We were down on Long Island in Casco Bay for Ian's family reunion this past weekend. It is always a great time. The boys had a blast playing with their cousins, (second cousins, second cousins once removed), it's a big family. Since we would be spending Sunday morning traveling to the island, I pushed my long run to Monday morning and it would be my first solo run over 8 miles.
I had originally 16 miles on the schedule. Actually, it might have been something different at the start of my marathon training, but I had switched some things around to work with my usual long run gals' plans. I said I was going to do 16, but I had a secret goal if I was feeling good. Long Island is only three miles long by one mile wide, so I had to come up with a loop that would work with my mileage. I figured out a 4.1 loop that took me around the island and I had planned to alternate the direction I was running, just so it didn't get to boring. Four loops would bring me to 16.4 miles and I'd rather be long than short on the mileage. It was also convenient that instead of carrying water and fuel, I could just leave it on the steps of the cottage and fuel up or take a potty break after every lap.
Loop #1 - This direction is fairly challenging with a long gradual hill on the back side of the island, just after the one mile mark, but you are rewarded with this view at the top.
|The pictures (or maybe just my camera) do not do the scenery justice.|
I felt pretty good after the first loop, but my legs were just getting started. The weather was just perfect. I would say it was in the 60's and warming fairly quickly, but the cool ocean breezes were like heaven on my skin. I completed the first 4.1 miles in 37:18 and a 9:07 pace, definitely faster than I'm used to running long runs, but I was just going to go with it. I didn't feel like I was pushing the pace and I concentrated on keeping my breathing in control throughout. I took a quick stop at the cottage and ate three Shot Bloks and drank some water, snapped a quick photo, and started my second loop, this time in reverse.
|One lap done.|
Loop #2 - I love how different a route can feel just by running it in the opposite direction. The terrain seems totally different and hills that felt easy coming down, felt a lot steeper going up. But you also have a different perspective of your surroundings. Ian's Aunt Kathy was out running (she's training for the MCM in October) and I ran into her going the opposite direction at the top of the big hill. Shortly after, I had the pond on my left...
|Can you spy the beaver dam?|
|Harbor de Grace|
That house on the point is called The Nubble. Last I checked, it was for sale...a steal for close to a million dollars. Check out the interior pictures here. Can you say gorgeous?
Not going up the long gradual hill made a difference in my time as I finished this loop in 36:57 and a 9:02 pace. Back to the cottage for a quick pee break, fueling again with water and three Shot Bloks and snapped a picture. The boys were up and on the porch at this point so I got to start my third loop with them chanting, "Go, Mama, go!" Love it.
|Had to put on the shades.|
Loop #3 - Reversed direction again so this would be a repeat of my first loop. My legs were feeling great. I powered up the hills and relaxed on the declines. I was enjoying the sights and smells (with the exception of when I passed the transfer station). One of the best parts of being on the island is the people. Everyone nods, waves, and/or says hello when you pass. The other good part is there isn't a lot of traffic and it is most often just foot traffic, an old rattling car or truck, or a golf cart. Once I got back to the front side of the island it's about a mile from the dock to the cottage and pretty flat. Also some great views (though there aren't many bad ones).
Back to the cottage once more...you know the drill - three Shot Bloks and some water. This loop was faster than my first at 37:09 and a 9:05 pace.
|Hot, but happy.|
Loop #4 - Reversed again so this would be a repeat of my second loop. My legs were definitely starting to feel fatigued and I walked up a very steep incline, the first time I walked the whole run (unless you count my fueling stops). It was getting a bit warmer now and I was feeling tired and hungry. But then I had an incredible wildlife experience. When coming down a hill where the road is only about twelve feet wide, I saw a young deer on the right side of the road looking at me. I slowed my pace a little and we just stared at each other. I got closer and closer and the deer did not move. I was literally less than ten feet away from it. I think I could have taken two steps to the side and reached out and touched it (I didn't). I went past and turned around to look and it slowly crossed the road and bounded into the woods. That kept me going for the rest of this loop - miles 12.3 - 16.4. We also saw deer the previous evening on our way back to the cottage from the reunion dinner (seen below).
|Keeping a close eye on us.|
Slightly slower this time at 37:26 and a 9:09 pace, but I kept going strong. And I'm done! Ah, but not really. Remember I said I had a secret goal? I decided that I was going to go for 20 miles today instead. I had several valid reasons. One, it would be a good challenge to run this distance by myself. Two, the weather and scenery are beautiful. Three, I still had three Shot Bloks left to eat that could fuel me for one more loop. I also had some orange juice because I drank all my water. And four, it actually works better with my training schedule. If I did 20 today, can lower my long run mileage next weekend, which is only five days before the Beach to Beacon 10K. That will give me a mini taper before the race.
Loop #5 - Reversed the loop one more time - a repeat of loops one and three in direction. The great thing about this run was breaking it up into parts. Four miles is a very manageable distance in my mind (and body), so thinking of it in smaller increments definitely helped with the mental aspect of running long. Also, the regimented stops for fuel and water helped keep me going without complete exhaustion. I did walk twice on this loop up two of the three significant hills. I was tired, but still had more in the tank. My right foot felt fine, no aches like it had the previous week. The only twinge I felt was in my left hamstring/glute, but nothing that screamed slow down. If I hadn't walked those hills (and I probably didn't really need to), my time would have been close to spot on to the first four loops. But I did keep it under a 10-minute-mile pace at 9:42 minutes/mile and a time of 39:39.
20.5 island miles complete in 3 hours, 8 minutes, and 30 seconds. That equals a 9:13 pace overall.
|Collapsed on the floor of the cottage.|
A neat little tidbit of information - while looking at my running log for all my long runs (classified as ten miles or more), this run was not only my longest distance, but the third fastest pace ever. The two runs that were faster? My two half marathons when I had race adrenaline to push me faster. While I didn't keep the clock running during my fueling breaks, they were only about two minutes each, tops or an additional eight minutes overall. This still would have kept my pace around 9:30 or so. I am beyond excited now to tackle this marathon, and while I will have to do close to six more miles to reach 26.2, I think a sub-four marathon is within my reach with still over two months to go. At the very least, I have in me what it takes to finish. This run also brought this month's mileage to my highest yet at 84.2 with 26 more on the schedule before the month is out.
I think I deserved to put my feet up for the rest of the day.