I thought that maybe running 14 miles in 1:57:26 (8:23) with M last Friday might have been an anomaly--a good training run time created by running with a considerably faster runner, having a huge tailwind for half the run, and benefiting from the subtle ministrations of M talking me past the wall as I started my typical plodding routine around the thirteenth mile.
The truth is, I haven't been pleased with my running for awhile. I was starting to suspect that maybe I was falling prey to, well, getting old. Or that perhaps my pre-race dinners of Cheez-Its and Millers were starting to catch up with me.
So this morning I set out to recreate that run alone, as part of a slightly longer run that simulated a metric marathon being held tomorrow in Columbia. That way I would save two hours driving time, gas and the $40 entry fee. I call these runs "virtual" races and I do two or three each year. 26.2 KM is 16.28 miles, BTW.
Off I set from MP 7 on the W&OD Trail behind my house. Last week's splits are listed in my last post. Today they went like this: 7:59, 7:59, 8:07, 8:13, 8:19, 8:20, 8:18 to the turnaround at MP 0 in Shirlington. 57:16 (8:11) for seven miles compared to 55:44 (7:58) a week ago. Not bad so far. I have run in three actual 7-mile races, and this would still be my second best one.
Coming back I headed into a strong wind (again) and slowed down considerably: 8:44, 8:52, 8:47, 8:50, 9:01, 9:07, 9:02 for a fourteen mile total of 1:59:42 (8:33) compared to last week's 1:57:26 (8:23). So running with a faster runner is worth about 10 seconds per mile. (Left: Looking WB on the W&OD Trail about 400 meters before the bicycle bridge.)
I stupidly hadn't brought water and I longed to go into my house at this point to get some, but I knew that if I stopped now, I'd never return to the run. I had brightly brought a solitary Gu though, and although it was hard to get down sans water, consuming it in the twelfth mile revived me and enabled me to finish the run.
A further mile out, and back again, and a guesstimate quarter-mile route to the 7-11 store brought me to the end of my virtual metric marathon in 2:19:58 (8:36). I have done one actual metric marathon and I missed beating that time by 15 seconds. Dang! I got some work to do.