Saturday arrived and I was ready to go! I checked the weather, geared up and headed out. What is going on? It isn't 35 degrees out like weather.com said! Not even close. Last I checked, water bottles don't freeze at 35. I should have known better, but it was windy and miserable. I headed out without gloves ('cause I thought it was 35) and my hands quickly turned bright pink and became sore, even before I started running. I could have went back home, but decided to tuck my hands into my sleeve and continued.
Once I got going, I felt pretty good, with legs that were fresh (and maybe a tad out of practice). I had a plan to run 7 - 12 miles and headed to my favorite road which features a great compacted dirt / sand / gravel mix. After I got warm and my hands stopped hurting, I decided that I was going to go far. Passing the point where I turned around the previous week, I decided to run at least a half marathon distance of 13.1 miles and finally turned around at nearly 7 miles, as I wanted to make sure I could make it home. I hit 13.1 and decided to keep going. 14 sounded like a nice round number and would be my longest run to-date, so I ran until I got there.
Took Sunday off and decided to run at Indian Springs Metropark at the 8 mile long hike / bike trail. The plan was to run 7+ miles at a 9:20 to 9:40 min/mi pace. 35 degrees actually meant 35 degrees today and the sun was a shinin'. It was great! This time, I bundled up a bit more, but the headband and gloves came off pretty quickly.
I started running way too fast. The first half mile was done a an 8 min/mi pace and would have been faster had I not purposely slowed. The rest of the first mile was too fast as well, but most of the rest of the run was done at about a 9:10 pace. This was a pretty comfortable pace - enough to work a bit but not too hard. At about mile 5 or so, I realized that I could finish with a 9 minute pace. I sped up a little until the last half-mile. This is a very uphill portion of the path, but I was able to do it just quickly enough to reach 7.5 miles at exactly a 9 minute/mile pace, according to my Garmin. It was the fastest pace I've ever run over 5 miles.
So, I had my longest run and my fastest long run all in one weekend. Yay! I think all this shows is that I am getting faster, stronger and better. My work is paying off, my training "plan" seems to be working, I am not hurting and I have had good runs for a few weeks.
What I need not to do is 1) not get down if I have any "off days" running in the near future 2) ever be completely satisfied and 3) get crazy in the head and set a kooky goal for the half-marathon next month. My 2 hour goal is reasonable and it should be achievable. What I don't want to do is to get it in my head that I am faster than I really am, go out too fast and fade in the 2nd half of a long race. I am still a long run novice and need to continue to train and to learn. (Yes, it ends up that there is a bit more too it than putting one foot in front of the other, though maybe not too much more. :)
How did your weekend go?
Do you ever get excited about how your training is going?
Should goals be set at an "ideal" or "realistic" level?