It's official. I've entered my taper period for the 22nd time, ending Week #15 with 62 miles. That's the most I've ever run in a week! The long run today was the best that I've ever completed. It's not one of my fastest, but the best executed. This was highly unexpected. I was worried that my sore legs would hold me back to an 11:00 minute crawl. It couldn't have turned out any better than this. This was a special run, indeed.
I woke up sore from the combination of the pace run I did yesterday, and the mountain hike from Friday evening. My quads were barking a little. I iced them last night with a solidly frozen turkey meat. Yes, you heard right. We will never eat this, but it's perfect size for my icing requirements. Anyway, the icing offered little help. So, knowing this, I thought, no pressure, just run the best you can and run for time. I also thought it was a good thing I decided against the hilly course of Paso Harvest Marathon. Logistically it didn't work out. There was no place to park my car and be near it when I finish my run. I would have had to run another 2-3 miles to get back to my car. After running 20, I can't imagine about walking for 3 more miles. Plan "B", as it turned out, ended up being just as hilly as Paso. I decided to run my usual: Turri Road route twice! However, I had the genius idea of running the second loop counterclockwise instead of clockwise on the second trip. I dreaded doing the second set of rollers so I thought a way to avoid them was just to turn around and back track. Wrong! It's funny how you don't realize that the downhills from one direction translate to uphill going the opposite way, until you're fully invested into the miles. Too late to go back! So much so for avoiding hills! I was pretty mad but then I cheered myself back up by saying to myself, this is the last long run, 10 more to go and you're done! It worked.
I thought Los Osos would be cooler to run in, but Paso had cooler weather and mostly cloudy for the majority of the marathon. Darn! Weather can be a factor and you just never know how it will turn out. I did the best I could.
In the beginning of the run, I had the told myself to relax since this won't be nothing like the long runs from Runner's World Break 4:00 Plan where sticking to a prescribed pace was crucial. When I don't have to think about pacing, I've mentioned this before, it seems like I do better. Today, I managed to increase my pace progressively faster every five miles, without thinking about it. (This was a repeat from my Saturday pace run, where I increased the pace every 2.5 miles for the 10 miles total: 9:30 / 8:56 / 8:56 / 8:40)
10:13 pace @ miles 1-5
9:50 pace @ miles 6-10
9:26 pace @ miles 11-15
9:09 pace @ miles 15-20 (last mile was fastest @ 8:45 pace)
I made sure I had gels at 45 minutes into the run, at 1:30, 2:30 (forgot it at 2:15), and at mile 16. I was too lazy to plant water at the route, plus I was not sure where I would end up. Luckily, there was a supermarket near the end with 4 miles to go where I filled up with water.
This long run is my best ever. I have never finished a long run with the last miles as the fastest. The best part is, I ran it with a negative split: first 10 miles at 10:00 pace and the last 10 miles at 9:17 pace. That's 43 seconds improvement for the last half. This is the plan for NY. I hope I can do this. I've had lots of practice this past few weeks with negative splits. I hope it carries over to when it counts.
This is it. I am beginning the great freak-out--I mean--the great taper period starting tomorrow. Week #16 looks like this with approximately 36 miles.
Tues--8 mi easy
Sat--1/2 marathon Guadalupe (tune up race)
Sun--4 mi pace