If there's one thing that's going very well in my training, it's sleep. Both Saturday and Sunday nights featured at least 9 hours of sleep. Yes, running ~30km in the rain Saturday helped immensely. Still, sleep can only help.
As I was getting my running gear together this morning, the following conversation took place:
Wife: "You going for a run today?"
Wife: "That's weird. You never run on Mondays."
Me: "Well, I never do long runs on Saturdays either. But I did, and had a rest day yesterday, so I'm running today."
Wife: "It's still weird."
I suppose she was right. Still, it made sense. Basically, my habit was to do a short to medium run, long run, and take a day off on Saturday/Sunday/Monday. I still did so this week, it's just that the order was different.
So, I was out the door at 7am this morning. All I could think was "let's not have this go like last week". I really wanted to make it more than two minutes out the door without a stitch in my side. So off I went, a little cautiously. Once several minutes had passed without catastrophe, my mind started to wander.
The subject which occupied my attention was marathon pacing. Once upon a time, I'd been of the mind that running 55 minutes for the first 10km would represent a nice, conservative start, and would give me a reasonable chance at a negative split. Lately, though, that kind of pace had been entirely out of reach. This was probably mostly due to long runs kicking my butt, but the pain in my left calf/ankle (which, yes, was back again) sure wasn't helping.
So as I weighed 55 minutes vs 60 minutes, and whether a 4 hour marathon was even remotely doable, my legs took all this heavy thinking as a challenge. My first 10km was slightly fast, and after my first walk break, my legs wanted to go just a little bit faster.
I could tell that my body was just a little bit unused to the speed. I wasn't exactly comfortable, but I wasn't really suffering either. I hit my second walk break at a reasonable point. From where I stopped, I knew I wasn't fast (no sub-5:00/km day today), but I also knew I wasnt' really slow, either. I huffed and puffed and tried to relax my left calf, then took off again, even more determined.
Around the 25 minute mark, I could feel the faintest bit of a stitch coming on. I backed off for a minute, and it passed, and I picked it up a bit, again. I made the turn-around in just over 29 minutes.
Now on the way back, I was feeling a bit more bold. On my third walk break, I decided I had a shot at sub-43 minutes. I haven't gone sub-43 on this route since December, so I was pretty keen to give it a try. When I made the last turn at 37 minutes, I thought I might even be able to get close to 42 minutes. I tried to pour it on, without sprinting or otherwise unduly risking myself. It felt good to be flying, and my left calf/ankle was cooperating by bothering me less than it had been for most of the run. Weird.
I came in in 42:10, which pleased me enormously. The ~5:05 pace tells me that yeah, maybe a 55 minute first 10km will be just fine, after my taper.
Less than 3 weeks to go, and things are starting to come together.