What I learned on the test run, was that my knee bothered my on the way up. But didn't hurt at all on the way down. That's got to be a clue.
Based on that observation, I decided to give it a go for my long run this morning. I was originally planning to run 10. I had already decided to cut back and try for 8-9 instead. Also decided that I would walk any uphill portions. And if my knee started to bother my on the flats, I would stop immediately and walk the rest of the way in.
I planned to meet my running buddies about 2 miles into their run. Based on their planned distance, that would give me about 9 miles to play with. And part of our route was going to be on dirt, which is a big plus for me.
Our coach was running with the others in the group who had shorter distances planned, then would come out to meet us on our way back.
Everything seemed to be going according to plan. I was a little disturbed to find that my knee bothered me even walking the uphills. That's not a good sign. When Coach met up with us at about mile 5, he commented that he could tell that my knee was acting up as soon as he saw me running, even from a distance. That's not a good sign either.
When I got to about 7.5 miles, my knee started to ache even on flats. Just as I had promised myself, I stopped running and walked the rest of the way in. So I ended the morning with ~7.5 miles running and 1.8 miles walking.
My running splits aren't very encouraging either. I'm guessing the slowing down trend is mostly related to whatever is going on to my knee and is not a sign of my fitness level. I really didn't feel particularly tired or sluggish.
I'm discouraged that this is happening right when my running was going so well, but it reminds me that my main goal is to be able to run feeling good and cross the finish line with a smile on my face. If that means shorter distances for now, so be it. It sure beats not running at all.