I can't believe I not only did it but I feel great after. At the end of last week's 15 miles my legs were toast. That is probably the biggest reason for my nerves although I didn't actually put that in my list. I did mention that this 20 mile run was going to hurt and that's kind of what I was referring to. The last three last week were really a struggle and quite painful. I finished today without that pain. Oh, don't get me wrong, me legs feel worked but not incapacitated.
Rewind to the start. My alarm went off at 4:30. By 5:15 I was in the car and at 5:57 a.m. I was off on the first part of my run. 8 or 9 miles on my own. I decided to really focus on keeping my pace and running by feel. I'm proud to say I did not look at the pace numbers on the watch at all the entire run. I did look at it for mileage a few times especially near the end. I wore my gymboss to time my intervals and let the watch beep off each mile as it came.
The first 9 seemed almost too easy. Even the return which is a net rise in elevation and has some hills that in the past have done me in. The pacing really helped. They didn't seem so bad at all. I remember finishing 9 and 13 on separate weeks over the winter and really pushing to get past those. Not today.
At 8 a.m. the rest of Perkis People and some from Misery Loves Company (our trail running partners) met up for the beginning of a point to point run from NW avenue of Forbidden drive to the Art Museum. I warned John T and Julius from the getgo that I would not be trying to keep up with them. I was determined to keep my own pace and especially since they had fresh legs at this point they should go on ahead if they wanted an not feel they had to babysit me.
We stayed together anyway until about mile 3 on the trail (mile 12 for me). At this point the trail takes a slight incline before heading downhill at mile 4 to the end. Up to this I worked to keep my breathing and pace steady with 3 and 1 intervals. As the incline approached I backed off my pace a little to keep my breathing steady. Then cruised down into the parking lot at the end of this part of the trail where Maggi and Russ were waiting for us with water, gatorade and snacks. They also accepted our extra layers and brought them to us at the end.
As we started off again I checked in with John T about the crossover to Kelly Drive. Last time we did a point to point I was doing support so I never ran that portion before. He assured me I couldn't miss it and went off with Amy and Julius. Since the group start at NW Ave, Dennis paced right along with me. I haven't seen him since the marathon last year. It was nice to see him and add him to my list of people I've run with. We talked about the Phillies for a bit but by the time I got to 15 miles I wasn't much for conversation. Dennis was a great companion and simply stayed with me as we made our way across the bike path on Lincoln Drive and then down Kelly Drive to Lloyd Hall.
I was amazed at how good my legs felt after 15. None of the pain from last year. I could tell I had run on them but I was able to keep going. At mile 17.5 we ran into (almost for real) Roy "Attititude of Gratitude" Kardon who was out with the ACS Determination group for the day. I didn't take a photo. I didn't want to stop. As it was he caught us in a walk break so we where able to do a sort of hit and run hug and continue on. At mile 18.5 my camelback went dry. That's good to know. I've never taken it to empy before. I think if I make sure to take water at the rest stops along the marathon course I'll be fine.
As each mile ticked off at this point I fist pumped and cheered. Dennis started reminding me that we were almost there and with 1.5 miles to go he said "Only a few more cycles (intervals)".
I thought I would reach 20 before Lloyd Hall but instead at Lloyd Hall I was only at 19.94. So I had to go beyond my cheering friends and finish. Then a bunch of us went up to the Art Museum and ran up the steps. Yes. I ran up the Art Museum steps after my 20 mile run. Not fast mind you but not walking either. :)
This pacing thing is great. I've read about it and swore I would follow it but I always get caught up in some reason to ignore it. Today I stuck to running by feel and it made all the difference. I would love to run 12 minute miles on long runs. That is what I've been striving for. Today I ran 20 miles in 4:05:46. That's only 5 minutes and 46 seconds off the 12 min/mile pace. My average pace was 12:17 mile AND miles 17-20 were progressively faster than 16. Woo Hoo!
If I dare to think ahead .... had this had been race day I would have had 1 hour, 24 minutes and 56 seconds to run 6.2 miles to clear 5 and a half hours for a marathon. Too early to start talking about race day goals but clearing 5 1/2 hours would be a great accomplishment.