Friday ended up being a rest day after all. The only really good time to get the run in would have been in the morning. That meant getting up early and getting it done before work. It is a rare occasion when I do that.
For Saturday's 20 miler I was pretty much on my own. The Cruisers were all running short due to a race on Sunday. I headed down to Huntington Beach for a run along the bike path. The motto for the day was - Cruise Control. My only goal was to finish the 20 miles feeling strong and with some gas in the tank.
The run actually starts about a mile northeast of the beach. The training program from the Fountain Valley Snail's Pace running store has marked the mileage from there. The parking lots and bike paths at the extreme south end of the the beach were slurry coated sometime last fall so the first mile mark is at 4. My time at that point was 36:14. This put me smack dab in the middle of McMillan's long run pace. I hovered between 8:45 and 9:00 miles for the next 7 miles. On the way back I ended up clocking two miles at 8:15. My last four miles came in at 34:47, faster than the first four. Mission accomplished. I finished the 20 feeling strong. None of the dreaded 20 mile slow down on this run. I actually very slightly negatively split the run without trying, 1:29 out, 1:27 back, for a total time of 2:56.
I had a couple of reasons for wanting to take this run at a stress free pace. The first was that I had signed up for that same race that all the other Cruisers were running on Sunday, the Brea 8K. I ran this race last year at a pretty conservative pace. I was fairly certain I could better my time of 39:38. With the 20 miler on my legs I wasn't really sure what I would be capable of. The McMillan running calculator predicted a 35:30 time for an 8K. All the paces are based on the goal of a 3:30 marathon.
At the starting line I ran into this guy, Sam, who I run a few other races with. The first race I remember him, I beat him. At the Jingle Bob he was the second male, I was the third. At that point I really didn't give him much thought. Whereas last year I had no idea what to expect on the course, this year I knew exactly what I was in for. This course is pretty much rolling the entire 8K.
Mile 1 has its share of ups and downs. We started out heading west, circled the Civic Center and ended up passing the starting line heading east. I hadn't seen Sam since the horn sounded and hadn't really expected to. I finished Mile 1 in 7:32. I was pretty happy with that.
Mile 2 had a slow climb up Birch. I clocked 7:42. I was still OK with that, all things considered.
Mile 3 we turned left on Associated, and then another slow climb up Country Hills Rd, followed by a left onto Kraemer which includes the real uphill of the course, significant enough that it is marked on the course map as "up hill". Just after cresting the hill and turning left on Lambert, I hit the 3 mile mark in 7:51. From this point on the course was mostly downhill, with a really nice downhill back down Associated to Birch, so the 7:51 didn't completely demoralize me.
Mile 4 was at the corner as we turned right back to onto Birch and I missed it. Last year this mile came in at 7:22. I was pretty confident that I had at least gotten that his year.
Just around the corner, I came upon Sam. He was walking and obviously struggling. No big deal, I just kept running my race. Sam ended up running again and passed me. Soon he was coughing and breathing really heavily and had stopped to walk again. I just kept chugging along. It was then that I thought we've got a little challenge going here, I knew he had seen me go by. I ran the next half mile and had turned the 2nd to the last corner to the finish line when I heard really heavy breathing coming closer and closer. I picked up the pace on the home stretch. The breathing kept getting closer as did the pounding of shoes. I picked up the pace as much as I could. I was sure that Sam was hot on my tail. I don't think I've ever kicked as hard at the end. Sam passed me with about 5 feet before the finish line. At least I had made him fight for the win. It was a fun little adrenaline rush to end the race that way. My time for the last 1.97 miles was 14:11 for a 7:12 pace.
The unofficial finish time was 37:16 for a 7:30 pace overall and a pretty significant improvement at the 8K distance.
The rest of the weekend was filled with bike riding with Bryan. He is very into training for the bike tour next weekend. I guess I might be able to consider these sessions as reverse interrupted mini (RIM) bricks. Saturday after 20 in the morning, Bryan and I rode 9 in the afternoon. Sunday after the 8K in the morning, we rode 16 in the afternoon. So although I didn't hit my running mileage number for the week, I think I put in some pretty significant efforts combined.
Miles for the week: 44
T: 5 miles, Speedwork
W: 6 miles, 53:12 (8:52 pace)
H: 8 miles, 1:04 (8:04 pace)
F: Extra Rest Day
S: 20 miles, 2:56 (8:49 pace) and 9 miles bike
S: 5 miles, 37:16 (7:30 pace) and 16 miles bike