Archive for October 19, 2011

Over the past few years I have read a lot of articles and numerous books on marathoning.  I’ve internalized what the experts say about the various types of workouts that will prepare a runner best for the marathon.  How to pace your long runs.  How fast and how frequent tempo workouts should be.  The benefits of hill repeats and how important it is to run easy “recovery”miles to allow your body the necessary rest and rejuvenation period to adapt to the increased training load and grow stronger.

NYC Finish Line

I will run the New York City Marathon 4 years and 50 weeks after my first Marathon in Philadelphia back in 2006. 

I am trying to run it one hour faster.

When you think about it, that doesn’t sound too difficult right?  If I could just get 12 minutes faster every year I would be able to make my goal time and then some.  (I ran Philadelphia in 3:58:06 in my first attempt at the distance).

But when it comes to the marathon like most things in life it is the final gains that are the hardest to come by.  I was able to peel off 40 minutes and 23 seconds in my second marathon finishing Pittsburgh in 3:17:43.  But it has been that final 17 minutes and 43 seconds that has proven to be the hard part.

In New York in a little more than two weeks if we get the right weather, we have an excellent chance.

On Wednesday morning this week I caught a break and on a morning with near perfect running weather, (50 degrees, no wind), I felt like I was recovered enough from Sunday’s 22-mile long run for my final Marathon Pace Workout.

This final pace workout of 10 miles is my go to workout a couple of weeks out from race day.  It is a run that more closely simulates the actual race than any other – ticking off 10 miles at just about race pace – but not running too long where recovering from the workout would take so long that it would affect my final 2-week taper period.  The period when your body basically goes into the shop for repairs, your energy levels and glycogen stores are replenished and you peak for the race of your life.

My 10-mile course here in Austin is one with some rolling hills to it.  4 miles are run on smooth asphalt, while 6 miles of it is on a softer, slower, crushed granite trail.  I do not train in my lighter race shoes, but instead in my more cushioned and heavier Brooks Ghost 4’s which are 3 ounces heavier and :03 seconds/mile “slower” than my Adidas Aegis Marathon Racers.

So instead of running this workout aiming at 6:52 min./mile pace or the pace I will need to average to finish New York City in 2:59:59 – anything :04-:05 seconds per mile slower will mimic the “effort” I need to match mile after mile in New York.  I run this workout as a “no-look” workout, only glancing at my watch at the end of each mile.  Never trying to adjust pace mid-mile by sneaking a peek.

I want to “feel” the pace.  Internalize it. Know” it. 

I want to be able to know when I feel myself slipping a bit and then turn on the faucet just a little bit wider to get back on pace without totally opening the floodgates.   I will save that final turn of the faucet for Central Park when the distance and the hills start to rise up to meet me and try to dash my dreams of a sub 3 hour marathon.

.20 Miles to go

So on tired legs, headlamp strapped to our head, water bottle strapped to our belt I took to the opening hill to count them off:

7:00, 6:47, 7:01, 6:52, 6:59, 7:00, 7:05, 6:59, 6:47, 6:39.

10 Miles – 1:09:13.

6:55 Pace.

Just about perfect.  In the end all you can do is put in the work and hope that on race day it all comes together for you.  For many of the more than 46,000 marathoners on race day in New York it simply is not going to be their day.  The weather, an unexpected injury, nutrition, hydration or simply the will to race won’t be there for them.

For others it will all come together in a perfect storm of events and they will indeed run the race of their life.

I am going to fall into one of the above groups.  There is no way of knowing which one for three more Sundays.

But this much I know, the last 18 weeks have been all about giving us a chance.  We’ve got a pretty damn good one in New York City.