Today’s long run was the closest to a dress rehearsal for Boston as I am going to get. I met the members of the Run for the Memory team at the top of Heartbreak Hill and drove out to Hopkinton. The plan was to run 23 miles today.
An extra bonus was the surprise visit from my marathon pace buddy from Arizona. I found out last week he was coming to town and would run with us this morning. I somehow managed to convince him months ago to give up his sweet starting position in corral #2 (he ran a 3:04 last year to qualify for Boston) and start in corral #25 with me and help me stay on pace for the marathon. And take some pictures along the way.
The morning was a little chilly, but with a strong sun out, it didn’t feel as cold as the temperature indicated. And by mile 3, I was totally comfortable. My goal was to start out easy, perhaps around 8:35 pace and pick it up to 8:20 in miles 16-21, inconveniently located on all 4 Newton hills. We started out a little fast with the first 2 miles around 8:05 and I was immediately nervous. My pace buddy reassured me that we weren’t going that fast and the downhills were partly responsible. We’d run what felt good.
The Run for the Memory team had awesome volunteers providing water stops about every 3 miles. Mile after mile and water stop after water stop ticked by. We still hovered around an 8:20 pace, and I still worried I was going to blow up on the hills. Mile 16 finished at 8:27 pace. Slower than I would have liked, but I wasn’t spent. I just needed to pick it up. And that we did. The next 4 miles hovered around 8:15 and I totally hit the 8:20 goal for those 5 miles. We stopped for water and high fives from the RFTM volunteers at the top of Heartbreak Hill and then punched out 2 more miles.
Today’s run was a great confidence builder and test of physical and mental preparation for the marathon. We finished the run at 8:21 pace. My pace buddy put it in perspective – If I run the first 23 miles of the marathon at this pace, I will have 37 minutes to run the last 4.2. That’s about a 9 minute mile to achieve my goal. I like those odds.