Training for long races is tricky. I know, I know. 13.1 miles really isn't that long compared to how many other long races there are out there, but it is long enough that you have to actually train for it consistently. Yes, there are people who complete half marathons that don't train consistently, but most of those people can't run the entire race without walking. My goal is to finish the Minneapolis Half in under two hours. And gosh darn it, I am going to do it. But in order to accomplish my goal, I have to be diligent with my training. If I miss one long run, I risk not meeting my goal.
For those of you who know me, I am a pretty competitive person. I am competitive with others, yes. But most of all, I am competitive with myself. I make goals for myself all the time, and when I don't meet them, it bugs me for a very long time.
Running is no different. Last year, the pacer of my goal time passed me at mile 10. I was crushed. But there was no way I was going to let her finish before me. So, even though my legs felt like jello, I sped up and made sure she stayed behind me for the rest of the race. I knew that if she beat me, I wouldn't meet my goal. Not meeting my goal would have been hard to swallow. I have once again set a goal, and suffice it to say, I am going to be one disappointed woman if I don't meet my goal come August 21st.
That's where today comes into play. Normally, Thursdays are hard days. I only run about half the distance of a long run, but I am supposed to go all out. This Saturday I am supposed to run 7 miles. Well, I am going to be quite busy on Saturday. I didn't want to get so tired or overwhelmed and skip a long run, so I switched things up and ran my long run today. I just finished a 7.25 mile run outside, and I feel great. Unbelievably great. For two reasons. One, I am glad that I thought ahead. It is easy to let runs slip away. But I didn't. Two, my pace today was super successful. I have been struggling lately with running all over the place. I would plug my watch into the computer and realize that my mile by mile pace could vary by more than 40 seconds. Each mile would get slower and slower, and because I would go too hard in the beginning, I would basically die at the end. NOT GOOD. I was determined to not let that happen today.
I started out slow. I felt really slow, but it really wasn't that slow. But after a couple of miles, I felt great and was able to pick up my pace. My last two miles were my fastest and the most consistent. By the end, I still felt like I could keep running without too much fatigue. And best of all, my average overall pace was FASTER than what my goal pace for the half marathon race is. I really hope I can repeat this success with my future runs.
It really is true what they say. "Slow and steady wins the race." (Okay...not really wins the race. But it means my goal of finishing in under two hours is realistic again!)