The week Immediately following a race is always an interesting one when you choose to incorporate shorter races in your marathon training.

This is something that I started doing participating in last year’s Austin Distance Challenge, leading up to the Austin Marathon in February of 2011 and a strategy I continued preparing for the New York Marathon this Fall.  Racing the half-marathon distance of 13.1 miles presents a great training opportunity when preparing for the marathon.  Without a “race day”, I know that I will not be able to run a 13 mile workout at the same intensity level and pace.

There is something about race day, whether it is the adrenaline rush, the other runners or simply the rhythm of the event.  The warm-up, pinning on a bib and competing against yourself and the clock all combine for a workout that I cannot duplicate alone on a quiet trail before sunrise.

Most marathoners would agree that if your goal is to run 26.2 miles at 6:52 pace, running 13.1 at 6:32 pace, or hopefully 6:25 pace in either the Austin Half Marathon on February 19th, or the Shamrock Half Marathon on March 18th in Virginia Beach will pay off in a big way come marathon morning.

But more importantly to me is to be able to bounce back from those races and continue to sharpen the sword by falling right back into marathon training.  This week after the Texas Half I was able to put together a tremendous series of workouts.

16 miles on a snowy trail in Buffalo, NY on Tuesday, 12 miles up-tempo on Wednesday back in Austin, 10+ miles of hill repeats on Thursday, another up-tempo 12 miler on Saturday morning and finally a 21-mile long run on Sunday.

All totaled 71 training miles, which marks the highest mileage I have ever covered in a seven day period – and despite being a bit fatigued to start the week after racing last Saturday – I got stronger and stronger as the week wore on.

Another 70 mile week lays ahead of us over the next 7 days and then we will once again dial things back a bit leading into the Austin half-marathon to give ourselves a chance at running a solid time over a tough hilly course.

Despite being a bit disappointed by the weather last weekend at the Texas Half and my finish time that was slowed by the windy conditions to a 1:25:35 I was very encouraged after looking back at my 10th place finish overall and seeing some of the race photos from the closing 1/2 mile of the race.

Below is a shot when I made my move with just under a half mile to go to the finish as I passed a pair of runners I had been tracking.

1/4 mile to go in The Texas Half

I have seen that look on my face in race photos before, closing out the Run for the Water 10-mile race last year and again over the final stretch at the 3M half Marathon in January of 2011 – both PR races where I was zeroed in on only the finish line, form still strong – running with an attitude.

At the finish line less than 1/4 mile later the two runners I passed are no longer in the picture.

Texas Half Finish – 1st Place Age Group

At the time of the race when other runners were hanging on, I was getting stronger.  Exactly where we want to be with Boston now just over two months away.

A few more high-mileage weeks, two more half-marathons and finally the Cap 10K as our final tune-up with a chance to work on our leg turnover and we will be ready to lay it all on the line April 16th in Boston.  Our training schedule still has 545 miles to go before our “A” race, but for the first time this training cycle I am starting to get a view of that starting line.
I have a sense right now that barring injury we are going to be better than we have ever been on Marathon Morning.
Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose.
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