This morning I was back on track. Today's run and the next two are to be easy runs -- I think to compensate for a fairly heavy week last week (just shy of 53 miles). So today I set out to do 8 miles. The chart said 8:40/mile, so I figured 8:20/mile would be do-able. My first mile I was able to keep it to 8:11 -- but that was as slow as I was able to do. Like some previous 'easy' runs, I had a very hard time keeping it over 8 minutes per mile, particularly on the slight downhill grades. The temperature was cool and the air was crisp -- perfect for running. It felt really good to be outside.
By the time I was into my third mile, I was resigned to the fact that I was now going to try to do something in marathon pace. As before, the slight-downhill grade stretches were a bit easier, and the slight uphill grade stretches were a bit more difficult. And, again, I had to concentrate on keeping my stride and legs loose during the run, especially on the slight-uphill stretches.
Everything was going along perfectly with 200 metres to go -- until I did a 180 degree turn on the gravel road to head back to the house, and fell on the road like a sack of potatoes. My foot just gave right out from under me on the loose gravel. A few scratches -- and maybe tomorrow a few bruises -- but nothing serious. I was more concerned with disrupting a pretty good 'easy' run. It reminds me, though, that I need to be careful as I approach marathon day. Just a little slip like that can ruin months of training.
Even with the mishap at the end, I did the 8 miler in 1:03:08 -- 7:53/mile. That's four seconds faster than my target marathon pace. I felt good and strong throughout, even during the uphill runs. So, as compared to Wednesday's 'one step back', today was one big step forward again!