I was worried about being able to run outside today – Saturday’s I usually do my long runs and it would suck to postpone that. Yesterday afternoon it started snowing and the forecast for today was a bit fuzzy, too. When I woke up this morning the clouds were gone and blue skies had taken over. Snow was on the ground, but it did not look too bad. Even the temperatures were near 40 degrees around breakfast time and so I made the call to go running outside and even run in shorts. The other choice would have been to go to the indoor running track and run around in circles for 19 miles – not a very motivating thought if you ask me.
I laced up, had my hydration belt loaded up with Gatorade and off I went. The sidewalks were mainly covered with wet, heavy snow but the streets were clear and so I decided to run on the streets – especially as the streets have a dedicated bike path and so there was plenty of room. My goal for today was to run 19 miles. I had that goal last week already, but last Saturday the weather was much worse. It had been snowing and the temperatures were in the upper teens, but the wind chill pushed the feel temperatures down into the low single digits. It was so cold that my bottles with Gatorade froze while I was running. Not so today, the temperatures felt just fine and while it was wet on the street surface it was pretty good for running. I started out slowly – doing a 9:23 and 9:37 for the first two miles. The first four miles of my run are all uphill, but the first two really have it and I did not want to “waste” my energy early on and then fail short at the end.
From there my average pace got better and I started averaging a nine minute mile for quite a bit. I changed my route today and added a few more hills in the middle section of my run, but then had a fairly long stretch that was a bit easier because it was more flat. From mile 10 to mile 16 my average pace improved a bit more and I started averaging 8:52 per mile. It felt really good to be able to keep that kind of pace on the longer distance. My goal for the Colfax Marathon is to run it in under four hours which translates into an average pace of roughly 9:07 per mile, being able to run the 19 miles today with a much faster pace is really good.
The last three miles of today’s run were uphill again and there were quite a few steep stretches which made it really challenging, but I was able to push through and did not have to stop. My pace on those 3 miles averaged around nine minutes per mile and I am more than happy with that. I want my training runs to be more difficult than the actual marathon runs and my own mantra is that I see hill runs as free strength training. I know it is a bit silly, but I also try to smile my way up those darn hills. Somehow I feel it makes it much easier to get up to the top. I also avoid “eye contact” with the distance on those uphill stretches. I lower my eyes and all I see is the next 30-50 feet maybe. Again, it is probably silly, but it helps to get up there and not to get discouraged by the challenge ahead. It’s those little mind tricks that help me to do my runs. Running has to do a lot with physical strength, but running longer distance is also about to control your mind. After all, “your” brain is going to try to stop you from running and to end “the pain” and of course it is so much easier to give in, but I do not consider that an option for myself. If you are a runner, you know what I am talking about.
Anyway, this was the long run for week #6 of my 16 week marathon training cycle. It is hard to believe that in 10 weeks my 3 marathon challenge is beginning. I am very excited about it. Getting my mileage for a long run back up to ~20 miles or more is important and really fills me with confidence. Today I was just about seven miles short of the marathon distance and I had some fuel left in the tank (so to speak) and my goal for next week is to reach the magical 20 mile marker.
This last week I also received a notification for a “Chase the moon” run. The race will be right here in Highlands Ranch and it is going to be a 12 hour race from 7.00 PM to 7.00 AM. It is just 6 weeks after my last spring marathon and I am actually thinking of signing up. I still debating. I know I am a bit crazy taking on certain goals and challenges and this would be right up there, but 12 hours of running probably equals 50-60 miles of actual running and it is not just running, it is running during the night. We will see, as said I have not yet decided.