21′s lucky number right?
So, here we are, the night before my first (and probably only) stand-alone marathon of 2014. I’ve documented some of my leadup here on this blog and thought I should get down any last thoughts before its too late. As I mentioned earlier, I’m wasn’t nervous at all in this week leading up. I think I was just putting off the realization that it was happening. At times, I can be good at that. But today it hit and I’m finding myself quieting down a bunch like I usually do in the day before a race.
Kristin is especially used to this. I am often staring or zoned out at random times throughout the day. I can’t exactly pinpoint what I am doing during these times. Sometimes is actually focused mental rehearsal of the morning, or different points through the race. But sometimes its nothing at all. Really nothing. Perhaps this is my brain beginning to shut out outside distractions that will be unnecessary in the next 24 hours. Long endurance races: marathons, 70.3′s or ironmans are so long in duration that they can (and should) be broken into different mental parts. Each section should be analyzed and anticipated as much as possible. Elite athletes are generally very good at this kind of mental prep and forward thinking. Experience makes you better at this as well. You know what terrible feels like at 8 miles and you know how different terrible is at 21 miles. And you better have your mantras, positive thoughts, pumped up music at the ready for easy recall and access.
The more you can anticipate, plan and account, the more prepared you will be when you hit the challenges the next day (and hit you will, rest assured)
My body is capable of 26 miles, at any time, that is not a question. Mentally, thats a totally different story. In the last weeks before a race, the physical work has either been done, or not. But mentally, there is no time constraint. You have until the gun goes off and beyond. Any race can be turned around if you can emotionally change your bearings. Sometimes its like making a U-turn in a speedboat. Sometimes its changing course in an oil tanker. But the more prepared you are, the better you will fare and the sooner you can begin to turn that tanker, before its too late.
So its written down, here is what I’m hoping for tomorrow. 9min/mile Avg pace and, barring that, a sub-4hr marathon. Fingers crossed and see you on the other side.
It came up quickly but I’m happy to say it wasn’t unexpected. I signed up for this coming Sundays marathon at least 6 months ago having run it last February. The circumstances this year are decidedly different though. Last year I told no-one about it until I let my wife know only days in advance. She was less than pleased but there were reasons I kept it a secret. A marathon, no matter how many times you’ve ran one, is no small challenge. It comes with its own baggage, its own intrinsic pressures. Minimizing those outside pressures then becomes the one of the only things you can control, so the less people who knew and expected me to finish the better, I thought.
I trained for this race so minimally that anything could have happened. Going in I knew it wasn’t worth the risk of injury if things went south, so I wanted bailing to be a real option (something that is NEVER an option in every other race I enter) I didn’t want the judgement or pity of those who might have know about it. It turned out fine, I came out with PR of 4:05 (not through any real training, simply because I’m a better runner than when I last ran it and didn’t crumble as I have at every other attempt)
This year my training, while still spotty due to a host of reasons, has been much more consistent. The only major issue is the “long dress rehearsal run” of 20miles didn’t happen. When I attempted, I got 5 miles in and realized it wasn’t in me that day. I tried to do it in the coming days but the weather totally prevented me.
So, here we are. A few days out. Kristin has been asking if I’m nervous yet, but I’m not really. I guess I have been avoiding thinking about it. I have a strong mental game planned and my last 16mile run went very well. The race is 5, 5mile loops and I am going to attempt to zone the first 3. Just run 9min/miles like a clock, attempt to keep my HR as low as possible (despite the warming temps this weekend! what are the odds?) and in the last 10 miles, “begin” the race. See what I have left, let the HR climb into the 180s and just hang on.
Whatever happens, this will be a great start volume-wise for my Ironman buildup. Something I’ll address in the next post. 22 weeks left!
After the disappointing aborted long run last weekend, I was anxious to get one last intense workout in before a taper I knew was coming up soon. I never did make up the lost 20 mile run due to a handful of factors during the week, but in reality it was mostly the weather and my schedule that prevented me from making that time consuming effort. I ran only a couple of times on the treadmill at the gym after my spin classes during the week and that was only for a mile or so before I got terribly bored. So I came into Saturday knowing that this had to be it.
Assuming I was on schedule, I was due for a 16 mile run and since the marathon is in my backyard of Central Park, the course would be easy. Three 102nd loops of the main road. The conditions, considering the weather during the last month, were pretty ideal. 27 degrees with no wind.
Based on my 1/2 marathon time a couple weeks ago and given my pace and HR during my previous long runs, I’m aiming for just under 9 min miles for the marathon this time around. If I can hold that I should PR by at least 10 minutes with a 3:55 or something. Knowing this, I wanted a dry run but focused on keeping my HR down at all costs, even if that meant slowing.
With this goal in mind I set off and by the time I was done and downloaded, I was totally surprised with this:
Very happy with the even splitting
Even better, my HR didn’t crest 170 until I was past the 1/2 marathon mark.
Nice gradual slope
All in all, these are good signs for the race in two weeks time. And yet, with the 1/2 marathon two weekends ago and a blown 20 miler last weekend, this 16 miler is my longest run with not a heck of a lot of volume during the weeks. So, as is often the case, after 18-20 miles I’ll be in no-mans-land and just handing tough. I’m capable of sub 4HR for sure, but with the training load going in, anything is possible. Holding positive thoughts through the taper the next couple of weeks and hoping for a little warmup and some melting snow soon.
Sometimes a big run isn’t in you. Occasionally you find out within the first 20 or 30 minutes or sometimes you know before you start but make a go of it anyway. The latter was the case for me today.
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