So, I'm back in the realm of the double digit runs. Yesterday was a 14 miler up the San Diego Creek trail. The last time I ran anything this distance was the end of September. Has it really been that long?
I met up with Cal Coast bright and early at 7 AM. You can tell that a new training cycle has started (the Orange County Marathon) based on the number of bodies that showed up. We went through our normal warm ups, stretching, etc., and set off on the various distances that we were running. Because I'm a bit of a regular face I was assigned something to be responsible for - pacing a 9:00 per mile group (gah!) and getting the first timers (3 and 4 milers) turned around at their half way points. As we started out, I paired up with another runner and we kept each other company for a while. Turns out that this guy, Mike, is my age, needed to run 14 miles, and like me, had fought the scourge of the ever expanding girth in his middle years. But that is where the similarities ended! This is a guy who's best marathon time was a 2:47 when he was in college, and qualified for (and got his application in) the 2010 Boston Marathon. I was not worthy!
I got the second group turned around at the two mile point, and Mike and I continued on together. Wow. What a fountain of knowledge. Maybe I'm not worthy, but I'm also not stupid. I now have a number of changes that I will be making to my training plan. But the truly amazing thing was we kept clipping right along at a 9:20 - 9:30 pace. And not only was I able to maintain that pace, I was able to carry on a conversation. Well, as long as the sentences weren't longer than 5 words. I am finding that by shortening my stride and taking more steps per mile I seem to be running a lot more efficiently, which lets me run faster farther.
I finally did flame out about mile 11:
Mile 1: 9:10
Mile 2: 9:14 (included stops for the 3 and 4 milers)
Mile 3: 9:22
Mile 4: 9:32
Mile 5: 9:17
Mile 6: 9:29
Mile 7: 9:39 (uphills on the underpasses start showing themselves)
Mile 8: 8:55
Mile 9: 9:12
Mile 10: 11:06 (walk break required. Nearing my limit)
Mile 11: 9:22
Mile 12: 12:26 FLAMEOUT!!! (goose is cooked)
Mile 13: 10:55 (up the hill to CdM - 40 feet in a quarter mile, slight incline for a half mile then 110 feet in one mile)
Mile 14: 11:32 (goose is well done)
Overall: 9:56 pace. HRM strap battery needs to be replaced, so I don't trust the 67% of max data. I am ecstatic! To me, this is a huge stride forward. I completely forgot to bring any fuel yesterday and I didn't eat breakfast before leaving, so this run was done only with the fuel my body had stored. By mile 12, my legs were thrashed, but a brisk walk for a couple of minutes let me restart the engine and power on up the hill. I am sure that if I would have followed my regular fueling strategy, those last four miles would have been significantly faster.
Yessirree folks. Patience and keep your nose to the grindstone. It's taken two and half years, but something good seems to be happening.