Today's run was a short one. Compared to last week's 16 miles, today should not have been any problem, and it really wasn't. It was, however, an educational run. Allow me to set the story.
After last week's 16 mile run went so well, I wasn't too worried about this one. In fact, after receiving word that many of my running buddies would not be there for various reasons and that one of my buddies was even dropping back to the half, I was tempted to skip. I wanted the sleep, and the past few days had been particularly stressful. Because I wasn't too worried about things, I didn't stress so much over what I had for dinner on Friday. While BBQ and mashed potatoes had been planned, somehow I ended up with just a slice of cake. I was aware this might not be the best thing, but oh well!
When I woke up this morning, I was hungry. I mean, I was really, really hungry. I was nauseatingly hungry. Luckily my pre-run fuel plan is pretty easy to grab and go, so I scarfed my breakfast down as well as a mini bagel, and I headed out to meet my team.
My Wednesday running buddies were there, and since I didn't have my usual Saturday buddies, I figured I'd run with them. Recently, my long runs have been in the 11:00-12:00 minute/mile range. This is slower than what I'd like to go, but it does allow me to go longer runs. My half marathon pace was 10:52 min/mile. My last Wednesday run (with these same people) was 11:07 min/mile. The first thing I noticed was how fast we were going. Our average pace in the end was 10:37 min/mile. The next thing I noticed was how much shorter our SAG stops were. Instead of taking long breaks to really stretch out, have a cup or two of Gatorade, and nibble on some pretzels or gummy bears, our stops were usually quite quick, with us grabbing a drink, and a handful of pretzels and eating them on the run.
My thought through most of the run was: I wish my other buddies were here. No offense to the girls I ran with today. They were great. However, I was much more tired. The run was much harder. I thought I would spend most of this blog ranting about how much I hated my usual buddies not being there and how important it was to keep some sort of routine. These things are true, but there's another truth too.
I loved it. I loved running at a faster pace (although I'm uncertain I could sustain that for an additional 14 miles). I loved finishing at an earlier time. I loved how I felt about myself when I was done. I loved discovering that I haven't lost the pace I started with. Not only that, but running at a faster pace was somewhat more enjoyable for me. In fact, at the very end, I got into such a groove that my pace increased, and I ran ahead of the girls I was running with.
Now, I'm not saying I'll run like this every time. I do enjoy my longer SAG stops. I enjoy running with my usual buddies. Oh, and I really enjoy proper fueling prior to a run. Heck, I don't even know that I could keep up that pace for longer mileage. However, I do know I may just push myself a little more. I know that my body is capable of so much more than it's gotten credit for. My run today was hard, but not impossible. While I may not push so hard on every run, I enjoyed learning what my body could do. I can't wait for it to show me what else it can do!