Sunday, February 20, 2011

Another 20-miler

The plan for today was to run another 20-miler. I did 21 last week, and this week I was hoping to at least match last week's performance, while possibly evening out my splits a bit and running faster at the end of the run.

Like last week, I got up early and ran 6 miles before meeting up with the group at CVS. Like last week, I took these miles easy, roughly a 9-minute pace, knowing that the group likes to take things a little faster than my ideal 20-mile pace. With Chad and David at the Iron Horse 100 miler, and Ashley at Myrtle Beach, I knew it would be a small group, and just three runners were there to join me: Todd, Chris, and Jeremy.

Todd wanted to run 14, but Chris and Jeremy only needed 10, so we headed out on the hilly route towards Fisher Farm. I stayed with the group for the first couple miles, 8:12, 8:21, 8:14. Then I let them pull away, but maintained a fairly aggressive pace. It was a perfect, 40-degree morning and the sun was just beginning to peek over the hills, illuminating the clouds with soft purple tones. The was still a bit of frost on the ground in the low areas near the creek. A few walkers were out with their dogs, but otherwise, we had Fisher Farm to ourselves. We stopped to fuel up at the parking lot, then turned around and headed back down the hill towards home.

We ran roughly three miles on trails, and I was a bit worried about my tender knee, but made it through without incident, being especially careful on the downhill segments. This meant the others pulled away from me again quite quickly. Still, I was keeping a decent pace on the rough, hilly route -- 8:45-ish.

Things got even hillier when we returned to the roads for miles 13, 14, and 15, with over 300 feet of climbing. But I still managed to maintain an 8:45 pace. We arrived back in town at mile 15.76. Chris and Jeremy went home, but Todd was glad to join me for my final 4 mile loop. We took off at a brisk pace, and kept it up all the way to the finish. I ended up doing about 19.6 miles. It was a little short, but it was a very hilly route, with over 1,000 feet of climbing.

Unlike last week, there was no slowing down at the end. In fact, my last four miles were some of my fastest, so I'm quite happy with the workout. I've added this week's split times to the graph from last week so you can see the difference:

As you can see, starting at Mile 13 I really picked things up, just when I was beginning to fade last week. This week the average pace was 8:41, compared to 8:58 last week. What's more, I felt much better after today's run. Perhaps the lower mileage this past week had something to do with that, or perhaps I'm just beginning to become a stronger runner. Either way, I'm very pleased.

Week in Review:

5 runs (missed one run due to illness)
52.61 miles
2,306 feet elevation gain
577 feet average elevation gain

I tried to tone down the hills a bit this week to help my IT band recover, and that seems to have helped. Even after today's hilly run, my knee feels much better. Next week, I'm bumping up the overall mileage to 63 miles, but Sunday's long run will be just 16 miles.

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