Training week number 12 is in the books and only 4 weeks remain to Boston. I don’t want to jinx anything at this point – but I caught myself smiling quite a bit during my 12-mile run on Sunday morning. I am feeling very, very good right now. After increasing weekly mileage each of the last two weeks and stretching our Sunday long runs to 19 and 20 miles respectively – this was a welcome week on the training calendar.
Sunday’s run only covered 12 miles allowing for a good workout – but a bit of a “break” in heavy mileage for these 42 year-old legs. We had a pretty significant (for Austin) first day of spring cold-front come in overnight and the thermometer read only 34 degrees this morning when I started on my way. It was actually nice to put the leggings back on with a heavy Under Armour top and my trusty arctic beanie for what might be my last “cold-weather” run of the year. It took a little while for the legs to get moving after yesterday’s 22 mile cycling workout – but as I reached mile 4 of the run I fell into a nice even pace and really gobbled up the miles. Total time of 1:27:18 at 7:16/mile pace.
Pace on Sunday was about 10-15 seconds faster than race pace which was just about what I was hoping for at the end of a reduced mileage week. Mile splits were very consistent at: 7:34, 7:18, 7:26, 7:16, 7:18, 7:12, 7:14, 7:04, 7:12, 7:17, 7:10 and 7:10. I focused on even effort over the last 8 miles and tried to keep my stride long and consistent.
At this point in the training program the level of fitness that I am going to carry into Boston has pretty much been attained. In the last 12-weeks we have posted 48 training runs totaling 369.25 miles, 32 cycling workouts covering 464 miles and 36 strength training sessions to work on building a strong core while strengthening the back, chest, arm and leg muscles. For lack of a better word – we are essentially – “trained”.
What I try to focus on from here on out is my form and running economy. Form is what makes you “smooth”, and smooth is what makes you fast. The biggest difference I noticed during the late stages at the Pittsburgh Marathon last year was that with all the additional strength training I had done leading up to the race I was able to keep my stride long and run tall even when my legs started to go away from me over the last 4-5 miles of the marathon. This was no accident and I have been very committed to keeping up with my core work over the last 12 weeks.
The 369.25 running miles and 464 cycling miles look good crossed off of the “magic fridge” http://wp.me/pHGel-a4 when I reach inside for a drink or a snack – but the 3,600 crunches, 4,500 incline sit-ups and 1,620 Horizontal to Vertical leg lifts with a 10 lb. dumbbell between my feet these past 12 weeks have paid off as well. Those workouts are not something that I would call “fun” necessarily – but they serve a very important purpose in strengthening that core and making sure everything is firing on all cylinders for April 19th at Boston and May 2nd at Pittsburgh 13 days later. I am hoping that it is that race, that second marathon in Pittsburgh where all of this training really pays dividends.
So what is on deck this week? This is it really – the final really tough training week before we start the three-week taper to Boston.
Monday: 12-mile cycling workout/strength training
Tuesday: 5-mile recovery run
Wednesday: 10-mile run/strength training
Thursday: 12-mile cycling workout
Friday: 10-mile run/strength training
Saturday: 12-mile cycling workout
Sunday: 20-mile long run
This is an important nutrition week with two 10-mile runs scheduled and the final 20-mile long run for Sunday that I may stretch a bit beyond that – but not too much. It is a great opportunity to get my nutrition plan in order for the week of the marathon and a chance to take out our actual race shoes for a quick test-drive.
Only 4 weeks to go from here – I am already starting to feel the nerves and anxiety beginning to build a bit. This seems to happen to me every time a race draws near. In just a month we’ll be hopping up and down in the starting corral getting loose for the biggest race there is for a marathoner – the 114th running of the Boston Marathon. Bring it on.