Yesterday's long run was only scheduled for 16k but I wanted to throw a curve in the mix to see how my legs would react. I had been out Saturday for a MTB ride on the trails and my legs felt absolutely dead. All the run training and the mini cold I was fighting off seemed to have zapped everything so I did not push on the bike and took the rest of the day off, athletically.
With a day of rest, I was hoping to be a lot more fresh come Sunday. When I walked outside to stretch, and link up my Garmin, the warmth of the mid afternoon sun was much hotter than I had just dressed for. I did not expect it to be that nice out so I had to replace my toque with a regular hat and thin down my glove selection. I had been out all morning with the kids at the park and it was not even close to this warm when we were playing. Even though I had switched down to a cap, thin gloves and shorts, I decided to stay with double layers up top just in case the wind and shade on the trails were a little cooler than my current position directly under the sun.
Mentally, I was really ready to throw down a solid 21.1k run at my projected marathon pace of 4:15/km so I was excited to get rolling, after a brief delay waiting for the watch to hook up. Clear blue skies and it still took 5 minutes to link??? Anyway...
For my route I had selected a single loop trail I had mapped out back when I was instructing the Running Room marathon group. The long link of hard top paths are a little known gem we have in Meadowvale as you can easily get out for a long run on these asphalt trails with very little disruption. This is key to me on my long runs as I tend to lose focus if I have to stop (for lights, traffic, etc.) near the end of these longer runs. If you are ever looking to run in Meadowvale let me know and I will send you some directions to these trails.
As for the run itself, I started out in good spirits but my body was not going quite as fast as I expected. I talked myself into being patient thinking I just needed a few kilometres to get into gear so I pushed on trying to stay near pace but it was much harder than in recent runs. Once my legs got into the rhythm the pace would come much easier and I would be able to glide at this pace, at least that is how I planned it to work.
Well, that never happened and I struggled the entire run trying to hover at my pace. After each kilometre my watch popped up the split and I kept on waiting for good news. The only good news was that I was one kilometre closer to the finish. I was looking for excuses for much of the run. Was I too hot with two layers up top? Was the wind beating me down? Was I lacking hydration or did I eat too much over the weekend? What ever it may have been, I kept my legs moving and stuck to my route as a DNF in training would be tough to swallow two weeks before the real run.
Thankfully, I had banked up a few quicker splits (but not much quicker) so by the time I reached 17k, I could relax a little more. If I did not hit 4:15 on the dot it would not be the end of the world but I knew I would be close enough so I could enjoy the final stretch of the run on a colourful fall day.
In the end, I was just barely able to keep it under 4:15/km. I really had to battle for that average pace, something I was not anticipating with my run training of late. Time now for some down time to rest up with only 13 days until the big marathon.
PS - Congrats to all those I saw in the results pages this weekend! Marko had a very fast Toronto Half Marathon. John put down a very solid Full Toronto Marathon. Paul posted a blazing 5k in Toronto. David Moore was up near the top of the Toronto Half Marathon. Jo-Jo was as quick as always in the Toronto Half Marathon. I am sure I missed someone so I am sorry but there was a lot happening this weekend!