I decided to forgo the 5K race on Saturday so I could be well rested and focused for my long run today. I wanted to do between 22-24 miles to get a better feel for how ready I am for the Shamrock marathon just two weeks away. I wanted to see if I could maintain a pace that was in the 7:15-7:20 range.
I again ran at the Dismal Swamp trail...a paved trail that is 8.25 mile long and with an additional 1.5 miles outside the trail, which provides a nice 19.5 mile out and back. My plan was to add another 2.5-4.5 miles in the end to make my total long run 22-24 miles depending on how the first 20 went. The weather was great...sunny skies with temps in the high 40's with a bit of a wind. I stashed my extra bottle of water in my normal hiding place and went back to the beginning of the trail to start my run. I did wear my watch this time since I did want to maintain a certain pace.
Carrying another bottle of water I started my watch as I passed the main barrier to the trail entrance and the long run was on. There were quite a few runners out on the trail this time...probably being a great day for a run and I'm sure a lot were getting in their runs in preparations for their Shamrock run. The first mile came in at 7:00...nice pace to get the kinks out. Mile two was in 6:45...a bit too fast but I was liking the run and was enjoying chasing runners down. Mile three 6:57...back to a better pace...besides...there were fewer runners to chase down. Mile four 6:53 and things are feeling awesome...the sky is blue, the temps are cool and lots of people out and about. Mile five came in at 6:59 and mile six in 6:57 for a total of 41:35...I was surprised that I was maintaining my pace so well. Another 6:59 for mile seven and 7:00 for mile 8. I get to the 8.25 mile turn around point and start to head back to the main entrance to the trail and I noticed a good headwind and my pace started to drop into the low 7's. I retrieved my stashed second water bottle and 13 miles came in at 1:30. Shortly after, I see two ladies from the gym coming the other way...one is doing the half at Shamrock and completed both the Mud in Your Eye series and the Strider Distance Series. We greet each other in passing finding out how far we're going and I tell them I will be back. Getting back to the entrance...16.5 mile mark...the time was 1:55. I headed out to do the 1.5 mile out and back outside the park and reached the far end of the road...18 mile mark...in 2:06 and back to the entrance barrier again...19.5 mile mark...in 2:17. I headed back out on the Swamp trail and decided to go ahead and go for another easy 4.5 miles for a total of 24 miles, since all systems were go and I was feeling pretty good. I see the gym ladies again coming back near the entrance...I had hoped to catch them further out on the trail to run back with them but one of them was only doing 6 miles. 20 miles was in 2:21 and mile 21 in 2:29. I reach my turn around point and mile 22 comes in at 2:37 and mile 23 in 2:45 where I see one of the gym ladies coming back out to complete her 11 miles. I finally reach mile 24 and the finish in 2:53:11...a pace of 7:14 per mile. Everything felt good and I hydrated with some Gatorade and ate some trail mix and then walked back down the trail intending to run back with the gym lady and see her coming back just passed the quarter mile marker. I attempt to run with her but apparently my legs had tightened up even with the walking and my calves started cramping up...so I told her to keep running and I would catch up with her at the end.
Overall I was very pleased with my long run and the time. It had me thinking that if I could manage 2:53 for 24 miles on a training run...there's a good chance it could get even better during the marathon. It's a great confidence booster in my plan to run Shamrock between 3:10-3:15. But...if all goes well...who knows what time could be put up. But of course marathons have lots of variables and things that could go wrong, so I have to be realistic and take what the course gives me on that day.
Mon: 2 miles run and core exercises totaling 40 min
Tue: 10.1 miles run, 20 min Elliptical, 16 min Stairstepper
Wed: 47 min Elliptical, 46 min Cycle, 17 min Stairstepper
Thu: 10.1 miles run, 12 min Elliptical, 30 min Cycle, 20 min Stairstepper
Fri: 1 mile run, 30 min Elliptical, 31 min Cycle, 17 min Staristepper
Sat: 30 min Elliptical, 31 min Cycle, 11 min Stairstepper
Sun: 24 miles run
47 total miles last week...the biggest weekly miles this year...but of course with me only running 3-4 times a week...it's hard to increase my weekly mileage beyond this week's. Now the taper begins...I plan about 35-36 miles this coming week with a 16 mile long run on Sat or Sun. Then the week before the marathon will only be about 20 miles with two days of no running before the marathon on the 16th.
Happy training to you all and hope you all have a great week!