As I get closer to the half marathon, the weekend long runs get longer. And the sense of accomplishment I get when I finish them keeps growing.
Today I had 9 miles on the schedule. I haven't run 9 miles since a few weeks before the Fox Cities Half Marathon in September 2007, so it's been a while. And looking back at old training logs, I realized that other than my first attempt at 13.1 miles, I've never run longer than 9 miles. So in a way, I'm starting to step into uncharted territory.
But enough with the perspective. On to the run.
The run. Which almost didn't happen this morning. After waiting patiently until 1 p.m. for the temperature to go up (I finally gave up around 45 degrees, figuring the weatherman was wrong...again), I started to get ready for my run. But before I could go, I wanted to synch my iPod with some new tunes. Too bad the iPod was being a bit cranky - it decided to freeze, so I had to figure out how to unfreeze it because seriously, there was no way I was heading out for 9 miles without music. And then syncing it? Was taking too long. So I gave up.
Out the door with the old play list. Which was fine by me. It was music. And that's what was important.
To mix things up a bit, I headed out to the Wiouwash Trail. I did a good chunk of half marathon training on this trail the first time around in 2007 and it's a nice, gravel/dirt trail that goes through a rural part of the county. I run by a lake and some farms and fields and trees. Pretty relaxing. And besides the first bridge you cross over by the lake where everyone likes to gather to fish, there usually aren't a ton of people out there.
Today was no exception. For the majority of the run it was just me.
I had planned an out and back with plans to take some Gu at the 4.5 mile turnaround point. On the way out it was fairly easy going. And I kind of expected that. I paused to stretch a moment around the 3 mile mark and then kept running until I got to mile 4.5.
I took my Gu - today's flavor was Chocolate Outrage and it's a safe bet this is what I'll be taking with me on half marathon day - and instead of stopping to take it, I started walking. So a nice little break. But once the Gu was gone, so was the walk and I started running again.
And I suddenly realized why the way out seemed so easy. The wind was at my back. Seriously, I can't seem to plan a run to account for the wind to save my life! Oh well. That which doesn't kill me only makes me stronger, even if it means running into the wind for the final 4.5 miles of a 9 mile run.
I took a few more stretch breaks on the way back, about once a mile and did throw in a short walk break (about 45 seconds) around Mile 7. And the wind on the way back? It also made it a bit chilly, so my hands were getting cold.
The last mile was tough. I was ready to be done. But I passed the final mile marker, weaved my way through the fishermen on the bridge (like 12 of them, and this isn't a big bridge) and I was on the home stretch. Almost went head over heels when a stick got caught up in my shoe, but I managed to stay on my feet.
When I got back to the parking lot by my car, Gus the Garmin beeped, telling me the 9 miles was done. And I have to admit, I was glad. Take a look at the splits:
Mile 1 - 10:24
Mile 2 - 10:47
Mile 3 - 11:23
Mile 4 - 11:18
Mile 5 - 11:47 (took a short walk break as I downed by Gu)
Mile 6 - 11:38
Mile 7 - 11:32
Mile 8 - 11:41 (took a short walk break)
Mile 9 - 11:40
Total: 1 hour, 42 minutes, 15 seconds
Overall I'm pretty pleased. I stayed fairly consistent (you can totally tell where I hit the turnaround and was suddenly running into the wind on legs that were starting to get tired), especially over the last 4 miles. Next week I venture into the double digit mileage world. And it's a bit frightening, but I think I'll be OK. Besides, that's 7 days away. And right now my legs are telling me it's time to be lazy for the next two days and watch some basketball.
And I'm going to listen to the legs.