To make it easier on myself, I ran a different route -- one without hills. My usual loop has vertical gain and loss of about 500 feet over 5 miles. That can be really hard on the legs and body. So, I chose a flat trail near my house, one I ran often over course of marathon training. And I decided on about 7 miles, with goal pace of 10:00 or so. Not hard, just cruising for me. I had been mentally planning -- visulaizing -- this run for several days, including the turnaround point.
Saturday started with a warm snow shower, temperature in mid 30s. Snow didn't stick, but made for a wet trail, and also kept everyone else inside. Perfect. As I geared up to go, my iPod was dead, so just me and my thoughts
I felt great the first several miles. I kept looking at my Garmin and telling myself to sloooow down. This was a long slow run, not a tempo run or race. I successfully dialed it back (some), but just let my pace find a groove.
And then I noticed that my turnaround point was further than I thought. It was about one mile further, actually, so a 7 mile run would become a 9 mile run if I didn't turn around before my goal. Given I had visualized the run, the turn around, the mental milestone I wanted to achieve, and most importantly, how I felt, I decided to push it to 9 miles. It actually felt good. At the turn around point, a teenager looked at me and said "Are you training for a marathon?" I said no, why? And he said "because you look like a serious runner." I chuckled and took that in stride.
I ended up going 9.03 miles, at an average pace of 9:19. Felt awesome. Of course not like the old days, but I still get a huge kick out of being able to just do it. And all day Sunday, I was so sore all over, back, ankles, ribs, you name it. But it felt great.