As I type this, my fingers are still numb from the cold so typing is not so easy. The only reason my fingers are frozen is that it was actually nice enough outside to run without gloves- 47 degrees and sunny! But the wind was icy cold, and I was gloveless, hence the now frozen fingers. But the wind and my cold digits were the only rough parts of my run, it was otherwise amazingly awesome!!
Like I do on most long run days in the winter, I waited until the absolute last minute to head out for my 17 miler. I ate breakfast, took a nap, watched Dean Karnazes's Ultramarathon Man documentary, ate lunch, read a book, then finally headed out at 2pm. My actually getting the run down was driven more by my desire to avoid feeling guilty if I didn't do the run rather than any actual desire to spend nearly 3 hours running.
My schedule said 17 miles @ 9:50 pace, so my plan was to run comfortably and not really worry about time- I figured that would get me close enough to 9:50 pace. I headed south on the Lakefront Path with my Nathan hydration pack, 1 pack of Gu Chomps (watermelon, if you are curious), and my "Believe in the Taper" playlist on my ipod (so what if I'm building, not tapering- it's still a good playlist!).
I stayed relaxed with decent form until about the last 4 miles. The last 2 I just gutted it out, not even paying attention to form anymore, just trying to get 'er done. I try not to look at my Garmin too much because it stresses me out but I glanced down often enough to know that I was certainly going faster than 9:50 pace. I didn't know how much faster and was quite pleased when I uploaded my data and saw my average pace was 9:20! Woo-hoo!!!
As you can see below (x axis=miles, y axis=pace), my pace was incredibly variable.
The peaks in pace (ie slow sections) are probably where I slowed to drink water and eat Gu Chomps. I never once stopped or walked- in fact this may be the longest run in which I did not stop or walk a single time in my entire running career! I think I've accepted that I'm not really a pace group kind of gal, meaning I don't really enjoy running when I'm constrained to a certain pace like when running with a pace group. I prefer to indulge my body's natural variations in pace based on how I feel, the music I'm listening to, and the sights I'm taking in. I still think it would be fun to be a pace group leader one day, but that would be at a pace significantly slower than what I'm capable of thus making it more comfortable and easier to be "constrained" by pace.
To put this run in perspective, my previous fastest long run was a 15 miler last September that was 9:11 pace but I stopped to eat and drink (probably for ~30-45 seconds) 2ce in the midst of the run. And I remember I was huffing and puffing the entire time. (Side note: That 15 miler was only 11 days before the Chicago Marathon- probably not the best idea to do such a long, hard run so close to race day!) Today's run was very comfortable right up until the last 2 miles and even then, I certainly could have pushed more, but this wasn't a marathon pace run, rather a comfortable long run, so I didn't kill myself.
Mile 1: 9:11
Mile 2: 9:14
Mile 3: 9:01
Mile 4: 9:09
Mile 5: 9:07
Mile 6: 9:12
Mile 7: 9:05
Mile 8: 8:49
Mile 9: 9:47
Mile 10: 9:17
Mile 11: 9:06
Mile 12: 9:47
Mile 13: 9:40
Mile 14: 10:10 (the wind was NUTS!)
Mile 15: 9:12
Mile 16: 9:29
Mile 17: 9:25
And because I'm a big running dork, I had to plug a 9:20 pace into the Cool Running pace calculator to see the correlating marathon finish time (it's 4:04:43, btw). Hmmmm.....
Good luck to all the racers this weekend! And happy running to all!