Eighteen Saturdays: Canton Marathon 2012, Week Twelve
After the missed steps and self-doubt of Week Eleven, I went into Week Twelve wondering how much damage I had done to my goal of running the full Canton Marathon at an 8:23 pace. Still, I knew focusing too intensely on that would likely only discourage me further, so I really made an effort to focus on the things I like about running on a schedule: the mental distraction and unlocking; the physical motion and the world around me; the effort and the breathing and just being out there.
My weekday runs took place after work, and it was unseasonably warm this week. Tuesday’s five-miler wasn’t bad, since I wasn’t pushing it, but on Wednesday, I was supposed to run another 8-miler at race pace, and even though I waited until 7 p.m., it was still above the 70-degree mark when I set out. The Garmin didn’t work at all, so I just checked the time when I left the house and figured I’d try to recall the pacing and feeling of the unexpectedly great eight-mile pace run (8:09 average!) I’d done in Week Ten.
This week, though, that ease of effort was nowhere to be found, and though I suspect that I managed to keep a decent pace through the first three, maybe four miles, by the second half of the run, the heat had taken its toll and I was just wiped out. I wound up with an 8:48 average, which was not really the way I wanted to peak for my pace runs. (From here on out, the pace runs get shorter.)
While a late night at work kept me from Thursday’s five-miler, I decided to try to make up for it by really going after Saturday morning’s 13.35 mile course.
I couldn’t have asked for a better morning: When I left the house at 7:45 a.m., it was right around 60 degrees and completely overcast, with a bit of a breeze. The cloud cover was low enough to be called hazy, but high enough not to be called fog. Just perfect for a long run.
I had memorized the points every 4.5 miles for my water-and-gel one-minute walking breaks – since, again, no Garmin. No way to know what my pace was at any given moment, of course, but I was feeling good after the first mile. A southbound wind pushed against me for the next couple miles, but when I reached the northernmost point of my run, I realized my energy level and lungs and legs were all in a decent zone, and I kept telling myself, “Run faster now, while you feel like you can,” and I deliberately picked up the pace until I hit my first break.
The middle 4.5 miles were probably even a little bit better, since they took me south and west, and the wind wasn’t a factor, and after my second walk-water-gel break, I put on a little eastbound burst in preparation for the three-miles-mostly-northbound stretch home.
I finished up somewhere around 1:56 for the entire course, which works out to about 8:40 per mile. I cut roughly three minutes from the last time I ran this loop on April 14, and I felt really good at the finish.
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