So yesterday was the last long run before the Oshkosh Half Marathon - which is now in less than two weeks!
The group had 13 miles on the schedule, and after last weekend's awful 12-miler, I was a wee bit nervous heading into Saturday's run. Yes. Nervous.
Luckily it was pretty nice running weather. I got to the park and temps were hovering right around 31 degrees, it was overcast (although the sun was trying its best to peak through) and THERE WAS NO WIND! Yay! We got ready to head out, I pushed start on my Garmin and nothing. Yup. I was the proud owner of a dead Garmin, even though I had charged it. Or at least I thought I did.
No Garmin. But that's OK. I relied on the running buddies in the group for time and distance. And actually I didn't worry much about that until I finished the run.
We started running. Nothing too exciting. Dare I say the run was feeling easy? So much better than last weekend. Somewhere around Mile 6 I started to get a cramp in my left calf muscle. I stopped to stretch and crossed my fingers it would go away. Not really. I started to run again, because I wasn't going to let this ache derail my final long run before the spring's first half marathon. I upped the water intake a bit to make sure it wasn't any dehydration issue.
I slowed down a bit due to the calf pain and lost the rest of the group, but one of the assistant coaches hung back with me. We chatted. Kept running. Soon we were hitting the "new" part of the route. One that featured this nasty hill that was almost a half-mile long at a 4.25 percent grade. Yeah. Those curvy hills that are so steep you can't really see that top? Not so fun. But it got done. Just like the rest of the rolling hills over the final 3 miles of the run. I wasn't paying attention too much to time or distance, but every once and a while Sam, the guy I was running with, would tell me - "We're at Mile 11" or "Just passed Mile 12."
Close to park entrance I heard a beep and Sam told me, "Just finished 13 miles in 2 hours and 31 minutes." And of course this came as we were reaching the top of the second to last hill on the route. But more importantly, that's the fastest I've ever run 13 miles. My past half marathon results? More in the 2:45-2:55 range. Guess that goes to show me what I am really capable of doing when I follow a plan and don't start slacking and skipping runs 3 or 4 weeks before the race.
After hearing the news from Sam, I started to push it a little bit. Because honestly? I still felt good. The legs felt like there was still energy in them. A few minutes later we hit the parking lot and the run was done. According to Sam's watch: 13.6 miles in 2 hours, 37 minutes. I'll take it.
And unlike last week when I walked away from the run seriously wondering if I'd be able to do this, I got in my car Saturday with a huge smile on my face. Because I just ran my fastest 13 miles ever. And that included slowing down due to a nasty cramp and the relentless hills.
So Oshkosh? That pancake flat half marathon I'll be running in less than 2 weeks? I'm so ready. Bring it.