When: September 4, 2010
Where: Shawnee Mission Park, Shawnee, KS
Start Temp: 55F
Finish Temp: 61F
Distance: 15 miles (new distance PR)
Avg. Pace: 9:28/mile
Avg, HR: 154
This morning when I started prepping for the run, my plan was to do roughly 12 miles. I go through my typical morning routine: shower, coffee/cereal, and drinking plenty of water.
I finally make it out to the park at around 5:45 a.m. The weather is just awesome with a temp of 55F and a light breeze. While waiting for the Garmin to catch satellites I apply sunscreen and then snap this photo:
After putting on the Garmin and my hydration pack I start the run. I was worried about eating a bunch of "noseeums" like my last run at the park, but thankfully the cold prevented that from happening.
The first couple of miles it seemed like I just couldn't get warmed up. My hands were freezing and I was wishing I had gloves. It wasn't until the 2.8 mile point that I finally felt warmed-up and found my running groove. I stopped for about 10 seconds during the 4th mile to snap the following picture:
Hopefully you can see why I love running at this park, beautiful scenery. I made it to the normal end of my trail at the 5.4 mile point, but decided to run up over an overpass to make sure I would do at least 11 miles even if I just ran back to the starting point.
I start the run back to the path head and realized I'm running relaxed and have an average pace of 9:55. I'm thinking I can easily keep this pace up. As mile 7 and 8 pass, I notice my HR is staying the same, but my average pace keeps getting faster and I'm at a 9:47 average pace.
I decide I need to slow down just a tad because there are some good hills coming up. I see the start to the first hill and slow just a bit going up it. I crest the hill and it doesn't take me long for my HR to get back to what it was before the hill. I come to a gradual incline, but after the steep hill, it feels like I am going downhill. It is at this point that I start noticing that I have in fact become a stronger runner.
This route used to be my "hilly" route. The hills no longer seem as bad to me anymore. I am no longer forced to walk up them. Instead, I take shorter steps and power up the hills. After I make it to the 10 mile point of the run, I start thinking about going for 15 miles. My HR is still below 160 and my average pace is now 9:44.
I start plotting my new route in my mind. I'm thinking that if I take a left where I normally stay straight, I can run for a mile and turn around to take my normal route. By doing so, I figure I would eliminate a hill that forced me to walk during my 14 mile run 2 weeks ago. Well that didn't work so well. I get a 1/2 mile in and am thinking to myself "this looks very familiar." Then I realize why, I start running up that hill that forced me to walk. At least I know that it loops around now. :) Needless to say, the hill was tough, but I conquered it! I turn around and retrace my steps, take the left back onto my usual trail, and realize I am now at a 9:40 average pace for 11.4 miles.
This run is going well. I get to my other turn off point and keep trucking along. notice the mileage is 11.9 when I make the turn. I decide that if I can make it down the path about 1.5 miles I would be able to get in the 15 miles and still have enough distance left for a cool-down walk. I wasn't sure if this path would take me that far, well it took me farther. By the time I turned around, I was at 13.8 miles and an average pace of 9:30/mile.
I noticed that mile 14 was finished at a pace of 9:05/mile and since it felt comfortable I would just keep going at the same pace. Little did I know that the pace at that point was quite a bit faster. Mile 15 ended up being my fastest mile and I finished it in 8:27. My total time for the run was 2:22:10. That is less time than it took me to finish my last half marathon.
While thinking during my cool-down walk, I started to come to the realization that I will likely be able to run a marathon next year. Plus, I need to find a new "hilly" route. This route is not "easy" by any means, but it no longer holds the mystique over me that it once did. I have officially conquered it. I finally feel "validated" as a runner. All my work this year is paying off and I am finally able to see it. I can only think of what running holds for me in the future! Regardless of what it holds, I KNOW I will enjoy the journey.