Michael recently asked, "How are you feeling about your marathon training this go around? Have you looked back and compared to where you were at this stage in your last preparation?"
Well, at this time during the last build I had just decided to run an "easy" marathon race six weeks out from my goal marathon. I won't be making that mistake again. I guess my feelings about my fitness at this point are fairly close to how I felt last time around, which is that I feel I can certainly take a beating, but I can't necessarily give a beating.
What I mean is that the legs feel like they're finally trained enough to stand up to difficult circumstances (like a 24 miler or a tough workout), but they're not quite to the point where they can dish out the sort of punishment necessary to break new ground in the form of a marathon PR. There's enough confidence and fitness to give a wry smile when 16 miles are on the docket, but I'm feeling it at 12 miles and staring at another two miles of uphill before the remaining road levels out (this morning). I can finish the run, I can do the workout, and I can usually manage the paces, but the questions of how much each effort takes out of me and how much stronger each run makes me still remain.
I don't feel like I'm topping out yet (in spirit or in effort), and I'm thankful to still have 6 1/2 weeks of training ahead of me to fine-tune and hopefully grab that last 3-4% I need to get down around 2h35m for the marathon. Mystery Coach is micro-managing the workouts during these last 10 weeks with what appears to me to be more of an eye on my recovery and adaptation than the actual times of the workouts (Axiom Number Two, anyone?) Until now the efforts have been fairly few and far-between, though it looks like the screw will get turned a bit starting next week. With this approach I'm finding myself looking forward to the remaining efforts, which is where I want to be, instead of just looking forward to the hard training being over.
16.5 miles, 1h52m, 6:54 pace
Sleep: 7h 8/10
Legs: 7/10 (Rallied at the end)
Weather: 67 degrees, 55 dew-point (perfect)
9/17/08 pm., 6.2 miles in 42:30, felt easy
13 miles, 1h29m, 6:53 pace, w/3x2 minute surges, hilly run up Sabino Canyon
Sleep: 7.5h 7/10
9/16/08 pm., 4.25 miles at 6:45 pace (downhill all the way to pick up my car)