/* begin gloat.
Well, today was my first really long run of the season. I did a 17 mile last week, which went ok, but today I went out for 20. And it was awesome! My goal, my quest, my reason for life (well maybe I overstate a bit) right now is to get a sub-4 hour marathon. I don't care if it's 3 hour, 59 minutes, and 59 seconds, I just want it to be under 4. 4 hours is kind of a benchmark in marathons - an "average" male marathoner can do 4 hours. Now you have to put that in context - marathon runners are kind of a weird scary bunch, so being "average" among that group is pretty good. Or at least that's what I keep telling myself. In any case, a sub 4 would require about a 9 minute pace (ok, ok, 9 minutes 6 seconds per mile pace). So in my training runs, my goal is to be able to do the long distance runs at a 9 minute pace. So I need to be able to do a 20 mile and 22 mile run at 9 minutes. If I can, I should be good for the marathon.
But wait, you say, just because you can do it for 22 miles doesn't mean you can do it for 26, does it? Well, I reply, technically no, but running races is very different from running training runs. In a race, you're well rested (you've tapered for a few weeks before the event, you haven't run more than a few miles for like a week, you've eaten your acorns and rutabegas the night before), you don't have to carry your own water (water stations are nice), you've got lots of adrenaline and there are all these people cheering you on. All of this makes your race pace a lot better, usually, than your training runs. Also, I tend to run hilly routes for training, so that I won't be surprised by hills in a race, so the courses are usually easier in the race. All of which means that if I can sustain a 9 minute pace for my longest training runs, I should be able to sustain a pace like that for the marathons.
But I digress (really, me? No!). The point is that I had expected to have to do a few runs at each distance of 17 miles or more until I could get to that 9 minute pace. So a few 17 mile runs, then go to the 20s, and so on. After all, my best race pace for 20 miles was actually right around 9 minutes, and now I'm saying I want that pace for training runs. So I went out this morning and did my 20, thinking I'd get something like a 9:20 or so. And it ended up taking 2 hours 58 minutes which is, wait for it.... an 8:54 pace! That's right by-atch (did I spell that right? I'm trying to be hip)! Sub 9 first time. And on a hilly damn course. So in my first 20 mile training run of the season, I've just beaten my best race pace! Woo hoo! Runners reading this will know the glow I'm feeling. Everyone else will think I'm high. Or boring. But our imaginary audience is just loaded with runners, so WOO HOO WOO HOO WOO HOO!!! I've worked my butt off over the winter doing miles indoors so that I could start strong this season, and this is such a cool way of seeing that it worked! Running around the indoor track 150 times every few weeks has really paid off (thank god).
*/ end gloat.