All the hard work is done, the long runs have been completed, the workouts finished. All that's left to do now is taper and get my legs ready to run 26.2 miles in a little less than 2 weeks!
Last hard week summary:
Tuesday: track workout - warmup, 5 x 1000 @ ~4:18 w/ 400 recovery, cooldown [9.8 miles total]
Wednesday: 5.8 easy [7:49 pace]
Thursday: easy/fartlek 9.1 miles [7:38 pace]
Friday: 8.75 easy [7:39 pace]
Saturday: 5.8 easy [7:42 pace]
Sunday: 21-22 long [8:30-8:18 pace]
Total miles: 61.4
Unfortunately I'm not 100% sure what the distance was for my long run on Sunday, since I ran with my running buddy Kelly out in an area by her house that I don't know well, and we ran on some trails which made it pretty much impossible to map out, but my guess is since we ran for 3+ hours and weren't running terribly slow, I would guess the absolute minimum was 21 and the max was probably around 22. It was a GREAT run though...as usual, I woke up at 7 completely dreading the fact that I had to go run for 3 hours...just one more time. I wanted to test out my breakfast plan for the actual race, so I had what basically amounted to a peanut butter sandwich [two pieces of toast, one with peanut butter on it] and a glass of Gatorade. The combo seemed to work really well for me - I wasn't hungry during the run, and I didn't have digestive issues...so basically, I call that a WIN!
Once again, what a difference running with someone else made. I'm happy I did a couple of long runs alone just to get some of that mental toughness, but in this case it was utterly fantastic having someone to talk to. My legs didn't feel that great when I woke up but once I started running everything loosened up fast. We ran on a trail along the Charles River which was gorgeous, then turned out onto some more residential roads. Stopped at about 1:20 for Gu and Gatorade [I tried the tri-berry Gu which was pretty tasty...it kind of reminded me of raspberry pie filling or something?]. It was amazingly warm and humid for the beginning of October...like 65? The humidity didn't bother me too much and I was loving my new Nike tech shirt that I got for $9 when I bought my new shoes from runningwarehouse.com [I have to put in a plug for this site because seriously, it is amazing. The shoes are generally 15-25% cheaper than what you'll find in stores, and they always have some kind of perks like the cheap tech shirt, free cloth shopping bags, $10 sweatshirts, etc. And 2 day FREE shipping!]. After awhile we turned onto some trails in the woods which led up a STEEP hill...it was kind of crazy...but then downhill into what was basically a long, slight uphill grade for the rest of the way out.
We turned around at 1:31 and had to run up this crazy steep hill that we had run down on the way out...ouuuuch, it hurt after running for like 2 hours. Kelly was like "Heartbreak!" and if Heartbreak Hill really is as steep as this one was...well, I can see how it got its name. We ran back through the woods, this time on a downhill, and I was loving just scampering down the slope dodging rocks and stumps and stuff. At one point I leaped over a dead tree and thought to myself "seriously...you've been running for over 2 hours, and you still have the energy to hurdle a tree. This is a little ridiculous". On the way back we stopped at a college to grab a drink and had not one, but two people in cars ask us directions to various places...apparently we look like we know where we're going! After that I hardly even realized how much I was picking it up until I noticed that I had kind of lost sight of Kelly behind me. We caught up at a stoplight and she told me to just go for it...so the last half hour, I basically hammered it home. I'm terrible at judging pace but if I had to guess, I wouldn't be surprised if I was right around, or maybe even under, 8 minute miles. I felt like I was flying. My legs had none of the heaviness and cramping that I experienced in my other two 20+ mile runs...this was just glorious. I got done and I thought, could I run 4-5 more miles like this? Yes, yes, and yes.
So mostly I think this long run proved to me that a) my training is working and b) I am ready to run this marathon. The way it played out got me thinking about marathon strategy. I don't think obsessing over it during the race is going to be a good idea - honestly, this is my first marathon, I want to soak it in, enjoy every single second, and just have that feeling of "hell yeah, I am running a marathon!" But...let's be serious. This is me we're talking about here and I'm not the kind of person who runs races just to run them, not even something crazy like this. And I've had all sorts of A, B, C goals floating around in my head, but as my training has been going really, really, like...absurdly well the past month [seriously, is there something in the water in Boston?] those little letters "BQ" seem to be coming into my mind more and more. And I'm thinking, based on my long runs, that the best way to maybe make that happen in this race is to rock a negative split.
This is not a strategy I have EVER tried to employ before, honestly because it freaks me out...how can you count on going FASTER in the second half of a ridiculously long race? But when I look back at my long runs, I realize that if I run for 2 hours at a lower effort, I start gradually picking it up until I'm running full force for the last half hour and finishing really, really strong. Kelly was saying to me "you are really strong at the end of these runs...that's really good". So just based on that, I feel like negative splitting would be the way to go. I don't want to put myself in an extreme time defecit by going out TOO slow, but I think if I could get to the halfway point and feel like I really hadn't had to work for it yet, I could pick it up the second half and still finish really well. I also think going in with a plan of negative splitting MIGHT help to temper my usual kamikaze first couple of miles...which is definitely another key, key, aspect to my strategy for this race. I am not, under any circumstances, allowed to get caught up in the excitement and go out in under 8 minutes, or, if I'm really being smart here, under 8:30. This is a 2 loop race, so in a perfect world I would do the first lap at ~8:30 and the second lap at 8:15 or better. Obviously the world is not perfect and you never know what's going to happen on race day, but I am just feeling like based on my training, and my long runs in particular, that I am really ready to run a better race than I ever could have dreamed of 2 months ago, and negative splitting just might be the way to do it.
Hmm...can you tell I'm starting to get a little nervous? I keep alternating back and forth between excitement, nervousness, and "omg, I can't believe I am basically DONE with training?!". Tapering is going to be so weird. I have some 800s planned for Wednesday for a little tune up, 13 miles on Sunday [what? less that 2 hours for a long run??]...and everything else is pretty much just easy peasy. I just can't believe it's almost here...and I'm starting to feel the confidence that I CAN do this!
The hay is in the barn...welcome to taperville. 13 days.