Archive for January 21, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011.

Back on October 4th when this training cycle began I had my eye on this day.  How I felt on January 21st was going to tell me a whole lot about how we were going to race at Austin.

I tried to put together a training plan that would ask me to do more than I had ever done in the past to prepare for a race, but not so much that it would break me.

I wanted to run more tempo runs.  More hill repeats, more mileage.  Longer midweek long runs, longer Sunday “really long” runs. 

I wanted to run four runs of more than 20 miles, when in the past I had never run more than three.

My first 21 mile training run.

My first 22 mile training run.

I wanted to race more, and next Sunday I will run my sixth race since training began.  Six races before we show up to “race” on February 20th.

To this point we’ve run and raced 76 times covering 694.05 miles.

20 runs remain, adding another 160 miles before race day. 

Amazing considering I have never run more than 681 miles preparing for a marathon.  I will be adding 23% to that total during this cycle, all just to have a chance to kick Lady Marathon firmly in the ass in four weeks time.

That is the funny thing about this race and this distance.  With all the hard work and preparation, my odds for really crushing on February 20th?

Not much better than 60% I would estimate.

Weather, injury, an off-day, illness or just a simple miscalculation when it comes to nutrition or hydration and that 26.2 mile distance will rise up and be the one doing the kicking in four weeks.  I’ve seen it happen to other runners and I have felt it happen to me on more than one occasion.

But today things are good.

I have a 10-mile pace run scheduled for Saturday and my final 20 mile run on Sunday.  Just 30 miles stand between me and the mystical “taper”.

The time when training is reduced and all of the bumps and bruises from training are able to heal themselves prior to race day.  I knew that if I could get to this point in one piece, that I had a great chance to be sharp as hell on February 20th.

So how are we doing?

Well, the first chink in the armor was felt a week or so ago.  A little bit of soreness in my left Achilles tendon.  Nothing more than a nag really, but something to “watch” so to speak.

I traveled to New Orleans, LA this week for a work retreat.  Tuesday morning my group and I volunteered our day working with Habitat for Humanity.  We were assigned to a home build providing affordable housing to a family far less fortunate than each of us.

Before heading off to the construction site, I  took to the streets of New Orleans for a 4:15 a.m. 8 mile pace run up St. Charles Avenue along the trolley car tracks up toward Tulane University from the French Quarter.

St. Charles Avenue Trolly Line - 11 Mile Run

The route is more or less a “local favorite” as runners are able to run the tracks, essentially a grassy, hard packed gravel trail stretching for several miles out of downtown.  I strapped my headlamp to my head, fired it up and took off at sub 7:00 min./mile pace through the early morning streets of the Crescent City.  Aside from having to dodge an oncoming street car every 20 minutes or so, the route is every enjoyable.

I realized that early morning is also technically “late at night” in New Orleans and I did come upon quite a few late night townspeople and visitors to the city along my run.  Clipping by at 8.3 mph, I think we were both sharing a look of incredulity with one another.

Me thinking, “what in the hell are they doing out here at this hour?”

Them thinking, “what in the hell is he doing out here at this hour?”

Good stuff.

I took the same route at the same time on Wednesday, stretching my mid-week mileage out to 11 miles at 7:19 pace. 

Just an “Easy” run in the Big Easy.

Then on Thursday morning a final 10-miler before heading back to Austin at 6:53 pace.  My last hard workout on the training plan before this weekend’s final longest of long runs.

One thing that was pretty remarkable was the elevation change, or lack thereof, on my runs this week.  Flat as a pancake does not do justice to just how flat the gound I covered truly was.

Got Hills?

It was good “active recovery” for my Achilles tendon as I did virtually no climbing whatsoever this week.

So here we are.

30 miles to go.

A final half-marathon at 3M a week from Sunday.

A three week taper, then?

Boom goes the dynamite on February 20th.

I can hardly wait.