I'll admit it, I have no idea what my pace should feel like.
Today's assignment from Hal was to go out and run five miles at my goal marathon pace. For the sake of argument today, I decided to try for 7:10 per mile, which is maybe faster than I can actually manage, but if I can run that speed, then I'll qualify for Boston, so I wanted to see how I felt.
For the first mile, I just felt awkward, and I still can't really put my finger on why. Somehow I felt off-balance, like I was lumbering down the hill halfway out of control. It was a lunch hour run, as I forgot to turn my alarm back on after my rest day yesterday, so the sun was high in the sky. In spite of these two things, I knew that I was moving along at a pretty good clip. I figured that my first mile might be a little fast, but considering it was downhill, I didn't think too much about it. Sure enough, mile one was way too fast.
So I figured, that first mile was downhill, making it easier. If I simply maintain my current effort level, I'll naturally slow down. I hate trying to slow to a certain speed, since I feel like I always overcorrect. My hope was that without the added backing of gravity, my second mile would be much slower. It was not.
Now I began my third mile, which includes my turnaround point. I tried to take stock of the entire situation. My form was pretty good, all things considered. I was keeping my arms and legs moving in straight lines, with my head tall. I wasn't having any trouble breathing, and even though the sweat was pouring down my face, I didn't feel dehydrated. Sheer logic dictated to me that in this heat, on this day, I would slow down on my own. At the turnaround point, I was still well ahead of my pace, so once I turned around, I decided to make a focused effort to go slower. Not much slower, mind you, but enough to get back on track. Third mile completed, and I was still flying.
At this point, I had somewhat of a decision to make. I didn't want to make my last two miles really slow, but I also wanted to save myself for the long run that's looming on tomorrow's horizon. Since I was clearly not going to be able to run exactly the speed that I desired, I just decided to maintain my slightly lowered effort level.
This continued past the four mile mark, where I was still too fast. This, however, is where the hills started. I could feel my legs starting to get heavier, reinforcing the fact that this pace would be way too fast for an entire marathon, just in case I was getting any ideas. I knew this time that I was actually slowing down, but I still felt strong, and I was still ahead of my pace with half a mile to go. Screw it. Let's get a good time. I pumped my arms up the hill, and despite having to stop for all three street crossings in my last quarter mile, I turned in an amazing time.
And now, the stage is set. I've had four solid runs this week: an easy five, a strong eight, a crazy fast treadmill five, and a smoking five in the heat. Before I left for my show tonight, I already set out all of my equipment. As soon as I'm done typing, I'm going to reset my alarm. Tomorrow morning, I will conquer the 20 mile run that bested me two weeks ago, and once I've done that, there's no stopping my personal victory in Seattle.
As long as I don't go out too fast. Again.
96 Degrees / Sunny
33 Minutes, 15 Seconds