Now that I have an "A" race (The 50KM race) on the calendar I had to sit down and draw up a training schedule to work up my long runs to the proper training distances. Today ended up being a 16 mile run despite running 14.4 last weekend. It was in the low 50s and sunny yesterday but 50F and cloudy today. I misjudged the temperature before starting the run and wore my warm Craft cycling base layer under a long sleeve tech shirt. I was a little warm the whole run but not enough to make a difference I guess.
I started out with a slowish warm up mile as I headed out toward Fox Island. After the first mile I picked up the pace to a steady reasonable pace. My HR settled into the low 140s as I went across the bridge and started up the hill to the top of the island. I turned around at the church which is the 5 mile point from the house and headed back down and across the bridge. I turned right after crossing back into Gig Harbor and continued around Warren Dr. toward 70th. I started having G.I. discomfort about 4 miles into the run and by the time I got to 70th I had to duck into a secluded dead end trail for a pit stop again! Taking Imodium before the run didn't help enough. (more than you need to know, right? Sorry).
I was keeping pretty good splits thus far in the run, 7:30 - 8:05 for the most part except for the mile with considerable uphill sections. Even with the slower first mile I was keeping my average under and 8min/mi average so I was happy. I headed down the other side of 70th and out onto Artondale dr. I took it all the way around to Ray Nash dr. Artondale has a good share of rollers and I started to really get into a strong smooth pace here. I'm not sure where it came from as I was already 10 miles into the run at this point but I dropped my fastest split (6:58) on mile 12 and it wasn't particularly downhill either. I just found a good stride, felt my legs responding well and pushed the pace a bit. I don't remember the last time I've run that smooth. I wasn't killing myself and out of breath (my HR only got up to 155 that mile) just running really well. Sadly I couldn't keep the momentum as I arrived at the little country store where I needed to buy more water. The short break broke up my rhythm and I had to get back into the groove after the 3 minute stop to refill.
I never quite found the strong pace again but I did keep from imploding with the next three miles: 7:26, 8:14 (short steep hill), and 7:37. I had to make another pit stop in the woods at this point and was shortly back on my way to the last mile that I used as a cool down at > 9min/mi pace.
Overall I'm very happy with the way my legs/body are performing lately (except the G.I. issues of course). I'm running my long runs at a pace that's the same or faster than I've run in the past. Looking back through my records (which go back to 2000) I was running a few seconds/mile faster for some of my long runs in 2000 but that's it. Those runs were almost completely flat however. I have yet to run anywhere in WA that doesn't have at least a thousand feet of ascent/descent every 10 miles. Maybe it's the core work and stretching that I do every night or only doing 3 or 4 runs a week instead of the 5 or 6 I used to... It Could be the last 2 years of weight training or my current body weight. Maybe I'm just so starved for free time that I'm greedy and want to get as much running as I can in while I'm out there. :-)
I'll take it whatever the reason is.
Avg: 7:50/mi (7:42/mi for the middle 14 miles)
Alt: 4301 (Garmin claimed) so about 2,000 in reality.