Marathon training

It’s something of a shock to realize that I have a marathon coming up in about 3 weeks. I haven’t really been paying much attention — partly because almost everyone I know is training for Santa Barbara this weekend and only 4 or 5 of us are going to Sacramento, it’s hard to get excited about a race when everyone else is excited for a different one. And partly, sigh, because I don’t have very high hopes.

My training has been — well — adequate. I’m doing what I need to, but I’m not doing better than I need to. I’m not running as well as I was in April, for example. I’ve had a string of disappointing races this year. I’m still struggling to figure out what nutrition (or hydration, or whatever) I need to run a long race, and have no idea what I should try that might make a difference.

So I’m expecting another mediocre marathon. Maybe I should just accept that and run at a 7 minute pace rather than a 6:50. Or maybe 7:10? Hoping that if I go slowly enough at the start I won’t die in the middle. I dunno.

At track practice last week Rusty assigned me an 8x1k workout. He always does that right before a marathon, it’s sort of his version of a Yasso workout. Sorta. But halfway through it struck me: “Oh yeah, I’m running a marathon soon. That’s why I’m doing this.” This time we had less rest than usual (only 1min between repeats) and the pace was 91~92 second quarters. The short rest was interesting, I like to think that means that I could have run 90 second quarters if I’d had a traditional 3 minute rest. But assume the worst, 92 second quarters means 3:04 for the 800 which implies a 3:04:00 marathon which is 7 minute pace (and would still be a PR if I could actually do it. The problem for me is that neither the Yasso workout nor the Snow variation is a good predictor of marathon finish time. So far anyway).

Then last Saturday, being 4 weeks out, I would normally have done 10 miles at marathon pace, followed (this weekend) 13 miles at MP. But I will be pacing the 3:30 group at SBIM and won’t be doing any MP work, so I persuaded Mike that I should do 13 miles right then. Things got hard around mile 12 and my pace dropped to 7 minute for that mile, but I somehow found a bit more energy and finished the last mile at 6:50. I averaged 6:48 for the full 13 miles (which turned out to be almost 14). This was not as heartening as it might seem as the course was pretty flat and easy and it felt hard at the end.

Today I was supposed to run for 90 minutes on the trails. I decided I needed to find 8 minute pace — as I need to run SBIM at that pace, and other people depend on me to do that. So I ran round and round the Wilcox, with its sand pits, and dogs and small ups and downs… Running an 8 minute pace is pretty easy if you don’t care whether it’s 8:10 or 7:30, but it was surprisingly hard to get it exact. I tend to want to run it a little faster than I should. But after the 10th lap I finally seemed to click in and the next two were pretty much the same. So that’s encouraging. Hope that I’ll still be able to find it on Saturday…

And then there’s Saturday. 26 miles at an 8 minute pace. Is that going to be good training for a ~3 hour marathon in three weeks? Who knows…

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