Wow! Saturday I completed my second long run on my way to the SEAFAIR Marathon. I've been on some kind of weird emotional roller coaster since then, but right now finally writing about it I'm pretty pumped again.
The plan called for 21 miles. Many things came together to make this run a real positive experience. First of all, I had the honor of sharing the trail again with Jeff. I guess I didn't bore him or drive him completely nuts a few weeks ago. For that I'm thankful. This time we hit the bike path at Huntington Beach.
Running with Jeff has been good for a couple of reasons. For one, he's Jeff, who wouldn't want to run with him. For another, it's really nice to have a guy to run with. Don't get me wrong, I really like my female running buddies from work, heck most of the CA Cruisers are women. It's just different sharing a long run with another guy. I also realized how much I missed running with Brian, my first running partner. Brian is currently off at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston. When we were running together he definitely pushed me to do more than I thought I could. For another, because I was running with Jeff, I really think I stepped it up a little. I've mentioned this before, that I usually do the "run a mile, walk a minute" system on any run over 18 miles, even during marathons. When I ran the last 20 miler with Jeff, I thought - there's no way I can ask him to walk, so I ran. I didn't really know how it would go. I kind of expected that I might fall apart near the end, but I didn't. Even though my pace was basically the same as when I walked, it was a great confidence booster to know that I could just run.
So this week I ran as well. Jeff started out on his new bike and cruised along beside me for the first 5 miles. At that point Jeff changed over to running gear and I took the opportunity to hit the facilities. Then off we went for 16 more miles. This was going to be his longest run since the Boston Marathon. We went sub 9:00 miles from the get go. We just cruised right along. The miles went by easily. The weather was definitely in our favor. The skies were overcast, the temperature was no more than 70°F. On the way back we had a nice gentle breeze in our face that kept us cool and dry but not chilled.
At mile 18, I hit my watch, looked and interrupted Jeff mid-sentence. "We just did that last mile in 8:31" Mile 18 well below 9:00 pace and I still felt good, really good. I could not believe it. Jeff wasn't pulling either. Just like last time he was half a stride off my right shoulder. I know that he could totally blow me out of the water at any point in time, but he didn't. I was setting the pace; an 8:31 pace at mile 18. I was getting pretty excited about the possibilities of that sub 4:00 marathon.
Mile 19 in 8:43. Mile 20 in 8:29. Bring it home, Mile 21 in 8:37. We ended up with a total of 21.5 miles. I ran the whole way, with the only real break for Jeff to transition from the bike. The overall pace was a little under 9:00. Five more miles at that pace and I'm definitely on track. Knowing that I finished strong, makes me feel even more confident.
Today I physically and mentally felt like I could do it. Usually I shuffle along during the last couple of miles of a 20 miler, but not today. The sun came out from behind the clouds as we chatted and cooled down in the parking lot. That was a nice touch. A lot a things were in my favor: the weather, a running partner to take my mind of the miles, and a flat course. I also think my increased weekday miles and ramping up my overall miles are paying off as well. It's too soon to be counting but... seven weeks and one more long run (let's hope that one goes well) to go before SEAFAIR.
Miles this week: 43.5