I went through the course once more, determined the mile markers, and made double sure I knew all of the turns. I even wrote them all down on a sheet of paper which I put with my other running gear. Though I did not plan to look at it, I wanted to have the reference available, should I need it.

My goal, as I mentioned before was to finish the run and not get lost. I had no plans to shoot for any kind of pace, but I did some quick math, and figured that if last week I could do 15.5 in 2:12:10, then I should be able to complete 17.2 in under 2:30. This was my official goal. At the first mile, I was way ahead of that pace, having run 7:20, but this was down hill, and the next two miles were going to be up.

In fact, it felt like 90% of the run was uphill. Of course, that's not at all possible, but for the most part it felt like there were long, slow ups and only short, sharp downs, which are not able to be enjoyed.

And yet, I felt pretty strong, perhaps surprisingly. My iPod "watch" case popped off its band, and I had to stop and move the player to another spot and put the case away. At the next mile marker, 6 it turned out, I checked the time to discover that I was over two minutes under 8:00, much faster than I had intended to go. But I felt great. 

At 55 minutes, I had an energy gel, and discovered that I prefer Power Bar's gel to Gu. It's thinner, so it clears out of the mouth much cleaner and it doesn't sit in the stomach so long. And they work like a charm. I was able to push on for quite some more time. As I made my eventual turnaround, I found that I was even more ahead of the pace that I didn't think I would be able to keep, which made me feel wonderful. I suddenly realized that I had completed 10 miles, and I was floating.

The hills kept coming, but my legs kept moving. I stopped for another gel at about 13 miles, just because I couldn't believe that I was still feeling that good. I checked my time with 3 miles to go, and found that I was at 1:49 and a few seconds. In order to complete the run in an 8-minute pace, I had to be done by 2:17 (keeping the extra .17 in mind). That meant that I could run over 9-minute miles and still make my time, but I didn't want to slow down. I finished in 2:12:09, completing my last 3 miles in 23 minutes, and finishing today's 17 faster than last week's 15.5.

What really knocks me over is the pace, which came out to about 7:42 per mile. If I were to run that pace for 9 more miles (which I feel like I could have done), then I would have completed a marathon in 3:20, 16 minutes faster than Austin. I know that I'm not ready to qualify for Boston. That's going to be a longer journey than I had originally planned. Of course it is. That's really freaking hard to do. But I can get a killer personal best, and that's where my brain is.

Because I just ran the fastest 15+ run of my life.

Saturday's Run:
67 Degrees / Overcast
17.17 Miles
2 Hours, 12 Minutes, 9 Seconds

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