I headed out onto the Meadow Cross loop this morning for my planned marathon pace run. The loop is 8 miles, so I figured I would run at least the middle 6 miles at MP, and possibly include the last mile as well, especially given that the last mile runs from the entrance to the Topsham Mall up against traffic and back to our house. Every time I've done this loop before, I am always eager to just finish the d@#m loop and be done with it by that point! :-)
I left the house right around 7:30. It was chilly enough that I wore gloves and am glad I did! In fact, I think I could have done with a heavier shirt but luckily, I did warm up after a few miles. Still, that first mile on Rt. 201, against the morning commuter traffic, into the wind, was cold! I ran a bit more quickly that first mile than I might have as a warm-up mile, just in an attempt to warm up :-)
After that, I turned onto Meadow and ran up the hill to Bisson. The cows were mooing out in the fields, and there was one lone tree out in the middle of the pasture that was literally covered with starlings, chittering and chattering to each other. After another rolly mile, I hit the low point by the swampy area, where a big flock of robins flew over. From there, a turn onto Meadow Cross, into the wind, and up and around through the fields and out to Rt. 196, where it is a long 3 miles back home. Luckily, this stretch has a really big shoulder, but the traffic was constant, and the trucks were spewing smoke and pushing grit onto me as they roared on by. Ugh! It was along this stretch that at one point, I couldn't help but laugh at myself. I often see people running the shoulders along busy roads and wonder what the hell they are thinking! Don't they know there are beautiful back roads and much better routes near by?! And well, today, that was me. Chugging along the side of a busy road at rush hour, cursing the traffic and trying to run faster to just finish the run up! Ha.You would think I know better, wouldn't you?! Ah, the things we do in the name of running and trying to improve :-)
Splits ended up being: 8:14; 7:50; 7:28: 7:50: 7:49; 7:30; 7:30 and 7:30. This loop is hilly, and obviously, my pacing was all over the place. I'm not sure I would really call it a MP run in the end, as my splits really weren't even, and they were all 10-30 seconds below the 8:00 pace that I have been calling my "marathon pace." But, while the MP portion was a failure, it was still an effort-filled run, and a good fast run for me. Even with the hills and the pace, I legitimately felt pretty good the whole way. Oh, I was working, for sure, but it felt OK to work and there was never any point where I just wanted to stop or really relax the pace. Which makes me happy, and makes me think, that, maybe, just maybe, despite all my setbacks this season, I am finally back to some sort of decent shape!