It was yesterday when I realized that I only had 3 weekly long runs left before my first marathon. Why 3 long runs left? Because I do one long run per weekend, and I see from many training schedule that you are supposed to start winding down your long run mileages 4 weeks prior to the race.
That meant, in order to get to 22 miler 2/7, I had to do 18 miles today, and 20 miles next week to increase my run to 22 miles. So I went for a 18-mile run.
I slept in this morning. Got out on the road around 7am. It was a great day to run outside. It was low 50’s, and wind was calm. I took my gloves outside, but ended up leaving them out on the porch.
I paid extra attention not to go too fast initially. Kept my pace at 8:20 – 8:30 minutes per mile, and it seemed to work for me. After about 5 miles in that pace, it felt effortless to bring my pace up to 8:05 – 8:10 mins/mile.
Sun peeked out over the low-rise industrial buildings, and temperature was rising a few degrees. It was great day to be running after several days of raining.
My original plan was to follow Arroyo del Valle Trail until it meets Main street. It was my first time running the trail, and didn’t know what to expect. I just knew from Google Maps that the trail ends around Main street in Pleasanton. If I were to run to Main street, that should give me about 9 miles, which would then be 18 miles if I were to turn around at the intersection.
But at around 8.80 miles or so, the trail started to get narrow and wet. There were leafy puddles of water which were muddy and slippery. I was going around those puddles in the narrow trail, and saw a ditch in the middle of the trail.
When I looked at it, it was no more than 4 feet across. Because I was running, I decided to use my momentum to jump over the ditch. Well, what I did not account for was my tired legs after 8.8 miles of running. When I tried to jump to extend my stride length, I knew that I didn’t have enough power on my right foot.
When I realized I didn’t have enough power to jump over the ditch, it was too late. My body was half way over the ditch, yet I didn’t have good landing spot because I didn’t get to extend my left leg far enough.
I instinctively held out my arms and landed on my arms in a push-up position. Literally I had to push over the ground with my hands to avoid getting scrapes on my legs.
Fortunately I managed to get this emergency maneuver right, and was able to walk away with minor scrapes on my hands.
After the fall, I continued a bit more, but realized that the trail was not maintained well enough to run, so I turned around not quite making to my planned 9-mile turnaround point.
Coming back was lot harder. For some reason even when I had a gel at around Mile 8, I had no willpower to continue running at 13 miles. I started to take walking break inbetween to regain the strength.
But somehow I managed to pick up some speed at the end of the run to keep my average pace at 8:33 mins/mile. I think that must have been the gel working for me.
Looking back at the run and comparing it with earlier ones, I was encouraged to see a bit of improvements.
Following are earlier paces that I had for the first 17.83 miles.
- 8:52 mins/mile on December 2nd, 2015 (18.65-mile run)
- 8:45 mins/mile on December 19th, 2015 (20.04-mile run)
- 8:33 mins/mile on January 24th, 2016 (17.83-mile run)
It looks like I have improved my pace by about 20 seconds over the last couple of months. That’s an encouraging sign that I’m heading the right direction.
6 weeks till the marathon day.