Last week, I was in Omaha for a work trip. One of the things I love about my job is that I get to visit all sorts of places that I may never have visited otherwise (domestic locations only, unfortunately). You might not expect it, but there is some good stuff going on in downtown Omaha: lots of private investment, forays into bike lanes and multimodal transportation options, and redevelopment of amazing old industrial buildings into surprisingly trendy residential, retail, and restaurant space. The Old Market area reminded me a bit of parts of Denver, on a smaller scale.
One morning I went for a run across the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge (really) which spans the Missouri River and links Nebraska and Iowa. So I got to visit two new states on this trip, and the sunrise views were beautiful.
I flew back to DC on Friday night, and on Saturday got up for a 20 mile run. I was pretty nervous about how this would go; not only was I tired and a bit stressed, but this was the longest training run I’ve ever done, and the second-longest run of my life (when I did my first marathon, my long runs topped out at 18 miles). I mapped out a long route through DC that involved more of the trails I explored in the Parks Half Marathon last weekend. I ended at a metro station and took the metro home, something I had never done for a run (usually, I start and finish runs on my block, like a normal person, but I just could not work out a 20 mile route that I wanted to do that included these trails).
It was an amazing run, and gave me so much confidence for the marathon. I ran all 20 miles without a single walk break, and just a few pauses at crosswalks neat the beginning and end of the run. I didn’t turn on my iPod until the last few miles, when my pace slowed and I began to struggle a bit. Much of the run was a gradual upward incline, so I am pleased that I kept an average pace around 10:15, when most of my long run paces have been more in the 9:45-9:50 range. For my longest run yet and for an uphill run, I am fine with a slightly slower pace.
The rest of Saturday was great; we went to the H Street festival, which was incredibly crowded but still fun. It’s been really interesting to watch that area (Atlas District/H St NE) grow and change. Plenty of obnoxious party kids go there on the weekends, but it can also attract a pretty unique, diverse, energetic crowd.
And finished off the night with a DC United match, which they won. By then I was totally exhausted, but I loved seeing the match live and in person for once.
I don’t want to jinx myself, but I have really loved marathon training. I love doing 8-10 mile midweek runs. I love the weekend long runs and exploring new routes. I love hills and speedwork. I love that I have somehow become very comfortable with (indeed, addicted to) running 5 or 6 days a week, way more than I have ever run. Last week I topped out at 49 miles and this week I should hit 50 miles, records for me. I don’t even want to say all this because I really am afraid something terrible will happen. But I’m loving marathon training so much that I am already sad thinking about it ending, and how I will cope.
My reach goal for Marine Corps is sub-4:00, and I know that, despite how great my training has been, that is still a reach. I can run 18-20 miles at 10:00-10:15/mile, and I know you are supposed to run long runs at anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes per mile slower than marathon pace, but I still can’t imagine how I will do 26.2 miles at just above 9 minutes/mile. I’ve been doing marathon pace runs of up to 8 miles (so far) at that pace and that is fine, but still, adding nearly 20 miles more? I just can’t imagine it, so I need to start preparing myself now to not be disappointed if my time is more like 4:15 or so. I would be super happy with that; I think anything below 4:30 will make me happy. This training cycle has been so much fun and made me so incredibly happy, that I don’t want to let whatever my final time is on the big day ruin the joy I’ve gotten from the training process.