Sunday, August 21, 2011

Successful Fast Finish Long Run!

I love the starfish finisher's medal, and the personalized bib! Too bad I wasn't really racing this one....

After last weekend's 20 miler, my McMillan training plan this weekend featured its second Fast Finish Long Run. My first attempt at one of these types of long runs--which are 14 to 18 miles with the last six to eight at my goal marathon pace--was a big FAIL.

I didn't want that to happen again.

So I took one of the suggestions for tackling these runs that McMillan makes in an article on his Web site....and signed up for a half-marathon to push me along toward the goal.

The race was at my old stomping grounds, the backroads around the Boulder Reservoir. It's called the Heart & Sole Half-Marathon. Roughly the first half of the course was very familiar to me, as it's the same as the Boulder Spring Half that I ran in March, but unlike that out-and-back race, this one was a loop, and a fun one too. I liked this course much better, as it featured some interesting stretches next to a canal and a long push near the end along the Reservoir itself instead of a disheartening slog back along the way you just came.

The plan was to run the first several miles of the race (plus a 1.5 mile warm-up before the gun went off) at my slow long steady run pace (between 9:30 and 10:30 a mile) and then, starting just after mile 6, begin to increase my speed until I was running at goal marathon pace (8:35/mile or better). It was this latter part that proved impossible for me two weeks ago--I just couldn't muster the speed, or sustain what little speed I could muster.

Today, I'm happy to say, it wasn't a problem! Here are my splits for fast finish part:

Mile 7=8:48
Mile 8=8:40
Mile 9=8:35
Mile 10=8:33
Mile 11=8:31
Mile 12=8:39
Mile 13=8:27

The average for  those miles was 8:36--not fast enough, but so much better than two weeks ago that I'm not complaining. (The "point one" part of the half marathon came out to "point four" on my Garmin (guess I still need work on running tangents!), and I forgot to turn the Garmin off after I finished, so that split said 8:40, but I know I was running faster through the finish line.) Total miles including the warm-up came to 14.5. I was supposed to do 16, but I skipped the "cool-down" 1.5 miles because I developed a nasty blister on my in-step, I think because my neuroma pad is getting loose in my shoe.

I have another one of these Fast Finish long runs in two weeks. Unfortunately there's no race to enter this time, so I'll be on my own for it. But for next week's (gack) 22 miler I'm hoping to head down south of Denver to join my friend Kathy's long distance group. Long ones of any kind are so much easier with company!

The Top of Utah Marathon is now less than four weeks away. That's close enough now that there are starting to be baby butterflies in my stomach when I think about it. But there are still lots of hard workouts between now and then. There's still time for improvement...which is good because there's still room for improvement too.