Saturday, April 30, 2011

nearly ready

I just finished my 2nd-to-last long run leading up to KBVCM. My goal is 7 minute miles (a 3:03:24 marathon). From the splits below I feel like I'm almost there. Not only was this my fastest long run, but this was by far the best I've ever felt as I mopped up the last few miles.

Split Time Miles Pace

1 00:32:28 4.36 07:27
2 00:13:22 1.93 06:56
3 00:20:21 2.78 07:20
4 00:36:53 4.98 07:24
5 00:13:33 1.97 06:53
6 00:43:25 6.00 07:14
Summary 02:40:06 22.01 07:16

I have one more long run, and it's going to be a lot slower; maybe 7:50-55 pace. But it's an important one, because I'm actually going to be running my marathon time: 3 hours, 5 minutes. I am also looking forward to my two remaining "medium-long" (16 mile) runs. The goal is to run the 1st with 8 mi @ 7:00s, and the 2nd with 10 mi @ 7:00s. If I hit all those marks, then I'm going to feel like nothing can stop me!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Imprudent Speed

Another Saturday, another long run as I prepare myself for the Vermont City Marathon on the last weekend of May. Although my own personal challenge is still a ways off, Marathon fever is in the air here in Boston this weekend, and it is hard not to be a little swept up in it. Monday morning I'll be heading over to nearby Wellesley to spectate, dreaming marathon dreams as I watch the runners stream by on the same road I've often trained on, and thinking....someday!

But for now I still need to focus on the week-to-week. On my last long run two weeks ago, I set out to do 20 on a long out-and-back, completely devoid of provisions. Fresh snow had fallen the previous day and I helped myself to some at my turnaround, but other than that I was running savage. Predictably, I crashed out at mile 17.

Was it the lack of fuel, or was my pace (7:20s, with some 7:00 sections) just too ambitious for my fitness? One of those two variables is easy to eliminate, and, having acquired a good supply of gels, I meant to do so today.

The run broke down into three sections: a 9 mile loop that included the Cutler Park trail and a section in Newton, an 8 mile out-and-back in the direction of Wellesley, and then whatever was left (hopefully 4 miles, in whatever manner was convenient). I left water and grub outside my house, giving me two resupply points over the course of the run.

The first 9 mile loop passed effortlessly in around 7:17 pace; a crisp, slightly chilly spring morning, even allowing for my comparatively late start--the marathoners should be so lucky to have such a morning this Monday! I hit my first resupply feeling great; consumed a gel and some water, tightened my laces, and headed off on the next leg.

By my turnaround point in the 2nd leg (mile13), I had started to feel a bit peaky. Very deliberately (and with some difficulty) I forced myself to stop tracking my own pace (which, in this second leg, had been running around 7:10s). "You will feel better and stronger at mile 17 then you do right now," I kept reminding myself as I started to head the 4 miles back to my house. This was a somewhat bold claim, given how I had cratered at mile 17 the last time.

But it was true! What a great surprise. As I hit mile 15, I felt strength trickling back into my legs. By mile 17, when I stopped quickly for my 2nd gel and a swig of water, I surprised myself by feeling downright decent.

The overall feeling of well-being got me about halfway into my third leg. By mile 19, I was just thinking about how best to hold it together for another 15 minutes. Chainsaws buzzed. A boy with a fishing rod said "hello, SIR!" to me as I ran by, which seemed incongruous in the face of my sweat stained and no doubt haggard expression. Above the street, the endless river of rolling metal that is I-95 poured by in a continuous flood.

I finished the last leg in around7:24 pace.

So here's the thing. I'm really happy to have run around 7:17 pace for 21 miles at this stage in my training. I've thought for weeks that the ~7:20 pace just *feels* right for a long-run cruising speed. But. The conventional wisdom is not to try to practice for your race by actually running your race in training--that would be silly. And yet, if I extend my next run by a couple miles, that's basically what I will have done.

I'm thinking this is probably one of those times when your own pacing intuition can mislead you. If 7:20 was really a good long-run training pace for me, I could probably be running 6:40 pace in the marathon (and I'm pretty sure that's not right). The other way this is hurting me is time-on-feet; I'm not practicing holding a steady level of output for a full 3.10 hours.

The natural solution is to just run my long-runs slower. Save speed for mid-distance runs during the week. 20 miles @ 8s, followed by 2-3 miles @ 7s, for instance. There's nothing preventing me from this, except lack of discipline in responding to the information my GPS is telling me.

It is reassuring what a big difference the fueling made, though. I don't know why I need to keep learning and then re-learning this same lesson. Really makes me wonder how the old-school marathoners did it, back when they barely even bothered with water. (Maybe that's just it, though--the fields were so much smaller, perhaps in part because very few people actually *could* run the distance like that).


Boston Marathon Top Fives
This is kind of my own version of filling out a basketball tournament brackets--and as prognostications go, it's about equally lousy, I'm sure!. My methodology was to pick people with good, recent Boston performances, or good performances in the last New York Half. I tended to down-play the monster times some of the elite field have posted from Berlin, Rotterdam, etc., since I don't think those courses reveal much about Boston's particular requirements. I know--repeat winners in both races is a little bit of a cop-out. On the men's side, it's mainly because Cheruiyot was just that awesome last year. On the women's--well, it just seems like it would be *too* awesome if Kara came back to win it this year. I don't want to get my hopes up :-)

Without further ado, predictions for the outcome of this Monday's Boston Marathon:
1. Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot, Kenya 2:05:52 (Boston, 2010) CR
2. Gebregziabher Gebremariam, Ethiopia 2:08:14 (New York City 2010)
3. Tekeste Kebede, Ethiopia 2:07:23 (Boston, 2010)
4. Alistair Cragg, Ireland Debut
5. Peter Kamais, Kenya 2:14:58 (New York City, 2010)

1. Teyba Erkesso, Ethiopia 2:23:53 (Houston, 2010) CR
2. Kara Goucher, USA 2:25:52 (New York, 2008)
3. Dire Tune, Ethiopia 2:23:44 (Frankfurt, 2010)
4. Tatyana Pushkareva, Russia 2:26:14 (Boston, 2010)
5. Desiree Davila, USA 2:26:20 (Chicago, 2010)