Yesterday was Grete's Great Gallop, a half marathon that used to be run in celebration of the great Grete Waitz, and is now run in her memory, to benefit Memorial Sloan Kettering. I last ran Grete's in 2004 and it was one of my great "comeback" races. I had suffered a monumental slide after a depressing 2002 NY Marathon. My return to form the following Spring was stopped short by an existential runners' crisis that is still too raw to write about, and had only really started to train well in August. I was training for the Marine Corps Marathon, but without any great expectations. Grete that year came as a surprise. I ran hard and returned to the vicinity of 8 minute miles (8:06) that I thought I had lost forever. Since then, I have viewed the race with great affection, though it hasn't usually fit my training schedule.
This is a similar comeback year. I ran a disastrous Brooklyn Half, and a confidence building Superfund Run, but I really haven't felt myself for over a year. Yesterday my goal was to see if I could hold 8:30s. I think of that as my marathon pace, and I haven't seen it in a long time.
Short version -- victory!! Goal achieved (or close enough). I went out a bit fast, running the first few miles at an 8:10-8:15 pace. The good news was that my heart rate was at my usual hard half marathon level. The bad news was that if felt hard . . . I backed it down, and settled into what I think of as my "average" marathon heart rate (or slightly below). The miles ticked off, and depending on whether you believe my Garmin or the official clock, I either averaged 8:29 (Garmin) for the race, or 8:36 (Official). I felt good at the end. I'm not going to pretend that I wanted to go any faster, but I certainly had gas left in the tank. This is all good news for a successful (if not speedy) NYC Marathon in a few weeks.
Oh yes, the gear choice was the Kinvara 4s with Superfeet. I felt fine afterwards. . . Hooray!!