Running 2013: Week Fourteen
No weekday runs, and another busy Saturday led to another all-the-miles-on-Sunday week.
And it was gorgeous: Close to 60 degrees and with a strong breeze from the south-southwest that pushed me for most of my outbound trip, and became a difficult headwind for much of the second half.
After last week, I wanted to get the route done in something closer to my usual running pace, so I took each mile by itself and built my goals as I went along.
So, for the first mile, I shot for below eight-and-a-half, took full advantage of the big downhill at the end, and then assessed: Slow up just a bit, check the lungs, check the legs, everything’s cool, so let’s settle in. I was feeling good enough that I thought, “OK, let’s see if we can keep the overall pace under nine minutes for the first three miles.”
The next couple miles were really enjoyable. Sun over the fields to the east, wind at my back, not unpleasant spring smells – thawing swamps, manure on the farms, the occasional whiff of skunk – on the air. The breeze was steady and strong and played with things along the way: Power lines thrummed, sticks and leaves clicked and skittered across the pavement, street signs flexed and bowed and clanged against their poles.
Three miles in, I was averaging 8:47, and thinking that even with the run into the wind yet to come, and the inevitable late-mile slowdown, I could maybe – maybe – do this trip in a 9-minute average.
And then I had to turn back south. The wind was steadier and stronger than I’d anticipated, but at least it wasn’t cold. Still, I really had to put some extra effort into my strides to keep from slowing down too much, and miles five and six were tough. Breathing-wise, I felt fine, but my legs were starting to tire.
Starting mile seven, I saw my overall average was 9:06. It’s one thing to push the final mile hard and knock 10 or 15 seconds off my average when I’m doing a three- or four-mile run, but it’s tougher to do the same thing at the end of a seven-miler, for both physical and mathematical reasons. And this route is the one that finishes with a difficult climb in the first half of the final mile.
I really wanted to get rid of those six seconds, though, and since I’d given my lungs a break last week, I figured they could handle a challenge on a nice morning like this.
You could hardly call what I did to get up that hill “charging,” but I did keep my pace up enough that I only added one second to my overall average, leaving me just over half a mile to erase seven seconds and hit a nine-minute pace.
I finished with an average of 8:58, and felt really good about the work it took to do so. I was below a seven-minute pace for most of that last half-mile, and as a result, I ran mile seven three seconds faster than mile one.
Year-to-date: 99.8 miles in 97 days.
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