It was Kary’s idea

and I thought she was nuts.

Er. That is to say. I thought it would make the workout too hard for me.

Rusty and Mike have had us running around the marathon course. Two weeks ago we ran our marathon pace effort from the marathon start to mile 6. Last week from mile 5 to mile 12, and this week was to be from mile 12 to 20. Each week a mile longer. Each week further down the course.

Mike told me to run 20 miles today. (I wanted to run 21. He told me to do 20 last week too. I wanted something different:-)

On Thursday, as we were running together, Kary told me her idea. She wanted to start at mile 20 at 5:30AM and run back to 12 at 7 minute pace, then turn around and do a marathon pace (6:45) effort back. (When Kary says she wants to do a 6:45 pace she means she is going to run about a 6:25 pace. Or that’s what past experience tells me. — To be fair, when I say I want to run a 6:45 I end up running 6:35). This is about how Kary intends to run the marathon. Start out at 7:00 for 10 miles and then pick it up to 6:45. (or 6:25).

I thought that sounded too hard for a workout. 7 minute pace is close enough to marathon pace (indeed, I’ve never succeeded in running a marathon even at 7 minute pace) that I worried it would feel like a 16 mile marathon pace effort. And I didn’t think that would be wise.

On the other hand, essentially everyone else in my group was going to be joining Kary, and I didn’t want to be left out.

On the other foot, it meant starting at 5:30 in the pitchy dark.

On the final foot… I’ve been playing with eating a cliff shot block (30 cal) every mile of my marathon pace efforts (because I run out of fuel otherwise). It seems to be working, but this run would give a 16 mile test. Longer than I’d expect to get in the training cycle. Of course the real problems don’t come until mile 18 or 20, but at least I’ll know how I’d feel at 16.

So when I saw Rusty on Friday I asked him what he thought of the idea. To my surprise he seemed to think it good, and offered to bring water for us to the 12 mile mark.

Which meant I had to contact Kary and say I was coming.

And meant I had to show up at Vieja Valley school at 5:30. But VV is only at mile 19. So we jogged up to the 20 mile mark, stopped and chatted for a bit, and then we were off.

It was dark. But we all had flashlights or headlamps, and the course was flat. Running in the dark was not a problem; actually I found it kind of fun. There were 6 of us and we took up most of the lane running abreast. No cars were around. We did see a bike.

The first mile was 7:11. We’d intended to do the first a little slow, so that was good. The next was 7:01, 6:59.

Kary was bored, so she got Jeff to tell the story of a local robbery at the jewelry store run by a friend of ours. The friend’s husband came out of the back room with his shotgun and shot two of the would-be robbers while the other fled. I had no idea this had happened but the others knew.

Then we ran out of mile markers (repaved roads, and a slightly different course) the next 3.5 miles were run at an average pace of 6:51 (If I ran a marathon at 6:51, I’d be pretty happy, that’s just under a 3 hour marathon). The next two were even faster (I dropped back a bit from the others because I started to worry about going too fast, but I still averaged 6:48).

It was now 6:45AM. Sun was coming up, nice clouds on the horizon. We trotted down Fairview to the school. The rest of SBRR should have been around, but they weren’t. Kary had stashed some water for us here, (which was kind of her) and we got to drink at least. I had a gel pack.

Then we headed back up to the 12 mile mark, debating whether to wait for a common start (it’s more fun to start with the slow people in front, because then we get to pass them and say “Hi”, we all feel part of the same project).

We saw Mike. And Rusty. And then everybody else appeared. I got Mike to take my flashlight and gloves in the car — I wouldn’t need them any more. Rusty gave me some GU Brew (kind of him), and then they started the groups. Slowest first.

We debated how fast to go. Kary said she wanted to run at 6:45 since that was what she planned to do in the race. That seemed reasonable to me. In truth, I worried whether I’d be able to go even that fast — I’ve never tried an 8 mile MP effort after doing 8 miles barely slower than MP (well, I have on race day).

Our turn came.

Kary took off, and Eric with her. No 6:45s for them. I plodded along behind them at — oh. wow. 6:37 pace. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all. Rob passed me. Jessica passed me. Jeff started to pass me. He being the last of our group and I not wanting to run alone, I tried to talk him out of going quite so fast. He didn’t have a garmen and was surprised to hear how fast he was going (usually it takes a while to warm up to a pace, but we were already warm. Fast came too easily).

We trotted along, chatting.

Sometimes one of us would start to pull ahead, but the other would feel the change in pace and complain. We ran the first twoish miles at a 6:35 pace. Which is what I’ve been running all along. Perhaps I’m in better shape than I feared.

Then the long unmarked section. We passed Jessica (poor Jess has IT band issues or something). We ran these 3.5 miles at 6:34.

OK. That was easy enough. But… it was mostly downhill. Now we’re on the main UCSB bike path, and it’s all up hill from here.

6:30 pace. Jeff tells me he’s not going to keep up any more (what he means, is that he’s going to run about 6 feet behind me). 6:34 pace. We pass Rob, and he joins us. This last mile is the most up-hill mile of all. It’s not really steep, but it’s steep enough. I decide not to fight for the pace and let it drop down to a 6:40 (neither Jeff nor Rob passes me, so I guess they feel the same).

And here’s the 20 mile mark. We are done. Average pace 6:35.

So… I had no problems with the longer hard run. I had no problems with fuel either. It all worked.

I’m a lot more confident now than I was yesterday:-)

Trotted back to Vieja Valley, and there we met Drea and Tim, who race tomorrow.

Then everyone else left, but I had another 3 miles to do on my own.

But they weren’t bad.

Marathon Course Map

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