Today the plan was to run a nice, steady 18 miles -- the longest I've ever run in a single workout. As usual on Sundays, the DART group met downtown for a long run, but I figured that no one would be planning on running that far, so I brought my iPod just in case.
Chad, who's still recovering from a stress fracture in his ankle, was planning a slow pace — roughly 9-minute miles. Also joining us were Jeremy, Chris, Terry, Tim, and Jackie. Most people were interested in about 10 miles, so I figured I'd run with them, come back to the car and restock, then finish on my own. 9-minute miles sounded fine to me, so I planned on sticking with Chad as much as possible. Unfortunately, the best of plans don't always work out so well in reality, and we ended up running quite a bit faster: Miles 1-5 went 8:35, 8:47, 8:32, 8:29, 8:33. Then for the next 6 we picked up the pace even more: 8:33, 8:05, 8:13, 8:08, 8:20, 8:15. Finally as we were heading back into town, I realized I should let Chris and Tim pull ahead on their own, and Jackie and I hung back a ways, for an 8:49 uphill mile before we got back to the cars. 11.75 miles done; I needed 6.25 more.
I ate the last of my GU chomps, finished off my water and drank several gulps of the water I had in a jug in the car. Chris said he was interested in 6 more, so we took off on the regular DART loop, 6.3 more miles. I left my water belt and iPod in the car. Chris and I took off at a relatively fast pace: 8:14, 8:09, 8:22. 15 miles done, 3 to go, but my legs were starting to rebel. I told Chris to go ahead while I slowed down and just tried to finish things up. My sore right knee had been feeling good all morning, but now I was starting to feel strain in my right calf and glute. And both of my feet were starting to wear down as well. Each footstep felt like I was running on gravel. Mile 16: 9:06. I felt almost as if I was just shuffling along, but I was determined not to stop or walk. Mile 17: 9:57. I tried to pick up the pace for the final mile, but my legs wouldn't let me. Mile 18: 10:24.
Overall I had done pretty well, averaging an 8:39 pace, but the last three miles were done at almost a 10-minute pace. Without those final miles, it would have been more like an 8:28 average. But a marathon is 26 miles. I need to build up miles, to train my body to withstand the pounding for another 8 miles, and at a faster pace. That's why training takes so long. I've had people tell me I could run a marathon tomorrow. After today, I'm not so sure. But not long ago, I would have been feeling like this at the end of a 10-mile run, so I'm definitely making progress.
Week in review:
2669 feet elevation gain
445 feet average elevation gain
I'm back on track after a light week last week. This is the farthest I've ever run in a week, and nearly as far as I'll ever run during the leadup to Big Sur. Next week is another big week, culminating in the 19.7-mile Fellowship of the Idiot run on Saturday.