In keeping with the idea of tapering, I decided to run an easy 5 or 6 miles on trails and stop long before I tax the system at all. It seemed that I would have no problem toning it down a bit.
As it turns out, I couldn't really do it. Oh, I did take it easy and in the end I realized that I did not push too hard (in my unqualified opinion). I told myself slow and planned 12 or 13 minute pace in zone 2 which would be about 130 heart rate.
My first mile was 10:30 which is much faster than I planned yet I felt great, was not winded and averaged 135 heart rate. I was not too worried because I only planned a 5 or 6 mile run so a faster pace for that short time would probably not hurt me....or so I hoped!
The trails were great.....I was loving the run...my motor was purring and I could feel the extra reserve that I was not using. One thing I did different was to run all the hills rather than walk. I assumed that for a short run I would be fine and actually it felt much better to not have to stop and start.
By mile three, I felt a bit tired and a little winded. It was then that I re-affirmed the decision of 5 or 6 miles and realized it made good sense. Mile four I started feeling much better and my heart rate was dropping a bit even though I was speeding up.
Mile five was a breeze, I felt great, my breathing was controlled, I ran my fastest mile so far (10:22)and just couldn't convince myself to stop at this point even though the biggest hill of the run was coming up in mile 6.
I very smartly slowed way down on the big hill, faster than walking but just barely
(12:44).It worked beautifully and I just keep going.....faster and stronger in mile 7 (12:11) ....much faster and stronger in mile 8 (9:54)and a nice gradual speed up and kick in mile 8.5 (8:02)as I visioned this was my finish for the 50K.
When I stopped, I felt as though I could keep going this way for miles. I think this feeling allowed me the privilege to finally think I could finish the 50K. The plaguing feeling of DNF was starting to fade away.
After a half mile cooldown walk, I got in the pool (which has made it all the way up to 62 degrees so far) and cooled off the legs. Though cold, it felt real good. I honestly did not feel tired or worn out at all and experienced fresh feeling legs for the rest of the day. This convinced me that I did not overdue it with the 8.5 mile run.
Waking up Sunday morning with no ill affects in the legs or upper body was the final uplifting sign that I was feeling positive affects of good training. I think I have a solid base, a good plan and a great chance of experiencing a good outcome next Sunday.
As long as I follow my plan and take it easy in the first 20 miles, I should go home with that precious silver cow bell. I think I am ready, but what ever happens, I will cherish the experience and if for some reason I do not make it to that finish line, I am prepared to handle the disapointment and use this experience for what it is. The only guaranty I have, is that if I don't take the first step, I will not step across the finish line.....that I know for sure.