Since Mystery Coach didn't have any pace-work planned for today, I went ahead and got the long run over with a day earlier. Hopefully this will pay off by allowing me another long run early next week, as the following Sunday will be taken up by the Tucson half-marathon.
It was actually chilly for a change when I left the house around 5:30 this morning (47 degrees), and so for the first time in many months I put on a long-sleeved shirt. I felt like dirt for the first three miles or so, which I attribute to the holiday travel and resulting lack of sleep, though it could also have been a sugar crash after eating a box of Mike & Ikes on the drive home from Phoenix last evening. I finally found my legs after five miles or so, and I decided to do my old out and back run into town. As I made it to the dirt path along the Rillito River I could feel my posture moving forward and the pace dropping along with this shift. At 9 miles I still felt good, though it's always a little tough mentally to throw myself into the last two miles before turning around with 11 still to go.
This run puts me through all four miles of Gut-Check-Alley for mile 14-18, which is a snaking uphill with a variety of grades that takes me from the lowlands in town back up towards the foothills where we live. This section will always be mile 18-22 of the marathon in my mind, so mentally I treat it as such. Even as the stride shortens and the breathing increases on the hills I remind myself to try and hold pace while bracing for the final push home.
As I crest the last hill I'm left with miles 21 and 22. Since my only faster running this week was the 5K on Thursday, I decide to try and finish up with two miles around marathon pace. The legs protest for the first 400, but finally relent and start turning over a bit more quickly. I can feel the quads biting a bit from the race, but it's that good, slow burn that indicates things will be fine if the pot stays simmering awhile longer. Still, it felt good to touch the garage door and be done, and pumpkin pie seems as good a recovery food as anything else in the house. At 8am the kids agreed with me on this as each got a slice.
Training: Today, 22 miles, 2:27:40, 6:45 pace, w/last 2 miles at 5:55 pace
Yesterday, 10 miles, 1:06:30, 6:45 pace