Saturday, August 8, 2009

A long run with a capital L and R

Today was a special day. I got to run with Hover K, a fellow runner who also works with my coach and is training for Twin Cities. We are basically on the same training schedule, and it's really nice to run together when our schedules and workouts match up. It's also nice to know when we aren't running together that someone out there is going through the same gauntlet as me and to know that they feel my pain. Not that I would want to wish pain on anyone, of course.

Our workout was a pretty straightforward 23 miles with:
  • prolonged warm up
  • 10 x 1 mile @ goal marathon pace (GMP) with 1 minute jog rests; miles 8 and 9 run uphill, mile 10 run down a hill (to roughly simulate the last few miles at Twin Cities).
  • filler miles
  • finish with 3 x 25 seconds @ mile effort
  • Soak legs in the lake
Because we needed hills at the right time in this workout, we decided to meet at Lake Natoma. I may have scared Hover K when I approached her with my hand-drawn map of the route I thought we should take. It was crude, but I do like to have a plan. When you run long around that lake you have to be mindful of where to get water. The water fountains are few and far between and they are all crammed within a few miles of each other on the northwest corner of the lake.
My plan had us starting at the Aquatic Center, running about 5-6 miles through the rolling hills along the east side of the lake, stopping for water in Folsom, continuing on to the water fountain/stinky bathrooms on the trail around Greenback where we would start our mile repeats. We would head south along the eastern edge of the lake for about 4 miles, turn around and head north back to the water fountain, then head up the hill toward Beals Point for 2 miles, and run the final repeat down the hill back toward Greenback. We would then run back along the western shore of the lake to the Aquatic Center and jump in the lake. Dizzying, I know, but it worked very well and ended up being 23.55 miles. I like it when plans work out.

This was definitely one of those days where my run could have gone either really well or really crappy based on how I felt before we started. Lucky for me, it went really well. We started with a nice 5+ mile jog on the rolling, shaded trail along the east side of the lake. We stopped at the secret water fountain (maybe not so secret to local runners) in the hotel next to the trail in Folsom and I took a gu. We then headed to the trail and started our mile repeats. The course we chose was not flat, so it was hard to keep a good rhythm. But, I think it was a great test for what will be a rolling course in Twin Cities. Also, there were throngs of cyclists doing a Jamba Juice sponsored ride around the lake. They were recreational riders, so were generally courteous and actually quite supportive. I got lots of encouraging comments from these riders as they passed by and that made me smile. I did however end up on the rocky and narrow path adjacent to the trail for a good bit of the run to keep out of their way.

My mile splits were:
1 - 6:12
2 - 6:18
3 - 6:13
4 - 6:11
5 - 6:14
6 - 6:10
7 - 6:12
8 - 6:42 (175 ft ascent)
9 - 6:35 (142 ft ascent)
10 - 5:57 (170 ft descent)

My overall pace for the 10 miles was 6:16. Not too shabby with those hills. My goal marathon time of 2:46 requires a 6:20 pace, so I was right on track. I also felt like I was at marathon effort the whole time. This is actually a really nice change for me, feeling like I can actually run at GMP in the heart of my training program. I remember 2 years ago trying to run my then GMP and not being able to hold it for more than a few miles. That is seriously frustrating. As I stated in an earlier post, I love these long workouts because they are the most relevant to the task at hand and ingrain goal pace in my body and mind.

We jogged back around the lake to the Aquatic Center and ended with the mile effort repeats. They seem like punishment with 23 miles already on your legs, but I always find them refreshing once they're done. Even more refreshing is a dip in the healing waters of Lake Natoma. It was a perfect way to complete a terrific Long Run.

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