Austin Marathon Training – Perseverence

Posted: January 16, 2011 in Training
Tags: , , ,

Just 5 weeks remain in the training cycle leading up to the Austin Marathon on February 20th. Five weeks still sounds like a long time, and in a lot of instances it is. But during marathon training the final five weeks goes by in the blink of an eye.

The final three weeks of the training plan lurk on the horizon, where I will cut my weekly mileage down from its peak by 75% in the first week of the taper, then 50% in the second week and 25% leading up to race day.

The idea behind the taper is to allow the runner, in this case a marathoner, to decrease their training load to peak for race day. Those three weeks can be mentally challenging as the runner believes they are losing fitness. But the repair work that is going on inside the runner’s body is worth any mental challenges they need to fight through.

For the first time ever, I am actually looking forward to the marathon taper as I know that I have pushed myself very close to my limits during this training cycle. The three week “rest” period will be well deserved and much needed. It will manifest itself on race day hopefully allowing my body and mind to hold a race pace between :10 and :15 seconds faster per mile than my training paces while expending what will feel like the same effort.

That is the hope anyway.

But before we get to that point, there was a little bit of unfinished business this weekend. Saturday featured a 10 kilometer pace run, followed by Sunday’s 12-mile long run.

This week will take us to New Orleans for work, where I will put in a 58 mile run week featuring my final 20 mile long run next Sunday.

Then on January 30th we will be racing at the 3M Half-Marathon. The last really tough run of our training cycle, kicking off our taper.

As is always the case those “little runs” on the training schedule can sometimes test you much more than some of the “big runs”. Both runs this weekend took place in what one could only describe as “Craptastic” weather.

Rain, cold, wind, wet feet – at the end of each run I was soaked to the bone, feeling as if I had jumped into a swimming pool post run.

Newspaper Stuffed Trainers

During my 12-miler on Sunday my mind jumped from topic to topic, idea to idea. I spent some time thinking about last year’s ramp up to Boston. How hard I tried to convince myself that I had enough time after my injury to get ready. How even though I hadn’t put in the miles that I normally would, I was a better runner than the 2009 version of myself. I would rise to the challenge. I would be ready on April 19th.

What I realized that day is that determination can take you only so far. Without putting in the work, you simply can’t be your best.

As I was pushing up to the top of the hill at mile 4 my mind jumped to my favorite Christmas present this year. It wasn’t the biggest or most expensive, but it was the one that my wife picked out for me and tucked into my stocking.

A Tavern Puzzle.

You have probably seen these heavy metal puzzles that require you to move things around, slide rings and clasps back and forth to free a certain puzzle piece. In the case of my puzzle, you need to remove a large round ring from the body of the puzzle.

A seemingly impossible task upon first glance, but one that if you put in the time, continue to try new approaches and never give up, in the end. Success.

As the miles ticked by I thought a lot about that puzzle and how it provided a great metaphor to what the last nine months have been about for me. In many ways I continued to train for a race and do my best to honor Dom and his fight with cancer.

That much is the same. But to live up to a promise I made to Dom on May 2nd, it was going to require a new approach, a different way of looking at my marathon training and taking a few risks. Getting out of my comfort zone just a bit to chase rewards that would not be available to me otherwise.

Sunday’s run through a cold rainy Austin was a fast finish 12-miler in 1:23:32. 6:57 min./mile pace.

After warming up over the opening two miles, the final 10 were the miles that I was going to make count, splits were:

7:27, 7:16, 7:06, 6:53, 6:59, 7:05, 6:55, 6:55, 6:45, 6:44, 6:47, 6:35

Getting out of my wet running clothes in the garage I was feeling pretty darn good about where we are right now. Just one more tough week, just one more race, just one more truly “long” long-run and we’re home.

At my desk I glanced down at the package surrounding my tavern puzzle.

In big bold letters it read:


Exactly right.

  1. Jodi Higgins says:

    Great job Joe! That puzzle looks very interesting yet challenging! Your strength continues to amaze me! You are truly my hero!

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