Saturday, November 28, 2009

Half Marathon on the Trail

This morning I ran a full half-marathon distance (13.1 miles) on the Wachusett Rail Trail. My prayers from yesterday for no rain were answered, and the weather was around 40 degrees, with 20+ mph gusts of wind. But perhaps most importantly, no cold, wet precipitation being hurled at me by mother nature, in some sort of man-vs-nature battle for ultimate supremacy; also known as "a typical New England rain storm".

The route I chose to run is the segment of the rail trail that runs from River Rd. to the West Boylston entrance. This path runs by the historic Springdale Mill site, along the Quinapoxet river. This particular leg of the trail measures 2.75 miles. So my planned half-marathon route was: two out-and-back runs (11miles) plus an additional out-and-back to a little beyond the one mile marker. In preparation for the run, I packed light, but had some essentials: a pint of water, some tunes & some podcasts, and a couple Gu packets that I received as part of early registration for the Holden 5-K race I ran on Thanksgiving.

In an effort to have a progression run, I started out slowly. I probably ran the first 2-3 miles at about a 10:30-10:45 pace, knowing that eventually I'd like to settle on around a 10 min mile. I had the first Gu pack about 55 minutes in, and felt like the second leg of the run was pretty smooth. My pace improved and I felt like I was in a pretty good rhythm.

Around 9.5 miles, I started to feel a little tired, but was still on top of my breathing and didn't feel like I was really straining at all. I had the second Gu at about 1:50 or so and plugged along, listening to some really great pod casts, including Run Run Live and Running Adventures. I threw on the new Blakroc album, which I highly recommend if you like the Black Keys & hip-hop. The music drove me through some of the tougher stretches around mile 11.

The last two miles, however, were great. As I crossed over the 11 mile point, a distance I hadn't yet toppled this year, I felt a sense of accomplishment, relief, and excitement. My breathing was still normal and I didn't feel like my heart rate was out of control. The wind on that side of the trail was a bit less, and the sun starting shining through the pine trees. People were starting to get out for their own walks, runs, and hikes, and I was really charged by seeing others getting outside, enjoying nature, being active and happy on a Saturday morning.

I finished the distance in 2:09:30. Just about the 10 minute mile pace I had hoped to achieve.

All in all, a beautiful run. Can't wait until next time!

Run, run, run...

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