Last Long Tempo – The Run That Almost Wasn’t

Last week was a pretty off week. Crappy, actually. What should have been close to a 70 mile week ended with 50 which included one unplanned rest day, an extra “easy” day and a 4.5 mile day instead of 8 miles. Not the biggest deal but after a string of days where running didn’t feel good, the little doubt demons started to enter. I initially chalked it up to not enough sleep, but after waking up Saturday morning (after a decent night’s sleep) feeling worse than I had all week, I began to worry that maybe I was bordering on overtraining.

My alarm went off at 4:30am with the plan to be out running by 5:15 or so. I knew this run was going to be tough and I just wanted to get up and get it over with. Plus, the forecast was calling for the winds and rain to pick up as the day went on. Not ideal for a long tempo.

At 5am, I was pretty close to pulling the plug on the long tempo. My head hurt and I just didn’t feel “right”. All I wanted to do was lay on the couch under the covers. As a last resort, I decided to just down a ton of water and see if that helped. I knew I had drank much less water than usual this week but I assumed what I had consumed was enough.

75 oz of water later (over the course of the next two hours) and I started to feel a lot better. The run got pushed to the right a bit – my sons had woken up around 6am and we played some games, did some cleaning and then I ate a banana with cashew butter. By 8am, I felt like I was ready to give the workout a try.

It ended up being the fastest 18 miles I’ve ever run. I had no clue how fast the overall pace would be until I finished and hit “save” on my Garmin. I knew it would be close to my last long tempo in the fall (16 miles @ 7:11 average) but I was honestly shocked when I saw “7:03”. (Note: I stopped to stretch and drink some Gen UCAN just before mile 4.)

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The first 4 miles felt good. As usual, I had internal arguments with myself for these 30 minutes:
Should I slow down?
I don’t want to waste too much energy in the warmup. I have a long tempo ahead.

Despite my legs feeling tight, the warmup was pretty speedy for me. I just went with it. The weather was pretty great – cool (50 degrees) and drizzling at this point. A slight headwind (10-12 mph) in one direction but a beautiful tailwind in the other!

Miles 1-4: 7:36, 7:28, 7:30, 7:30

Then it was time to work. Goal from coach was 6:55 but I knew I was going to run this one more on effort then pace.

The first couple of miles were awful. My legs felt tight and I couldn’t wrap my head around 10 tempo miles. Last cycle, I maxed out at 8, so the thought of 10 just seemed so long and hard.

Miles 5-7 (Tempo miles 1-3): 6:56, 6:54, 6:54

But then things started to get better during the 4th. I felt the pace quicken – and things felt easier, more comfortable, more smooth. So I just went with it. I started seeing 6:40s instead of 6:50s and knew I had found my rhythm.

The next few (4-8) were in the zone. I was working hard and uncomfortable but I felt like I could keep going at this pace for a while longer.

Miles 8-12 (Tempo miles 4-8): 6:51, 6:48, 6:48, 6:46, 6:46

The 9th tempo is when things got hard. I was tired. My legs were tired. And I was cold. The wind seemed to have picked up. And it had started pouring rain. I wanted to push but also save something for the last mile. I wanted to end strong and fast.

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Mile 13 (Tempo mile 9): 6:49

One mile left and I started to envision the last mile at Boston. I pictured the Citgo sign. Then the down and up under the overpass. Then the right on Hereford. Then the left on Boylston.

Mile 14 (Tempo mile 10): 6:33

I was glad that I was almost 2 miles away from my house when I ended because I was cold and really just wanted to stop running. Had I been closer, I likely would have done that. But I knew once I started the remaining 4 miles (moderate pace), I would do all 4. I returned my watch face to the current time and focused on steady, comfortable effort. The last 3 were much faster than I anticipated – and the 4th I pushed. I was ready to be done.

Miles 15-18: 7:21, 7:23, 7:17, 6:58

This run provided a nice bit of confidence as training starts to taper down before Boston. My legs were tired from the get go. They felt tight and it never felt easy. But I still managed to run 10 miles at 6:48 pace. That is what I need to remember come mile 21 or 22 when I’m tired and want to slow down.

But even more, it’s a huge motivation for me to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I texted with my coach after the run and he said that this 10 mile tempo time (exactly 1:08:00) would have been a fast 10 mile race for me last year. Progress has been happening – a little bit at a time without me realizing how much was happening. And then a run like this just proves that it is happening.

18 miler

I woke up yesterday and felt good. A bit tired and sore, but recovering and hydrated. No headache. No exhaustion. Spent the day doing a bit of cleaning, prepping for week and the rest of day playing games with these two little guys – one of the best Sundays we’ve ever had!

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Two weeks from today I will be in Boston, running through the streets, celebrating the work I’ve done. I can’t remember EVER being this straight up giddy with excitement about racing. The nerves will come as the days get closer. But for right now, I’m dreaming of fast times and finish lines.

Hope you had an amazing weekend!

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    10 thoughts on “Last Long Tempo – The Run That Almost Wasn’t

    1. You just continue to amaze me! But also, I love how honest you are about every one of your workouts, you’re KILLING it, but you also let us know when those first few miles felt rough or when a workout just didn’t fit in. It reminds me that even though we’re all working at different goals and running at different paces, it’s all relative and at the end of the day, running is hard work (but also pure joy!) no matter where you are on your journey. Nice job! I can’t wait to cheer you on on race day :)

    2. What an awesome workout, both physically and mentally. It has been very cool to see how much you’ve progressed since your IM training a few years back (when I started to follow you). So stoked for you to kick butt in Bahstun!!!

    3. Hot damn! That is SUCH a good run!! Great job for getting out there and getting it done despite not feeling it beforehand. I did my 8k race at 6:48 pace this weekend :) Definitely can’t imagine going faster, but had you asked me 6 months ago, I would’ve said the same thing about that pace. So definitely progress…takes time to realize it, but when you do, it’s a great feeling.
      Colleen @ CSmith Run recently posted..Training, Learning Spanish, & A New PR!My Profile

    4. OMG, Hydration! Of course. Thanks for the reminder, I’ve been neglecting that and I think my splits are paying the price.
      Thanks also for keeping up your blog even though you’re so busy, it really helps motivate me to run hard and keep fighting to get faster. Hard sessions aren’t always easy or fun but they are so worth it.

    5. This is a great blog. I hope you keep it up for many years. It is really inspiring, and I am speaking of everything, in the lifestyle, not just the running.Looking fwd to see how it goes in Boston

    6. This is totally amazing and the even in the rainy weather!!! Totally awesome!!! I have a quick question. I was thinking about giving the GenUCan a try again, but was wondering if you use it in a race. Like for your training you had it at mile 4. Will you carry it in the race?
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    7. Isn’t it so crazy how one minute we are doubting ourselves then the next we are beaming with pride? So glad you got that confidence booster run in before Boston. Can’t wait to follow you come race day! Quick question: what is your favorite way to take UCan pre and intra-workout? As in flavors, amount of water and amount of powder? I’m off of my old nutrition after it failed me too many times and would love to try something new and know you + so many other great runners seem to be satisfied with it. Thanks in advance :)