My training schedule is just about to start winding down. I only have to get through about 10 more tough days, and then relief will be in sight.
Unfortunately, my schedule this morning did not line up with most of my friends' schedules, so I was stuck doing the workout solo.
I was supposed to do 2 miles easy, 2 miles marathon pace, 1 mile half marathon pace, 2 miles marathon pace, 2 miles easy. And then have breakfast and do my 3.75 miles easy on my commute to work.
My options for the 9 workout miles were to run the 7 mile path right by our house (and try to add 2), to use the treadmill, to do it at the track with my running buddies, to go meet a few other friends who were doing 7 miles on hills (and try to add 2), or to come up with my own route (hopefully crossing paths with my friends doing hills, but not actually doing any real hills myself). Or of course sleeping in and blowing it off completely, or watching everyone set out for the track and going out for a big breakfast instead!
The latter two options of course sounded the best, but that's not going to help me at all on race day. So I decided to come up with my own route, with the goal of crossing paths with my friends running hills.
I set out from home alone around 5:20 and I was moving slowly. I just felt like I couldn't loosen up and find my stride. By the time I saw my first mile split, I started trying to come up with alternative plans because it was that slow. I was thinking maybe I'd go out 1.5 easy and back 1.5 easy, and then just run to work and do the tough miles on the treadmill -- but that left me with my original treadmill issue: no real breakfast available at work. Or maybe I could just do the entire 9 miles slowly, that would be better than nothing. On some level, I knew I had to give myself a bit more time.
So I stuck it out for another easy mile and decided to give at least the first marathon pace mile a shot.
And then the next one worked! (NB: in the interest of full disclosure, that second marathon pace mile was downhill...)
Both miles were exactly the same pace, and both were just 1 second faster than my actual planned marathon pace. Then I decided to give the half marathon pace mile a shot -- I only had to go half a mile and then u-turn, and I managed to do that as well.
It was flat, I basically ignored my garmin pace and just tried to run half marathon effort.
Couldn't believe that my split was almost perfect. The half marathon pace mile was about 2 seconds slower than it should have been.
But then I cheated. I was completely tuckered out. I walked for a minute or two, then jogged for another minute or so.
I finally convinced myself to try to finish the workout, only two more marathon pace miles, and then a couple easy miles.
I'm not sure I really succeeded; the last two marathon pace miles were both a bit too slow (the first nearly 30 seconds too slow, but I did stop to get water during that mile, and the second one was about 12 seconds too slow). But since the first marathon pace mile on the way home was uphill, I suppose I'll take it.
The big relief was feeling like I was able to actually hit my paces despite having a slower than usual warm-up and, more importantly, despite being alone. I've been thinking of it as "the commuting effect," but sometimes when I'm running alone, I tend to really lollygag lately.
This morning's run was a nice assurance that I am capable of pushing myself even when I'm alone.
And I have to keep telling myself that running marathon pace for 4 miles in 81* weather (with 70% humidity!) will not be the same as running marathon pace for 26.2 miles with race day weather. And the race will be much flatter than my run here -- in fact, the total elevation gain for the marathon will be slightly less than my total gain for 9 miles this morning. I have to trust my training and have faith that it will all come together.
When I got home, I made breakfast and got ready to run again. I wasn't thrilled about the idea of 3.75 more solo miles because I really really prefer running with friends, but Thursdays are the least convenient day to have a car at the office since hubby usually brings me dinner and then we go to an Italian conversation group together, so I set out again.
Moving very slowly, I headed toward the office. After I hit the first mile, I realized that my timing was quite unfortunate. I could see the traffic light on the busiest street I cross up ahead, and it was green for my direction. From nearly a year of commuting on foot now, I knew what that meant -- basically, if I hauled @ss as fast as I could for the next 2-3 minutes, I'd be able to catch the light when it next turned green for my direction.
So I did it. Started running hard, watching as westbound traffic got their green, marking off the blocks, watching the eastbound traffic get their green, starting to feel like it was likely I'd make it, and then the north/south traffic got its green. I was still half a block away, but fortunately there was a fair amount of north/south traffic, so it was a slightly longer light cycle and I made it.
At that point, I was on the SMU campus and I slowed my pace a lot to recover from the few hard minutes. There was a runner coming toward me, so I moved further to the side (which is shadier anyway). As she got closer, I realized it was someone I ran with a lot last year!
Huge bonus! I asked her if she could u-turn right there and run with me to work, and she did!
So instead of nearly 13 solo miles this morning, I ended up with about 10 solo and about 3 with my friend. She's been traveling most of the summer, so I got to hear about her trips, and she has a 10 day trip to Europe coming up next week, so we got to talk about that too. So much fun!
All in all, it really ended up being a good morning today. And best of all, I feel like I have a good attitude going into my very long run this weekend, and my last very tough week next week!
Eeee! Marathon in 3 weeks and 3 days!