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Last Long Run Before the Half

January 28, 2008

Okay, it’s getting closer. The A1A Half-Marathon is on February 17th. I have no more available Saturdays for a long slow run before then, so this Saturday was my last opportunity for a “real” training run. I’d run 13.2 two weeks ago in 2 hours, 7 minutes. For purposes of getting ready for the race, I wanted to know how fast I could expect to finish the 13.1 distance–they have pace teams at the race, and I need to know which team to run with. So even though I was outrunning the distance, I was really counting on Garmie to tell me what my time was exactly at the 13.1 distance.

I went back and forth a little planning my route. I have a seven-mile loop around a planned development near our house. It surrounds some of the green areas, which gives me some really beautiful things to look at. If I start at a good time (before sunrise), I get to see the birds wake up, the sun rise . . . beautiful. My original plan was to run that seven-mile course twice. However, the half-marathon course includes a bridge (not unusual in Florida), and I played with the idea of running part of this traning course on a street that has an overpass over 95, which would give me a little bit of the bridge simulation on this long run. That would involve playing with hydration, however, as it would mean not circling back by the car. More experienced runners presented some options: hiding water bottles before I set out, preferably unopened, or stopping at a gas station or Starbucks to get a water bottle. Someone even suggested just running with a water bottle, but as I’m not a serious enough runner to own a hydration belt, I knew the bottle in my hand would be a leaden weight.

In the end, doing the 7-miler twice won out, partly just out of the logistics. It’s also a safer course: the bridge course has more car traffic and less foot traffic, and more catcalls and less friendly “you’re doing great” waves from drivers.

I felt not great the first three miles, but I never feel great the first three miles. I had a stitch and just had to run through it. It was later than I wanted it to be when I set out–the sun was already out, though it was at least cool. On that first loop, I remember thinking, “I’m going to have to do all this again.” So that may have been a drawback to doing the same course twice. When I stopped for water I got more stitches, and it was harder to run through them that time. I even started preparing myself for a disappointing time. I started out too late, I told myself. I hydrated well, but some runs are just bad runs. I did my loop around the Island, the local country club neighborhood, and felt myself getting stonger. Looked at Garmie (my runner’s GPS that tells me my distance, time, and pace), couldn’t believe my pace. Told myself to back it up or I wouldn’t be able to finish, but even when I was “backing it up,” my pace was better than I thought it would be for a 14-mile run. I still felt strong at mile 12, not like I wanted to run for another six but definitely like two was going to be absolutely doable. When Garmie beeped at the 13 marker I marked what I thought was going to be another tenth and nailed it. Looked down for 13.1 and I’d shaved three minutes off my last traning run: 2:04 for the distance. Finished the 14 in 2:12, at an average pace of 9:28. Interestingly, exactly 1 minute slower than my 5K pace.

Which leaves me with an interesting dilemma. There’s a 2-hour pace team and a 2:10 pace team, and I don’t think I can run with either. Think I might be on my own for this one . . . just me and my Garmie . . . though he’s been good company before and will be good company again . . .

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