My in-laws flew into San Francisco last Saturday and began a southward journey through California that ended at hour home today. The spent 3 days in the Carmel area. We joined them when they got to Paso Robles. We spent Wednesday touring several wineries in the area and then enjoying a wonderful dinner at Buona Tavola.
Thursday was my scheduled tempo run day and I was excited about the opportunity to run somewhere other than by current status quo of the river trail. I set my watch to get out the door at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday. I got up checked the temperature. It was a balmy 35 degrees so I went back to bed. After breakfast our southward tour took us to Solvang, where we shared a nice apple strudle and then ultimately to Santa Barbara. Our hotel was conventiently located across the street from the beach. We arrived in the late afternoon giving my ample time before dinner to get my tempo run in along the multi-purpose path that runs along the beach. This was a much better choice than running in Paso at near freezing temps.
Without my trusty marked path I was pretty much ad-libbing the run. I knew the distance (5 miles) and my planned pace (8:41 to 9:09) but without the markings I had no real way to reconcile the two. I did have the GPS app on my smartphone that I checked periodically to know the distance.
I've mentioned before that I'm am functionally illiterate in the mathematical computational arena while on foot. Once on the path I headed east first for about 1/2 mile and then back west. I ran west past my starting point toward Shoreline Park. I checked my phone occasionally to monitor the mileage. For some reason I can't explain I didn't turn around until the GPS said I'd run 3.5 miles total. This included the 1 mile eastward out&back plus 2.5 more miles westward. It wasn't until I was on my way back and checked the phone again that I realized just how math challenged I was. I hit the 5 mile mark while I was still a mile away from the hotel (no surprise to any of you). I walked that last mile back to my hotel.
Another side effect of the run was my lack of pacing control without mile marks. Although I looked at my phone a couple of times to get the distance there was no way I was going to be able to calculate the pace. Odd distance at odd times just don't compute. I finished the 5 miles in 41:55. Once I was walking I could at least determine that I'd run faster than 9 minute miles. After a bit of finger writing on an imaginary chalk board I figured the pace to be 8:24 or at least close enough. Oh well, I can think of worse place to be "stranded" than the bike path along the Santa Barbara coast.
We went to the Getty Villa in Malibu the next day. Upon returning home that evening I went to listen to Dick Beardsley speak about his marathon experience, his trials with accidents and his subsequent drug addition. He gives a very good presentation. I would recommend seeing him if he is in your area.
Saturday morning was yet another long run; the third of the four prescribed 20 milers. I ran in Huntington Beach, meeting up with the CA Cruisers. Margaret and I were again running partners. We were running consistently 9:50 pace up through 15 miles when Margaret began to lag and gave me permission to go on ahead. I maintained the 9:50 pace up through mile 18 and then fell to pieces. This has been my usual modus operandi on all these long runs. My pace for those last two miles was in the 12 minute range. Those miles were so slow that my overall pace for the run fell off to 10:21. I finished the 20 miles in 3:27:11.
I'm a bit bewildered by this whole thing. At mile 15, 16 and 17 I could tell I was on pace to complete the run in 3:20 (I can do simple math like 10 minute miles by x miles = y minutes). I hate to be a broken record but it is really hard to see how when I can't complete a long slow distance at a pace significantly lower than planned marathon pace that I will ever be able to run 26.2 at a faster pace. Also Dick Beardsley reminded me that the Austin Marathon has its fair share of hill. This training cycle has been completely devoid of hill training. With 5 weeks to go, I may swap some of those speed sessions for hill work. It should be an interesting little experiment in the hill country of Texas.