Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday long run

Today was the first "official" long run in my half marathon training. As I mentioned in my last post, I had put it down as nine miles but suspect I intended ten miles. This morning I decided to bite the bullet and go for the full ten.

This morning I decided that, but it was technically afternoon by the time I hit the road. After a leisurely lie-in until at least 9:00 (maybe longer), I got up to an unusually grey and gloomy looking day. I had grown so accustomed to our sunny days! Even though cloudy weather is obviously better for running, the grey skies did not beckon me.

I had to eat breakfast, anyway, and after an egg and an English muffin (Oroweat double fiber, my favorite, and I am used to eating lots of fiber so I wasn't worried about it causing a problem) with almond butter and sugar-free berry preserves. Then I had to digest, so I watched some shows on the Food Network. Then I had to map out my route on the computer, and once I was on the computer I went to Facebook, and more time was lost there!

But as noon approached I knew I had to get my butt in gear, so I threw on my running clothes (a long sleeved shirt to accommodate the weather, but no jacket), and was actually out the door by 12:05.

I wasn't sure what I wanted my pace to be, or what it could be. I know, I understand, that your long runs are supposed to be slow. Lisa has a technical explanation of why this is so, and frankly, I probably couldn't do a long run at (desirable) race pace if I tried. However, I feel like my easy pace has sped up a lot in the last few months, and I don't know that it's a bad thing to run at a pace that feels comfortable to me, even if it is faster than I might believe a "slow" pace would be.* So I decided to run easily (as much as it is ever possible) and see how it came out. I wanted to keep it under a ten-minute pace anyway; about 9:45 would be fine.

My first two miles, actually, were almost exactly that, each 9:42. I set out on my planned route going south to Everett Avenue, then east to East Grand (which would eventually turn into Marine View Drive). About a mile and a half along, I started wondering whether I wanted to use the bathroom, and because I knew the next opportunity would be miles along, I detoured back onto 23rd to use the restroom at Garfield Park. (This detour probably added close to a mile to my total distance.) Then back to the original route.

As I ran, I discovered something I've been suspecting, which is that my easy pace seems to be around 9:30. Without trying, I was going about a nine-minute pace on downhills, close to ten minutes up hills, and somewhere in between everywhere else.

Speaking of hills, one of the other objectives of today's run was to do some hill work. I put four to six hill repeats on my plan, but I found myself going up several significant hills (in terms of either steepness or length) just in the ordinary course of my route. So I decided that three or four specific repeats would be sufficient. The destination for these repeats was a quarter mile hill on Marine View Drive near Legion Park. The direction I was going would take me down that hill. So in order to do the hill work I would have to run up that hill totally unnecessarily. And again. And again. And maybe again!

Well, I did it. It wasn't that bad. My pace neared 10:30 by the top of the hill, but in each successive repeat I managed to improve the pace a little bit. By the final (fourth!) time, I stayed under ten minutes all the way!

You might have noted that doing four quarter mile hills (and back down again) would add another two miles to my distance. Yep. My mileage was adding up fast. I suspected that by the time I reached the marina, I would be over nine miles (and still a couple miles from home). This would have been perfect if I was meeting my mother at the Farmer's Market--I could easily add some distance around the waterfront marina area to finish the ten miles. But my mother was busy this afternoon, so anywhere I went I would have to get myself home!

For that reason, I just stopped at the bathroom at the marina and headed on my way. Unfortunately, the route from the marina back to downtown Everett was not only over my allotted ten miles, it was steeply uphill all the way! In fact, the mile that included that stretch was my slowest of the day, at 9:52. Finally, though, I reached Everett Avenue and Colby (sort of the summit), and then just had a sweet downhill stretch to QFC and Starbucks. When I got to Broadway, I was at 11.3 miles, so I took the "long way" around the QFC parking lot to bump it up to 11.5.

My final mile splits were: 9:42, 9:42, 9:25, 9:17, 9:19, 9:29, 9:35, 9:18, 9:22, 9:26, 9:52, and .53 miles at 8:40 pace. Average pace 9:27.

This was also the third consecutive day of running for me... and I wasn't suffering. (We'll see how I feel after tomorrow's morning run! Or before it, for that matter. Then Tuesday is definitely a non-running day.)

I definitely met my goals for today** and I'm quite pleased. And still optimistic!

So here's the only remaining question (for now). If today's ten mile run became 11+, should next week's eleven mile run become 12?*** I guess I'll play it by ear, see how things work out next weekend. It is also the Strawberry Festival and Father's Day****, so there are a lot of potential activities on the horizon!

*At some point I'd also like to try modulating my pace based on heart rate. I have the heart rate monitor with my Garmin, but I've never used it. I also have a HRM watch, but I already wear two watches when I run, my Garmin and iControl, and also added the Timex Ironman to time my splits on the track last week!

**If you leave out things like gardening. I did do some stuff at the office and I just threw in a load of laundry, so I've been semi-productive. And I went to Bicycle Center and bought a rack for my bike, panniers (so I can carry stuff), a bike lock (so I can ride around town and make stops), and some really cute hot pink bike gloves! (Yeah, I'm into biking now. Rod pumped up my flat tires and we went for a ride yesterday and I am hooked! I used to be an avid rider but haven't done much in recent years.)

***Yes, I know I am switching wildly between numerals and spelling out the number. I can't decide what I want to do. So I'm doing both. Idiot.

****Also a furlough day on Friday, so a three-day weekend! Woo hoo!

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