Sure enough, I woke up this morning to find a light drizzle that turned into a downpour. All the motivation I had was sapped instantaneously. Sure I could put on my game face and run in the rain, but I just couldn't see that happening. I got my running clothes on, threw my pajamas back over them, and decided to play the waiting game. The rain finally died down at about 11 a.m. and even though my motivation had started to evaporate, a sense of duty propelled me out the door and onto the streets.
The plan was to head to Seacliff Beach and do a few back and forths along the walkway and streets that run along the ocean. It's a nice flat route that does well to simulate the races I have coming up. I ran the first two miles (a lot of downhill on the first mile) at about a 9:15 pace as my body started to warm up. Even though the first couple of miles are where I feel invincible on race days, they're the hardest miles on a solo run because I always just want to stop and go home.
After powering through the first three-ish miles, I began to find my groove and settle in. However, today was a groove like I haven't experienced before on a long run. Once I found that sweet spot, I just kept going and going with nothing to slow me down. Outside of stops at the water fountain and one quick bathroom trip, I had hardly any walk breaks at all. I just kept trudging along as my mind wandered and began to detach completely from my feet.
One of the things that surprised be about today's run was how remarkably consistent my splits were for most of the day. I ran miles four through nine at 10:02, 9:53, 9:53, 9:58, 9:53, and 10:07, respectively. That's ridiculously consistent, especially for me. Normally I experience a gradual drop-off in my long runs, but for the longest time it didn't seem to happen. I wish I had run my race last weekend more like this.
By about mile 9, I had decided that I was feeling good enough to extend the mileage. Specifically, I decided that the "11-ish" I had planned was actually going to be 13.1. "To hell with it," I said, "Let's just do a half."
I started to tire out a little between miles 10 and 11, and my pace started to drop as a result, though it never veered too far off what I had been running. Ultimately, I was able to push through it and I ran the whole 13.1, with the last hundredth of a mile coming on the pier leading to the cement ship.
The overall stats: 13.1 miles in 2:11:53 for a 10:03 pace.
This was insanely encouraging given that I was training to do the Modesto Half Marathon in March in under 2:15. I basically just met my goal during a training run two months before. I guess it's time to raise the bar!
In retrospect, it probably was my best run ever, not only in terms of time and distance, but in terms of how it felt. I experienced the kind of mind-body connection that I haven't often felt on long runs, and it made the whole ordeal vastly more enjoyable than it could have been. And it concluded with general soreness but no random aches and pains that you know shouldn't be there at all.
Of course, I didn't take any pictures today, but below are some pictures of the same area on different days (just imagine the scenery to be cloudier and more drizzly):