Last Saturday I had my last long run before the half marathon on 13-Oct. It was overcast and threatening rain when I hit the Airline Trail at noon, so I had it mostly to myself. There were a few hardy mountain bikers and a dog walker or two, but the traffic was greatly diminished.
The plan called for 12 miles, but I was ahead of schedule for the last two long runs. I wanted to have the confidence of knowing that I could complete the distance. I had a water bottle filled with ice-cold green Gatorade in hand. I planned to stop every 3-4 miles for 30 seconds to get a drink and stay relaxed. I wanted to simulate my plan for the race.
The first mile was a warm-up. I had a sweatshirt on that may have been overkill. By the time I stopped for my first drink I was loose and lathered up. The markers for the fourth mile went by quickly. I was at nine minute miles or better the whole way. I never saw the fifth or sixth mile markers, same as the week before. The trail had a gentle upward slope. I felt anxious as I ran: would there be a marker for the turnaround point at mile 3? I crossed a road that intersected the trail, ran to the next gate - and there it was! I was surprised when I checked my watch: I was still maintaining a nine-minute mile pace! I felt good. I had a long, relaxed drink and started down the slope towards my car.
I have to compliment the folks who put together the plan that I've used to prepare for the race. They know what they're doing. I felt strong on the way back. When I passed the ten mile mark, I had plenty left. I thought back to how I felt at the end of that personal best long run two weeks ago. I was greatly improved. I was slowing down and suffering a bit more when I passed the twelve mile mark. I thought back to how knackered I felt at the end of last Saturday's run. I was beyond that. The last two miles were difficult. But I felt like a running man when I finished in 2:15.
Now I'm tapering down for the next two weeks. The longest run will be five miles. I'll do some swimming, shorter runs, and yoga. I'm looking forward to that day. I just hope I can dodge catching a cold for the next two weeks.