Yesterday was my last long run before race day. I love the feeling of heading into the last long run. Even though it is not the actual end of the journey, it does kind of feel like an ending. The last two months have led to being able to run 21.1 km and yesterday I ran 20k. Not quite the full distance but enough to prove to myself that this is something I can do. The last long run is kind of like the dress rehearsal before the real production. At this point there really isn’t much to change or fix, no miracles are going top happen in the last 14 days.
So how was the long run? Amazing! I picked a route that would be somewhat dry after all our wet snow this week. Even more importantly I picked a route with only 2 potential places to have to stop for red lights. I wanted to have the opportunity to run with no walk breaks, something I have not done at that distance before. When I headed out it was cold and windy, much colder and windier than I expected. I admit I almost changed my route and thought maybe I should head into more sheltered roads. But then I remembered that on race day I have to deal with whatever the weather hands me, so I continued with my original plan. The route had a fair number of grade changes that I hope will help me be prepared for Central Park.
Without going into lots of boring details, lets just say I maintained a very steady pace in the first half, increased my pace in the second half, took no walk breaks (!!!) and finished in exactly 2 hours. I ended up running a faster pace than I planned, and certainly a faster pace than my training schedule suggests. I kept debating about whether or not I should slow down, but the thing was, the pace felt good…really good. At no time did I feel I was pushing myself harder than I should. I am not actually planning on running the NYC half at the pace I did yesterday, largely because all the advice I have been given suggests going easy in hilly Central Park and then picking up speed in the last half of the race. So I don’t want to push myself too much for speed in the park, only to have nothing left in the last half. I’ve also heard that the race is so crowded at the beginning that you can’t start fast even if you want to. So if I can come in under 2:12 (o.k – I would prefer under 2:10) I will be pleased. But yesterday, if I had continued for the last 1.1k, I would have finished in 2:06:36 – not my fastest, but very respectable. So my feeling is now, whatever happens on March 17th, this training session was a success. Even more so because today I woke up and didn’t even feel like I had had a long run. My body is not protesting, I am not moving slowly and I don’t feel like I, well…ran a half marathon. This is only the second time I have run that distance outside of a race (so four times in total) and I know the first time I was feeling it (translate that to I was HURTING). Today I am not hurting. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but all of this training is paying off. Like many things the progress is small enough to not always be aware of it, but it is happening. Now I feel like I can head to New York knowing that I have worked hard and made progress, even if I run a slower race than my previous two half marathons.
P.S I also realized half way through the run that if February were a regular month (30 or 31 days) yesterday would still have been part of my personal monthly best (see previous blog). So I have decided that my official monthly total – or should I say 30 day total – is actually 190km. WOOHOO!!!!!!!