Time to go over race plans. Every year I bust out the spreadsheets and pace calculators to start figuring out just what the heck kind of goal I should be aiming for in my upcoming race. Well this year is a bit different due to my lack of training. November and December were complete and utter disasters in terms of running, with maybe one run in December, and a handful in November, and honestly Oct. and Sep. didn't look to pretty either, yikes! NOT good for marathon training. At all.
So first the somewhat short journey:
2 months of sloth-like activity really add up. Okay I did do a lot of actual work in there, with baby Veronica on the way and all, and then of course the occasional core routine just to not feel totally bad. Either way it was a good rest, especially for a beat up shin, but at the cost of a huge amount of aerobic fitness. Basically I started from nothing again January 1st, but the nice thing about running is once you scratch past the crusty out of shape surface, previous fitness is waiting there beneath it.
So I started slowly in January with a few miles here and there, and worked my way back up, but barely squeaking out 25-35 miles/week, pretty horrible. Finally in February I started feeling pretty good again, and soon I was back up to getting in decent length runs, averaging about 50 miles/week, much better but still not great. Then last week a breakthrough with over 80 miles, a lot of that from a rough 24 miler, but mostly from relatively good training adding up that allowed me to be able to run everyday again.
So I'm 2.5 weeks out from the marathon and I really would like to beat last years time of 2:59:27, which, if you read my race report was far from the ideal race by a really angry giant beast of a margin. I feel behind where I was last year. I had a ton more training and on a more consistent basis (i.e. 11 weeks OVER 90 miles in the previous 5 months of the marathon) yeah, compared to uh 0-30 miles in those same weeks and just 1 week over 80 - that's a huge difference. But last years training got me to where I am now and that's the only thing I can focus on at this point.
So I'm definitely not as confident as I was last year in that respect, but I do know what to expect, and that is a huge advantage. I also am hoping for a nice day to run, or at least an acceptable day for a marathon. Last year was not in my opinion, but it's out of my control so I'll just hope for the best.
And now the Math from last year
10k = 6.2 @6:37 pace
13.1M (6.9@ 6:31) brought me up to 6:34 overall pace
20M (6.9 @6:56) brought me down to 6:42 overall pace
26.2M (6.2 @7:18) brought me down to 6:50 overall pace
So there is a telling theme here which is dying in the second half, or in other words, went too fast the first half. Granted last year my goal was 2:55, and I really really think if it had been a better day (no wind, no stomach deal) I may have shaved a minute or more off my time, but maybe not. So I was actually on pace for my goal, but the reality was that I should have went much slower for the day I was given. Hindsight is always 20/20 though, 20/10 in this case.
This year I plan to basically go out conservative. 6:42 the entire race, if I can manage it. That would put me 2+ minutes slower at the half, and still tied with last year at 20 miles. Which is 2+ minutes more energy conserved over the course. If I stay on pace I finish in 2:56! and if I fall off I still have a chance to PR. Better yet I can negative split the sucker and hit 2:55!. Either way I think it will be much smarter, especially since the first half of the course is actually hillier. Fatigue does most it wonders the second half so between conserving on the hills and running slightly slower aerobically, this strategy takes the most advantage of both the course and my own fitness. Now fueling for the second half will be important too. Stomach pains all but knocked me down around 16 miles so I'll do everything not to let that happen again by fueling often and not getting dehydrated. I plan to have plenty of extra gu/shot blocks instead of just a couple like last year.
So that pretty much sums it up for now. The plan is in place, all that's left is the execution and hopefully not dying this time in the last half of the race. Honestly even if I bomb this thing I will be happy because I am back running again. My real goals are far off in never never land, and my real purpose for running this marathon was simply to continue running as much as possible and I knew it would motivate me. I hope to remind myself of this on race morning. I love to run, but sometimes when life throws a wrench at you, or a baby, it's easy to get to sidetracked.