By Sergio Reyes

What a perfect day for a run. I'd been excited to finally participate in this event in my hometown. I'd originally planned on experiencing the SLO half marathon and using that as a tempo type effort. However, as build up towards a late spring marathon was necessitating longer and longer Sunday runs, I figured it only made sense to get in my long run in conjunction with the SLO Marathon instead. What better way to practice the fluids intake, testing out shoes, and going the distance on a closed course with a fan base? The support from family members along the way was an added bonus as I knew they could easily navigate to the next stop on the cheer train, being local residents.

The long runs so far have been a challenge in this marathon build up. It gets tough when you start pushing past 25 miles by yourself, with maybe a single fluid stop at a park fountain or something. The winds and heat where I train can multiply the exhaustion factor pretty quick. Nevertheless, I'd seen some decent runs, passing through the marathon mark in the low 2:30's range en route. So, I figured the SLO marathon could go better than that. I opted to keep my mileage up and ran easy the day before rather than jumping in the team workout on Saturday morning. Good thing too, those guys were scorching that tempo and the 400 reps.

I started race day and almost immediately felt the heavy legs from the high mileage that hadn't let up. I thought it was going to be a long hard day. However, after letting a couple of half marathoners go, I just kept to what was a comfortable pace and stuck with it. By around halfway, the body had adapted to the pace and got comfortable. By 30k, I could feel things turning on and preparing for a harder finish. With 4-5 to go, the confidence started setting in that I could drop down to 5-flat and comfortably hold that. It was my first solid long run where I didn't feel out of gas and actually closed strong feeling pretty confident. The marathon simulation was a success. I didn't have personal fluids and couldn't practice the gu/gels this go around, but I have time to refine that aspect. The gear was awesome though. I loved the uniform material as I constantly doused myself to escape the heat momentarily, and the shoe selection for this long run was spot on. I'm now a big fan of the HOKA ONE ONE Clayton 2. They are in the running (no pun) for my next marathon. The day was a success, the time respectable, the high miles logged, and I'm one step closer to peak marathon fitness.