This training cycle has been perfect. Not in the "I did every single training run and got faster and stronger and never felt like dying" way, but in the "I ran with my best friend by my side and accomplished so much" way. It's 17 days until the marathon (or 16? is it how many days elapse or how many times you wake up?) and I feel... prepared? I know that taper crazies have yet to set in but I'm feel good right now.
Last night Nick and I did our last long run- 18.7 miles on the Indian Head Rail Trail. Running on the Rail Trail is definitely not the most exciting thing. There's a decent amount of people watching but no cars and no terrain changes. The reason we've run our last 3 long runs there is safety- we're going to be out after dark, for over an hour. We've finished after dark on the road before (and ran Ragnar in the dark) but we did less than 30 minutes of that run in the dark. Starting at almost 5 pm, in late October, means that over an hour of these recent runs has been done when the sun has set completely. That means we were tripping over large frogs (or turtles... still not sure) on the trail but didn't have to worry about getting hit by cars. That was nice.
The run last night wasn't ground-breaking, but it did make 4 18+ milers for me (18 on the treadmill, 18 outside with Nick, 19ish last week and almost 19 this week) and that is HUGE. Last year I maxed out at 18, I think, and even that was a huge struggle. These long runs haven't been easy, by any means, but they've been doable. The big differences between this year and last are 1) Iron and 2) Nick. He has gotten me out of the house or onto the treadmill so many times when I would not have gone otherwise. Knowing he's by my side makes achy joints, annoying fuel belts and neverending thirst seem more manageable. When I pulled the top off the Gatorade bottle with my teeth and it poured all over me and I just about cried at mile 6? He calmly took it from me, replaced the top, and gave it back to me so I could have my drink. He is so patient and encouraging, and I hope I have been able to provide the same support for him as well. I absolutely would not be here without him.
Now... how about pace and race strategy? Here's me after 13.1 miles at 9:09:
That was in May. Not that long ago! Although in running fitness terms it's a pretty long time ago. And in anemia terms it's been a while. Buttttt.... I know my body is capable of that. And the other day, before I turned my Garmin GPS off mid-long run, we were going ~9:30, which is well within the race pace +0:30 guidelines I've read about everywhere. My other data points are not so convincing- the other 3 18 milers were
Using online race calculators (because you're obsessive like me) and plugging in my 5K, 10K or half marathon PRs you'll see that I should be capable of somewhere around 4 hours. It's funny, my 5K PR predicts I'd finish a half in ~1:57, which is pretty accurate, but says I should be around 52 minutes for a 10K. Conclusion: I run 10Ks slower than I am capable. With this in mind, here are my official goals:
A Goal: 4:00:00 and not a second longer. Likelihood of this: < 20%, unless the stars align for great race day conditions.
B Goal: 4:20ish- this would be 10 min/mile, which is about what we've been running in training.
C Goal: Happy finish, happy me, happy Nick.
Race strategy- first couple of miles run conservatively, somewhere around 9:30, or slower if we're dodging people. Gu @ mile 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, and maybe 24. Water or Gatorade every 2 miles. During last night's run I felt like I really needed Gu before it was time to have one
Annnd that's as far as I've gotten. More to come.