Well, my New Mexico elk hunt is right around the corner and Saturday was my peak run as part of my attempt to be in shape for the hunt. I planned to go 7.5 miles and thought I might have a chance to make it in a 10:00 pace, but the route I decided on went down into the canyon and back up so I wasn't sure if I could make a 10:00 pace or not. The route I decided on had us walking about 1/2 mile from the house before starting our jog and then finishing about 1/2 mile from the house and having a cool down walk back to the house when we were done.
Cathy started out with me, but she hasn't been running as much as me lately and was having a little bit of a hard time keeping up. My iPhone updates me on the pace every 1/2 mile and she got tired of that at about the 3 1/2 mile mark and told me if I wanted to go on that I should. We were at a 9:50 pace, but that was little behind the pace I wanted, because I knew we had a very steep hill coming up out of the canyon that was for sure going to knock our pace down quite a bit.
We got to the hill and started walking briskly instead of jogging as we went up. To give a little idea how steep of a hill it is, the hardest I ended up breathing on the entire run was while we were walking up the steepest part of the hill. It is only about 1/4 mile on the steep part so as soon as we got close to the top we started jogging again.
We were now on a road that has quite a bit of traffic, and the next couple times my phone told me what my time was it was while traffic was going by and I didn't catch the time, but I did hear at the 5 1/2 mile mark that we were up to a 10:15 pace so that meant I was going to have to cut almost 2 minutes off of the last 2 miles to get back to a 10:00 pace overall. I was thinking about what Cathy had said about going on ahead and decided that since this was going to be the peak run of the year for me that I should go on ahead. She's run several marathons and half marathons so this wasn't much more than an easy training run for her. I didn't think I had much of a chance at making the 10:00 pace, but I thought I should at least give it a go. I was feeling really good and really not even breathing very hard. I picked up the pace a bit and headed for home.
When your phone starts telling you that you've been running for 1 hour and X minutes it gets harder to really tell how fast you are running those last few miles. I was doing some math in my head and thinking I was running around a 9:30 pace or so. I still felt great so I kept heading for home and was getting quite a bit ahead of Cathy now. We had briefly discussed that if I was feeling good at the end of 7.5 miles that I could go ahead and run the last 1/2 mile back to the house to make it a full 8 miles. I've gotten in a few 7 mile runs this summer, but 7.5 was going to be my longest run ever, but I was feeling good so I decided why not go ahead and make it 8! Plus I was thinking that if I added that last 1/2 mile I might have a little better chance to make my 10:00 pace.
As I hit the 7 mile mark, I was surprised to hear my phone tell me that I had already trimmed my pace to 10:00! I headed for home and was very familiar with this stretch as it's part of nearly every run that I do. I had made my 10:00 pace so all I needed to do was keep the 8th mile under 10:00 and I was set. I really wasn't trying to push it, just keep a nice steady pace so I was very surprised when I checked my splits at the end of the run and found out that the 8th mile was the fastest mile of the entire run and was under 9:00!
Here's the map of my run from the runkeeper software.
Here's the elevation and pace chart along with the splits for each mile.
I still don't consider myself a runner, but it really feels good to meet my goal and then some for getting into shape for my elk hunt coming up. We will be starting each morning at 8,000' elevation and climbing to between 10,000' and 11,000' each day so I'm going to need to be in shape. Lubbock is right around 3,000' elevation so I'm going to be breathing hard just walking the first few days I'm there with the big change in elevation. Hopefully this will have me ready for it.
That's it for now. Nathan