Like one of those places where they have thunderstorms in the afternoons/evenings after hot, sunny days. Like what, the South? The Midwest? Not the Northwest, for sure.
Once again today we had a pretty hot, sunny (though somewhat muggy) day, and late this afternoon the thunder started rumbling and the rain came in big, splashy drops. I was in the midst of walking to Starbucks at the time, but I didn't even mind the rain because it was still so warm out and the rain had an almost tropical feel to it.
I was walking to Starbucks to clear my head after waking up from a little nap. A little nap which I needed to recover from this morning's twelve mile run, followed by a drive with my mother to buy fresh-picked blueberries at Anderson's Blueberry Farm up in Bow. (I don't know what was more tiring, the run or the trip!)
This morning's run was my final long run before the half marathon next Saturday. I decided to go for the twelve miles, even though I had originally planned on ten, because... well, just because. My only objective was to keep it easy and not too fast (but not too slow).
I left the house at 9 a.m., coincidentally the same time that the half marathon starts next Saturday. I could say that I did that to practice running under similar conditions as I might expect next week--but really that is just the time I managed to get out.
It was pleasantly warm with a few clouds, which was really quite nice. I especially liked when the sun went behind a cloud! I realized after about a mile that I had forgotten to wear my hat (though luckily remembered to put on sunscreen), but I didn't want to go home to get it. I resigned myself to spending a couple hours tucking my hair behind my ears, but eventually, once my hair was drenched with sweat, it stayed in place without tucking.
So, as usual, I wanted to run a route that would get me the twelve miles but not take me over. Since I was running in the same areas as I frequently do, I had a general idea of distances, and hoped that I could get pretty close. My first primary measurement landmark was the Everett Marina by Anthony's restaurant. I figured if I could hit six miles before I left there I would come out even.
I added a few extra blocks along the way as the miles didn't seem to be adding up quite enough. Then, by adding two laps around the marina, I was on my way with the Garmin reading six miles and a bit.
I was feeling pretty good so far, running about a 9:30 or 9:40 average pace. Still, I figured that the remaining six miles were going to seem long, so I decided to divide them into three two-mile segments and concentrate on finishing each of those. Two miles is nothing, right? I also directed myself to only look at the Garmin between songs on the ipod. Each song, depending on the length, could get me through a quarter to half a mile, which is more than often enough to look at my watch, considering that I was not even going for any time goals!
That worked prettty well, although by the time I got to ten miles I was ready to be done. I switched my time passing method to the fartlek method (though eliminating the sprinting element). I simply picked a landmark in the distance--a stoplight, a specific street, etc.--and concentrated on running to that point. Then I picked another one.
At eleven miles I was close enough to being done that my adrenaline kicked in again, and I was able to pick up the pace even though much of the last mile was uphill. I finished with a short downhill stretch, and triumphantly stopped my watch at 12.15 miles. I was as pleased with my distance planning as I was with the running itself!
I ended at Starbucks and decided to refuel myself with a strawberry banana Vivanno smoothie. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to treat myself and get in on the refueling window. Plus, after all those miles I could afford to indulge in a late-morning second breakfast!
Final stats: 12.15 miles, 1:56:10, 9:34 per mile average.
Splits: 10:12, 9:42, 9:25, 9:30, 9:30, 9:35, 9:31, 9:40, 9:38, 9:30, 9:32, 9:08, and .15 mile at 8:28 pace.
So... half marathon in a week, and I. Am. Ready.
Really, I think I am. I am doing a mini-taper this next week, which is really mostly an opportunity to rest up my legs. Tomorrow, Sunday, I am going to a baseball game, so it may be a pretty sedentary day. If I wake up really early I could go for a walk, but on the other hand I could just sleep in a little and that would be nice too!
Monday, easy run. Tuesday, cross-train (elliptical) at the Y. Wednesday, short run with a few 400's (quarter miles). Thursday, some elliptical at the Y. Friday, rest. Rest, you hear me? REST!
The only wild card I see is the weather. I can control my training, I can control what I wear for the race, I can control what I eat next week and the night before and the morning of the race. But I cannot control the one thing which could have as much effect on my performance as my training, clothing, and nutrition--which is the summer heat.
But I'm not sweating it. (Oh, haha!) It will be what it will be. And luckily, in our climate chances are pretty fair that even a warm (hot) day will not be extreme enough to be a huge problem. (I hope. I'm making myself a little nervous here!)
I've thought about some of the good and bad points that might come into play regarding the weather.
The race doesn't start till 9 a.m.
BAD: It would be nice to start earlier on a potentially hot day!
GOOD: Around here, even on hot days it is often mild for most of the morning.
The race is in Anacortes.
BAD: I'm not sure there's anything bad about that!
GOOD: It's on the water, hopefully the marine climate will help keep things cooler.
I've done several training runs in super-hot Eastern Washington weather.
BAD: I ran very slowly there!
GOOD: At least I survived!
Hopefully I'll manage to do a little more than survive next Saturday!