As I plotted out my plan to run Nancy's Olympic 8 on the 8th, I thought, why not do it one better? How about 8.08 miles instead? Or, how about 8.88 miles?
So, with Garmin's help, that's what I did.
I've said many times, I cannot do a race pace without actual competitors. Today was no exception. I was happy just to make it a decent semi-long run.
For 8 miles (or 8.88 miles), I figured I would just take my usual 6-6.5 mile route and add on some at the near-beginning, middle, and end. I had contemplated making it even longer than 8 or so miles, if I could get up early enough. Turns out I couldn't (no surprise there).
My alarm went off at about 5 a.m., followed by a long series of snooze alarms. Around 6:00 I turned the light on and started negotiating with myself to get up. You know that kind of negotiation? Looking at the clock and setting the next round number, or multiple of 5, or some such target at which you will get out of bed. Then somehow missing that target by a minute or two and setting a new one. This went on for quite a while.
I was making use of my reclining time by rotating my ankles, doing a lot of stretching and twisting, trying to work out the kinks in my body. I have been wondering whether my a.m. achiness is from running and working out, impending old age, or maybe needing a new mattress. (I've been thinking of checking into that last one once I get my house straightened up enough to allow delivery people in—which includes repositioning the stacks of shoe boxes lining my hallway!)
My procrastination came to an abrupt halt when the phone rang, forcing me out of bed to answer it. Afterward I threw on my running clothes and hat and went downstairs to gather up all my paraphernalia. Garmin, iPod, water bottle, house key, phone, credit card, Starbucks card. Check, check, check, check, check, check, check.
I don't eat breakfast before I run, but I do like to give myself a little boost with a few chocolate covered espresso beans. Sadly, I had eaten the last of them the day before. I substituted with part of a bag of caffeinated sports beans (about 70 calories worth), but it was just not the same. I don't know if it's the caffeine in the espresso beans so much as the chocolatey coffee taste that jump starts my morning. I try to limit myself to 7-12 beans (50-85 calories, based on approximately 7 calories per bean), but maybe I've been eating a few too many lately. Those last two bags I bought at Starbucks seemed to go awfully fast!
I was out the door at 7:15 (according to my watch and later, to Garmin) and headed west. The first mile was, as usual, quite slow. I turned northward on Colby as usual, but this time when I hit Alverson I didn't turn toward Grand Avenue; instead I continued northward toward the Legion Park Arboretum.
The Arboretum is a lovely small garden that is at its most lush right now, in midsummer. I think it's only about a quarter mile in circumference around its paths; more scenic than a track 400, but not as fast. Still, it's a nice place to run and walk in. It's definitely the closest I can get to Regent's Park at home.
After I hit the 3-mile mark on Garmin I paused the timer and called my mother. She had agreed to come into Everett and take a picture of me at 8:08 a.m. It was about ten minutes to eight and she was just coming into town. I told her to meet me at the Arboretum, and I would just continue looping through until she got there. We met out in the parking lot and I sent her into the park while I circled through the parking lot (accumulating a little more slow mileage).
We started our "practice" picture taking a little after 8. (Garmin was on pause again.) After a couple of not-so-good shots, the "final" commemorative photo was captured at just about 8:08 a.m. (Really, we were pretty close.) And here I am, running through the Arboretum archway at 8:08 on 8/08/08.
I then left my mother to walk around the Arboretum while I continued on my run. I still had more than five miles to go!
Back up Alverson, retracing my earlier steps, until it turned into Grand Avenue. As I chugged up a little hill on Alverson I crossed paths with another runner, a gazelle of a girl in a reddish outfit who was loping northward as I was plodding south (yes, I definitely felt like a plodder compared to her graceful and fast running style).
Soon I arrived at Grand Avenue Park. This is just a little park along the bluff that is a little more interesting to pass through than just sticking to the sidewalk. Conveniently, the distance from one end to the other is just about exactly a quarter of a mile. I've used that distance to add mileage occasionally. If I ever wanted to, I could use it for speed work as well. Today, I did an extra down and back so I could pick up an extra half a mile.
As I returned to Colby and headed downtown, I had to make some tactical decisions to reach my distance goal. What I wanted was to hit 8.88 as close as possible to my semi-final destination of Starbucks. I would stop there, get a drink, and walk home (about half a mile further).
The Garmin hit six miles as I was approaching downtown. Six miles was a wonderful place to be—less than three miles from my ultimate destination! I decided I would keep going south until I was at about 7.5 miles. I calculated that my likely turnaround point would be about the right distance from Starbucks and QFC.
By the way, it's probably obvious that most of my energy was going into calculating distance, rather than speed. As I moved into the last mile or two, however, I did start to work on increasing my pace. I'll put my (rather pathetic) splits at the end here.
One of the cool things about using the Garmin is that I can rely on it for distance, rather than setting some landmark turnaround point. Either method is valid, of course. But the Garmin helps me make sure I go far enough, but not too far if I have a specific distance in mind. So I was able to turn around at a random street, just because the Garmin told me to.
(By the way, as I crossed Pacific Avenue, I saw across the street the gazelle in red, who had ended up at the same place as me by a different, probably longer, route. I wonder if she recognized me too?)
This last mile or so is always my favorite—for obvious reasons, of course (last mile), but also because the streets slope downhill so I am able to put on a speed push. As I approached Broadway, where I always have to wait for the light, I saw that I was still a few tenths of a mile short of my goal. So instead of stopping at the intersection, I just turned and continued running north on Broadway, trying to calculate when I should turn back.
I was pretty close in my guesstimation. About half a block from the intersection the Garmin turned to 8.87—then 8.88—then, as I pushed the stop button, 8.89. Darnit! But close enough, really. I'm calling it 8.88, okay?
(For my own records, I figured the extra distance into and through the parking lot put me at 9 miles, and with the half mile home (I usually count the walk home in my totals), I could give myself 9.5 miles today.)
I then popped into Starbucks and made up for my lack of chocolate espresso beans with a quad grande skinny caramel latte, and walked myself home.
Okay, here are my splits.
Total distance 8.88 miles, total time 1:32:48. Average pace 10:29. Calories 1029 (woo hoo!). All laps are one mile unless otherwise indicated.
Lap 3—10:31 (arriving in Arboretum)
Lap 4— .65 mile at 12:11 pace, 7:53 for distance (this is all in Arboretum, and when I paused for a long time to do pictures, the lap counter reset to zero).
Lap 9—9:09 (I would probably have been under nine minutes, but I slowed for a few seconds waiting for a light to change without stopping the timer.)
Lap 10— .24 mile at 10:11 pace, 2:26 for distance.
Now for the actual 8-mile virtual race (I'm calling it a fun run, 'kay?)—I'm subtracting the extra distance off the first mile (call it a warmup). That makes my revised time for the eight miles 1:22:52, with an average pace of 10:22 per mile. Yeah, I just might finish last in this one.
Congratulations to all the other runners! Have a great weekend, everyone!