Today’s challenge was exactly that, challenging. It was a good way to finish off my base building phase. The run combined three of my usual routes: Greenway Trail to Legacy Loop (12 miles); Neighborhood route (10 miles); and James A. Reed (10 miles).
The first section went well as I started out at a conservative pace not knowing what to expect exactly over 32 miles. After the first few easy paced miles, the hills ensured the pace stayed reasonable. As I started back towards home, the course flattened out and I found a good rhythm. My first pit stop was at 12.4 miles. The mile splits during this section were: #1-9:46; #2-9:40; #3-9:52; #4-9:32; #5-9:35; #6-9:22; #7-9:31; #8-9:07; #9-9:08; #10-9:04; #11-8:53; and #12-8:46.
The second section continued with the increased pace. The flat course of this section helped with the pace. The sun was heating up the morning quickly, so I donned a running cap to aid against the sun as best as possible. My second pit stop was at 20 miles. The mile splits during this section were: #13-16:26 (includes the pit stop time); #14-8:45; #15-8:35; #16-8:38; #17-9:26; #18-8:52; #19-8:54; #20-8:45; #21-8:43; and #22-8:44.
The last section saw my pace decrease as the miles started piling up. With the sun well overhead by now, I took advantage of any shade I could find. Luckily James A. Reed provides quite a few groves of trees that do exactly that. In fact, most of miles 25-27 were on trails that provided almost 100% shade. Not only did this allow me to get out of the sun, it also provided a much-needed decrease in temperature. I could tell the distance was starting to takes its toll during this last part and any thought of continuing beyond 32 miles was dashed. My mile splits during this section were: #23-21:27 (pit stop time included); #24-10:16; #25-9:08; #26-8:58; #27-9:04; #28-9:14; #29-9:24; #30-9:08; #31-9:05; and #32-10:46. My 26.2 mile split was less than 4:20.
Most running experts agree that the benefits of running long runs starts decreasing at a certain mileage. The debate is exactly where that line is. Some say 20 or 22 miles, while others feel a runner needs to run the full distance of the race for the training to be adequate. Wherever that line may exist, I probably crossed it today from a physical perspective. But mentally, today loomed as a motivational goal for me over the past few weeks when I especially needed all of the motivation I could get. In addition, I will commit this run to my memory bank and hope to draw upon it during those times during a race when my mind tells me I cannot take another step.