Saturday’s 18-mile run went okay. It wasn’t great, and it wasn’t horrible. The plan was for me to warm up for 3 miles en route to Lynn’s house, then start running marathon pace for the rest of the run, including the 14 miles after meeting up with LJ. (Her house is 4 miles from mine.) Once again, we had deemed marathon pace (MP) at 8:45-minute miles or better.
I idiotically forgot to press “start” on my Garmin when LJ and I started running together, so I missed out on calculating the first 3.5 or so miles of the run. But I’d glanced at the pace numerous times and we were at least 15 seconds under MP for that first bit. But it became increasingly hard to keep my pace at 8:45 or faster. About 4.5 miles into our run together, I told LJ, “The intent is there, but the speed isn’t.” It is hard to describe how I felt: The week before, in Eugene, my quads had felt heavy and dense, but not this weekend. I felt like I lacked a spark, or 5th gear.
At this point, if I’d been by myself, I probably would have spiraled into self-doubt, anxiety, and disappointment. But LJ’s response to my comment put my head in exactly the right place. She calmly said it was natural to feel a bit sluggish, reminding me of all the hard work I’d been doing lately. All the miles, and all the track work. It made perfect sense, and I was diverted from the pity-party I’d been heading toward.
Instead, LJ just ran about a step ahead of me for much of the rest of our run. We were still running together, but I felt a slight “tug” to keep up with her. I kept my foot on my own accelerator as best I could, nudging our pace back to 8:45. Conversation didn’t flow as freely as it has on all our other runs—at one point I blurted out, “You need to tell me a story,” and LJ complied.
All conversation ceased for the final two miles, with me sputtering out rudimentary directions like, “right at light” or “go straight.” With about 1.5 miles left to go, LJ asked me (the Garmin-wearing pace-keeper) how fast we were going. I said 8:59. She said, “let’s try to get it to 8:40 for rest of the way.” It was the challenge I needed. It took me about 100 yards, but then we were safely under 8:40…and dropping the rest of the way home. Two long blocks from my house we were sub-8:00, and for final 150 yards we were about about 7:20 pace. Taking into account our un-Garmined miles at the start of MP, we averaged right around 8:45.
After we stopped and I regained my breath, Lynn said, “That proves it—time to start your taper.”