03 November 2011

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Today was the toughest workout yet on my current marathon training schedule. The plan called for 12 miles at sub 7:36 pace, which is actually faster than my previous half marathon PR from 2 years ago. Yes, it has been indeed two years since my last half marathon. I have been running at least one ultra marathon per month over the last two years, but road half marathons and marathons have been few and far between.

I put off the session until after work. I really didn't have much confidence in my ability to hold this pace. I hadn't worked on speed until the last 3 weeks and even though I broke my 5K PR, I felt I was a long way from my sub 3:15 marathon training goal pace. However, I didn't have a choice, there was no way to skip this one. At 5:15 PM I left my house with the goal to be back in 90 minutes. The weather was getting cooler by the minute but I knew I would be huffing and puffing very shortly, so I went with shorts and a short sleeve shirt. Turns out that was definitely the right decision. As soon as I hit the start button on my Garmin, I took off running. I didn't want to start off in a hole.

After one mile, I was right at 7:30 pace. I started my first loop around the UAH campus determined to get the 4 loops done as required, but bartering with myself that I could always cut it short if I felt tired or cold or "insert any reasonable or unreasonable excuse here". I continued to run and keep the pace as I entered my second loop. I kept doing the math. Alright, after this loop I would be halfway done, and so on.

I completed loop 3 without any problems and as I started loop 4, I actually felt pretty good. Don't get me wrong, I was tired, but I still had plenty of leg left. I was still in control of my breathing (although it had gotten just a little shorter) and my legs felt absolutely fine. So I decided to pick it up ever so slightly to see what would happen. When I made my final turn onto my street, I had lowered my average pace to around 7:26, still feeling good. When I finally arrived at my house, I had completed 11.5 miles in 1 hour 25 minutes, almost 15 seconds faster per mile than my current half marathon PR. With the Huntsville Half marathon on my training schedule for next weekend, I am now starting to believe that I night actually be capable of running the training plan required 6:58-7:18 pace (obviously at the slower end of this scale). Hopefully that's not too ambitious, but you gotta have goals, right?

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