A week ago, I decided to run the Carmel Half Marathon as my last marathon pace run. My training schedule had a 10 mile pace run with a 3 mile warm up and cool down on it. So, 13 miles and the dates matched up. Initially my coach didn't want me to do it. I think he was afraid I'd blow my legs out a week before my marathon. No way. I just wanted to run a race simulation with other people and aid stations. Pleeease..... talked him into it. Then he asked if I planned to do a warm up before my marathon. Ummm.... no. OK, plan then would be to run the first 10 miles at marathon pace then jog it on in. Got it.
This was totally a training run. Last night I realized maybe I should see what the course looked like. Then I found out there were pace groups. There was a 1:55 pace group. I could just run with them.
I've been running faster than 8:45 pace on my pace runs though and I kept thinking about being told that I was wasting energy by trying to run slower than what felt comfortable. Maybe I should just go out and run what felt right. As long as I didn't go crazy, I'd be OK right? That's what a training run is for...
Carmel is a small race but the start was incredibly congested. The half and full marathon started together and we only had one side of the street to run on. Standing in my warm sardine pack of bodies I realized that I hadn't even checked the weather or bothered to worry about throw away clothes for the morning. Funny how different your mind set becomes when you're not running for time.
This was a race simulation though so I had eaten exactly what I was going to eat on marathon morning and eaten a GU before the start. I had two more GUs for mile 4 and mile 8.
3...2...1 and we're off. Took another 1:30 to get to the starting line. One of the reasons I wanted to run in a race is because the congested starts freak me out. I always feel like I'm going too slow plodding along behind everyone so I dart around and end up going too fast. I've found that starting with the pace group prevents that... if you can start with them. Today I couldn't even see them by the time I got to the starting line so I just ran what felt right. First mile was still a bit fast but I settled down after that.
I caught up with the 1:55 pace group around mile 4, then went around them. Part of the problem with running with a pace group is that everyone is bunched up together and you keep running into each other. The other thing that I found was that I'd often cut my natural stride short just to stay with them. Today I decided I was going to run on my own. I thought that as long as I didn't go crazy and run faster than 8:30 pace I'd be OK. I still had to restrain myself because I felt GREAT!
10 miles came and went in no time. I was 2 minutes under 3:50 marathon pace at the 10 mile mark. In comparison, at Napa when I really worked to try and run an 8:45 pace I was 2 minutes under at mile 19. Cool down time. I slowed down but kept wanting to speed up. I normally don't take anything during a 13 mile training run and during races I just drink water and Gatorade. Today I'd had 3 caffeinated GUs plus water. I was bouncing off the walls... but I thought it would be poor form to run a half-marathon PR (which I could have easily done!) a week before a BQ attempt. Back off... back off...
I'm ditching the pace group next week and trusting myself to run what feels right. Today was wonderful. Now I just have to eat well, sleep well, and lay off the caffeine this week.
Beer has no caffeine