Sunday, September 7, 2008

Rah, rah, shish-boom-bah!

"Everyone always talk about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." -Mark Twain

Tropical Storm Hannah blew through the area, dumping a lot of rain, blowing hard and knocking out our power for a couple of hours. However, she was gone by early morning, and I adjusted my plans for the first 20-miler of this training cycle (I had planned to drive to the coast so that I could do the run on a flat stretch, like Chicago). She left behind some strong winds, but even though they got in my face for some stretches, it helped keep me from getting totally overheated in the high 70-degree temps.

I type right now with a palpable glaze over my eyes, wonderfully tired from my hardest - and best - training run, which - either ironically or predictably - comes at the end of my highest mileage week ever. The week went pretty much as planned, with runs of 5, 12, 6, 12, 6 and today's 20+-miler. With the extra decimals during the week, I cracked 62 miles, but - most significantly, I ran a hard-core long run for the first time since I started training for marathons.

On the advice of Coach Brian whom I've "met" through RWOL, I did a progression run, where I ran 10 miles easy, then 5 at MP (marathon pace) and 5 at sub-MP. Even my "easy" pace is now faster than it's been, with the first 10 miles averaging a hair over 9:00/mile. Then I started running at 8:15-ish (thanks to the up- & downhills, it wasn't very even pacing), and then I dropped it to 8:00 or less. I felt the right hip bug me a bit, so I slowed down intentionally during mile 18, but I picked it back up and then ran the last mile (total distance was over 20.5 miles) in . . . drum roll, please . . . 7:22. True, it is a slight downhill finish to my house, but I've never pushed myself quite like that on a long run. I'll also note that my HR averaged around 156 for the second half of the run, a very encouraging measure that I am close to race-fit.

After the productive work of the past few weeks, I'm going to cut back this week, to let my body recover a bit before the relay on Friday & Saturday. I'll XT on Monday; 5M recovery on Tuesday; 10 easy miles on Wednesday; 5 again on Thursday; a total of about 21 over the course of three legs during the relay on Friday & Saturday; and - if I feel like it - maybe an easy 5 on Sunday.

The great debate within myself right now if how hard to push between now and Chicago. If this week is a 45-mile week, I'd like to put up somewhere around 55 miles the next week, concluding with another strong 20-miler. Then I'll likely follow the planned taper, with the extra day of running depending on how I feel. I'll probably skip any hard track workouts, but may do some 800-meter repeats at some point just to get my legs turning over a little faster and perhaps fine-tune the maximal oxygen uptake system.


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