Tuesday, December 04, 2007

This Should Explain it

Here's your course profile for the marathon this past weekend, straight from the Garmin. It does roll off a cliff with the exception of miles 11 and 12, which were an uphill "out" section before we turned around and rolled back down for miles 13 and 14.

When I asked Mystery Coach about possibly doing the full marathon for a training run instead of the half, he seemed receptive but a bit hesitant because of all the downhill and the possible beating the legs would take. Still, it seemed like a good opportunity to me and I decided to give it a go. The coach offered a few different ways to approach the run, and I favored his suggestion to run up to mile 20 at 6:40-7:00 pace, then to drop the pace to 6:15 or so for the duration. I mentioned that if I felt good earlier that I would possibly drop the pace to 6:15 at mile 15 or 16.

Here go the splits-
6:17, 6:19, 6:26, 6:19, 6:15, 6:09, 6:11, 6:03, 6:14, 6:14, 6:35, 6:30, 5:56, 5:56, 6:08, 6:04, 6:07, 5:56, 6:08, 6:03, 6:02, 5:55, 6:05, 5:58, 6:02, 5:49, 1:03.

Yeah, so much for the plan. It was slightly overcast and a cool 40 degrees at the start, and when the gun sounded I just rolled off the line and fell into a comfortable stride. The first mile has quite a bit of downhill, so I figured I would be a little fast. When I came through at 6:17 and saw 15 or so ahead of me I actually laughed out loud. For the life of me I could not figure out how NOT to race a marathon. I felt no nerves or pressure, but for some reason I was full of energy. I tried to slow down a bit, and when the second mile flew by I made a serious attempt at slowing down for mile 3. After only giving back a handful of seconds, I decided to just forget about pace and to try and settle into a good long run rhythm.

About this time Susan Loken came up from behind, and I started talking with her a bit. It turns out she was on a training run as well and had also blown her workout by trying to help some other women in the field to qualify for the Olympic trials (she's already in with a 2:41 at the 2006 Phoenix Rock and Roll for a PR). She was set to drop out at 18 and since she was running ahead of her planned pace we worked together at a converstional pace as we discussed family and training. No, I don't remember 6:10 as ever being a conversational pace, but for some reason it was happening today. Susan is 43 and raising three boys with her husband while chasing the Olympic dream and running within a minute of the A-standand for women in the marathon. Next to her I'm a slacker.

We finally parted ways on the only significant uphill section of the race, and as I made my way back down the same hills we'd just climbed I passed through the half-way point. After two fast downhill miles at 5:56 pace my body seemed ready to maintain the effort, so I made the decision to ignore the splits from that point on and just run comfortably hard. Months of back to back runs ranging from 6:15 down to 5:50 have left their impressions in the legs, so I just let them do their thing.

At mile 18 I was still feeling great, and when the volunteers offered gels at 20 I declined. I still had the two I had brought along in my pockets, and the fuel levels felt fine with only a few sips of water and some sort of disgusting off-brand sports-drink (Comp-1 was the brand, and I'm quite certain it's made in someone's bathtub here in the Old Pueblo). Mile 23 and I know I'll only get faster before finishing. For someone who seems to routinely crack around mile 20 this is a fantastic feeling. At 24 it's still smiles for the volunteers, but at mile 25 I can see a runner among the slower half-marathoners up the road. He's dying, and I think for a bit about not putting it into the red for the sake of beating him. I make the second to last turn and see all of my running friends on the corner. "He looks bad, you can get him...if you want to." They know it's a training run, I know it's a training run, but I go after him simply because I can. To push the gas and actually get traction during the last half-mile of a marathon is a beautiful thing. I pass him on the final turn and take 5th (or so I thought. Turns out they give him 5th on chip time).

So that's it. Well, except for a dead battery in the parking lot and a trip to Home Depot with my understanding running buds for jumper cables.

Mentally this race gave me a huge boost. While it didn't go exactly to plan, it really helped push Twin Cities out of my mind. Yeah, it was downhill. Yes, the quads are a bit sore and I probably could have gotten just as much of a physiological boost from running slower for the distance. Still, having this run in the bank makes me feel worlds better about the marathon next month.

Training: Today, 12 miles, 1:27:20, 7:13 pace
Yesterday, 10 miles, 1:13:32, 7:21 pace


Phil said...

A 2:41 marathon as a training run? Just a stroll in the park. Great run Mike.

jrf said...

I don't know much about, well... anything, but before running my best marathon (a decade ago), I did two marathons as training runs within four months of the race I was targeting. Based on this experience, and the fact that you bounced back and didn't miss any workouts (though I presume this will be an "easy" week), you're looking at a 2:29 to 2:31.

You are strong as hell right now and will only get stronger.

I'm interested to see how fast you can run a 5k or 8k about week away from the marathon just as you begin to taper back. I'm betting on 25:50 to 26:00 for five miler.

Quinto Sol said...

I am curious Mike - If you had raced it and blown away your PR, would you consider it a PR?

Great time on a FAST, but quad-busting course.

Andrew said...

A wonderful race report Mike! Conversation at 6:10 pace, that's great!

I agree with you about wiping away Twin Cities with this race. It had to feel good. With proper recovery etc. you'll be good as new.

Wouldn't it be nice to be in the key race and just "roll off the line" at the gun too?