Sunday, March 28, 2010

Reflections

Now that it's been a week since the Shamrock marathon attempt, I've really started to contemplate my running philosophy. I don't have a single regret about the DNF because there was no way I could have finished given the state that I was in. Even if I had been able to run/walk to the finish, I would have gotten one of my slowest times ever, after putting in one of my best training cycles in ever.

A lot of runners say "take what the day gives you" and make the most out of unfavorable racing conditions. I agree with this if you are going for an age group award, or if it's a shorter race where you can bounce back quickly and then enter another one. However, I have a very specific marathon goal. I've woken up at 5:00am or earlier nearly every day for the past two years in pursuit of this goal. I've made a lot of sacrifices so that I could put in the training time necessary to run a good marathon. Throwing it away on a day when the weather makes it impossible to meet this goal would just be stupid.

As I said in my last blog, the warm weather affects me much more than most runners, so I just have to accept that and lower my expectations for warm/hot races.

I am faster now than I ever have been. I just ran a 5-mile race at a pace of 7:26, which is faster than my 5K PR. And I've run quite a few 5Ks. Furthermore, my "easy" pace has sped up from 9:45 from last summer down to about 8:55. "Easy" pace for me correlates to a HR of 155-165. Additionally, when I run an 8:55 pace now on my easy runs, it feels like 9:30 used to feel.

If I had actually been able to run all the marathons I have trained for over the past two years (without the illness, injury, and weather situations) then I am sure I would have set a few PRs. Every time I "miss" a marathon, the training doesn't go away so I just build on that for the next one. So I have about 5 training cycles built up-- so my goal for my next one is going to be faster than my goal for the fall 2008 marathon that I had to pass on because I was sick.

As for my next marathon, I have decided to not run the New Jersey marathon. The main reason is because of the 9:00am start time. Last year, the race started at 8:00am, but it was delayed by 30 minutes because their shuttle system wasn't efficient. So instead of addressing the shuttle system, they are simply starting the race an hour later. Not only does this translate into warmer weather, but it's also off-schedule with what my body is used to. I typically begin my long runs at 8:00 or earlier, and my weekday runs at 5:00.

Instead, I found a marathon that's only a 20-minute drive from my house-- the Potomac River Run Marathon on May 2. This marathon is an out-and-back twice, on a dirt/gravel trail. It starts at 7:00am, it's mostly shaded, is limited to 300 runners, and is chip timed. My fiance will be able to position himself on the course so that he will see me four times, and that support will really help me. Plus, we won't have to invest in a hotel room and another road trip. This will be low-key and I'm not putting the pressure on myself that I did for Shamrock. Over the next 5 weeks, I will be moving to my new house, so there is a lot of other stuff that needs to be dealt with.

This morning, my fiance went out to the C&O canal towpath where the marathon is going to be held. I figured I should do a long run on the course so I would be better prepared for the terrain. I ended up running 17 miles at an average pace of 9:01. Average heart rate was 158. Of course, it was nearly perfect running weather today. Completely overcast and mid 40's. Where was this weather last weekend!!???

Anyway, I have been a bit depressed this past week, but I have made peace with my situation. I know I have a BQ (actually more like a 3:35) in me. I just need to get out there and do it!

6 comments:

  1. I like this race choice for you (I love the little races like this as well). Seriously-something this small takes the edge off and it makes it a lot easier to race. I think out and back can be helpful and motivating as well as far as pacing goes with other runners ahead/behind you, and nothing like having DF able to support you throughout. I will be rooting for you!

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  2. If you're racing 8k's in 7:26's then you really have improved. My PR for the marathon is a 3:42 and I was only running 8's for an 8k. I am also running 7:20's for my five mile runs.

    But yesterday on a 12 mile easy long run, I crashed after mile 5. The weather was warm, upper 60's and my hip was killing me. I'd been running 18 to 20 milers on Sundays but after 5 I was done.

    I know I am in better shape than previous years and I seem faster. I think we both just need to right day and the right course.

    I think your next marathon is a great choice. I've never run that course but I have read about it. I think you'll really like the soft surface especially around mile 22. Crowd support, it really just distracts me. Your night gonna be there for the fun but for the performance. A tree lined cousre with only a few runners should really help you focus on your goal.

    Good Luck and we'll keep following your journey.

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  3. I really like your chances--sounds like a perfect low-key place to relax and get the job done!

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  4. I think that's a great choice for you.

    BTW, I think you made a good decision, not that my opinion counts. I'd have kept going, but my goal in a marathon is to finish. period. You are training for something else entirely and why would you want to hurt yourself when you have no chance of getting there? Good luck with the new plan!!

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  5. I'm so glad you have a plan for your BQ. I think having your fiance there w/ water, etc is an excellent idea! GOOD LUCK!!!!

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  6. Thanks everyone!

    YorktownRunner- Thanks for sharing your experience. It's frustrating when long runs get messed up like that. My theory about warm weather is that it just makes you work a lot harder so your muscles are more likely to get sore, even at your "easy" pace on a cooler day. My legs were killing me during the Shamrock attempt, and I had only run 11 miles!

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