Sunday, October 29, 2017

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon: Pre-Race Thoughts

And just like that, another marathon training cycle is nearly complete!

I ran two hard workouts this week, and now I am officially in "just get to the start line healthy" mode. Because I took three days off to let my Achilles tendons calm down, my schedule shifted so that last weekend's long run was actually on this week's Monday.

Training Wrap Up
The prescribed long run was 16 miles, with the last six starting at marathon pace, and then speeding up depending on how I felt. Now that it was October 23rd, my patience for continued warm and
Still warm and humid in late October
humid training conditions had run out. There is only so long I can "embrace the suck" of this weather when it's late October! It was 62 degrees with 99% humidity, and I could even see the droplets of moisture in the air with my headlamp.

The first 10 miles felt good, so I was optimistic about the last six. But I found that goal marathon pace felt a lot harder than expected. I hit the first one in 7:30, and then even though I pushed harder for the next mile, all I got was a 7:32. Knowing that my goal marathon pace was 7:27, this was disheartening. Determined to speed up as my coach advised, I pushed really hard for the next two miles and was able to pull out a 7:21 followed by a 7:20. With just two miles left to go, I realized I was nearly at my limit. How could 4 miles at goal marathon pace feel so hard?! The 5th mile was slightly downhill for 7:15, and then I really fell apart. My last mile clocked in at 7:28, but I was running at 100% effort level to reach that pace. Afterwards, I felt frustrated and discouraged. With the marathon in two weeks, I could barely run six miles at marathon pace! I'd like to think that this is due to the humid weather, but of course I don't really know for sure.

During my Myrtle Beach training cycle, I ran several marathon pace workouts that gave me the confidence I needed to execute on race day. During this cycle, I have not successfully run my goal marathon pace during a workout.

BUT! I have run much faster than expected during cool weather tempo runs, and even during a warm one. Thursday's workout restored my confidence that 7:27 is a realistic marathon pace. The prescribed run was 3 tempo miles, 2 tempo miles, 1 tempo mile, all with 4 minutes recovery jog. I was supposed to start at the slow end of my tempo range and speed up throughout the run. And I did it!  7:07, 7:02, 6:55, 6:48, 6:46, 6:41. It felt "comfortably hard" like a tempo should feel, and none of these miles felt like race effort.

Friday was an easy 60 minutes and yesterday was an easy 90 minutes. My legs still felt a little sore from Thursday's workout while I ran the 90 minutes, and I am hoping that they will bounce back to 100% in time for the marathon.

Here's a snapshot of my full cycle:

My coach actually prescribed seven additional miles for this week (two 30-minute recovery jogs on Tuesday and Sunday) but in the spirit of letting my Achilles Tendons calm down, I skipped them.

Race Goals
As I mentioned above, I really wish I had been able to execute more successful marathon pace runs during this cycle. I also wish I had run a tune-up race that had indicated where my fitness was at. But alas, I have neither of these, so I will have to rely on my speedy tempo runs as confidence.

The fact that my legs felt sore during yesterday's run was, admittedly, a bit discouraging as well. Typically in training I can run a six-mile hard workout on Thursday and follow it up with a 16+ mile run two days later and feel fine.

My "A" goal time is sub-3:18 because I think I am capable of it. So does my coach. However, I would be elated to simply break 3:20. Right now the forecast is looking decent, although not ideal. (Ideal for me is high 30s). It's about as warm as I'd want for it to be so if it trends any warmer between now and race day, I will not be a happy camper.

In terms of non time-based goals, I want to run a smart race where I don't go out too fast, but I go out fast enough so that I'm not having to run ridiculously fast during the last 10K. I also want to focus on enjoying the race, executing my nutrition and hydration plan, and pushing as hard as possible during those final miles, even though I know it will hurt.

I'm not really nervous or anxious about this race. And it actually doesn't even feel like a taper. I'm just excited to get to Indianapolis and kick off race weekend. I'm also really looking forward to having more free time once I'm not marathon training so my life in general doesn't feel as rushed.


  1. I think the cooler weather we're having here in the midwest is going to help you meet and/or beat your goal!

  2. I think you'll surprise yourself on race day. I almost always have tepid or terrible last workouts or last long runs; they don't necessarily mean that my race will be bad. Sometimes it's just accumulated fatigue (mental and physical). Taking the extra days off was smart.

  3. I also get frustrated when I can't hold GMP sometimes for shorter distances in training runs right before a race. It pisses me off! My Coach just keeps reminding me of the hugely successful training runs I have had and to just shake it off as part of fatigue, or the weather, or whatever. You have had a killer training cycle despite the horrible summer weather; I have no doubt you will throw down at the marathon! - Kim K.

  4. I feel like I could have written this post! It's been a tough fall in the northeast for marathon training. My goal is also 3:18-3:20 with the main goal of breaking 3:20. I think we've got this!!