Hello. I'm still at it. This running thing.
Haven't posted in a month, mainly because I've just been feeling pretty negative every time I try to think of something to write. Why? I'm in the midst of marathon training - still getting the miles done - but it seems like most runs are disappointing. I'm sore a lot. My knee still hurts, although it's not so bad that I have to cut back. Mainly I think it's just my slow times. All my runs, whether it's an easy run, a tempo, or track work, are a little slower than I think they should be. Or than they used to be, say last year. I can blame the heat, or the excessive mileage, or my knee, but down deep I know those excuses are not valid. I think it's just me getting older, and I guess it's hard to accept.
I don't want to complain, because I'm still running pretty well for an old guy. I haven't had any real downtime like many of my injured friends. But hey, that's what blogs are for, right?
So anyway, marathon training is on track. The last ten weeks I averaged 40 miles. The last four weeks before last were 46, 32, 47 and 50. I did an 18 and a 20-miler, although they were pretty hard. I'm doing weekly speed work at the track with some mile repeats (4x1 and 5x1) around 6:55 pace. And then last week I tapered and ran a half marathon race in Long Beach.
Four weeks out from NYC, my goal was to race this one, not for a 110% effort PR, but for a solid hard effort. I decided to go for 7:30 pace and hope I could finish stronger and break 1:38. Real goal was to keep it under 1:40, because, well, see above. Confidence lacking.
My friend and track buddy, D was on hand. We are close in pace, although she is a little faster on the track, but lacks experience in the longer races. So we planned to run together at least for a while. I couldn't find her before the start in the large crowd (7,300). But I managed to spot her after about 1/4 mile, just ahead. So I had to pick it up a little to catch her. So much for my planned 7:50 first mile to ease into it... Hit mile one at 7:22.
But we were back around 7:30 pace and comfortably cruising in mile 2. I had the 1:40 pace group just ahead and planned to keep them there. I didn't want to get ahead of them for a while yet. The pace felt a little hard, but comfortable. About right for a half. 2-4 were 7:29, 7:27, 7:31. Mile 5 was 7:20. Sometimes you get caught up racing people and lose track of pace...But I dialed it back. 6-7 were 7:30, 7:33.
So all good, right? Well not exactly. The effort was starting to get to me. The legs were feeling heavy. Didn't feel the spark. D started to slip ahead and I let her go. I kept my effort consistent but the pace was slipping. Mile 8 was 7:46. I took a GU. Mile 9 started even worse, and I mentally checked out. There was no way I could get back to 7:30 for 5 more miles. So my goal changed to trying to stay ahead of (or with) the 1:40 group (which I had left behind in mile 3).
I got through nine in 7:59. By now I didn't care about time. I had decided to walk through the next water stop and then just cruise it in and save my energy for marathon training. So I took a short break and then headed toward the finish. I wasn't completely dead, I was just tired and once I slowed I was comfortable. 10-12 were 8:19, 8:37 and 8:07. Most of the people around me must have been fading too because not many people passed me. The 1:40 group passed me (although they were down to three people) and I didn't have the will to stay with them. By mile 12 I could smell the finish and I pushed the pace up a bit, so at least it was an honest effort. Mile 13 was 7:38, and I "kicked it in" at 6:59 pace.
So I finished my 43rd half marathon in 1:41:52. 9th AG, 236th overall (of 7,300) and a 67% age grade. Not proud, but, hey that's where I am now. Here's me and D. She faded like me, just up ahead, and finished at 1:41:00.
So I'm not feeling real confident about running a fast 26 in four weeks. I just hope to not die too bad and not have to walk Central Park. So my goals are out the window. My NYC goal is to have fun, and practice restraint; Try to run the first half at over 8 minute pace, maybe 8:15+, and enjoy the experience. Sub-4 would be good. Then I'm taking a month off to rest the knee and the mojo.