Sunday, April 3, 2011

The last 20 miler

The Big Sur Marathon is just four weeks away. That means soon I'll begin my taper, gradually decreasing the total number of miles run and the length of my longest run. But there was no rest this week—I was determined to keep my mileage up this week after two relatively easy weeks. So today I needed to do a 20-miler.

My original plan had been to run last week's long run like a marathon preview, running 18 miles with the last 14 at race pace. But the lure of participating in the National Half Marathon was too strong, so that plan was scrapped. This week was planned as just a regular 20 miler, but I had half a mind to run the last part faster—maybe not quite at race pace, but not at 9-minute pace either.

I had set my alarm for 5:30 so I could get in 6 miles before meeting up with the group, who were interested in 13 miles at the most. As it happened, I woke up at 5:20, and I took that as a sign I should try to get 7 miles in so that I didn't have to make up any miles after the group was finished. By 5:50, I was ready to go in front of the CVS where the DART group normally meets up. I started off with a four-mile DART loop at an easy 9-minute pace. It was dark, but the birds were already up, so I did have a little "company" along my run. I returned to the car, ate some GU and drank some water, then headed out again. I decided on an out-and-back to the college trails, so I could turn around whenever I needed to in order to meet up with the group at 7. Again, I took these miles at an easy 9-minute pace, knowing the group would be running faster.

I arrived at the CVS at 6:58 and met up with Todd, Matt, Tim, Terry, Jeremy, Mark, and Gabrielle. Todd is doing a marathon next week, so he only wanted to do 7, as did Jeremy and Gabrielle. That left me, Matt, Tim, Terry, and Mark planning on 13. Mark ended up having to turn back after only a mile or so due to a sore hamstring. Tim, Matt, Todd, Jeremy, and I cranked out three and a half sub-8-minute miles before I decided I should probably slow down a bit. At Mile 11 I stopped for a gel and waited for Terry to catch up. We stayed together for the next three or four miles, running 8:20-ish miles. As Terry started to fade a bit, I took off and did Mile 16 in 8:15.

I knew the last four miles on Grey Road would be very hilly (they are part of my "hill route), but I wanted to try to pick up the pace. Unfortunately my legs didn't cooperate. My splits were 8:32, 8:27, 8:35, 8:27. Not bad for miles that included 267 feet of climbing, but not quite what I hoped for. Still, if you compare my splits to some earlier runs at this distance, I didn't do bad, especially when you consider the hilly finish:

My finish wasn't quite as fast as February 20, but today I was running a very hilly route at the end, while on the 27th I was doing the relatively easy DART 4-mile route (that said, we did a pretty hilly run that day!).

Overall I averaged 8:32 per mile, and 8:19 on miles 8-20. This compares pretty well to the 8:32 average on February 20 and 8:58 on February 13.

Week in review:

7 runs
69.33 miles -- my most ever
Elevation gain: 3,019 feet -- a lot!
Average elevation gain: 503 feet, not counting yesterday when I didn't have my Garmin on

Details of today's run are below.

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