I've been thinking a lot about my upcoming Half-Marathon attempts. I've got one in a month and then another in 2 months. My goal of finishing under 2 hours is in the back of my head constantly and I think one of the most important things for me to learn in these next couple of months is how to maintain the right pace and know what the right pace feels like.
Since I started running, it's been mainly about the mileage. Sure, I'd throw in some speed workouts every once in awhile, but my main focus was to always get the mileage in. I've never really worried about my pace. So, that means... I really have no idea what different paces feel like. This is a problem.
In order to correct this problem... I've been desperately trying to figure out how different paces feel. I hit the button on my ipod about a zillion times during a run and when it says... "current pace 8:53" or "current pace 9:38," I try to consciously think about what that pace feels like. And how easily I could maintain it.
In the Memphis Marathon and the Eugene Marathon I hit the half-marathon points at 2:07:04 and 2:05:32, respectively. I was holding back in the first 13 miles of both of those races, so, I feel like a sub 2:00 isn't completely out of the realm of possibility. I just need to train specifically for it.
Saturday morning I wanted to do a 6 mile run at my half marathon pace. In order to run a 1:59 Half Marathon, I need to average 9:05/mile. I wanted to maintain as close to that pace as possible for all 6 miles (should be a breeze) and constantly tell myself... this is what 9:05/mile feels like. Remember this!
Well, instead of a pace run on Saturday morning... what I got was a just try to survive mother nature's wrath run. Rain... sometimes a downpour, sometimes a sprinkle. Wind... gusting and always in my face instead of behind me. Seriously, this was the toughest 6 miles I had ran in forever. Was it a pace run? No. It was a get home alive run. I felt like I had a 3 ton log attached to my shoulders and I was pulling it behind me. I was wringing the water out of my shirt every half mile. It was bad.
But, at least I did it, I guess. I just hope that Mother Nature keeps her bitchslaps for training days and not race days.