Well, I had a feeling that I was about ready to burst out with a good long run, and after a carefully-crafted two early nights, a little carb-loading the day before, and taking some inspiration from having watched the MUN women's volleyball team play very well yesterday, I set out this morning on a mission: net your longest run since 2011. Well, the plan came together perfectly. Having only hit the 21.1k mark once last year, I had my sites set on a 22k run today. the issue was going to be fourfold: how would the ankle ligament hold up, how would the back hold up, how would my endurance levels be, and how fast or slow should I run to keep a consistent pace?
Well, the first 2 k were the toughest as I had to work my tense back into the run and get myself into a groove. I knew I would have to take a couple of short breaks in between, so I factored that in. But I was generally into a nice groove throughout. I found myself slightly fatigued during the last 2 k, but the excitement of hitting critical milestones of 20k, 21.1k and 22k, kept me pushing hard. The pace was astronomically slow, even for me, but I knew that if I went faster, that I would not likely be able to get in the distance I was hoping for. Knowing that 9k was my previous long run of the year, I knew I was stepping into deep waters I had not gone for a long time.
One of the most important critical factors for success in endurance sports of any kind, is to have a strong understanding of where your health and fitness levels are at - specifically, your strength, speed, and endurance levels. I entered this run using my May 2012 half marathon as a guide, as I figured my levels were about the same as they were back then. One other intangible, was the fact that most of my run today was through 6-8 inches of snow, in weather that was below freezing.
In the end, I managed to complete the 22k in rather good shape, with a net running time of 3:14:36. As I sit and type this out, while my body definitely feels as though it has had a strong work out, I don't feel any worse for the wear. It will be interesting to see how the ankle feels tomorrow, as I had about 10 missteps on the ice that lead to minor sprains. Oh well, in addition to having my first solid "long slow distance" base-building run in the book, I know this will give me a huge psychological boost as I continue with my progress towards getting back into marathon shape. This also gives me a nice benchmark to start with, as I continue to figure out how to develop a path from here.