Saturday’s run had speed and Sunday’s run had distance. Because I’m training for the Las Vegas Half Marathon, now only 12 days away, this post will be a “weekend report” on the two runs, and how they complemented each other.
Had Saturday fallen on a day other than November 21, I would have run at 7 AM with the ladies. However, November 21 happens to be my daughter’s birthday, and this year it was her 10th. No way, no how, could I miss seeing her jump out of bed and attack her presents while Bill, Connor and I watched, bleary-eyed. (She is currently obsessed with American Girl dolls, and her birthday list consisted entirely of items from the catalogue. Bill and I bought her the main item, a Just Like Me doll, and parsed out the rest to relatives. Thus, she received almost everything on the list and we didn’t go broke.)
The alarm was set for 5:30 so I could sneak in a short, 30 minute run before the birthday festivities. As it happened though, Sophie couldn’t sleep; she snuck into the closet as I was pulling on my running tights and almost scared the pee out of me when I turned around. I whispered that I was going out for a QUICK run, it was still too early to wake everyone else up, and to hang out in her room until I got back. Being newly 10 years old, her shoulders drooped but she nodded anyway.
It was just after 6:00 when I headed out. I headed up the little hill of Lincoln to Hutchinson where I went left, circled Community Park twice, then returned home via Main Street, Lafayette Avenue and Griffith. The Garmin had weak signal for a good ten minutes (that I was aware of), though the timer kept going. Luckily I knew the mileage of the route and after plugging in the distance (3.6 miles) and the time (25 minutes), DailyMile.com (find me @smzrunner) figured out the pace (6:56/mile). I was surprised by the pace, as I felt sluggish the entire run, but pleased just the same.
Sunday was my last long run before the Las Vegas Half on December 6. I was concerned about the route because the recent snow hadn’t melted fully from the trails and I wanted to run the Coal Creek Trail for the last 3.5-4 miles of the run. After unsuccessfully mapping my route on RunningMap.com, I decided to wing it, figuring that after 10 miles I would see where I was and decide on the fly how to finish the last 3-4 miles.
With that much of a plan, I headed out Sunday morning at 7:20 AM, already feeling rushed. I was meeting a friend at 10 AM in Boulder for brunch and knew that I was pushing the clock if I wanted to get 13-15 miles in AND enjoy a shower, too.
I started from the house and headed up to Davidson Mesa, totaling 3 miles in the first leg. According to the Garmin, the splits for the first three miles were 8:30, 8:01 and 8:19.
Davidson Mesa is a flat loop on open space. Unfortunately the ground was frozen in ridges from the recent snow and melt, so some sections were a little dicey. Since it was flatter than the route UP to the Mesa, miles 4-6 were a little faster: 8:08, 7:48, 7:30.
From here I headed down the hill into Louisville. I cut across the greenbelts to Cherry Street, jumped onto the Coal Creek Trail and hoped that the trail across Highway 42 would be manageable. For these 4 miles the splits were relatively even: 7:34, 7:41, 7:23, 7:25.
At this point it was apparent that I couldn’t run on the Coal Creek Trail after it crossed over Hwy 42. There was still ice on the frozen ridges of the trail, and I wasn’t interested in turning an ankle or slowing pace to finish the run with a loop. I decided to turn back, retrace my steps around the large greenbelt, and return home via Lincoln Avenue near the Louisville Elementary School. The last three miles looked like this: 7:47, 7:34, 7:41.
The Garmin says the average pace was 7:41/mile.
Here’s a map of the route. You’ll notice some retracing of steps (off the Davidson Mesa on the left of the map, and at the bottom, where I had to come back from the Coal Creek Trail.
I really tried to maintain a fast pace, though I was confused when I looked at my Garmin because on Saturday I accidentally hit a button so that instead of showing minute-per-mile pace, I saw a mile-per-hour pace. Not being able to quickly translate the new numbers in my head or fix the read-out, I instead tried to keep the miles-per-hour pace between 7.5 and 8.0, always trying for the upper number but acknowledging that on the hills, I might creep down to the 7.5 mark. After I got home and Bill fixed my read-out I was totally surprised to see that I did this training run a full 5 minutes faster than my race pace for the Colorado Half Marathon in May (where I finished in 1:45:47, a pace of 8:04/mile).
I didn’t take water on this run because a) I hate carrying a bottle in my hand and b) I was worried water would freeze in the line of my camelbak, rendering it useless. I completely forgot that I own a water bottle holder that clips around my waist. Duh. I was a little thirsty on the run, but the lower temps kept me from falling apart. I drank two large glasses of water when I got home, and then drank tons for the rest of the day. My face was pretty red for about an hour afterwards, though my muscles felt alright and I never sank into utter exhaustion.
When I was gearing up for the Colorado Half Marathon I kept track of my average paces and figured that I could probably hold an 8:00 pace for the duration. I was so excited that I had read my fitness level correctly. For this race, my second Half-Marathon, I originally wanted to finish in a sub- 1:40. Given that I just did 1:40 on a training run in Louisville (at altitude and on hills), it’s probably feasible that on a flat course at a lower altitude I can shave another 0:15 seconds from my per-mile pace.