Today, I was scheduled to do a 20 mile run at an easy pace -- 8:51/mile, according to my chart. I used gmap-pedometer.com to chart out my home to Lucan and back route and then sent out the call to other runners to see who wanted to join me. I wasn't counting on much reply because a lot of us are doing the Exeter Trail Run 8k race tomorrow -- but Bonnie Martin replied that she could do 10k with me and Coach Brian said he needed to do a 20 miler as well, so he would catch up to us along the route.
I started about 6:50 in the morning and the pace was quite acceptable. My first 9 miles ranged in pace from 8:11/mile to 8:22/mile, while I was targeting 8:30/mile. That got me from home to Tim Horton's in Lucan through the senic route, which was required to add about 4 miles to the route.
Bonnie was ready and waiting by the time I showed up at 8:05 and so I didn't even have to slow down. She just joined on in and we headed off to the south-east down Highway #4 towards the Roman Line. Brian caught up with us at about the 12.5 mile mark in the run. He'd been working to catch up to us for the previous 25 minutes or so! We kept an excellent pace, ranging from 8:22 to 8:56/mile, and finishing at 8:31/mile -- right in the range of Personal Best time for Bonnie. She even turned it on at the end, to a point where I had no desire to try to keep pace lest I screw up the rest of the run. So she did a 10k run in the range of about 54 minutes, I'm guessing, as compared to a personal best time of 52 minutes-ish in a 10k race. Well done, Bonnie. Thanks for keeping us company!
We made it back to Tim Horton's in Lucan, and Brian and I headed of towards home. 4.5 miles to go -- and the effects of the run were starting to take their toll -- and the temperature was starting to heat up as well.
Jenny and Tori showed up on their bicycles before we got out of Lucan to support us for those crucial last miles. What life-savers! Cold water, cold Gatorade, dry towels, orange slices, other snacks -- they were definitely prepared.
We kept plugging away, and fortunately a lot of this stretch was on a downhill grade. In fact, from Lucan to our house was almost a 200 foot drop overall. From Lucan to the Denfield Road, where Brian took off towards home, we did between 8:23 and 8:35/mile -- which was right on target. But I was starting to suffer.
Tori and Jenny kept pacing me with their bikes and offering supplies to keep me going. Interestingly, one of the things that had the most impact was the towel just to dry my face. It seemed to allow the wind to cool me down better. Or maybe it was just the fact that I felt dryer than I'd been in the prior two and a half hours -- but it made an impact.
For those last two miles, I clawed out an 8:28/mile pace and 8:19/mile pace respectively. I had nothing in the tank for that last stretch towards home.
Overall, my average pace was 8:26 over the full 20 miles. Pretty good considering I was targeting 8:30's. Still a ways to go before I'll be able to keep that up for 26.2 -- but as Brian said, we'll just have to hope it is cooler in Corning and that the stars align with our training and that for that one day I can do a super-human effort.
A couple of other notes:
I saw the white squirrel again on Neil Road -- twice actually. I saw him at the start of my run in a yard on the east side of Neil, and again up a tree on the west side of Neil at the end of the run. I just pointed at him during that last sighting -- I didn't have the energy to speak -- but Jenny and Tori weren't able to see him. They said that I must be hallucinating. While I have been known to be slightly "out of it" at the end of the run, though, I definitely saw him. Really!
My standard operating procedure is starting to solidify. I had a peanut butter and honey sandwich for breakfast plus some chocolate and a half cup of coffee (didn't have time for more) before my run. I had 1 jelly bean per mile, washed down with Gatorade which I carried with me. I wore my Shore-to-Shore reflective vest, which is more like a tank top, plus some loose black shorts, one pair of socks and my new Asics shoes, which are now sufficiently broken-in, plus my blue Running Room hat. I used Udderly Smooth body cream to address the chafing on my inner thighs and it seemed to work well. My GPS was on my left wrist and my regular watch on my right. When I felt hungry at mile 18, I had some more Gatorade and it did the trick. When I got back, I had three orange slices, lots of cold water (from the shower, actually), a bit of Gatorade and then a beer. No signs of crashing after the run! And then I had my ice bath after my cold shower so that now, three-and-a-half hours after the run, I can walk semi-normally.
The only thing that was non-standard was that after I got cleaned up, I went over to Brian and Bridget's place for a swim, which was quite nice. The swimming got me to move my legs without stressing them, which I'm sure will help me limber up. And the couple of beers and water afterwards whilst chatting with Brian and Bridget was quite pleasant.
Also, when I weighed myself after my ice bath, I was below 180 lbs for the first time in a very long time. Now, I'm sure I'll rebound from that, but even after the 26.2 miler two weeks ago I wasn't that light. According to the GPS, I burned off close to 3000 calories on this run. So I'm treating myself to a Tim Horton's Iced Cappuccino in order that I don't waste away! :-)
All in all, a pretty good run. Its still going to be a challenge for me on race day, at least the way I felt at the end of this run. But with some luck, continued hard work and a bit of magic, I'm reasonably confident I can make the Boston Qualifier time I need. Just six more weeks until race day!