We finally moved in on April 16 and everything went smoothly. I am in a whole new running world now. It used to be impossible to run out of my front door because there was construction going on in every direction, and it was all major roads with no sidewalks. There was the option to drive 2 miles to the trail, but it was dangerous to be on the secluded trail without Greg. Because of this, the majority of my runs were on a gym treadmill.
Now, I simply go out of my front door and start running. The area is full of running paths which are all well-lit and near roads, so they seem pretty safe. In fact, a "run-able" area was a key decision factor in choosing a new home. There was one beautiful home that Greg and I really loved, but as soon as you left the neighborhood, you were on a narrow road with no paths. With our new home, I feel safe running alone in the morning when it's still dark out, but usually Greg joins me anyway. Most of the area is constant rolling hills, which I am not used to. The W&OD trail basically consists of a lot of inclines and declines, but not rolling hills. This is definitely a more challenging terrain and I think it will make me stronger. I don't even have treadmill access, so it's outside or nothing!
I feel like at some point in mid-February, I made a huge leap in fitness. It happened very suddenly. I always thought that running improvement should be a gradual process. But instead, I was pretty much running at the same level for awhile, but then I all of a sudden had a massive improvement. The first indication of this was my heart rate. My "easy" pace is dictated by a heart rate of 155-165 according to the VO2 max test I took last June. I noticed that I started going a lot faster at that heart rate, and it still felt easy to me. For the longest time, my easy runs and long runs were in the 9:15-9:40 range. And now they are in the 8:40-9:00 range. Sometimes I log miles that are at at BQ pace (8:25) that are in my "easy" HR zone. This is when it's flat or downhill.
The second indication was a 5-mile race at a pace of 7:26. Considering this was a faster pace than any 5K I had ever run, I knew it was a huge improvement. And then of course, there was the 5K a few weeks ago when I dropped my PR by 1:01. And I have to mention that during both of these races, the weather cooperated. Both were very windy, but wind doesn't affect me nearly as much as heat.
My training has been going well:
Week of March 22: 40.5 miles (17-mile long run)
Week of March 29: 52 miles (19-mile long run)
Week of April 5: 53 miles (21-mile long run)
Week of April 12: 45 miles (15-mile long run)
Week of April 19: 38 miles after I complete my 10-miler on Sunday
My attitude for this marathon has been way more relaxed than any other marathon. Maybe because it's so small. Maybe because I'm just really confident given my training and my recent race times. Maybe it's because I have been so focused on the move and the wedding. I have to admit to taking a peak at the extended forecast and not liking the fact that they keep increasing the high temperature every time I look. :-( But honestly, at this point, it's almost become a farce. I know I am capable of a sub-3:40 and if it doesn't happen it's not going to make me feel any worse about my running or what I've been doing. I'm going to stay relaxed about this marathon and just do my best.