It's amazing how the body can cooperate once that mind sets itself to do something! And its amazing how a simple change in weather can make an amazing difference to a training session! I had to run 20 miles last Saturday, and was nervous all of last week about it! I had not been training consistently, I had not run the 20 miles I was supposed to the previous weekend, I'd been sick early last week, the weather has been fluctuating like crazy all week, and my target race was just in 2 weeks - the New Orleans Mardi Gras Marathon! The longest I have run this season is 18 miles and I had a miserable time running it! Given that, I was not feeling good at all about running the 20 this weekend!
The run started slowly...we ran up Rio Grande from 4th St to 28th St, and when I say, ran up, I literally mean it, it was a constant upward gradient. The first 3 miles were painful and the weather was humid...and I was already dreading the remaining 17! I met Coach Peri at the 1st water-stop at about 3.5 miles and she told me I looked great! I know coaches HAVE to say that, but it's still somehow uplifting to hear someone say that, especially when you feel crabby! I drank 2 cups of water and headed off....the next few miles took me to Bull Creek and then on to Shoal Creek...I am not a big fan of running on Bull Creek...but the weather had become better and there was a cool breeze along the route....so I just kind of zoned off and ran till I hit Shoal Creek...I love love running on Shoal Creek...it's a very pretty road, and has a nice wide bike/run path...met Coach Geezer at about Mile 7....drank 2 more cups of water and swallowed a salt tablet....continued on Great Northern and then past Northcross Mall....by now, I had settled on a good momentum and was also enjoying the cool weather!! The humidty had also kinda disappeared!
The run then went onto El Arroyo St, another long Road and then towards North Loop....I took a Gu at the Mile 11 water-stop....I literally sucked parts of it and washed it down with Gatorade...and barely tasted any of it...and then took off...I was at mile 13 now....I had been avoiding looking at my watch all this while...but was curious to know what my half-marathon time was...I was clocking about 2h 46 min....about a 12:40 pace...I was pretty happy with that since I was running sub-13 mins....it made me a lot more excited to get the next 7 miles in!! The next few miles involved a relatively downward descent on Duval Road...another road I quite enjoy running on...For those of you who are running 3M, you will spend at least 3-4 miles on this road, and it's where you will really pick up speed!! I reached the end of Duval and was feeling pretty good when I got to the last water-stop....I looked at the map then and saw that we were going to run left on San Jacinto...and then right on Dean Keaton, and do a loop around campus, Dean Keaton - Guadalupe - MLK and then back to San Jac....Deak Keaton is a horribly uphill road - with a steep gradient...I decided to skip it, since I didnt want to risk doing anything to my knees just 2 weeks before the race....and decided to make it up by running a couple of smaller loops in the downtown area...which is relatively flat.....
I ran continuously without stopping for the remaining 3 miles...and reached the Rogue Store with quite a strong finish....I felt great....I could have run more....which I was happy about since on race day, I would have 6 more miles to run!....I looked at my time....4h14min...a 12:42 pace exactly!!...I was really thrilled!! My goal this season is to break 5h 30min....and for the 1st time this season, I actually think that I have a shot at doing it....I took 5h 53min for the DC marathon (13:35 pace)....and really want to reduce that by at least about 25 mins!!....And hopefully I will!! I am pretty psyched now about New Orleans!! And will spend the next couple of weeks tapering off and resting my body in preparation!! I just really really hope that the weather cooperates, because that really made a big difference in yesterday's run! But more importantly, I am going to focus on keeping my spirits up and really enjoying the experience, because that is what truly determines whether you have a great run or not!!