This morning was the Marathon Readiness Series 20K run. It was another chance for me to practice running marathon pace, this time for 12.4 miles instead of 9.3. So again, I was shooting for 8:00/mile. I've never run 12+ miles in a row at 8:00 pace before, but I thought maybe I could do it today if I felt ok.
My biggest challenge was probably the fact that I got back from The Maui Channel Swim last night at about 8PM and Nalani was coming to pick me up at 4:30 this morning... That swim was crazy... it took our team a lot longer than I thought it would to cross the channel b/c the conditions posed a bigger challenge than any of us anticipated. I was exhausted by the time I got home last night. (To put it mildly.) That swim deserves it's own blog post for sure so I'll get to that later this week after I muster up the motivation to download the videos. :)
Back to this morning! Nalani and I learned our lesson from a couple weeks ago and got a decent warm up in this morning. I wore my HR monitor again, more for gathering data than anything else... so while I was paying attention to it, I wasn't letting it dictate anything.
The gun went off and right away, in typical race fashion, everyone just took off... and Nalani and I kind of went with them. My breathing felt sort of labored right away. Within 4 minutes I noticed that my HR was 15 beats higher than it was during the first mile of the 15K. Hmmm. I thought I was IN FOR IT today. All sorts of excuses came into my head... That Channel Swim took way more out of me than I'd anticipated... I didn't eat right the last few days b/c I had been traveling... blah blah blah. It seems I'm creating a pattern here of making up excuses in mile 1 of running races.
SHUT UP, Brain.
Mile 1: 7:23.
Duh. Ok, well that certainly explains the heart rate. And the breathing. Clearly Nalani and I don't have a clue how to run 8:00 pace. At the 15K we went out too slow. Today we went out too fast. Ugh. Maybe at the 25K in a couple of weeks we'll get it juuuust right.
So we backed off a bit in mile 2, brought it back to 8:03. Hmmmm. Didn't feel like we slowed down THAT much. My HR certainly didn't come down much anyway. Only a few beats. Next mile 7:32. Hmmm. Didn't feel like we picked it up THAT much. Maybe these mile markers are off? Mile 4, 8:32. Ok. Yep. Mile markers DEFINITELY off. I felt like I was running very steady 7:40-7:50 range and my HR indicated that was also the case, but these mile markers were so screwed up. I actually got kind of irritated at this point... I mean, how hard it is to place the mile marker cones at the right spot? And why bother putting mile markers on the course if they're not going to be accurate??
So here I was, about 1/3 of the way into this 20K, knowing that I couldn't depend on mile markers for pace. I was already screwed as far as keeping my HR under control b/c we'd just started too fast. Even if I backed way the heck off at this point my HR would still be elevated for the rest of the race, so I felt like my only choice was just to go by perceived exertion and get my total time at the end. I figured I'd just run 'comfortably hard' and see how long I could hang next to Nalani.
That's pretty much how the rest of the run went. I ran comfortably hard for the next 4 miles, then the same/similar pace became uncomfortably hard, but I hung onto it. I continued to hit the 'split' on my watch at each mile marker, but I'm positive they were off. The last 8 miles ranged from 7:12 to 7:58 pace according to the markers, but the course was pretty flat and we ran super steady the whole time so those just don't make sense to me. I mean, I'm pretty sure I didn't pull off a 7:12 in mile 11. Please.
My heart rate indicated that I'd worked a lot harder in this race than I did in the 15K, but I still finished feeling strong, right next to Nalani. So that was really best case scenario! Our avg pace for the day was 7:46, (better than I'd hoped for), though I don't feel confident about my ability to hang onto that pace for another 14 miles. But in good news, I wouldn't have to to reach my goal for the marathon! And also in good news, I've got 12 more weeks of specific marathon training coming up (after Rev3 next weekend!) so I wouldn't expect to feel like I could nail my goal race right now. That's why we train, right? ;)
Lessons learned from this race: My pre-race breakfast was perfect. Coffee was awesome, necessary, and goes down just fine at 4:00AM. Longer warm ups are good. I really should pay more attention to my heart rate in the first few miles of a race if I want to hit the right pace. Take your pace indicated by mile markers with a grain of salt. I can run uncomfortably hard for longer than I thought. I love running races because I compete only with myself. (Truly, I don't care about what anybody else in the race is doing.) My training is working. Being sick and out of commission for 9 days did not cause my fitness to evaporate overnight like I feared it would. These Marathon Readiness races are awesome for creating confidence in race pace and effort. I'm faster than I think.
Oh, and swimming from Lanai to Maui the day before is not an excuse for anything.
Next up: Waikiki Roughwater 2.4 mile ocean swim tomorrow morning. This has been a huge weekend and it's not over yet... :)