The weather this morning was GLORIOUS, with temps around 64º and a slight break in the humidity. This made a BIG difference today.
My original scheduled called for 16 to 18-miles at easy pace, but yesterday afternoon I got the OK from John to do the marathon workout with our group in Percy Warner Park. The plan was to do 4 x 3-mile repeats around marathon pace. I still wanted to get in 18-miles, so Nathan and I met at the Beech Grove picnic area in Percy Warner around 5:20am for a little extra.
We were able to get in just over 4-miles before beginning the workout with the group. I noticed during the warmup miles that my Garmin 405 was having a lot of trouble keeping up with our pace since we were running under heavy tree cover. My goal for the repeats was to land somewhere between 7:16 (BQ Pace) and 7:05 (Goal Marathon Pace). For repeats 1, 3, and 4 we ran a loop between the 7 & 8-mile markers on the main drive.
This loop starts off with a sharp incline that lasts for about half a mile, so I told Nathan I wanted to start conservative and then pick-up the pace once we crested the hill. The whole way up the hill I had a hard time getting the pace on my watch below 8:00, but it felt like I was killing myself. Once we reached the top, Nathan told me that our average pace for interval was 6:58, and I knew that my watch was going to be worthless today.
From this point forward Nathan kept our pace on his Garmin 305, and we slowed down our pace considerably for the remainder of this interval. We finished the first 3-miles with an average pace of 7:15 per mile, and I felt FANTASTIC. Between each of the repeats we ran easy for just over a quarter mile before beginning the next one.
For interval number two we actually left the park and ran and out-and-back route on Chickering Road. The way out was much easier than coming back due to the inclines, but we still ran a negative split and finished the second 3-miles with an average pace of 7:10 per mile.
We returned to the loop for our third interval, and I told Nathan that I wanted to get a lot closer to 7:05 for this one, but wanted to take the big hill fairly conservative. When we crested the hill our average pace was around 7:35, and over the next 2.5-miles we lowered this average to 7:04. I honestly could not believe how good I felt today. 7:05 pace felt very comfortable, and this was a BIG confidence boost.
For the final interval we were joined by Tyler who was visiting our group. We started on our normal loop, and crested the hill with a 7:19 average pace. I had told Nathan that I wanted to shoot for 7:00 pace on this one, and by the time we reached the end of the first mile we were almost there. Instead of looping back to the cars we turned out of the park again and finished up on Chickering Road with an average pace of 6:58 per mile.
We ran just under a mile back to the cars, as a cool-down, to finish up our 18-miles. I feel like Nathan and I CRUSHED the workout today. I don’t think I’ve felt this good since the Rock n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon in March. This was WAY easier than the 18-miles I ran last Saturday, and our average pace was almost 45-seconds per mile faster today.
In total we finished exactly 18-miles with an average pace of 7:45 per mile with warmup and cool down. Our average pace for the 12-miles of tempo intervals was 7:07 per mile, and our pace progressed almost exactly the way I would want for a marathon. We got a big boost from the weather conditions today, but this was not an easy course with over 1,500’ of cumulative elevation gain.
In addition to getting a big confidence boost out of today’s run, I’m also extremely proud of Nathan. He is killing it this summer, and I’m convinced he is gonna obliterate his marathon PR at the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon this November. Our average pace today with warmup and cool down is 15-seconds per mile faster than his PR. I’m excited to see what he is capable of.