This morning, I went out for my twenty mile run. I wanted to finish earlier than I would if I started out with the Fleet Feet group, so I went to Howe by myself and started at 7:30.
I tried to keep an even pace today, especially in the early miles. I usually go out too fast, then get significantly slower in the later miles. This is not helpful on race day- so not helpful- so I wanted to change my bad habits. I went for around 9 minutes a mile, which is still pretty fast for a long run, and is not too much slower than I plan to do on race day.
The first few miles went fast, as usual. I kept my pace, and was very happy that I went back inside this morning to get a long sleeve shirt (it was mid-30s when I started). I got to William Pond Park (about 5 miles in) with no trouble, took my first Gu (non-caffeinated), and went for the next five.
By about 8 miles, I found the Fleet Feet Shamrock'n group. I think they must have started out at Gold River. It was a bit strange to see a group out and not be part of it. Around then, I realized something:
This was my first run of more than 8 or 9 miles that I've done alone. EVER.
With all the long runs I have done, it was strange to think I've never done one alone. Before the CIM training, I didn't do more than 8 or 9 miles in training. During CIM training, I was always with a group for most if not all of the run. Since then, I've done all my long runs with the Fleet Feet group, either starting with the group and going longer, starting before and finishing with the group, or doing the whole run with someone from the Fleet Feet group.
So today's run was a big accomplishment. I ran a steady 9 minute per mile pace for the entire 20 miles, all by myself. I didn't rely on the group to pull me when I was tired, and I didn't slow down because I was by myself and didn't have to worry about losing the group. This was constantly an issue in CIM training, and in the race. It is really important that I'm able to stay at the pace I want alone, without the group to pull me. And I did it.
Another thing that I learned today is how much water I really should be drinking. I usually take my 10oz. handheld, maybe fill it up again, and that is all. I also usually have a headache all afternoon after my long runs. Today, I wore my water belt, with the 24 oz. TMT bottle. I filled it up again after about 10 miles, drinking maybe 44 ounces over the 20 miles. I then drank a bottle of gatorade when I finished, plus chocolate milk. I think I should be drinking that much during long runs, and I never do. As much as I don't want to wear the bottle pack, I think it would be a good idea for the race.
So, today's 20 mile run was a success. So successful in fact, that I might do 22 next Sunday.