Anyway, in the last week I ran four days and a total of 19.4 miles. I was feeling a little confident after my 5K success so I probably ran all of them a little too fast! I ran my 3.75-mile loop three times and the results were kind of interesting. Monday I ran it without my watch and just tried to be comfortable. Wednesday I ran the loop in my usual counterclockwise direction -- which just from running feels like it's a net downhill course -- and finished in 39:29.
Saturday I decided to run it clockwise instead, and finished in 36:59. What??? I felt like that was a net uphill course -- although the last 1.5 miles are on a gradual downhill -- and I went faster. Maybe I'm confused, is it the other way around, perhaps? I guess this week I'll run in both directions and see what happens.
Today (Sunday) I went mobile for my 8-miler. One reason was to do something a little different, and the other was to find a flat course. While I think the hilly loop I run around here is in the end a good thing, I wanted to head somewhere a bit faster just to get an idea as to where I stand on courses like that, given the half marathons I'm running this year are flat and fast.
So I headed to Wheaton to run on the Prairie Path. I hadn't run on the path (actually there are more than one) since I completed marathon training last year, but it is a place I like and should try to get to more often.
The Prairie Path starts in downtown Wheaton (there is actually a Mile 0 post) and runs North, East and South (then West). They are mostly soft surfaces and during the summer are protected really well by trees, and they all have different characteristics. The East path goes through several communities and actually runs all the way into Chicago. It's got a little more asphalt/concrete and is exposed to the sun, but I did an 18-miler on it last year and thought there were some neat parts to it.
The South spur goes out of town and then about three miles in turns West. It's mostly soft and has some hills and curves. The North spur (the one I ran Sunday) is an old rail line and is perfectly straight and pancake flat. I also think it's the most scenic because it cuts through some nice neighborhoods and goes through a couple of marshes with scenic overlooks. And in the summer there are some great flowers and other beautiful scenes.
I was really excited for the run, it was great to get back to the Prairie Path, and even better it was 50 degrees! It's been nice to enjoy some decent weather (well, decent weather for Northern Illinois) and it seems like it will be decent for the next couple of weeks. Quite a difference from last year when the high was 31 and we were in the beginning stages of having snow on the ground for more than 100 days. Ugh.
It was quite foggy and there was a little mist, so the air was kind of heavy, but I am far from complaining! Not to mention, I got smiles and waves from pretty much everyone I encountered on the path. I always try to wave and be cordial to others, and I like it when people return the greeting. Hey, we're all in this together, let's support each other!
Like my other runs this week, I probably ran a bit fast, which is one reason why I try not to run with a watch all that often. And I was probably a little overzealous just to have a flat course to run on!
Turns out, it was about 4 1/2 minutes FASTER than my loop here at home. So I guess that means the loops I run around here are pretty tough! Good! Tough loops make tough runners!
Here are my splits:
Pretty consistent, but I felt like I was pushing myself a little too much. By about 6 1/2 miles I was hurting pretty good, but at least my times didn't drop off all that much. And I creeped a little closer to 10-minute miles, which is encouraging too.
Overall I have had a good last 10 days or so. I'd like to run eight again next Sunday and try and finish the week in the 22-23 mile range. I also need to get back to doing a little speedwork, I'll stick with the 200 and 400-meter repeats I'm doing now, and hopefully by the springtime be ready to jump to some 800s.
Feeling good right now...have a great week!