I’ve been training more or less continuously since last July, and fatigue caught up with at the end of February and into March. But the last week or so, I’ve started feeling stronger, and I knew today’s long run would be the moment of truth. My family is running the Capitol 10K next Sunday, and I’m doing the Austin 10/20 the following week, so today was really my chance to gauge my progress.
Of course the universe conspired against me–it was drizzly, and the coaches sent us on
my least favorite the route I completely and utterly detest with the fire of a thousand suns. So yeah. While I didn’t exactly smile and embrace the challenge, I cursed the coaches accepted their choice and set out before sunrise.
The route isn’t complicated or hilly or dangerous. There are only a few turns. Wide sidewalks along well-traveled roads with good visibility. The first (and last) two miles are a regular part of our training runs. But the middle–and longest–chunk of this route is three miles down a four-lane road. Three miles doesn’t sound so intimidating or difficult, but for some reason, this one is mentally tough for me. Rogue calls it the Big Snake, but really, it’s more like a Dead Snake as it’s one looooong stretch that seems never-ending and might kill me. (I know a dead snake can’t kill me, but go with the analogy, ‘kay?) In fact, I drive this stretch to get to Rogue from my house–even in the car it seems to take forever.
All in all, it was an uneventful run. I mean, there were the usual drivers blocking crosswalks, polite greetings from other runners and walkers, and runners listening to music without headphones. But I suffered no mishaps (although one jackass got awfully close to me in the crosswalk) and I just plodded along at an easy, slow pace. I followed my half-marathon race-day strategy of running a mile, walking a minute, which helps me break down the huge task into manageable bits. And two things happened.
One, even at this pace, I was only five minutes slower (by my Garmin, not actual clock time–I stopped twice at the water coolers and at a couple of long traffic signals) than my 10-mile race PR from last October. And two, I did a pretty good job with the negative splits. Those middle miles were a bit slower than my first, but my last mile was a full minute-per-mile faster than my first and second miles. I’ve never been able to do that above, oh, about five miles, so while my muscles were sore, I’m pleased to see that the damn Snake didn’t completely drain me of my will to live.
It was not easy–and honestly I’m kind of glad for that–but it was manageable. And I feel pretty confident about my upcoming races.