Friday, July 17, 2009

Pacing myself

We're heading to Eastern Washington at 6 a.m tomorrow morning, so I really need to get finished packing and get to bed pretty soon. But since I'll be computer-deprived for a couple days, and even my Blackberry will be out of signal range a lot of the time, I'm throwing up a quick post before I move on to more pressing tasks.

I do intend to resume writing more interesting things than just reciting the details of every run I do. I have lots of ideas simmering in my head. But I am just a little obsessed with the running stuff right now, as the Anacortes Half Marathon approaches, so I can't help rehashing every detail again and again and again. And soon I'll squeeze in something a little more creative, I'm sure.

This morning I managed to get up extra early since I was supposed to be up in Mount Vernon (at least a 30 minute drive) by 8:30 or so. Okay, technically it was 8:30 or before, but this was a voluntary training and I felt free to be a little flexible. I meant to be there by 8:30, though.

I did get up about 15 minutes later than I had planned but I still managed to be out on the road running by 5:45. Yes, a.m. Usually on Fridays I go in to work late, so don't have to get out running until 7 a.m. or later, so this was quite a departure! I also try to do (or even more) on Fridays, but because of my time constraints today I felt that six miles (or so) would be acceptable.

Fridays are tempo/pace days. Today I thought I would do a pace run with a two-mile warm-up, a few miles at my hoped-for half-marathon pace (meaning 9-minute miles or faster), and then a cool-down consisting of whatever distance I had left to get home.

And, amazingly, all went according to plan! I started with a couple easy miles (mile two was split in half as I stopped for the bathroom), then picked up the pace.

My goal for the pace miles was to run at a speed where I didn't have to push myself. I decided that I would force myself to do this natural pace by restricting myself from looking at the Garmin as much as possible. I really didn't want to look at it at all (except to check the distance occasionally). I succeeded at that, mostly--well, partly--I only looked at the watch a half dozen times or so over five or six miles.

Somewhere during mile 4, or maybe mile 5, I threw out my plan to only run six miles this morning and kept on running, far enough so that by the time I turned around and made my way home I would finish eight miles. At about that same time I also decided that in mile 7, which would be my last pace mile, I should turn it up a notch, as I would hope to do in an actual race, and pick up the pace for the final mile.

After seven miles I dropped back to a more relaxing pace and finished the last stretch home. When I got to my house I was at about 7.6 miles. I started partway around the block, planning to round up to 7.75 miles, but then thought, why not go for the full eight? I'm so close already.

So I did! Here's my final splits.

1 - 10:05
2a - .43 at 9:15 pace
2b - .57 at 9:18 pace
3 - 8:54
4 - 8:52
5 - 8:59
6 - 8:31
7 - 7:39 !
8 - 9:19
And the last few steps to the front door - 38 feet at 7:59 pace (don't remember a little sprint, but guess I did!).

Of course, that extra mile or two I squeezed in ate up more of my getting-ready time. In the end it was almost 8:30 when I left and about 9:00 when I got to the conference center. Funny how staying in bed an extra 15 minutes and adding a mile and a half to my run resulted in a 30 minute delay!

Tomorrow morning, as I mentioned, we're heading to (very hot) Eastern Washington. We should get there around mid-morning, which I'm pretty sure will still be before the full heat of the day sets in. I'm going to travel dressed in running clothes so that I can head out for a run right away. Not a super long run--I'm thinking five or six miles. Well, maybe seven if I feel good.

Then on Sunday morning I'm going to get up really early, by 6:00 hopefully, and do a long run. I'm not sure if I'll end up doing the 15 miles I had put on my schedule for this weekend. If not, it doesn't matter that much, I'm definitely ready for the half marathon distance and I'm just gilding the lily by squeezing in a couple of longer long runs. We'll see how it goes!

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