My run started before sunrise and it was actually chilly while I stood outside putting on sunscreen. After a couple mile of running I was treated to a beautiful pink and purple sunrise that I glimpsed right as I ran past a tree lined pond. The pond was as smooth as glass and reflected the gorgeous colors of the sunrise. It was so stunning that I almost stopped for a picture, but I was just 2.3 miles into my and did not want to interrupt my momentum.
After that quick glimpse of nature, I had about 4 miles of not-so-scenic city running before I would get to the next park. At the park, nature once again surprised me, this time with two deer grazing about 15-20 feet off of the trail. I have seen deer at this park multiple times, but this time it included an 8 point buck, which I hadn't seen in the park before. Again, I was super close to stopping to take a picture, but I didn't want to spook the buck/have him get protective of the doe, so I ran on.
|Not my photo, but possibly my deer! This picture was taken where I was running! (Ryan Stanton, The Ann Arbor News, source)|
Less than two miles later I came across another three deer who were playing in the road. Fortunately some honking cars got them safely off the road and they crossed the running path right in front of me. This time I decided to go for a picture, but they didn't stick around long enough for me to get my phone out.
The next 7 miles were pretty uneventful. I focused on keeping my pace easy and evaluating if I felt up to pushing the pace for the final five miles. I decided to go for it and I felt like I was flying during those miles. My ballpark goal pace is anywhere between 8:30-9:00. Honestly anything under 9:00 would BLOW MY MIND on race day, so I was super pumped to be averaging 8:31 at the end of my long run.
When I look back at my first attempt at 20 miles I can't believe how far I have come in just 5 weeks! These runs were as different as night and day. I feel confident that reassessing my training plan was the right decision. I just rocked one of my peak weeks of training (a 55 mile week with a long run of 20 miles), but now I am kind of wondering what should I do for the next 8 weeks.
First things first, this week is a cutback week! I am aiming for somewhere between 38-44 miles (70-80% of last week's mileage). My main goal to start the next week of training feeling physically and mentally refreshed. If that means running fewer miles this week, then I'll be cutting some runs short!
After this cutback week I will have just four weeks left until my taper (Hurry up taper! I'm so ready). I already have my three taper weeks mapped out, so I just need to focus on finalizing the middle four weeks. I've been rereading through Advanced Marathoning trying to figure out the best way to incorporate a half marathon into my training. I would like to have a great half marathon, of course, but I also want to be mindful of my primary goal, the marathon. I also want to avoid overreaching. Just because my 55 mile week went well, does not mean that I need to try for a 60 mile week. I've already increased my mileage quite a bit this year, I don't want to over do it and risk injury.
If you have incorporated half marathons into your marathon training, please give me some ideas on what worked and what didn't!