Just as I was starting to feel ok about my running, yesterday's long run knocked me back down to size. A couple of months ago I probably would have thought the run was acceptable, but yesterday I just found it to be a disappointment. It was supposed to be 18 miles, with 14 at marathon pace. Mind you, for my first marathon, "marathon pace" really isn't too fast, as I need a 9:09 minute per mile pace to finish in 4 hours. Since I was starting to get a bit cocky, I thought I would run the 14 miles at an 8:45 pace. Well, after I finished the 14 miles just shy of this pace, including a few short breaks, it was enough for me, and I cut the run 8/10's of a mile short of 18. My average heart rate for the run was 163, ten bpm higher than the previous week when I ran 20 miles at an only slightly slower pace.
Why the struggle? The most likely (and obvious) explanation is that the pace is too agressive. However, I really thought it would have been manageable. Other excuses I tried to talk myself into included the heat of the day at 27° celcius, poor pacing, and not the best nutrition - although the barbeque steak dinner the previous night was great.
That steak dinner Saturday night was with my father and his wife, who were visiting us for the weekend. See the great photo below, and note that I am just as photogenic as my father.
Another thing that may have added to my tough run was the build up during the week. I did 8 miles at an aerobic pace Tuesday, 9 miles Wednesday including 5x1k at 5k pace with a short break between the intervals, a 12 mile run Friday, and 5 on Saturday. I thought I did the 1k intervals at a good pace, but I've been too lazy to program my Garmin to capture them properly. I'll try to get it programmed before my intervals for this week.
We're down to five weeks to the marathon, and the next three weeks should be fun, as I have three races! I have the Fall Classic this Sunday right here in Fredericton, the half-marathon at the Marathon by the Sea in Saint John on the 25th, and the Dam Run 10k in Perth Andover on October 3rd. While I don't plan on tapering for these, I do plan on giving my best effort and racing in them. I'm really looking forward to the Fall Classic this weekend, as it marks the one year anniversary of my first race ever. I always tell people that if they're just getting into running, they should enter a race, and they will be hooked. Faith Ann and I were both so impressed with the race last year, that we signed up for our next 10k right afterward - the Legs for Literacy 10k in Moncton. One year and about 25 pounds ago, I ran the 10k at the Fall Classic in 57:15. It would be really cool if I could knock 10 minutes off that, but that may be a bit aggressive. I think a time like 48:48 may be more realistic - not to mention symmetric!
So ... two things I'm taking away from my poor long run of yesterday: stick with what works, and be realistic. By sticking with what works, next week I'm going back to the same meal the night before that I had last week, the same breakfast, and same energy for the run. By being realistic, it means that I'll slow it down (slightly), reminding me that the first marathon is more about taking in the experience and finishing, than it is about setting a decent time.
2 days ago