Monday, September 24, 2012

Uncharted Trails

Saturday morning meant another long run. My training plan called for ten miles, but I'd already accomplished that. It was time to go above and beyond. I was going back to the Airline Trail for a twelve mile run, longer than anything I've attempted.

Thankfully it was another perfect day. I brought a water bottle filled with Gatorade to carry with me. I resolved to stop for a swig every three miles. I found the starting mile mark at precisely noon and hit the trail.

The first miles were easy. I had no trouble knocking off the first three at a nine minute mile pace. I stopped for my first drink and felt fine.

The next three miles were on a part of the trail that was a little rougher: washed out and slightly uphill. I missed the five mile marker the week before. I had a pretty good idea of where it was this time, so I hit my stop watch as I passed it. It's a good thing I did, because thirteen minutes later I hadn't encountered the six mile marker. I stopped for a drink, turned around, and headed back where I came from.

I was experiencing some discomfort on the way back last week. My feet were sore and tired, and my right inner thigh hurt every time I picked up my foot. Not so this week. I felt strong and determined. My pace was slower, but I was still in the 10-10:30 per mile range. I still had some energy when I passed the ten mile mark. I finished twelve miles in 2 hours 5 minutes. Not bad! Best of all, I felt okay when I walked back to the car during the cool down.

My legs were tired for the rest of the day, but I was far from wrecked. When I woke up the next day I felt stiff, but not too bad. It was another gorgeous day. I could have followed my plan and done 30 minutes of easy running. I had gas in my tank, but I decided to spend it cutting my grass instead.

Next Saturday is the last long run before the race. The plan calls for twelve; I'll go above and beyond again and shoot for 14 miles. If I can do that, I know I'll finish this race in fine style. After that, I start tapering down for the race.

I'm going to hold at this level for a while. I'd like to try a few more half marathons and see how I feel before deciding on my next step. This has been a terrific ten weeks. I doubted whether I'd be able to do this when I started, but those doubts are almost gone.

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