I know, I know...what about Bloomsday last weekend? And that Heroes' Half Marathon the Sunday before? (Not to mention the Maui Oceanfront Half Marathon back in January...and have I not published my Honolulu Marathon post yet?)
Anyhow...this weekend I made the somewhat dubious decision to do a 10K race on Saturday and my last 20-mile run on Sunday. I had signed up for the 10K months ago, and the 20-miler just happened to fall on the following day, considering that it was exactly three weeks to the marathon. I didn't want to drop the 10K, so I decided to do it as my tempo run for the week. That worked well for scheduling as we were driving back from Spokane on Monday. I did my easy run on Tuesday, speed work on Thursday, the tempo run on Saturday, and the long run on Sunday.
The speed work on Thursday was 10x400 meters, or in my world, ten quarter-mile intervals at the track, hopefully at two minutes each or less (8:00 pace or faster). Speed work has been my nemesis...it is almost impossible for me to do it at the prescribed pace, especially since most of my speed work in the last few months has been on the road instead of the track.
This Thursday I forced myself to get up just barely early enough to get to the track and finish before school started and I got kicked off the track. I did 2.5 miles of warm-up, then ten trips around at as close to .25 mile as possible. I did about 60-90 seconds jogging recovery between each one, but there was also a little standing around recovery as well. The paces for my ten splits? 7:55, 8:06, 8:00, 7:57, 7:54, 7:53, 8:05, 8:01, 7:57, 7:49.
Friday was a rest day from running. I cross-trained with the elliptical in the morning, but thanks to work I didn't have time to walk in the afternoon (which I've been doing a few days a week). I don't know if it was due to not walking or just blind luck, but Friday night I didn't have any soreness in my ankle and Achilles at all! I got up and went to the bathroom without even limping!
Saturday morning I headed to Mukilteo for the Inspiring Hope 10K (benefitting Susan G. Komen). Since it didn't start too early (9 a.m.) and Mukilteo is really close, I didn't have to get up too early and I still got there around 8:15, with plenty of time to use the bathroom a couple times and do a 1.8 mile warm-up (so I'd have 8 miles total, you know).
I've done this 10K twice before (I think). My first one was really fast, last year was about two minutes slower, and this year was a couple minutes slower still. So that sort of sucks. But knowing that I wasn't going to be fast, my only goal was to be under 55 minutes. And I did that (54:37-ish). That's about an 8:50 pace, which is fine for a tempo run. I am telling myself that it is fine.
A couple of people that I didn't know recognized me from the past races. I think it is because I always wear one of my fancy Nuu Muu running dresses!
I also wanted to get out of the neighborhood for my long run. All of my long runs in the last few months over 15 miles have been a variation on the same route...around Jennings Park, up Ingraham Boulevard (a one-mile hill!), onto the Centennial Trail, and back into town or out to my parents' house. It's a good route because it's easy to customize for distance, but I wanted a change. And I didn't want to run up Ingraham yet again.
My plan work but it did backfire a bit as the Kirkland Half Marathon was as hilly as six Ingraham hills. I have just been studying the elevation chart from my Garmin data and the course included about six miles of uphill terrain, in chunks of about 1.5 mile, .5 mile, 1.5 mile, 1.25 mile. Granted the rest was either downhill or flat (there was a two-mile stretch near the end that was mostly flat), but those hills are wearing. Some sections were moderate and some were steepish.
In order to turn this into a 20-mile run, and get back in time for the round of Mother's Day festivities, I headed to Kirkland at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday and arrived around 6:15. I got a spot in the special "Subaru owners' lot," which was really convenient to everything (the regular lot was fine too, just more crowded), and hurried across the street to get my bib and chip.
My plan was to run five miles pre-race, then the 13.1, and finish off with two miles after the finish. More specifically I wanted to do two miles warm-up, three miles at around 10:00 miles, then do the half marathon at marathon goal pace (9:30-9:45 pace). I also wanted to do the two miles after at 10:00 pace, but I knew that would be a challenge, and since it was only two miles, I wasn't that worried about it. (I ended up averaging about 10:20 pace for the last two.)
I started the warm-up with a three-quarter mile hill. Just a foretaste of the feast to come, I guess. That mile took almost twelve minutes...then I settled in with a 10:23, 9:59, and 9:44. After four miles I stopped at my car because the slightly humid 60-degree weather was a little warm for my long-sleeved shirt. At my car, in the parking lot, I changed into a short-sleeved shirt. Then after a quick final bathroom stop, I finished my last mile (10:05), and headed for the start line. I was surprised that my legs didn't feel at all tired from Saturday's run. Of course, I wasn't trying to run a 9-minute mile or anything, so maybe that made a difference.
After a 5-10 minute wait, we were off! As I said, the hills started and never stopped. Still, I managed to hit marathon pace without too much effort. I wanted it to feel easy...as much as possible. If it was too hard I wouldn't be able to plan on doing it for a whole marathon!
Maintaining pretty even effort (I think), my splits reflect the hilliness of the course, both up and down. Overall...9:40, 9:44, 9:05, 10:03, 9:38, 9:55, 10:02, 9:16, 9:29, 9:33, 10:21, 10:04, 9:30 (last bit at 9:09 pace). I fueled with a Gu after four miles (plus the five miles before the start) and another Gu around ten miles. I think for a 20-mile run I could have had three Gu's, but since I wasn't racing it I felt I could go a little light on fueling. I also drank an Americano with caffeine on my way to the race. I have given up most caffeine and only use it on race days. I wasn't originally going to have it yesterday, but then I decided with getting up so early and running so far, I needed the caffeine boost.
I felt tired about halfway through the half marathon, but hung in there and really appreciated those downhill "rests." I was really happy to get through the entire 18 miles pretty strong, and I don't feel like my pace flagged any more than would be expected on the hills.
My post-race two miles were hard to force myself into. There is such a strong mental urge to quit after you cross the finish line! (Finish time: 2:06:56.) I walked through the finish area and then started running immediately (though I stopped at my car to drop my medal). I ran through the park and up another hill for three quarters of a mile, then back. The final half mile seemed impossible. But I pushed myself out there for another quarter mile, then finished up by running a fun quarter mile on a long horseshoe shaped dock.
This morning I ran for the third consecutive day in a row (unusual for me). I wanted to keep on schedule so I can have two non-running days at the end of the week before Portland Rock 'n' Roll. My legs were definitely tired today. After two slow warm-up miles, I did five more at 9:48-10:04 pace. Tomorrow is a non-running day, and I expect I'll be feeling those hills in my legs by then!
Oh, by the way, my training pace for the 20-mile run was supposed to be 9:59. My average pace for the entire 20 was 9:58--right on track! (My half-marathon pace was 9:43.) I would have liked my marathon practice pace to be just a little faster, but hopefully the NODM course will be less dramatically hilly than Kirkland (they say it is not very hilly, we shall see, I guess!).