My initial plan was to head out early in the morning - like a usually do for my longer runs. However, Sherry and I were out late and I couldn't get my butt out of bed (since I got sick a few weeks ago, that's been a common occurrence). We had talked about going to the gym and having the kids play in the child-care room - however, DUH, it's Easter Sunday...no child care today.
Finally, I found my opportunity to run in the mid-afternoon. My younger son went down for a nap and my older son was going to a friend's house for a playdate! Since I had some time on my hands - and it was a sunny, clear day - I decided to head on down to Bethesda and run on the Capital Crescent Trail.
I had run on this trail a few times - but never more than a few miles. I decided to do 7 miles - 3.5 miles out and then come back. I really would like to do a really long run here - a 16 miler I think would allow me to start in Bethesda and get all the way to Georgetown and then come back. Or perhaps a 10 miler could get me down to Georgetown and then to the Dupont Circle Metro stop and then Metro back to Bethesda (I'm not sure if anyone would like to actually sit near me on that metro ride...)
Anyhow, my HRM was doing some weird stuff during the first mile. I was running at a 11:30 - 12:00/mile pace and my heart rate was registering in the high 160s (it even bounced up to 192 at one point). I was pretty sure these were false readings, but since I'm still coming off of being sick there was a part of me that may have believed them. Finally, the numbers started to drop into the 150s and then the 140s and finally into the mid-130s - right where I would expect them to be at this pace. Thank goodness!
The trail is relatively flat - there are no steep hills (OK, there are a few overpasses which are steep) but a few points where there is a continuous climb up or down. There are trees on either side which is very nice, and no cars! Just other runners, walkers and cyclists. It was great to spend the afternoon with a bunch of other fitness enthusiasts!!!
A few miles into my run, I came up with a great idea: Since in the Half Marathon, I want to keep my heart rate under 155 for the first 6.5 miles and then bump it up into the 155-165 range for a few miles, I can practice that here on this run - after mile 6.5, bump up the pace a bit for the last half mile. This worked out pretty well - except for the fact that the last half mile was uphill...so I couldn't really "push it" so much as I was just trying to keep up the pace while my heart rate increased.
My splits were pretty much all over the place - 11:10, 10:22, 9:56, 10:16, 9:28, 11:16 and 10:33. However, my average HR on each split was right on target - 155 (even with the high numbers at the beginning), 143, 148, 153, 152, 155, 160 (after I picked up the pace for the second half mile).
Overall, the 7 miles took me 1:13:07 which is a 10:27/mile pace. If I am able to keep a pace like this next weekend over the entire 13.1 mile course, I'd have a time of 2:16:54 - exactly 1 minute off of my Half Marathon PR. So...a PR is still in reach, although I doubt a 2:11:00 is doable at this point.
Rain is in the forecast for the next few days, however, I'll try to run two or three times this week - perhaps tomorrow, Tuesday and Thursday. Thursday and Friday we're taking the boys to Great Wolf Lodge for a getaway at the end of the week - it should be fun (and I'm excited for the days off of work!!!).