The following training reminder was from Hal’s program arrived in my email on Wednesday; “Don’t push the pace too hard today, because you have 26 miles of running to do on the weekend. Yes, that’s right: 26, but split into two days.” 26 miles of TRAINING; it’s hard not to freak out about that. Fortunately, the reminder arrived with plenty of time to let the idea settle. By the weekend, I was stoked at the awesome plan. It was obviously “perfect”.
My 8-mile run on Saturday was awesome. I nailed my race pace almost exactly as I had planned. My average pace was 8:27 minutes/mile for the run. I only need to run an average pace of 8:47 to hit my 3 hours, 50 minute marathon finish goal. Secretly, however, I want to run nearer to the 3 hours, 45 minutes that I had been targeting for the past few years. Because of this, I have been running my pace runs about 8:25 – 8:40 pace throughout. Since I have done all of my training with this in mind, I don’t see how it can hurt me on race day. Remember it’s a secret, so keep it quiet.
On Sunday, I headed out to the same trail that I’ve been running on these past many weeks. It’s beginning to bore me. I went out in a different direction to start out. Up to the top of the dam, along the reservoir, and then back down. I returned to my car, with 6 miles completed, and meet Cindy for the remaining 12 miles. I dropped off my outer shirt and iPod, exchanged empty bottles of water and Cytomax with full ones, and applied sunscreen. Then we were off for the remainder of my 18-mile run.
At first Cindy would begin to pull ahead, and I would have to remind her to slow down. My knees ached unusually for me with each step, and the smallest of uphill felt difficult. I trudged onward and was soon feeling better. I think the sugar from the gummy-bears, that I ate at the car, were beginning to fuel me. 1 mile into, this part of, the run Cindy had to use the restroom, then again at 1 ? miles further on. I tried not to get discouraged, but the time on the trail was beginning to get to me. I just wanted to be done with it already. I forced down a Cliff-shot at about my 7th mile. I prefer GU gels, but didn’t have enough to carry me through for this entire run. The thick consistency of the Cliff-shot was hard to swallow. I washed it down with some water and tried not to gag. At mile 12, it was my turn to hit the restrooms, and then we turned back toward the car. I had saved my last GU gel for the return portion, and when I said, “Yum,” Cindy just about choked. She thought I was delusional.
Having remembered Hal’s little note, “It’s usually a good idea to not push yourself too hard, but if you want to pick up the pace for the last 4-5 miles of this 18-mile run, I won’t stick out my leg to trip you.” Despite it being mostly uphill on the way back, the last 6 miles of the run was somewhat faster. I watched for anyone who looked like they were wanting to ambush my small increase in speed but only Cindy seemed to object to the push in pace. In the end, or at the top of the bridge in our case, I ran 18.35 miles in 2:48:06.
The follow up calculations help to reassure my mind that I am able to do well in my marathon and qualify for the Boston Marathon. Based on my average pace from each run (8.2 miles at 8:27/mile and 18 at 9:09/mile) my weekend marathon took 3:53:59. Hey, it?s a PR! I know that it doesn?t exactly translate into a marathon finish. I am taking any bit of encouragement that I can get, and am also looking forward to this week?s stepback.