This morning, just before and after sunrise, I completed my last pre-marathon workout. The long runs are also behind me now. I would not go as far as to say that I am in a taper, because a 28-mile-per-week program does not need - cannot afford - to be reduced. I am officially resting though. The work is done.
As I indicated in previous posts, the training I am referring to did not go according to the plan. Such is life. I am not surprised by the divergence nearly as much as I am amazed by the fact that I actually made it to this point. Never before have I encountered so many obstacles while in a race build up. The job, with the extra duties like the freebie class, meetings, coaching, and writing letters of recommendation, presented new detours each week. My back coerced my right piriformis and hamstring into hobbling me for an annoyingly consistent and prolonged time period. That, in turn, caused a series of related aches and pains in my hips and knees. And my vision seemed to deteriorate. I am not sure how that last one worked against the plan but I am convinced it was part of the full-body conspiracy. Damned aging, anyway . . .
So, I've got ten days to back off in a manner that will give my body time to reach an equilibrium that will favor a solid marathon performance. My reliable and undeniable ability to make questionable decisions led me to go ahead and enter the full marathon. Actually, I have three more days to "downgrade" my entry to the half, but I do not intend to do so. Instead, I will pour my energies into doing all of the little things that might add up to a positive performance in Indy: stretching, heating, standing(!), massaging, and, of course, easing up on the throttle a bit.
Review of my log indicates that I have averaged 28.3 mpw for nine weeks. This is an interesting number - to me. The plan called for me to follow my ultra program for long runs, but the back rejected that notion. That would have resulted in an astounding 33 mpw average! Runs longer than 13 miles during the build-up can be counted on one hand, with the longest being a tad under 20 miles.
I must reveal that the 28.3 mpw gives me a jolt of confidence, though, because the most I have ever averaged while training for a marathon is 26 mpw. The result? A 2:52 effort at the Huntsville, Alabama Rocket City Marathon in Dec. 2009. (I have a knack for running 2:51-53 at the RCM.)
A more thorough analysis reveals that I also ran 53 miles at a sub-6:15 pace during that nine week period. That, folks, is solid and significant for a 28 mpw program! The piriformis/ham/disc gang only cost me one day of pace work.
What can I run after this build-up? That is any one's guess, really. There is simply no margin for error with such a low mileage plan. A fast half marathon is certainly within my grasp, but I feel this primal urge to suffer. If all goes well, I will run low-2:50 or just under 6:30 per mile. I would like to go faster, but the dice have been tossed. I am not complaining. In fact, I am elated about being healthy enough to run a marathon.
It is the pain that accompanies road marathons off of low mileage that I must avoid thinking about for ten days. Then, on November 5th, I will do as I always do in marathons. I will run my pace until the wheels come off. At that point I will keep moving in a Quasimodo fashion until I reach the finish line. Luckily, Jeremy has agreed to drag me to the cheeseless pizza and beer. Hehehe . . .
On another more sane note, I have recently become an Official Polar Ambassador. I will continue to tout the benefits of using Polar HRMs. Anyone who has seen me race or train over the last two decades has seen that familiar black strap around my torso. And those who have listened to me speak about my training philosophies have heard me talk of intensities, paces, and economies in terms of heart rate. Many people have then gone out and purchased their own heart rate computers. I will continue to provide information about training and racing with HRMs. The primary difference, I guess, is that the people of Polar are now aware of my long-standing ambassadorship.