You know what I learned yesterday? Two things: First, that I'm a lousy running-route planner. Lousy. Second, and much better, that I have a fairly good sense of my marathon goal pace.
About the route. I was looking to run between 14 and 16 miles by myself and I wanted to be able to run from my house, so I wouldn't have to drive anywhere. I spent a long time pondering my route, fiddling around with the gmaps hack and plotting and scrapping routes.
The one I settled on kinda rotted. It was hillier than I expected. There was way more traffic on one two-mile stretch than I was comfortable with. The worst part? I had to run past several growling, barking, mean-seeming dogs and each time I was frightened. I mean, really. When huge mean-looking dogs run up to the side of the street, barking and growling, it makes a runner scared.
Anyway, the route wasn't ideal but you know what? All of these hills are making me stronger. I know it. And the near heart-attacks from those dogs? Well, let's just hope there is some sort of benefit from that.
When I wasn't running from the dogs, I was trying to hold a steady 9:30 pace for the early miles and then I had hoped to drop down to my marathon goal pace for the middle miles. I planned to end the run at a 9:30 pace.
I wanted to run as much by feel as I could so I didn't look at my watch much. Checking my splits after the run, though, I was pleased. I started out the first mile at 9:43 and then settled in to a 9:15 pace for the next few miles. Then I picked it up. I wanted to run my marathon goal pace (8:35) for 5 miles. I came close.
Middle miles: 8:37 average pace for 5 miles.
Sure, I was off by a little but I was running by feel and the route was, if you remember, hilly. And windy. (Wah, wah, wah.) So, I'm pleased that I was as close as I was. Those 5 miles felt good and I felt that it was a pace I could run comfortably and for a long time (26.2 miles? We'll see!).
After running at pace, I finished up with some miles ranging between 8:40 and 9:30. Overall, I ran 14.5 miles at 9:05 pace.
Am I ready for the marathon? Gosh, I hope so.
I want 8:30 to feel easy. I want my legs to gravitate to that pace and stick to it on race day. I want to cross the finish line ahead of 3:45. I've been working to make those wants come true. I hope they do.