This has been a very interesting few months, but here we are.
First up, August and September I nailed the hell out coming in rested and fresh to a 2 month half ironman cycle to which I PR’d the shit out of my race and generally feel like for the first time I actually RACED a 70.3 instead of survived it. Lots of happy warm fuzzies about those two months and the race that capped them off.
Then, probably because I raced the hell out of that race, I found myself a little less able to jump into marathon training with as much enthusiasm as I had last year. Maybe it was the weather taking forever to dip below scorching and then heading directly to polar. Maybe it was feeling satisfied with the run of that race left me less hungry and with something to prove like last year. It just took longer to get going, mentally and physically.
Either way, the first week or two I had to pull myself into run training by the ear. The 10+ hours of training that had been so effortless during tri season was definitely in the realm of EFFORT. My paces weren’t magically dropping, frankly, I ran one of my slowest runs of the YEAR after a particularly awesome/awful crossfit session early in the cycle and I was kinda frustrated.
The redeeming qualities were some magical long runs. A 20 miler where I felt like I could keep going forever at last year’s marathon pace finally got my confidence up. Then, I ran an 18 faster than I’ve ever done a long run before and I didn’t die. Like, at all. I also nailed a 50 mile week and two weeks in the 40s without injury.
This month, with the cooler temps, the paces finally came down. I know it’s science, but it’s just so bizarre to me that I can slice a minute per mile off EFFORTLESSLY going from 70 degrees to 40. Most of my November run average paces have started with a 10 (some with the help of the weather, some not). This helps when you want to run a marathon with a pace starting with 10.
I thought my November mileage was dismal, but it’s pretty much equal to last year’s training (~115 miles vs 122 miles, both times missed one long run), so at least I didn’t get worse.
And now, it’s race week. Here we go! The weird thing about endurance sport is we spend time practicing what we’re going to do for race day, but only certain parts at certain times. It feels like FOREVER since I did that 18 (2 weekends ago) and even MORE FOREVER since the 20 (4 weekends ago). The flip side is it also feels like forever since 10 minute miles were anything but normal pace. So, that’s where I’ve arrived at and those are what I roll into race day with. Ready for launch!
I’m hoping to learn from what I did wrong last year and what worked really well in triathlons this year.
- No cute shoes: I’ve been wearing various running shoes this week full time and I continue will do the same until after the race. This will hopefully prevent my temporarily broken ankle that was magically- better-but-off the day of the race.
- Eat like a normal human this week: a) I bought My Fit Foods so I didn’t have to stress about cooking and having leftovers for a short week. b) Eat breakfast on Thanksgiving even though I’m going to eat turkey day foods later. c) Don’t eat a whole plate of dessert and feel sick after, save that for post-race. d) Eat throughout the day not all at once. e) Eat something before 6pm on Friday, bringing food for lunch instead of relying on the airport to feed me.
- Keep with the pre-race fueling that has worked: planning on trying to replicate Kerrville because I felt awesome – Friday night: steak/chicken/fish, potato, salad (or similar). Saturday lunch: same meal, but a little smaller. Saturday peppered with snacks like fruit, potato chips, nuts, sunbutter, cheese, etc.
- Speaking of eating, stick to a nutrition plan day of: kind bar and coconut water and purple stuff AM, start with disposable gatorade in handheld and toss it when it’s done and then live off the course, one gel per hour (plan one caff gel around hour 3, maybe have an extra caff gel in case i need the pep).
- Shakeout run outside on Saturday. I think the treadmill did not do me a service last year as my last run.
- Going to a movie on Saturday to chill out and take my mind off the next day (and to give Zliten a break from my pre-race babble).
- Not running around for 3 hours trying to find a replacement cable, hopefully.
It may be superstition, but I wore a certain nike top and tri shorts and red visor during both long runs that went really well. So, guess what I’ll be wearing? Also, I’ve got my wonder woman blue star skirt that will go well with the space theme and has an extra pocket, and matches the ensemble, but I’m iffy on it (I’m not sure I’ll appreciate an extra layer with the 63 degree race start/73 degree high forecast). Rounding it out will be my “new” (probably close to 100 miles on em) purple bondi 3 hokas and blue and white compression sox. I will look a bit of a mess but really, who cares.
Other stuff… like I said above, taking my handheld with a disposable gatorade so I can toss the bottle mid-race and still have gel storage. My nice sunglasses seem to be MIA since the last race (but I haven’t made a lot of effort to find them) so I’ll probably just wear some randos. Aquaphor instead of body glide has made my life, so I’ll be lubing up with that.
Just in case the weather takes a colder turn, I’ll have a tee, arm warmers, capris, and a jacket, but I don’t expect to need any of that stuff.
I never know exactly what is going to work exactly when race brain finally takes over, so I’ve broken down the race for myself a few ways.
Specific Pace/Hour Plan:
- Hour 1: around 11 minute miles/average
- Hour 2: no faster than 10:45 (but no slower than 11)
- Hour 3: no faster than 10:30 (but no slower than 11)
- Hour 4: no faster than 10 (but no slower than 11)
- Last chunk of the hour: turn down for what (fast as my legs will go)
This lands me at about mile 22-23 when the clock hits 4 hours and sets me up for a nice PR. This is also how I’ve been running this cycle, first mile is ALWAYS the slowest and the last is usually among the fastest unless something is wrong. Keeping to 11 minute miles the first hour will be a huge challenge, but I think it will pay divedends in my late race energy. I think the last two years I’ve started two quickly and this will help me not go out all happy puppy.
- Start with 4:50 pacer.
- Around 6, leave 4:50 pacer and find 4:45 pacer by 11-12.
- Around 16, leave 4:45 pacer and find 4:40 pacer by 22-23 (I will be REALLY proud of myself if I can speed up with 10 miles to go)
- Turn down for what (hang the fuck on or see what my legs have in ’em)
Sometimes numbers get hard. This lets me follow the white rabbit. Of course, sticking with any of these pacers is a PR, and I’ll continue to assess what I have that day, but if latching onto something is needed, this is what I’ll do.
- Run 10:30-11 minute miles until mile 13.
- Run faster the second half.
I am confident that if I can keep my head on straight, I can negative split this thing. It is how I instinctively run. I need to watch the start of the race (oh my, 9:45s feel effortless, let’s go for a 4:15 I have no business trying to run) and wherever that trouble trap is going to be between mile 13 to 20. Hopefully, my fueling strategy will stave off the lows (I didn’t get them in Kerrville and my long runs have generally been good), but I’m ready to fight those fuckers.
I have had some success planning the thoughts I will carry into the race, because if I don’t plan for positivity, negative thoughts tend to take their place.
1. Remember that long races have highs and lows that oscillate. I just need to keep my head on straight during the lows and try to hang onto the highs as long as I can. Also, negative thoughts = need sugar and/or caffeine.
2. The faster I finish, the faster I get to see Zliten. Also, I gotta rock this race because he doesn’t get a chance to run it and at least one of us has to have an awesome day (hopefully both, he loves volunteering). I’ve done a decent amount of running on my own so I’m ready for it, but I can’t rely on a Zliten save around mile 14 again…
3. I promised to go back to tell the forum folks who gave me advice how my race went. I will be MUCH happier to report that I held strong through the race and PR’d.
4. Just like I really wanted to feel like I nailed a 70.3 this year, I really want to nail a marathon at my current fitness. This will also free me up to make a decision about my race in Feb not based in the need for revenge.
5. I don’t have a lot of deep thoughts this time, really. I have a process to follow, I have backup processes if the wheels start to come off. I’m smart, I’m strong, I’m tough, and I will conquer this marathon like I’ve conquered the last three races I have if I just do my thing and get my brain to stay out of the way of my body.
6. Also, I am THANKFUL (tis the season) that my body has held up with only minor complaints and is ready to take on this major feat of strength which is a marathon and have the luxury of doing it on the beach in FL and going on a cruise right after, and spending my marathon recovery week snorkeling and diving. Life is hard, yo.
And on that note, I’m off to do all the things. And try to rest as much as possible. We’ll see how that works out.