Saturday, March 12, 2011

3:20 = Drawn Outside the Lines of Reason (and ability!)


Once Thursday has become Tempo Run day and, it being Thursday, I had a tempo run queued up. 6 miles total. 2 miles easy, 3 miles at Short Tempo pace (8.7 - 8.9 MPH), 1 mile easy.  I tend to be a creature of habit at work and take my lunch break at the gym, eating my actual lunch at my desk in the afternoon.  Working backwards from there, I have my pre-workout PB&J between 10:30 and 11:00AM.  Things did not go to plan on Thursday.  A morning meeting ran way long and didn't leave enough time to get to the gym & back in time for the 2h meeting I had at 1:00PM.

Fortunately, my afternoon was open beyond that, so I rebooked my calender from the noon hour to 3:00PM for my run and, having already dutifully scarfed down my sammich at 10:30, worked through the noon hour and took my grilled chicken & brown rice with me to my 1:00PM meeting.  This effectively moved my post-workout meal/lunch to a hobbitish second pre-workout meal.

So getting over the gym I'm actually feeling fairly decent.  I do my warm-up routine, spend some time hating the foam roller, and do an easy mile on the treadmill before getting off to do another round of stretching.  I remounted the treadmill and did another comfortable mile before cranking the speed up for the tempo run.

Now, I know I can (or at least I have) run a 5k in 21'30" and that shakes out to about 8.65 MPH and that was before I really started training in earnest for the half marathon last fall.  My expectation was that I should be able to do this one, no problem.  I was wrong.

Or maybe I wasn't.  I ended up turning the 3 mile tempo run into about 3 miles of lower intensity (but still punishing-feeling) 1600k intervals at 8.9 MPH, 8.6 MPH, and 8.9 MPH.  I'm still thinking long-term and with an 18 miler due up this weekend, I didn't want to gimp into the weekend.  While I was running that second leg, I made a decision about something I had been contemplating for about week.  Revision of the goal Marathon Pace.

2011-MAR-10 Diet Log
(forgot the iPod again; no run graph)


I had made a decision to take a stab at putting together an aggressive training plan to see if I could achieve a 3:20 time in the full marathon.  That would mean running the entire 26.2 at a slightly faster pace than I ran either of my half marathons.  I still think that plan had merit and was based on the fact that I was still getting stronger & faster with my last race of 2010 and I should be able to train at an increasingly rapid pace.

What I didn't truly factor in was how much I lost between November and February.  I maintained a light running schedule and focused more on overall conditioning.  I build my mileage back up in January, but my pace dropped considerably.  What I came to realize this week is that my current level of training isn't yet back to the level I raced at in November.  Trying to train at a level more intense than where I was when I was training for the halfs isn't cutting it and, while I do believe in stretch goals and pushing the envelope, running a marathon is envelope-pushing in and of itself.

Cop out?  Maybe.  However, it's MY race and MY blog and MY plan (and I'm an only child, so it's always about ME), and I know that restructuring my pacing is the wise thing to do.  Running distance has rarely been fun for me, but what worked for me to get me to (and through) my half marathons was being lucky enough to choose an appropriate pace for my ability, push hard in my workouts, and get where I needed to be.  By setting the bar too high for my current abilities, my running workouts have been a triple-play of #fail
-- Strike 1: Running on the Treadmill.
-- Strike 2: Inability to complete the workout at the prescribed pace.
-- Strike 3: Discouragement at not being where I need to be for The Plan.

As I have said before, this race is so much about mental toughness.  I certainly see the dichotomy of stating that fact immediately following a paragraph about why I'm not "digging deep" or "finding it within myself" to push harder. I do think it's there, I just don't know the physical cost of getting there. I've come too far to give up the long-term goal of crossing the finish line this May to short-sightedly say, "3:20 or bust!"

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