Sunday, March 15, 2009

Round & Round He Goes . . .

where he'll stop, nobody knows.

The title for this post comes from last Wednesday's workout, which turned into an exercise in mental focus. Because of the recent rise in temperature around here (HOORAY!), the snow's been melting at a fast clip. On Wednesday, that produced a very foggy, sloppy day, and I felt that it wasn't super-safe to run outside, since it would be tough for cars to see me. I headed for the athletic center at the private school where I live, and planned to warm up for 2 miles on the indoor track, do maybe 6 miles on the treadmill (with 30-second bursts at 5K pace every half-mile or so), and then finish up with 2 more miles on the track. That track surrounds an indoor, multi-sport turf, and is 1/10 of a mile around. Well, I started running on the track and decided that it'd be easier to accelerate there than have to fiddle with the treadmill controls every few minutes. I thus set out to run 10 miles at 10 laps per mile. How many laps is that, my dear students? Right, 100. Now, I'm not planning to do this very often, but there was something gratifying about making myself keep going until I'd done what I set out to do. When the going gets tough in my next marathon, I can take in the gorgeous scenery and remind myself that at least I'm not stuck doing 100 laps on an indoor track. :-)

Otherwise, I had a good workout on Friday: 8 miles total, with two sets of 15 minutes at half-marathon pace. Set #1 came out to around 6:55/mile, while #2 was closer to 6:45 pace. Sunday, though, was my first "real" long run of this cycle, a bit over 17 miles, with some major hills and the final 5 miles at goal marathon pace. It was about 25 degrees when I left, but I knew it was going to warm up, so I went with shorts. This time of year, it's tough to stay comfortable for an entire run. The climb from about the 10.5 to 12-mile mark is one of the most challenging hills around this area, gaining nearly 400 feet in about 1.5 miles. Here's the route:

Last year, I would have likely run that killer ascent in an 11:00 pace, but I managed to keep it at 10:00 pace yesterday. Other than the fierce dog which ran after me, it was a good, solid climb. At the top, I took my second gel of the day and went into the marathon-paced segment of the run. In order to qualify for Boston, I need to average 7:39 per mile for a marathon, so I'm striving to be in shape to run at an average pace of 7:30 per mile (a guy needs a little margin for error). Of course, the wind picked up into my face for that last part, but the splits for my final 5 miles were 7:39/7:42/7:36/7:30/7:02. It was hard, but manageable. I had to stop to drink at around mile 15.25, as the wind had a dehydrating effect, and I'd taken in far fewer fluids than I would have to that point in a marathon.

With 9 weeks to go to my next Boston-qualifying attempt, I'm feeling pretty good about where I am.

This week, we're off on a family vacation, so I hope to get in around 45 miles on 5 days of running, with perhaps a 20-miler when we're back next Sunday. I'll need to get up and out early to avoid interfering with our family's visit to our nation's capital. We're looking forward to a change of scene, and the kids should very much enjoy all the sites DC has to offer.


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