I don't have my splits at hand right now, but my average pace was 9:11, and I recall my first mile was just under 10 minutes, and many of the others were around 9:15-9:20, so obviously I made up some time in a few of the miles.
I honestly didn't intend to go so fast. (Yes, I consider this "fast."). After all, I did my pace run yesterday. (I guess I could consider this a super-pace run, and in fact I did achieve the approximately 9-minute pace that I was originally aiming for yesterday.)
What I wanted to do, and largely did, was run at a comfortable pace without pushing myself. I thought that would probably be 9:30-9:40 or so. I was a little surprised when the first mile came in under 10 minutes, because that rarely happens.***
I ran a bit of my morning route, including a couple of extra back and forth repeats through Grand Avenue park to pump up the mileage (adding a mile), and then headed down toward the Everett Marina to run along the waterfront and do a couple of loops past Anthony's (adding almost two miles). I was at about six miles when I left the Marina, and feeling pretty good.
I had put hill repeats on the schdule for today, and I was approaching the quarter-mile hill on Marine View Drive. I had already spent a lot of time deliberating how many times I could bear to go up and down that hill.
Turns out the answer was three. Really I cut it at three because of boredom, and because I didn't want to get my miles TOO high that far from home. I could have done more, but the repetitiveness of it might have killed me.
Going uphill was pretty slow, 10 minute or slower pace by the top, but that was more than compensated for by the fast and easy downhills. Looking at my splits later, the miles in that area were as fast or faster than most any in the first ten miles. In addition to that portion of Marine View Drive, I had to go up decent hills at least three other times, so I consider that hill work accomplished.
As I neared the bottom of the hill before starting my third and final trip up, I saw a guy approaching, clearly intending to run up the hill. I couldn't really tell whether he was running faster or slower than me (but I guess I would soon find out). I turned around and started back just before he got to me, so I was ahead to begin with. Shortly thereafter, however, he jogged past me. He wasn't going super-fast, but fast enough to be ahead of me. It stayed that way about half, two-thirds of the way, then I saw him stop and walk for a moment. I drew closer, but he started running after a few seconds. That lasted for a few more seconds, then he was walking again. I soon passed by him (the tortoise beating the hare) and continued running on to the top of the hill. I didn't want to tarnish my "victory" by stopping for water at the top, so I just kept running, picking up the pace as the road leveled out. I never saw him again. I don't know if he kept running behind me, or turned around and went down the hill.
As I was approaching ten miles, I considered also making this a 3/1 run (per Hal Higdon), where the last quarter of the run was at a faster pace than the first three-fourths. That had actually been on my plan last week, but since I was on the beach I didn't do it. I wasn't especially sure I wanted to do it today, either.
But without my engaging much special effort, mile 11 came in at 8:59 (I think), so then I felt like I HAD to do it. What's more, I noticed as I finished mile 11 that my time so far was about 1:42 or 1:43,**** which meant if I made a concerted effort I might be able to finish under two hours, or certainly close. So I decided to go for it.
Which is when my legs turned to lead. Whether that was because I was encountering one of those other uphills I mentioned, whether I was just worn out from my efforts so far,***** or whether it was purely psychological, I don't know. I resigned myself to not make the two hours, but I knew that regardless, no matter how molasses like these last couple miles turned out to be, I would be pretty close.
But despite how I felt I was doing, I seemed to be maintaining at least a sub-9 pace. I knew once I got to 12 miles I would be home free (as far as actually making it to the end).
And then I was there, in the last full mile. Unfortunately that was also the location of the final hill. But halfway through the uphill turned into a downhill, and QFC and Starbucks were in my sights. I hurtled down the hill and past the 13-mile point, my eyes now glued to my Garmin as the final hundreths of a mile clicked by.
The moment I saw 13.1 I pressed the stop button and slowed to a walk, circling the parking lot to rest my legs and cool my flaming, sweaty face and body.
The final time was 2:00:21. In a "real" half marathon I would probably be a little disappointed, but today I was shocked and thrilled to be in the two hour neighborhood on a run that was going to be "long, slow distance." I now have increasingly high hopes for the Anacortes Half, 34 days from now (August 1)!
Congratulations to everyone who ran "real" halfs and marathons today!
*E.g. the Seattle Rock & Roll Marathon and Half Marathon, which virtually everyone in the area was doing, as far as I can tell.
**I know the proper plural of half is "halves." But I'm not sure whether to do it that way in this context....
***But when it does it is often on a weekend day when I've slept in a bit and am not trying to go out at 6-something a.m. Coincidence? I think not.
****I feel like I remember 1:43, but I also clearly remember calculating that I had 18 minutes to finish under two hours, so who knows. It is possible that either my math or memory could be faulty!
*****Which raises a question that I will address in a future post, whether I should be exploring some sort of nutrition for long runs, like gels or some other alternative.
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