Saturday was such a beautiful day here in the Chicagoland area. Mid-60s, sunny, a little breeze - it was perfect for a long run. I had been toying with the idea of a 10+ miler, but since I was already at 20 miles for the week, I decided on a shorter 9 mile run so as not to increase my weekly mileage too much over the prior week. At any rate, this was definitely my longest run of the year and as far as I can remember, it was close to tying my all-time longest run - the memory is fuzzy though so this very well may have been my longest ever. I don't typically go for "long" runs. As I've written about here before, most of my running is done over my lunch break so I typically only have 45 minutes to an hour to get it in. On weekends I will go a little longer, but even then my limit tends to be 6-8 miles. That said, I've recently gotten the "itch" to start racing longer distances and so I figure longer runs are going to be par for the course in future training. With that in mind, I set out for my 9-mile run.
I intentionally set out at a slow pace knowing that my total time was going to be north of an hour and surprisingly enough, the first half of the run went by pretty quickly. Along the path I run on there are water fountains every mile or so and I was able to take advantage of that with a few quick water stops and by mile 4.5 I was still feeling fresh. I was grateful for all the scenery, the beautiful leaves, and all the people out on the trail (tons of runners, bikers, walkers). On the way back, I noticed that I was in a really nice rhythm; I didn't feel like I was working all that hard and my pace had a nice flow to it. Around mile 7, I finally caught up with my wife, which was something I had been eagerly anticipating. She had set out for her own run after I left and I caught up to her at about the halfway point of her run. It was a nice boost of energy to see her and we chatted for a few seconds before I set off to finish my run.
During the final half mile of my run I had to stop a couple of times at intersections and I noticed that the action of 'stopping' actually bothered my knees quite a bit. I didn't feel much pain, if any, while running, but decelerating caused some aching in my knees. I could definitely tell that I was getting tired but again, the rhythm to my pace felt great and I wasn't slogging to the end, which was encouraging. I completed 9 miles in 1:07:37, 33:51 out and 33:46 back in - 7:29 pace overall.
This run was very encouraging to me in a number of ways. 1) I was able to keep a steady pace the whole way, 2) I didn't feel as if 9 miles was by any means a limit, I could have kept going if I had to, 3) I didn't feel wrecked the next day, had I not already run 4 days in a row, I probably would have gone for a run yesterday, and 4) really feeling encouraged that a 7:29 pace felt 'moderate'. If the weather cooperates next weekend I may go for 10 which will definitely be the farthest I've run all at once.
Big congratulations to a couple of runners I know - first one goes out to Jeff P. who set a 28-second PR in the Frank Lloyd Wright 10K (34:19, #1 in the 25-29 AG) this past weekend in Chicago. Also, congratulations to my friend Stephen R. for his 10K this past weekend (39:54) at the NYC Rock 'n Roll 10K - he absolutely demolished his former 10K PR, beating it by over 2 minutes.