Best 18-Miler Ever

Happy Monday, y’all! I had a fantastic weekend and hope you did too.

Yesterday was Sunday Runday. I had a scheduled 9-miler but ignored my coach (sorry, Kris!) and altered my training plan so that I ran 18 miles instead. She had planned for me to run 19 miles next Sunday, but I have an important social event next Saturday afternoon/evening, and I didn’t think I could pull off a serious long run the following morning. My social butterfly status (ha!) takes precedence over running (not really, but I’m one of the hosts this Saturday), so I made the switch.

Hopefully this decision won’t come back to bite me on the arse in the form of shin splints, IT Band problems, or the like.

20140414-133348.jpg As it turned out, yesterday was an incredible day to run 18 miles. I don’t think I’ve ever run on a more perfect day. That’s not an exaggeration.

Temps on my run started in the mid 50s and ended in the mid 60s. The sun shone the entire time and there were only a few wisps of clouds in the sky. The wind was barely perceptible, only serving to dry my sweat.

Because of these optimal conditions, I started my run feeling like I was on top of the world… and I pretty much ran like that the whole time. I ended up running the fastest 18 miles I’ve ever run–including in an actual marathon, when adrenaline pumps through my blood stream and boosts my pace.

I still managed to stop and snap some photos on the way. It was too gorgeous of a day to pass up documenting it.

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20140414-133809.jpg Sun apparently does wonders for endorphin production, because my average pace over the run was 9:22 minutes per mile (with a moving pace of 9:16), which is great (for me) considering this long run included some fairly gnarly hills.time

Note the hill from Mile 8 to 10:

140413 elevation

That approximate 380 feet of elevation gain surprisingly didn’t cause me to slow my pace too terribly.

140413 Capture

I briefly stopped around Mile 12 to fill up my water bottle at my in-laws’ house, then ran back to the waterfront on my way home. One of my closest friends drove by and gave me a shout while I was running, giving me a little extra push. And as I approached the waterfront, I realized that our local community festival, the Daffodil Festival, was having its boat parade that morning:

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What a perfect day for a boat parade!

My endorphins were still pumping like crazy, as my pace reflects. I really wanted to end this long run with my pace being as close to my goal marathon pace (8:25) as possible.  And while not hitting that, I still did pretty well. That is, until Mile 17, when my body started to feel reeeeeally tired and sore, and that little voice in my brain started doing that annoying “I can’t do this anymore!”-thing. Having eaten the last of my Gu at Mile 12, I decided to crack open the rootbeer Power Chews I’d brought along on my run to rev me up a bit. It worked–at least from a non-muscular standpoint (i.e., my glutes were still painful)–and I was able to finish at a decent pace.

I walked the rest of the way home to stretch out, then put on some compression sleeves to prevent the cement-leg effect. I was able to stand and cook for my son’s birthday dinner without any problems. Today I feel great, even in my work heels.

I am getting very excited about running the Newport Marathon next month. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this strong during a training cycle, and I’m hopeful that I will run my best race on May 31. I need to start setting my A, B, and C goals for Newport. I know my A goal (pie-in-the-sky goal) is to qualify for the Boston Marathon. This goal is not wholly reality-based, considering my previous three marathon times. My B and C goals, therefore, are just as–if not more–important than my A goal, so I need to identify those over the intervening weeks.

Did you run long this weekend? For what races are you training?

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