Winter milestones & a Shamrock goal
Even in a mild winter like this, running isn't always easy. The lack of daylight makes it hard to be motivated; lunch runs at work aren't as exciting as a couple of co-workers have dropped off with running and other has had an injury that set him back; and up and down temperatures make getting dressed a huge pain.
Here I am, though, having one of the best running winters ever despite having several colds and a brief stomach bug. I've kept my eye on the prize -- a return to Shamrock in Virginia Beach, which is now just four weeks away, and the Cleveland Marathon in May. I'm going to have something cool in between too that I'm not quite ready to reveal.
Today I did something I haven't done in four previous Shamrock Half Marathon training sessions -- my mileage went over the race distance. In my first Shamrock, I think I hit 10 miles once; in my second and third races I worked up to 10 miles, but also battled injuries and lack of sleep with my newborn son; two years ago it all changed when I moved back to Bedford, trained on hills, and ran multiple 10-milers with a friend.
Only one other time in my half marathon training have I even hit 13.1 miles -- that was summer 2008 when I trained for the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon and had a 13.2-mile run.
Today I ran 14 miles. Had I not signed up for the Cleveland Marathon, I'm pretty sure I still would have run 14 miles today. It's just part of my always-evolving approach to running -- more high quality miles, stronger miles, and more overall confidence.
Today's run was also just under a 9-minute pace, which was kind of surprising after I started a bit sluggish. In a quick look back at my training over the past year, this is one of my top 5 fastest double-digit long runs and the second of this training cycle to come in under a 9-minute mile pace.
My approach to long runs since last summer and picking up the pace is paying off on shorter runs, as well as races. Two years ago, my friend and I never ran under a 9-minute pace on Bedford's hills, but we went to that race full of confidence. The forced hill training, running in the snow and often crazy wind paid off with my still-standing PR of 1:42:52.
With my effort today, and knowing what transpired two years ago, I'm setting my "A" goal for Shamrock at 3 minutes faster than my PR. I have to put it on the line to go for a sub 1:40. That's about a 14-second increase per mile, which scares me a bit, but if I'm running on average 20-30 seconds faster per mile for an easy pace than I was two years ago, there's no reason this can't translate to a sub 1:40 race day.