I had my last long run of training before my three-week taper begins for the Lake Minnetonka half. Technically, it wasn't my last run of the build up phase because of the weather. When I looked at the forecast for Friday and Saturday on Thursday, it was clear that the best day for my long run was going to be Friday.
Luckily, I had Friday off of work so I was able to switch around those two runs without a problem. I was nervous about this run because I wasn't sure how it was going to go. I had a feeling it was going to be a tougher run based on how the rest of my week had gone. This week (and the week before) were the most intensive in terms on time spent running. 5 hours 35 minutes last week, 5 hours 45 minutes this week. I was feeling really worn out, Thursday night I felt ready for bed at about 8 p.m.
I managed to make it until about 9 p.m. Thursday night before calling it a night. I made sure my alarm was set for 4:30 a.m. since I wanted to eat breakfast and get out on my run by 6 a.m. There was still chance of rain on Friday morning but I figured if I got out earlier enough I could finish my run without getting too wet.
Friday morning, I got up with my alarm and was feeling more rested than the night before. Vinnie was not too excited about getting up that early with me, he crashed on the couch as soon as I got him out. For breakfast, I had my usual PB&J oatmeal with coffee, then Vinnie and I went on a little bit of a longer walk so he could go back to bed with my fiancé when I left to run.
I left the apartment a little before 6 a.m. to drive over to Missisippi River Boulevard. This is my favorite place to go for a run right now because it's gorgeous and I can do a loop around the river on a longer run and end up back at my car. I've done two races that take place along this route, Get in Gear half and Twin Cities 10 mile, plus the St. Paul section of the Twin Cities marathon takes place along here too. I decided to head south along the river and then cross over the river so I can hit the hill that's at mile 21 of the Twin Cities marathon towards the end of my run (running up it like I will in the marathon).
My final long run was scheduled to be an hour and fifty minutes, all in zone 2 which meant I was going to try and keep it between 136-151 bpm. It took me a while to get into a consistent pace with my running. I never got even mile splits during the run but around mile three I felt more consistent in my running. But I could feel I was going much slower than my previous long runs just trying to stay in that zone 2 range. I'm not sure what it was that made this run tougher, maybe it was because the elevation was different (I've done a different route that was flatter for most of my long runs and I think going the opposite direction on this route would have been more downhill sections that what I did.
I tried not to focus on how slow I felt I was running but instead focus on how my body was feeling and on my audiobook (I'm almost done with Three Sisters, Three Queens after this run). At right around the hour mark, I took my Lemon Sublime Gu gel which was amazing. It was my first time trying this Gu flavor (it was only the second Gu I've had) and it tasted just like a lemon bar! Just what I need to give myself a little pick up at this part of the run. I was also carrying water in my handheld Nathan bottle since there aren't many water fountains along here and they don't get turned on until Memorial Day weekend.
Crossing the Franklin Avenue bridge from Miineapolis into St. Paul was a tough section for me. I had to do quite a bit of walking to keep my heart rate under 151 bpm. It was around here that I started thinking that I wasn't just going a little bit slower than my last long run (an hour and forty minutes that I averaged a 12:15 pace) but with the way my watch faces were set up there wasn't a way to see what my average pace was. This was probably a good thing because I might have gotten really discouraged seeing what my average pace was. Once I got a little bit past the bridge, I got back into the groove and continued to have a really good (but slow) pace back to my car. There was a couple of uphill sections I had to walk just due to my heart rate going above 151bmp but I did ignore my beeping watch to make it up the mile 21 hill just to prove that I could still run up it without walking. And it felt really easy even though I was basically at the end of my run.
Overall, I ran 8.41 miles with an average pace of 13:06 min/mile. This wasn't my slowest long run of this training but I did get discouraged when I saw how slow it was. Especially since I'm hoping to go sub 2:15 at the Lake Minnetonka Half which means I'd have to average a 10:19 pace. But, I tried not to get too down about my pacing on this specific run. I'd been averaging faster when I'm in higher heart rate zones (I did 30 minutes in zone 4 with an average pace of 9:43) and I've put my body through a lot over the course of training.
After the run, I headed to gym to do foam rolling and sit in the sauna. I probably did about 20 minutes of foam rolling and stretching, focusing a lot of my calves and hamstrings since those are the areas I've been feeling the tightest in. I felt really good after my run, even though I'd run over 8 miles, and felt like I could have run further if my plan had called for it.
I had my interval run yesterday morning, the day after my long run, and it felt really good. I had to do it on the treadmill because it was pouring outside and I was drenched in sweat after the run because there was no air circulation in there at all. But I pushed myself pretty hard on the zone 4 intervals, average paces of 7:51, 8:44 and 9:31. As you can tell, I pushed myself a little too hard on the first interval because my paces went down after that. Even so, that last interval felt awesome.
When you're reading this, I've started my first week of tapering (I might even be out on a run right now). It's a little scary thinking I'll be running a half in three weeks when the furthest I've gone has been 8.41. But this isn't my first half. I've done four before so I know my body can handle the distance. And I know I've got the speed to go sub 2:15, as long as I keep consistent with my training runs and make sure I stay up on foam rolling and recovery.