This is week 6 of my training for the Fairfield Half-Marathon on June 23, with a goal time of 1:20. I have 3 goals for the week:
- Increase my weekly mileage to 50 miles
- Increase my long run distance (previous long runs were 10 miles)
- Run beyond the 13.1 mile race distance to train my body physically and mentally to better handle the race
On the last point, I follow a few elite distance runners who train for the half-marathon and their long runs tend to be 15-18 miles. Even Bernard Lagat, who set records from 1500m to 5000m, and announced plans to run the 2013 NYC Half-Marathon, is moving up to 18 mile long runs. When I trained for the 2003 Fairfield Half-Marathon (which I completed in 1:29:16), my longest training runs were the half-marathon distance.
So how did I do on my 17 mile long run? First, I planned my run before anyone forecast that a March snowstorm would dump 10 inches on Connecticut (the roads were mostly clear by the time I ran). Second, I picked a hilly course (see course profile below) that has a couple of monster hills at the 12 mile and 15 mile points. Total elevation gain is about 900 feet. Nevertheless, I ran 17 miles in 2:06:38 (average 7:26 mile pace) and felt good.
I loved the run, I enjoyed the beautiful scenery running through the suburbs of Westport and past horse farms in Fairfield and Weston, all up and down. I ran conservatively the first 10 miles to ensure I would finish the 17-miler, and then picked up the pace the last 7 miles with my legs feeling heavy as I tried to focus mentally on pushing the pace and finishing strong. Although I was slowed by the hills, I ran a negative split for the last 7 miles compared to my first 10 miles. For my last 5 miles, I was either running 7 minute/mile pace or slightly under.
I achieved my three goals above, and have the additional benefit of gaining confidence that I can run 17 miles at solid pace and finish strong. My intention is to plan a long run greater than the half-marathon race distance every 2 weeks, and alternate with 10-13 miles long runs the other weeks.
Below are the key stats, course map and elevation profile, and mile splits, measured with my Garmin 610 GPS and HRM. Unfortunately my HR data appears to be incorrect, so I discarded that data (I have to figure out what’s wrong, but for the first 4 miles my recorded HR was well above 220, dropped thereafter, which is counter-intuitive, and for the entire 17 miles the average was about 188).