This time last year I had just signed up for and begun my training for the Disney Marathon. This August, I've kind of felt like I've had training schizophrenia while trying to train for two races at the same time - being knee deep in MCM training, while trying to bring in some additional elements for the Annapolis Ten Miler (A10). Add to that my twice a week Summer Intensive boot camp and needless to say it's been a hectic month.
The good news is that the IT Band has been cooperating. I've had two great long runs - 12 and 14 miles respectively. I've been trying to do the long runs up north of Baltimore on the NCR Trail. It's nearly an hour drive for me to get there at the crack of dawn, but the crushed stone surface is so much kinder on my body, and the shade the tree cover helps provide has been a savior some days this summer.
I've been using the "fall back" (i.e. 8-10 miles) weekends in my training schedule to re-introduce hills, thanks to trying to stay on mostly flat surfaces because of the ITB, and prepare for the A10. I have run portions of the course before through either training or other races, but not a large chunk of the middle section, so I had total fear of the unknown.
I was fortunate a couple of weeks ago to run the majority of the course with Margaret. While it was good to catch up with a friend, she also played the vital role of course guide (I had misjudged it a bit from the course map and would have missed nearly a half mile chunk without her!) and calmer of nerves. She patiently reminded me as we approached and finished each section "see, that wasn't bad at all, was it" and "you've done FAR worse than this before." Her wonderful coaching worked, and I finished our 9 miles that day feeling much more confident about the race.
With the race quickly approaching next Sunday, this morning I did another dry run of the course, about 8.5 miles this time. In true fashion, when left to my own devices, I started off way too fast and hit a wall around mile 4.5. I walked more than I wanted to while trying to recover - the speed, hills, and high humidity took their toll on me. I kept plugging along though, knowing the goal I had to fulfill that day. In the end I finished strong, under two hours, and just under a 13:30 pace, good stats for a training run.
Technically, the race requires a 12 minute pace. I did this in April at the Annapolis Striders' other 10 miler, the Cherry Pit. This requirement has kept me from even considering doing the A10 until this year. Many of my local running friends gave me a hard time last year for not doing it, and when I said I'm too slow, they laughed in my face. While yes, there is an advertised pace requirement, if you look at the results from previous races, there are people who finished with over a 14 minute pace. So, while I do want to push it, I do have a bit of a mental cushion.