Monday, October 8, 2012

First 20-Miler of the Training Cycle

Target: 20 miles w/last 3 @6:00 pace
Actual: 1-8 @6:50-7:00; 9-16 @6:30-6:45; 17-20 @6:00-6:10
Total: 20 miles @2:15, then 1 easy

All things considered, I'm really pleased with how this run turned out. By "all things," I mean a hilly weekend of running in Atlanta, a 14-hour work/travel day with no dinner on Sunday and an uptempo half-marathon "workout" sandwiched somewhere in the middle. Without a doubt, this inaugural long run attempt could've unfolded much worse had I been on my own, which initially looked to be the case. Jordan's hip/leg/quad is still iffy and most of my Boston-area buddies had either raced the BAA Half on Sunday or would be racing/tempoing the Tufts 10k on Monday (or, in the case of my intrepid friend Caroline, both). But proving once again to live up to his reputation as the man with a plan, Terry stepped in and connected me with Princeton alum (and friend of Emily and Betsy) Sarah Cummings. I'd briefly met Sarah, a NYAC team member who often runs with Heidi and Jay in NYC, on a run in Central Park last winter. She is now training for a marathon debut at New York and was hoping to get in 16 miles while on a quick holiday weekend trip to Boston, and fortunately our schedules aligned perfectly. We arranged to meet around 9am, giving us ample time to run long and then shower (her) and eat (me) before cheering on our friends at Tufts. Good grief, I love it when a plan comes together.

The run began auspiciously, under sunny skies and crimson falling leaves, with a crisp tinge to the autumn air. I don't run along the Charles River frequently enough to be as thoroughly bored with it as Emily and some of the other BAA girls, and as I trotted from my car to our planned meeting spot I was thoroughly enjoying a view that looked to be plucked straight from a New England postcard. I met Sarah and her friend Katie at the Mass Ave bridge and we set off together with no particular route or destination in mind, content to follow the river path and make things up as we went along. From the outset I found myself a half step behind Sarah as my legs rebelled against a brisker-than-usual early tempo. But as the minutes ticked by, their exact number fading into the backdrop of our steady conversation, I found myself feeling stronger and lighter. At one point, approaching the 90-minute mark, Katie checked her Garmin and remarked that we were clipping along at a 6:35 pace. I was pleasantly surprised, not because of the pace itself but because of how unremarkable it felt. Katie peeled off a few minutes later, at which point Sarah and I continued on for a few more miles while maintaining if not tightening the pace. I dropped her off with a mere three miles remaining, incredibly grateful to have spent almost two hours engrossed in conversation as opposed to constantly checking my watch. Without a Garmin I have no concrete idea of how fast I closed the run, but I do know I pushed harder in the final 15 minutes than I had at any previous point. I finished feeling equal parts hungry and exhausted, strong and exhilarated, and totally excited for my next long effort.


Anonymous said...

Wow, what a great run! I hit a few 15 mile runs this past summer at an average pace of 6:45. I like the cut-down work that you incorporated into your long run. I am just breaking into this distance and am hoping to achieve some fast times as my first two marathons were accomplished with very minimal training. I'm assuming your training for a marathon? If so, which one? And what type of plan do you follow? I honestly have no idea what I am doing for this distance and am trying to figure things out. Unfortunately in my area, there are not many runners around, so I am kind of left to flounder...

I just began blogging and hope to connect with other runners like yourself, so that I can learn better training plans!