Monday, December 19, 2005

Dress Rehearsal

Christmas, Tucson style

Sunday was the final big test, where I hopefully established (both physically and mentally) what pace I can hold for the marathon in one month's time. After 3 big weeks, which included an 11 mile time trial, a half-marathon, and a 15 mile time trial, it came down to the "dress rehearsal". I wore the clothes, carried the gels, even drove an extra 16 miles to stash a water bottle so I wouldn't have to stop to drink. This would be my mini-marathon, a 22 miler with 18-20 miles at marathon pace.

In Arthur Lydiard's "Running to the Top" book, he says this about the final time trial. "With the marathon five weeks away, you can ease your effort slightly but, just over four weeks out, a trial simulating actual race conditions can be run. Anything from 20 miles to the full marathon distance works. It will give you a good indication of the result you can expect-you must allow for the fact that you will not be as truly fresh as you will be for the marathon itself-and it can help you to check your pace judgement because any mistake in the trial will be graphically remembered four weeks later. It will check your racing reactions to food and drink before and during the race. The greatest benefit will come from the run itself in a sharp improvement in your racing fitness. Retain that by keeping all further training rlatively easy and by resisting the temptation to run too much in the final week."

So the stage was set, I even ran an out and back that would bring me eastward (into the sun and usually the breeze) for the second half, like the course in Phoenix. Lucas agreed to do some of the run with me, and helped by stashing a second bottle for me at about five miles in. I topped it off by carbo-loading the night before with...a bacon cheeseburger?? Well, nobody's perfect, and there wouldn't be any drama if I did everything right, now would there?

I decided to take the first two miles as a warm-up, and try to run at least 18 miles at 6:00-6:05 pace. After 18, I would either extend the trial to 20, or run the last two miles easy as a cool-down. The warm-up miles had my legs tingling (maybe it was the 34 degree temperature), and I clicked them off at sub-7 pace, a little fast. I stopped and used the restroom on the river trail (damn burger), and then set off. Just like the first two trials, the pace felt fast at first, and then I gradually settled into it. I found the bottle Lucas left at 5 miles, and kept cruising along at 5:59-6:00 pace. The trend I noticed is that I tend to settle right into almost 6 minute flat miles without looking at the watch on these, and I guess for a guy trying to break 2:40 that's a good thing (6:04 pace would do it). I found my second bottle at about 8 miles in, took my first gel and stowed the bottle to pick up and drink from on the way back (lots of scrub and bushes make this easy). I picked up Lucas soon after, and we made it to the 11 mile turnaround together (9 miles of effort at this point plus the warm-up). We headed back into the sun and the wind, and at about 11 miles of effort (and my third drink) I started to curse the burger again. The legs and lungs were still fine, but I knew a pit-stop was probably brewing. Lucas dropped off about this point, he had run pretty hard the day before and decided to take it easy. By myself again now, it took a little more concentration to keep the pace, still 6:00 at this point. Finally, with less than 6 miles to go, and a second gel downed, I quickly jumped into the bushes for the world's fastest...well, you know. Back on the path now, and I'm at 15 miles of effort. I can feel it more now, and at 17 miles I see the GPS slip from 6:00 pace to 6:01. I also felt like my glycogen was definitely running a bit low, and I made the decision to back off after 18 miles of effort.

The last two miles were pleasant, and Lucas had driven his car over to meet me so we jogged it in together. All in all, 18 miles of a 22 miler at 6:01 pace, or 1:48:10. A good day's work, though I'll probably always wonder if I should have gutted it out for 20 at pace. Nobby's words of finding yourself "90% coming up" on the start line rather than 90% coming down do stick in my mind, and writing this the day after gives me reason to believe I made a good call. I ran an extra 3 last evening with Haiden in the jog-stroller through Winterhaven's holiday lights with my club, the Southern Arizona Roadrunners, and I managed an easy 8 today, so I feel I'm still hopefully on the way up.

Training: Sunday, 22 miles, 2:16:01, 6:11 pace, with 18 miles at 6:01 pace. P.M., 3 miles easy with Haiden
Today: 8 miles, 1:00:03, 7:30 pace
Total miles for the week: 86 miles in 8 sessions

11 comments:

Scooter said...

Congrats on an excellent run! The pix of Haiden at the top is great! You're ready! Just keep following the plan!

Zeke said...

Great workout. Just don't eat a burger the night before the race and you'll be in great shape.

brian said...

Great run Mike! You certainly seem ready to run a good marathon.

Andrew said...

Great job! Looks like you're ready.

Thomas Sørensen said...

Mike, that seems like a very good dress rehearsal. Just don't eat the burger but maybe lots of pasta the night before, and then just feel confident.

Mike said...

No burger for sure! I met the family at a restaurant the night before, but saw a client on the way in. By the time I sat down everyone was ready to order and my wife asked for a burger. It sounded good so I had the same. About 5 minutes later I realized my mistake! Lots of real carbo-loading for race day I'm sure.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

Always good to have "lessons learned" way before the race...

Great mileage this week! I dream of reaching 86 miles/week. Some day, it will happen.

Ash and I both were too exhausted to make it out to Winterhaven last night (Ash actually fell asleep at 6:15!), but we were thinking of you guys and hoping you were having fun!

Paul said...

Fantastic effort! Definitely nix the burger, not even Hamburger Helper in your pasta!

Thanks for all of your help as 'Lydiard Coach by Proxy'. It's just the beginning of phase II and I'm already so far ahead of where I was last year! I wish I had known about his training strategy when I was in college and still fast enough to make the most of it. Such is life, that's why there is Masters Track.

Thomas said...

Fantastic effort. If you keep in mind that you will be more rested for the marathon, and assuming you are able to resist the burgers the night before the race, a 6:04 pace looks definitely beatable.

Johnny Lyons said...

Sounds like you're right on track! Great pace! Does it seem pretty consistent to settle into a fast distance pace if you just stick with it for a bit? I thought I had starting noticing that, but with the pains I've been getting I haven't been able to try it a lot.

Mike said...

All right, all right!! No burgers before the race!! Johnny, it took me some time to figure out "marathon pace", and it is difficult for the first few miles or so before I settle into it. Hope your injuries subside soon. Paul, hopefully we'll both prove it's never too late!