Today, being Friday, was my long run. I always feel a little nervous the day before because at this point every long run is further than I have ever run before. My goal on the long runs is to just cover the distance. I don't concentrate on making good time. My typical long run pace is pretty slow, usually 14-15 min miles. Generally speaking I do try to pick up the pace on the last mile of a run. Just to use whatever is left in the tank, and also to train my body not to get sluggish when getting close to the finish. Especially since every long run until the half marathon will be longer than the last.
Today I blew past my wildest expectations. I started out with a warm up pace of near 16 minutes for my first mile. Despite an ever so slight incline on the four miles out on the Lafayette-Moraga trail my times got faster with each passing mile. One great thing about this particular trail is that the mileage is marked every quarter of a mile. The slight decline on the return was welcomed. Despite being tired my times continued to improve a little. On my seven mile run the week before I paid close attention to the progression of pain and fatigue. On this eight mile run the sensitive joints came; first the hips, then the knees and finally the ankles. But my thighs never felt like they had been pulverized by a meat tenderizer like on the seven mile run. As I neared the last couple miles I knew, as usual, that I wanted to pick up the pace on my last mile and when it came I gave it all I had. I thought I might blow a gasket at one point, but I slowed my pace just enough and kept telling myself to 'just keep going' and remembering a Lance Armstrong quote "Pain is temporary, quitting is forever"... I was shocked to see that I covered the eighth mile in 9:54! I never imagined I had that speed in me at all, let alone on the last mile of my longest run ever!