Sunday, May 27, 2012

14 Mile Steady State Success

14 Miles at 6:20-6:40 pace

1 mile warmup
14 miles in 1:28:16 (6:18 average) with splits of: 6:35, 6:31, 6:28, 6:26, 6:38, 6:21, 6:35, 6:21, 6:04, 6:15, 6:07, 5:59, 5:58, 5:58
1 mile cool down for ~16 miles total

I know that summer is officially here because I set my alarm for 5:45AM on a Sunday morning, which should be just plain blasphemy.  However, in the summer it's worth it to wake before the sun rises in an effort to escape the North Carolina heat that seems to get worse with each passing year.  This particular morning, I was set to meet Pezz, Aaron and Spada at McMullen for a 14 mile steady state run.  After eating a Fig Bar, I hopped in my car and arrived at McMullen a couple minutes shy of our starting time of 6:30.  Spada was running a little late, so it bought me some time to walk around before starting our warmup. The biggest surprise of the morning was that Pezz was early (who is always late) and that Spada was late (who is always early).

We started off with an easy mile before easing into our uptempo portion of the run.  Pezz and I made a sizable gap on Spada and Aaron within the first mile, and we were right on pace.  It felt effortless at that point while Pezz and I just enjoyed catching up.  By the third mile of the tempo, Aaron caught up to us as we discussed the USA Half Champs course, which we are assuming to be on the same course as the Grandma's Marathon.  Once we reached the end of the greenway, we began the first loop of the hilly circle around the gigantic Church on Rea Road.  I felt really good through this section, despite the hills. After one loop, Pezz headed back towards the main entrance while Aaron and I began the ascent to the Six Flags Church, the worst part of the run.  After we crested the last uphill, I kept the pace going strong and probably picked it up a little here.  Aaron grabbed some water before we made our way back onto the flat greenway portion.  I caught our first 800m split back on course, and we cruised through at 3:00.  Knowing that I had at least another four miles left, we eased it up a bit.  I still felt great at this point.  In fact, I felt like I was getting stronger with each step forward.  I started dropping some sub-6:00 miles and at this point, Aaron apologized for being a bad running buddy.  I assured him that his presence for 90% of my run was a huge life saver, especially through the hilly section.  Soon, he dropped off and I was left for the final 1.5 miles of the tempo on my own.  I closed in sub-6:00 again and felt really smooth.

At the .5 mile marker, I stopped, turned around and jogged back towards Aaron, who had just capped off a solid 20 miler just one week after his half marathon PR.  Internally, I did some math within my head and tried to hold back my excitement.  Almost two years ago, I did this exact same course as part of my simulation run for Twin Cities.  For 15.5 miles, I average 6:11 pace.  Today, for 14 miles, I averaged 6:18 pace in what was supposed to be a much slower run.  The difference today was that everything felt easy and I never once felt like I was really straining too much.  I wasn't breathing hard at any one point except maybe towards the end. I also can't help but think that my 6+ hours of dancing each week is paying off.  I think that my hips and other stabilizer muscles are getting stronger through dancing and that this is helping my running.  I was sick earlier this week, but somehow I still managed to have a fabulous 5 mile wave tempo on Friday followed by this great workout today.  Things are looking really good going into the USA Half Champs and now I have the confidence that I can achieve the goals I've laid out for this race.


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