As many of you remember from last year, we started a thread dedicated specifically to comments on our weekly long runs. I know that it was a consistent source of motivation for me, and the requisite deviations off topic were often hilarious. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to bring it back as we start getting into our training for this year's MCM. Though there are several definitions for what qualifies as a long run, for our purposes I'd like to keep it pretty broad. So let's just go with whatever your longest run was for the week, regardless of distance. If that run happened to be a race, feel free to include it, though I think races certainly warrant their own thread. So here goes my report.
My program called for 13 miles at planned marathon pace plus 30 seconds. That worked out to a 9:00 mile pace. I got all of my stuff together last night, went to bed at 9:45 and got up just after 3:00 AM. I got a good stretch in, downed a Clif bar and half a bagel and chased it with about 12 ounces of Cytomax. I had a full Camelbak chilling in the refrigerator from last night. It felt good against my back when I put in on. When I started off at 4:03 AM, it was 80 degrees. I wanted to find out a few things on this long run. First, how long would my drink last if I took four good swallows every mile? Second, how easy would it be to eat a cut up Clif bar vs. Clif shots and sports beans (which always got stuck in my teeth last year)? Third, how closely could I stick to my 9:00 pace with each passing mile?
This was the first time I have run with a full Camelbak in quite a long time, so I wasn't too interested in running my first mile at 9:00. I just took what felt comfortable and wound up doing it in an easy 9:19. Then I settled into a nice rhythm and ran the next 9 miles between 8:51 and 8:58. The sun came up and 5:19 AM. By then I had completed about 8.5 miles. There was still plenty of shade, so even though things were getting a little more challenging, I still felt like I was in good shape. The 11th mile turned out to be my gut check mile. I ran a 9:04 split, which was my slowest since the warm up mile. So I took another couple swallows of Cytomax (which was still surprisingly cool) and beared down for the last two miles. I got back on track on mile 12, (8:54) and then brought it in with a final mile run in 8:33. After tacking on the extra tenth of a mile for an "even half marathon" my total time was 1:57:07. That worked out to an 8:56 min/mile pace.
So here is what I found out: 1.) Four good swigs of Cytomax every mile might be a little bit too much. I felt plenty hydrated drinking that amount. In fact, I was getting close to feeling a little bloated, so I cut back to 2-3 swallows after about 6 miles. I only had a couple ounces left when I finished. I think next time I will see how long just 3 regular mouthfuls will last. 2.) The cut up Clif Bar worked out okay, except that one time I dropped the ziploc bag. Of course, this time I had the luxury of stopping and picking it up. If that happened in the race, I'd just have to kiss it good bye. That might be reason enough to carry a spare. Though the Clif bars taste pretty good, I have to make sure and wash them down really good because they are a little bit on the dry side. 3.) I was happy with how I was able to hold a consistent pace with each mile, especially as it warmed up a little bit. My goal during this training season is to stick to the plan on the long run regarding the pace all the way up to the last mile and then use whatever I have left in the tank to bring it on home. I am really working hard on maintaining that discipline I will need on race day to stick with my race strategy.
So all in all, this was a good first week. No doubt there will be tough and challenging days throughout my training, but any day I learn something is a good day. That's what the training is all about. So let's hear from everyone else. How did your long run go this week? What were the key takeaways? Let's share our experiences and learn from each other so we can get to the starting line on Oct. 26th and give it our best effort. I look forward to hearing from you all. Happy Father's Day to all the dads. I have a nice day planned with Winnie and the kids. Talk to you soon.