11 Weeks to Austin – Time is flying.

Posted: December 5, 2010 in Training
Tags: , , ,

Sunday morning arrived on the heels of Dawn and my 11th Wedding Anniversary.  Seems like just yesterday we were coming back from our honeymoon and moving out to Austin, TX.  Just a year ago we were celebrating 10 years together.

Now when I look over in the corner little Landry is in her swing taking an afternoon nap.  Time is really flying.

I debated where to run this weeks long run.  I thought about driving over to Decker Lake and running my 18-miler on the Decker Challenge Course.  It would make my Sunday long-run “interesting” and also grant me the opportunity for a “course preview” for this weeks upcoming Decker Half Marathon.

As appealing as that sounded I thought it would be more useful to tack on another mile to last Sunday’s 17-mile run and work on some things for Austin.  I’ve been trying to lock in on what my “C” goal should be for the Austin Marathon.

“A” Goal is easy – Boston Qualify (3:20:59)

“B” Goal also easy – PR (3:17:43)

While both of those goals are “BIG”, they are also goals that are well within my grasp.  Quite honestly, barring injury or mishap, if I miss either of those goals on February 2oth I will be pretty disappointed.

Landry's First Christmas Tree - Boston is always lurking.

I know I have a best ever marathon in me this year.  I don’t think I do, I know I do.  It’s just a matter of putting it all together over the next 11 weeks and getting to the starting line physically and mentally ready to crush Austin.

I have a little unfinished business with Miss 26.2, and I have a promise to keep to Dom.  I have no intention of letting a little pain and discomfort come between us making those first two goals.

The “C” goal is a little trickier.  For lack of a better term, this is my stretch goal.  A goal that should it be accomplished will leave this aging marathoner feeling pretty darn good about himself post-race.  A feeling I haven’t felt since May of 2009 coming through the chute at Pittsburgh with our Boston time.

Sunday’s run was about taking to the hills again and seeing just how close we could come to another long-run at/near 7:10 min./mile pace. 

To come in with a time of 3:09:59 we are going to have to run Austin at 7:14 min./mile pace.  Managing the hills at Austin as well as staying disciplined on pacing is what is going to rule the day. 

With 11 weeks to go before race day we still have some strength to build and some conditioning to add to our arsenal.  But a strong 18-mile run after 8 miles on Saturday at 6:56 pace, and a grueling set of hill repeats on Thursday, would go a long way to chart our progress and help me lock in on that “C” goal.

Our anniversary dinner consisted of a visit to the local Sushi Bar.  Not quite a traditional cabo-loading meal of pasta, bread and salad like I normally do before long runs, but still a pretty solid pre-race dinner.

The temperature on Sunday morning was 41 degrees, with 8-10 mph winds blowing from the North.  I would be running into the wind from mile 6 through 13, then again on miles 16 and 17.  A nice test while climbing up and over the dam at Brushy Creek Trail toward the end of my run.

Elevation Chart for Sunday's Run

I wanted to stick with a course I knew well instead of getting caught up thinking about next weekend’s race at Decker.  Landry and I will go on a little “Recon” mission on Monday to scope out the Decker Challenge Course.

I opted for shorts, a long-sleeve Under Armour top, my Moeben arm sleeves to carry my Clif Shot Bloks, my hydrabelt packed with water and Gatorade, my mid-weight gloves and my new Nike Running Hat. 

I am a big fan of the Under Armour Skull Cap for runs in the mid 40’s, but have found that my unprotected ears get a bit cold in those temperatures.  My  new Nike hat has the same weight as my skull caps, but extends down over the ears for added warmth.

Nike Running Hat w/ Rear Slot

It even has a slot sewn into the back of the hat to manage the wires for your earbuds.  Frankly I had forgotten all about the hat after mile number 2. 

I will be writing a running hat review later this week as we all gear up for Winter.  Needless to say my Nike hat will be getting high marks.

After shaking loose over the first mile and a half, I wanted to lock in on 7:05-7:10 effort and “stay there”.  That will be the pace that I will have to really settle into over the meat of the Austin Marathon course.  The hills will push splits higher and lower, but managing that “effort” will be something that I need to have DOWN prior to race day.

Knowing how that pace “feels” is much more valuable than relying on your watch on a hilly course. 

The reality is that if you try to smooth that pace out mile after mile and run identical timed splits, you will be working much harder on the uphill portions of the course burning far more “energy” than you will be able to “conserve” on the downhills.

Splits on Sunday were:

7:26 , 7:18 , 7:07 , 7:06 , 6:59 , 7:06 , 7:09 , 7:16 , 6:58 , 7:08 , 7:05 , 7:04 , 7:09 , 6:54 , 7:12 , 7:12 , 7:10 , 7:03

With the exception of dropping one of my packages of gels at mile 5, the run went almost exactly the way I hoped it would.  Total time 2:10:14 over 18.25 miles – 7:08 min./mile.

Can we hold that pace for 26.2 miles with a marathon taper on rested legs?  Not sure, that might need to be filed under the “D” goal category, one that at this point would be pretty unbelievable.  That would set our new PR for the marathon at 3:07:01.

That is the thing about race day however.  Sometimes with a little bit of luck, cooperation from the weather and some of that “race day mojo” that may arrive – anything is possible.

This was a good first step however as we now only have two half-marathons and four long runs remaining before we start the marathon taper.  19, 20, 21, 20 mile runs await over the next 6 weeks.  Then it will be time to let the taper physically repair the body and get mentally right for February 20th.

In the meantime, we have a little race to run next weekend at Decker.  Going to be a tough 13.1 miles on a tough course.  Sounds just like what the Doctor ordered.  None of this was ever supposed to be easy. 

That’s pretty much the point.

  1. Jim in Maine says:

    Just about a perfect run Joe and a wonderfully detailed account of why this run is so on point for where you need to be right now. Your attention to detail combined with your consistent effort reflect so well your mental approach and physical ability. I understand one can never take anything for granted and you are not – but, on the other hand, when you are on a powerful wave of earned opportunity you have to keep pushing the limits and allowing for even more growth. It is a pleasure following your progress that goal A, B, C, D – and who knows what else might develop.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Jim! Thanks so much for the visit and the message – man, did you put together a great week of training up in Maine. Very impressive Sir. I wish we would be running together on the 20th Jim, but I know you’ll be following the journey closely and getting ready for your own Marathon.

      Best to you and to Patti and the girls Jim! thanks for everything. J

  2. onelittlejill says:

    Wait? It’s not supposed to be easy??? 😉

    I agree with Jim- your attention to detail going to in Austin reflects a mental game that almost nothing will be able to contend with come race day. You have it in you, you know it and your readers know it! Most importantly, Dom knows it. I have a feeling he will be pushing you along in Austin!

    And about that time flying…before you know she will be walking and talking!!!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Jill! I have the feeling that I’m going to wake up one day and she’ll be asking for the car keys …. not to mention all the boy problems that will be here before you know it.

      Going to be an interesting last 11 weeks or so leading up to Austin. Big and difficult half-marathon this weekend, that’s getting most of my attention this week for sure.

      Best to you Jill!

  3. Congratulations to you and Dawn!

    I always appreciate how you clearly show how much of a “thinking man’s” sport distance running is. I think I’m only beginning to relaize this for myself in a practical way…it’s not just pull on sneakers and go. All the best things in life take planning and preparation, two things you’re not short on at all.

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