A cold front finally made its way down to Florida and our temperatures have dropped from the 80’s to the high 60’s and low 70’s. That’s pretty much perfect running weather if you ask me. On top of that, Tropical Storm Noel headed northeast and took all the moisture with it. So, the prospect of running in cool dry air for once excited me. Unfortunately, the memories of last week’s bonk made me nervous as I prepared for my long run this week.
Given the cool weather, I was comfortable sleeping an extra hour this morning and I headed out the door just as the sun was rising. By the time I finished my warm up mile, the sun was up and it was a beautiful morning. I crossed the street and began my longest run to date.
Although it feels like I’m crawling, I’m very careful to hold myself back. I know I’ve got over 2 hours of running ahead of me, so even a 12 minute mile pace doesn’t bother me at this point. As it turns out, the 12 minute mile pace does bother me. It’s awfully difficult for me to shuffle along at this pace. I keep catching myself speeding up and having to slow myself down. As I’m lazily shuffling along, I suddenly hear some loud, deep barking. Two very, very large Great Danes are standing in a yard ahead of me threatening me severely. There’s no fence and they don’t appear restrained in any way. I reason that they may be restrained by an “invisible fence”, but I’m not really in the mood to gamble. I keep my eye on them and gradually cross to the other side of the street, letting them know I’m not there to invade their yard. This all works out well, but a glance at my Garmin shows that I’m running at 7:30 pace. Apparently the adrenaline rush from the barking had a bit of an effect on my pace. I slow back down and finish the 1st mile in 10:49.
As I cross the bridge running toward the park in my second mile, I encounter a woman running. She’s jogging along a little slower than me, so I quickly pass her and try to settle back into my pace. I can hear her footsteps behind me, though. Mentally this bothers me a little. I feel like she’s going to pull past me, which in some ways makes my passing her some kind of poor etiquette. This causes me to increase my pace, but I don’t get rid of her. I can still hear her footsteps. I’m pacing her. I run the 2nd mile in 9:54 – faster than I wanted to and probably faster than she wanted to as well.
The woman sticks with me for another half mile until I make a left turn and she continues going straight. I jog through the park and reach the water fountain. I comfortably drink and take a 1 minute walk break. I continue on and finish the 3rd mile in 10:36.
Shortly after passing the three mile mark, I encounter the woman again. She’s taken a similar course, running about 2 blocks west of my route. She’s now curved around and is running back toward me. She smiles, waves and says good morning. I return the greeting. I run to the end of the St. Petersburg Pier and then back down. I run the 4th mile in 9:54.
I’m still feeling quite comfortable as I head toward the airport. I pass the Yacht Club and run along the water. The 5th mile takes 9:49.
My rhythm is good as I enter the University of South Florida campus. I’m approaching my second water fountain and it’s almost time for the first of the gel shots I’ve been carrying in my pockets. I reach into my left pocket and pull out the Mango flavor. I rip it open with my mouth and squish the gooey gel into my mouth. The tastes is not really bad. It’s very sugary, tastes only slightly like Mango and is easily swallowed. It is quite sticky and I stop at the water fountain for a quick drink to wash it down. I immediately return to my jogging pace and I finish the 6th mile in 10:18.
I run past the Salvador Dali museum and along a road . I cross a bridge over Salt Creek and hit the turnaround point. I retrace my steps past the Dali museum and finish mile 7 in 9:35.
Back on campus, I reach the water fountain again. I stop, take a long drink and walk for a minute. I continue running through the marine science complex and back past the airport. I complete mile 8 in 10:14.
Mile 9 takes me along the water and back to the Pier. On my way to the end of the Pier, I cross the 9 mile mark having run that mile in 9:26.
I’m feeling very comfortable and I’ve got a great shot at finishing my run with an average per mile pace under 10 minutes. With this in mind, I speed toward the 10 mile mark. I reach it in 9:08.
With a quarter mile to go before the next water fountain, I pull out my vanilla flavored gel and squish it into my mouth. It doesn’t taste a whole lot different from the Mango flavor. I toss the empty package into the trash, reach the water fountain, take a drink and walk for a minute. I continue my run along the water. I was expecting a heavy wind at this stage of the run, but I’m pleasantly surprised at how calm it is. I pass the 11 mile mark in 9:48.
I’m feeling very comfortable as I run along the water and cross the bridge back to the neighborhood. My pace picks up and I run the 12th mile in 9:12.
I’ve completed 12 miles in under 2 hours and I haven’t bonked. Far from it in fact. I’m feeling great. I pick things up in the last mile, running it in 8:54, for a total 13 mile time of 2:07:50.
1 mile warmup
13 miles at 10:30 pace
1 mile cool down
1 mile warmup
13 miles at 9:50 pace
1 mile cool down
I was very happy with my run today. I even kicked up to 6:40 per mile pace in the last tenth of a mile. I felt high when I got home, but that was tempered when I checked the results of the Olympic marathon trials. While I was having a nice comfortable run, Ryan Shay collapsed 5 1/2 miles into the Olympic trials and died. Frequently you hear about people who haven’t trained for a marathon, try to run anyway and die. Ryan Shay was an elite runner. I knew him only from an ad in Runner’s World magazine, but his sudden death was sobering for me. Sometimes you can be very prepared, but something completely unexpected can happen anyway.