I slept in today and absolutely relished every extra minute of sleep. That said, when I took my resting heart rate when I woke up it was around 60 – which is elevated for me. Usually it is anywhere from 44 to 51. This is a sign of over worked and need for rest. Being able to get over eight hours of sleep last night helps. My hope through the day was that it would be enough to get me through my run this afternoon.
My training schedule for today was a medium long run of 10 to 12 miles with 5 to 7 miles at my marathon goal race pace. The weather forecast all week indicated that today was going to be sunny and pleasant. The last thing I wanted to do was run that long on a treadmill. The second last thing I wanted to do was run in the dark. I decided to take a half day off and I drove down to the towpath. The day was lovely. Sunny, mild temperatures in the upper 40’s, and little to no wind. I started out on the trail with the intention of running 12 miles. With the sun setting so early, I was concerned when I left that I may not make it back before sunset. The towpath is in a heavily wooded area and there are no lights. As I started my run the first three miles were supposed to be warm up. Within the first mile my legs felt heavy and my heart rate was spiking quickly. I thought I was still fatigued and questioned if I was going to complete this run.
At the end of mile two I made a few decisions. I was going for 10 miles and would target miles three through seven as the race pace miles. That would get me 5 miles in at race pace. After that I would see how I felt and decide if I was going to run a total of 7 miles at race pace, or cool down in a slow jog for three miles. As soon as I picked up the pace everything changed. I felt better, in fact it was hard to hold back my pace. I wanted to start at 11:30 pace and eventually increase to 11:00. Miles three and four I did just under 11:30 each and then picked it up. Mile five I did in 11:01 and felt great. My average heart rate was around 146, which is low zone three for me. At the five mile turn around I ate a chocolate Gu. This is about 25 mg of caffeine in it for a little extra energy. Well it was rocket fuel for me. Miles six and seven I ran 10:51 each on the nose and my average heart rate dropped to 144. I was surprised at how great I felt after dragging the first two miles. I knew after running five miles at race pace I was going for seven. Miles eight and nine felt just as good and were in 11:08 and 11:11. The last mile back I took easy as my cool down. Again, I had to focus on slowing down for recovery. I could have kept going at race pace.
On my way home I stopped at the Fleet Feet running store that is close to the towpath and loaded up on chocolate Gu. Hey, if it works, go with it. Chocolate seems to be the cure all to so many of life’s woes… I can only hope race day goes as well as the seven miles I ran today at race pace. In spite of the wonderful run, I am reminding myself that I am showing signs of fatigue. Usually I run and swim on Saturdays. The swim is questionable right now, I want to see how I feel in the morning. I have just over two weeks to go. Every activity and every day will have an impact on how well I will be prepared and rested for race day.
I am very pleased that I pushed through the initial fatigue and did not give up. Sometimes I have to go through the storms to get to the sunshine. (I heard that on the radio today, it fits) The point is, not everything is going to be smooth sailing. If fact some of the best accomplishments come after plenty of shedding of sweat and tears. (no blood, thank you…) So a day like today really helps me – I will remember how great my run went after I pushed on. This memory also will help get me through far more than just a run. All part of learning how to live this life to the fullest each day.