It was supposed to rain like the dickens all weekend, a bit of fallout from the Atlantic storm that has buffeted the MidAtlantic. I must be far enough inland here in Pocono Lake, PA–all we had was rain last night and some misting today.
Even though I haven’t signed up for the race yet, I am in training for the Ted Corbitt 15k. The timing is perfect, as the December 19th race date creates just enough motivation for me to stick to my basebuilding phase leading into the training for the London Marathon. Additionally, my PR for the distance (1:40:01, from 2007) is something I could have bested even while injured. I’m not too proud to admit I’d like to be able to say I set a PR this year. I have enough time before the race so that I can build up my long runs to overmileage. This is a strategy I was hoping to employ for the Baltimore Half-Marathon, but an aggravated hamstring put the kybosh on that plan. Today the schedule called for 7 miles; tomorrow I’ll recover with 4.
There are two routes I know of here that can be adapted for 7 miles. One is the Lake Naomi Loop; the other is an out and back on Route 940. I didn’t want to leave Matilda at home for any longer than necessary, so I chose the out and back as it only takes 10 minutes to get to my usual starting point, in front of a used car dealership. Running on Route 940 meant I would have to contend with cars whizzing by at about 45 miles an hour. That’s usually not a problem (unless they honk, which always scares the shit out of me), because the shoulders are wide and smooth. But today the roads were wet, so I was anticipating that the cars would leave me misted by their wakes.
So I’ve decided what I’m gonna do now.
So I’m packing my bags for the Misty Mountains
Where the spirits go now,
Over the hills where the spirits fly.
It’s hilly, Route 940. The way I go, the first mile is nearly always my fastest as there are some fabulous downhills. In an out and back of course that means that there’s the potential for the last mile to be the slowest. Since yesterday’s workout was run at a speedy 8:40 pace against nearly constant headwinds, I told myself to go easy and not rush through this “long” run, thinking 9:30’s would feel about right.
Right. Mile 1 — 8:40. Slowest mile? Mile 3 in 9:13. Fastest mile? Mile 2 in 7:50. Oh yeah, sure, I was taking it easy alright. I relented at the turnaround and decided I would just listen to my body and run by effort. It was harder to try and slow down than it was to maintain a sub-9 pace. My new goal was to keep it moderately intense, at that far edge of a sustainable push. Somewhere in the middle of Mile 5 (8:45) I realized I was close to completing my 7 miles in under 60 minutes, but I knew the hills that still lay ahead of me and I didn’t think I had it in me to hold the speed necessary to come in under 60 minutes. Well, now we all know how this story is going to end. Mile 6 — 9:02. When I had four-tenths of a mile to go, I looked at Little G and knew it was going to be very, very close. Eh, just go for it. So I did. There was no sprinting going on, just deliberate, constant acceleration.
I didn’t believe I could do it until I clicked off Little G at exactly 7 miles. My final split was 8:16, and my final time was 1:00:00, for an 8:39 pace–one second faster than I averaged during yesterday’s 5-miler. There is no bragging going on here; I am, as I told Miss Joy, happily–and damply–befuddled at what happened out there on Route 940. I’ll take the pace, and the mist, today; I’ll also take it on December 19th.