I just don’t have enough time in my life. I really thought I’d be writing at a minimum of once a week. I love to write. But I have no coherent thoughts at 9:30 at night because I just need to sleep so I can be up at 5:15AM for another training run. I vow this…one post per week at a minimum for here on out. No longer will my blog look like this:
So when we last got together I had just completed the peak week of training. Each week of training after that has been around 50mpw. No setbacks and I began to see huge improvements when the weather turned cooler. No more slogging through high humidity days hallucinating about the next water fountain. Instead, it was faster running and my mind started to drift like it always does when the running seems easy.
The are always two workouts that make me anxious until I do them. Intervals and long marathon pace runs. I’ve never really bombed any of these but they are key workouts to let you know how your fitness is progressing. The first of these was on September 4th. A scheduled 17 mile run with 14 at my marathon pace of 8:00. The longest races I’ve been able to hold that pace is a half-marathon. But then again, I’ve never completed the full Pfitz 18/55 program before which is the hardest I’ve ever trained for a race. The weather that morning was sickeningly perfect. 51 degrees and sunny. No excuse there. After the 2m warm up, my first mile was at a 7:57 pace. It felt easy. It was one of those glorious runs were nothing hurts and hydration is perfect. My legs just kept going. Almost as if they were rallying the rest of my body to run faster. The 14 turned into 15 miles because I felt so good. Mile 14 was clocked at a 7:29 pace. I absolutely crushed the workout. My pace average was 7:49 for 15miles. In my head, I can see slowing that run down by 11 seconds per mile and running another 11.2. This is a huge confidence boost for the attempt at Boston.
Last week, I did a tune-up race. Pfitz wants these to be all out efforts as another indicator of fitness. I decided on the Chicago Lung Run 10k. Give a few dollars to the cancer cause and run at the same time. the day was kind of gloomy. White caps out on Lake Michigan, drizzle and temps in the low 50’s. Lakefront or downtown races usually bring out the speed demons in Chicago. All of those younger runners who have time on their side and speed to burn. It also brings out the cagey veterans who’ve run a thousand races and can do 6 minute miles in their sleep. So just before the race starts, I line up about 50-60 back from the start line. I figure everyone in front is way faster and it will clear out pretty quickly. Wrong! If I had started the first 150 yards any slower I would have been walking. It was run on the narrow lakefront paths, so I began to dodge and weave to get some room to run. It might have been a blessing in disguise. At Mile marker 1 my time was 7:17. Right where I wanted to be.
Without the logjam I might have run it too fast. Then something strange happened. There were huge gaps between runners. I began to run long stretches all alone. This shouldn’t happen to a mid-packer like myself. Only elites and speedy people run alone. I had to actually look out for the volunteers so they could point me in the right direction to run. There was no one to run with until about Mile 3 or 4 when I caught one other runner and drafted off of him for a half mile. It becomes much tougher to pace yourself. I eventually left that runner and basically ran alone for the rest of the race. The only other runners I saw were the leaders as the path doubled back or the rest of the runners after I doubled back. Very strange indeed. I crossed the finish line at a 7:10 pace. Paces were 7:17, 7:31, 6:51, 7:15, 7:17, 6:57, and 1:26 for .2 (7:10). I finished 20th overall in a race of 420. A second place in my age group. there were no age group awards, but I have the satisfaction that I did it.
The Pfitz program is working. I have dreams of crossing that finish line on 10/10 with a BQ. But the marathon is an evil beast. Anything can happen. Good or bad. On Sunday, I will run my last 20 miler with the CARA group along the lakefront. The advantage to this run is I don’t have to worry about hydration. It’s provided. Plus it’s a change of scenery from my usual forest preserve runs. It’s followed by a celebration of sorts. Two free beers to all runners and food will be available. In other words, a small celebration for working so hard in the previous 15 weeks.
Just get to the start line healthy is now my mantra. Don’t do anything stupid. Taper time begins on Monday. Cue the scary music…..dun dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.