Since I can't make a decision between the full and half marathons in Houston, I've continued to train for the marathon merely for the face I want someone to run with and Dave's training for the full.
This weekend marked our first of three 20 milers. (I actually think there was a fourth but that was before I started training.) Our plan called for race pace plus thirty seconds which would have had us somewhere in the 8:48-8:55 range. But, Dave just wanted to get through it so I set my watch to pace us between a 9:00 and 9:15. I told him I was going to start slow and work my way into that pace. A scant two miles into the run I was already feeling bad and wanting to turn around. Dave did too, yet we knew that the weather was going to be bad later in the weekend so we really needed to continue with this run. Silently, we continued on. Eight miles into the run we were still pacing over a 9:30. I was comfortable and Dave was silent. When I trained with Andrea, we used to talk and talk and talk for an entire 20 mile run. I'm learning with Dave, he likes to do his own thing and not talk. Thank goodness I've become accustomed to wearing my iPod or else it would be a lonely run even with him there.
About nine miles into the run I went through my usual low point. Most people encounter these walls late in their runs or bikes. I always find them to be earlier, like 10 miles of a run or 40 miles of a bike. By mile 12, though, I was in the zone. Dave was continuing to be silent but I could tell he was suffering. Our pace hadn't moved much. We were now averaging under a 9:30. The per mile pace was picking up but we were not where we had hoped. With six miles to go we took a pit stop and I wasn't sure Dave was going to start again. He wasn't having fun. I made sure he was right with me. I was feeling fine and I knew I could pull him through this run.
Finally we made it back to our neighborhood with just under 3 miles to go. There would be running around through the neighborhood. Not something I particularly like to do, but I knew the 20 miles was within reach and I was willing to do it. I was picking up pace (Dave told me I was turning 8:20s) and I made sure Dave was right on my hip. If it's his goal to run this time, I'm gonna make sure he can achieve it. Suddenly he was cramping and we had to stop with just two miles to go. No, we are not going to stop! He stretched it out and we were off again. The longest and quietest two miles ever. I could hear him moaning and it was rough. Finally we hit the 20 mile mark in 3:06:xx for an overall pace of 9:19.
Sure we were short of our pace goal, but the first twenty miler is all about getting it done. We have two more to hit our pace goals and next time we're going to do it differently. Twenty miles at one pace is hard to digest. But twenty miles broken into 6-8 mile segments at increasing pace is easier to wrap my head around. Plus, it's the way I like to run. I still haven't made a decision about the race. A lot of it depends on my stomach (I've been battling an ulcer now for quite a while and the last four weeks I've been sicksicksick) and my shin which is bothering me. The journey continues...