Miles in the Bank: Marathon #4 coming up!

I have made it successfully to taper.  No more long runs (it's nice when an 8 miler is no longer a "long" run), no more speed work, no more 30+ mile training weeks..... for a little while anyway. 

My marathon is in 10 or so days.   I feel like I have done everything I can to ensure a good race.  I have run a15-miler, two 16-milers, an 18-miler, and two 19-milers, so I feel like I'm good on the long run front.  No, I didn't run any 20-milers.  I think 20-milers are overrated.  I like to save anything with a 20 in it for race day!   I have done tempo runs, race pace runs, intervals, hills, trails, negative splits, and three different build up half marathon races.   I have done fast-finish long runs (at least two or three) and a couple of carb-depleted long runs that I read about in an article by Coach Greg Macmillan of Macmillan Running.   They help your body learn to burn fat more efficiently.   I included quality with quantity.  I hit my "sweet spot" for mileage, which is about thirty-five miles per week.  More than that leaves me sluggish and prone to injury.   I strength trained to make sure my posterior chain is strong and ready for the hills in Louisville.   I miraculously avoided injury.  My nutrition has been good.   Seriously, what more can I do?   I'm about as trained as a 41-year old mom of three can be. 

My goals are fairly modest.   I suppose I'll write them here to make them official. 

A. Goal:  (best day ever!)  4:39:59 or better.   Believe it or not, that's a fairly aggressive goal for me.  That is going to require around a 10:40 pace overall, including any walking through water stops, any bathroom breaks, tying my shoes, etc.  That really means running closer to a 10:30 or better.    The plan is to keep all early miles between 10:25 and 10:36.   It will be HARD to not go out at a 10:15 or so when I'm rested and adrenaline is pumping, but I know a conservative start is key.    The point behind my fast-finish long runs was to be able to shift into a different gear the last 5K and really push.   The 2nd part of my A. Goal is to FINISH STRONG in that last 5K.  
(*My last marathon was 5:09 in June of last year at the Hatfield-McCoy, but I ran it for fun and didn't train properly on purpose.  I picked the crazy hilly, hot Hatfield McCoy course because I knew there would be no pressure.   It's fun to do a marathon every now and then just for fun!)

B. Goal:  Between 4:45 and 4:59:59.   I'd just like to come in sub-five, and unless the wheels fall COMPLETELY OFF, that should be doable.   I am comparably trained to when I ran a 4:45:52 two years ago in Birmingham.  Except this time, I think I'm actually a little better prepared.   More quality, fewer slow miles.   However, that was a 35-45 degree day and a fairly flat course with an awesome motivator named Reid I met at mile 12.   He talked me through a lot of those later miles.  I'm looking at a hotter and hillier race this time, but I will at least still have a buddy---my training partner Marlene.  We can motivate one another.   This would require an overall pace of 10:55 -11:05 or so.   If it's a HOT day, if I have stomach issues from all those Gu's and need to make multiple stops, or it's just not my day,  I would be happy to meet this B. goal. 

C.  Goal:  5:17 or better.  In my first marathon, it was a hellishly HOT day.  80 degrees at the start.  200 people taken to area hospitals.  One guy died.   The wheels FELL OFF early--around mile 12.  If not for new friend Carol I met on the course around mile 13, I don't know how I would have made it.  We shared in the suffering.  We kept up our spirits.  We told one another our life stories.  And we finished.   It wasn't a pretty marathon, but we did it.   I think my overall pace was 12:15 or something like that, reflecting how much we walked in miles 13-26.   

D. Goal:  Just to finish unharmed and on my on volition.   It may be ugly, but as long as I walk or crawl across that finish line, I have to be ok with it.    My running club friend had to drop out of Boston earlier this week due to excruciating pain around mile 7, likely a stress fracture.   If something like that did happen to me, I hope I'd have the bravery and good sense he had to just STOP. 

Two weeks ago, instead of running another long 18 or 19 miler, I ran the Oak Barrel Half Marathon in Lynchburg, Tennessee.   It was THE BEST HALF MARATHON of my life.  I went into it with no expectations, just planning on a gentle training run or maybe a tempo run.   The course was gorgeous.  It was on beautiful country roads.  It was a chilly start, and I remember seeing steam coming off a pond in the middle of a pasture in the early miles.  The scenery was just amazing.   I had many good friends on the course and found all the runners to be very friendly.  One whole mile and a half was uphill (Whiskey Hill) around miles 3.8 to 5.2.  I never dreamed I'd make it up Whiskey Hill without walking and wasn't even going to try.   Many friends had warned me about it.  But I was just having one of THOSE days when everything comes together.  I felt great.  I had held back in the first few miles thinking this was a training run, so when I came to the hill, I was perfectly warmed up.  And. I. Conquered. It.   I did not walk.  I actually counted everyone I passed---I passed 32 people.   Everyone around me slowed to a walk at some point on that hill, even when we were 3/4 of the way up it.   At about that point, I WANTED to walk, but I knew it was almost over, so I just held on.  I think CROSSFIT taught me to "Embrace the Suck" and keep moving.   My hilly mile was 10:44 pace.   It was one of my proudest moments as a runner! 

At the top, I kept moving.  After I'd made it through 6 or 8 miles without walking a step, I decided that today I would not walk.  In 14 half-marathons, I've walked in all but two, often just for a few seconds through the water stops, but equally as often when I'm just not having a good day or pacing smart.   Luckily for me, miles 8-13 were all downhill.   After all my long marathon training runs, I felt amazing in those later half-marathon miles.  I was posting 9:30's, 9:15 and just felt like I was flying.   I was pushing and it felt GOOD.   I finished in 2:09, negative splits, and felt like I could indeed run 8 or 10 more at the end.  At no time during the race did any negative self-talk thoughts arise.  I felt happy, peaceful, content.  I just felt truly blessed to be there and to be a runner.   Wow, I need more races like THAT! 

I would love to hear your comments/advice on the marathon! 

After the marathon, I'll have 5 weeks to my 50K.  The 50K is seriously just for fun.   I don't care if I average 14-minute miles.  I just want to finish.  And get the sticker.  



Bill Fine said…
What a great post! I can't wait to hear how you do in your marathon, as it seems pretty clear to me that not only are you ready, but you also have realistic goals. I hope you have a wonderful race!!!
MCM Mama said…
Good luck on your next full marathon!

I ran Oak Barrel Half a couple of years ago and it was an awesome race. I'm impressed you ran that whole hill - it just killed me.