Monday, April 27, 2009

I Could Run for Miles & Miles & . . . .

With apologies to The Who, I take this opportunity to boast about getting through my highest mileage week ever. From Monday, April 20th through Sunday April 26th, I ran 72 miles. Looking back 10 days from Sunday the 26th, I ran 106 miles. The best news is that I am surprisingly functional. Tired and a tad sore, but essentially uninjured and in better position to make a full frontal attack on 26.2-mile course than I have ever been. I'm nervously excited about running the Sugarloaf Marathon in 20 days (gulp!).

The mileage PR was only one of two personal bests which I set last week. On Friday evening, I ran a local 5K, hoping for a sub-19:00 finish. I did not get it, but the details appear below.

Here's the breakdown of last week:
  • M - 3.5M @ recovery pace on the TM
  • Tu - 12M, w/7M on an indoor track (including 4x400m at about 6:05/mile pace); last 5 on the treadmill, progressing down to goal marathon pace (GMP)
  • W - AM: 8+M easy; PM: 4M easy
  • Th - 6+M easy, plus a couple of 100m strides
  • F - AM: 4M "shake-out run; PM: 1.25M warm-up, 3.1M race, 2M cool-down
  • Sa - 7.5M easy on the trails
  • Su - 20M, with miles 15-18.5 (total of 4.5) at GMP

With the slight overages on a couple of those runs, the total came to 72 miles, which is at 10% more than I've ever run in a week before.

Now the question is whether to do a 3-week taper (which would start now) or a 2-week taper. Having had poor results from 3-week tapers before, I will strive to run 60 or so miles this week, then do a 2-week taper. While it may just be a matter of hair-splitting, I'm not calling this week a taper week since I've only run a few 60+-mile weeks in my life, though this one will be the 5th one out of the past 6 weeks.


I had skipped the annual Friday evening race the past couple of years because of scheduling and training considerations. I wanted to get at least one 5K in during this training cycle, if for no other reason than to find out how far I've come since last year. In early April 2008, I ran 19:49 on cool day on a flat course during my first-ever 60-mile week. By the following weekend, I was hurt, and never quite recovered in time for my spring marathon.

This year, on the heels of a fast 3-miler in early March, I wanted to crack the 19:00-minute 5K barrier. I knew full well that the deck was stacked against me given my recent mileage, but I figured, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I still need to adjust to my new "fast" pace, which is difficult when my training is focused on the marathon. It's worth mentioning that Friday was to that point our hottest day of the year, and start-time temps were around 80, a bit of a shock to the system of a guy who'd run in layers just earlier that morning (low-40's). So, here's the tale of the race from Friday:

  • Mile 1 - As in March, I started at a suicidally fast pace, trying to settle into a rhythm; I had wanted to go out at around 6-6:05/mile pace, and then see if I could hold that for another mile and then push the pace for final 1.1; since I was running about a 5:20 pace at the half-mile mark, I reigned myself in; despite having hydrated well (or so I thought), I had a terrible case of cottonmouth during the first mile; the course took us (as a result of a last-minute change) onto a mile+ of trails; first mile split: 5:53
  • Mile 2 - This mile contained a good stretch on the trail and the course's two main hills, sandwiched around 4 tight turns; I took a sip of water at about the 1.5-mile mark, which helped me a bit; I was hurting and could tell that I didn't have much "pop" in my legs and felt my pace drop off; two-mile mark in 12:20 (6:27 mile)
  • Mile 3-3.1 - During the first mile, one guy passed me after we all settled into our "natural" paces; I kept him in my sights, and tried not to let him increase his lead on me; for most of the last 2 miles, he was the only person close to me, but another guy came back to us in the last half-mile or so; I tried to increase my effort, and ended up passing them both with less than a quarter-mile to go (more a function of their fade than my acceleration); last 1.1 miles in 7:01 (I messed up pressing the lap button here; overall recorded distance was 3.18)

Net time on my watch: 19:19; official time (which was reported differently several times, as a result of a technical problem along the way) = 19:26. I finished 12th overall (out of 320) and got 3rd in my age group. I was pretty satisfied, but really wanted to break 19:00. Of course, if it'd been cooler, or the course had stayed confirmed to the road or I'd run fewer miles in the preceding week, it might have been different. I guess the bright side is that I still have some 5K glory to look forward to this year: first the sub-19:00, then 18:35, or sub-6:00 pace. Baby steps.

Besides, I'd trade a 16:00 5K for a sub-3:20 marathon and a ticket to Boston 2010.

Sunday's long run was harder than I wanted it be, due in equal parts to fatigue and the sudden heat wave which hit us like a ton of bricks. I did 20 miles, with 14 pretty easy (a little under 9:00 pace) and 4.5 at marathon pace (or close). I was going to do 5 miles at GMP, but my feet hurt (a new source of concern about my race shoes and new orthotics) and I figured I should shut it down and run it in easy. Yes, I'm trying to be a little smarter this time than I was in prior training cycles.


This week may end up looking like this:

  • M - usual XT routine
  • Tu - 10M total, with 2x15 minutes at HM pace (around 7:00); it may be in the 90's, so that workout might be scaled back a bit
  • W - 10M (with maybe 6x10 second hill sprints)
  • Th - 6M easy
  • F- 10M total, with 6 at GMP (7:30/mile)
  • Sa - 6M easy
  • Su - 18M at about 8:00 pace (GMP +30 seconds)

Total of 60 for the week, then tapering officially begins.

Hope your training and racing is going well, or that you're dedicating yourself to a new goal somewhere down the road. Thanks for reading. -ESG


Billy said...

Dude, you're on a roll lately! You should have all the confidence in the world leading up to Sugarloaf.

Great job on yet another PR Ron!

Joe said...

Great job on your 5K PR! Thanks for sharing your weekly workout schedule. It sounds like your training is going really well, especially with 3 weeks left until the marathon. I'm 4 weeks out and just starting to see some tangible gains a la Pfitz. Similar to you, the increased volume for me seems to have made a difference.

L.A. Runner said...

Hi! Just wanted to stop in and say that your training has been awesome this cycle. You are going to do so well in 2 weeks! Yeah!

Girl In Motion said...

Wow, ESG, you're going to have an amazing marathon. Your training has been kick-ass and that 5K was just a tempting morsel of next weekend's festivities. Wishing you calm taper vibes for what will surely be the race of your dreams.

Girl In Motion said...

Oops, did I say next weekend? Meant two weeks. :-)

Mir said...

I don't think you're going to have to trade anything for that 3:20--it's yours, earned with a great cycle of hard work. Congrats on the new 5K PR, which is doubly amazing given that it came after such a tough week of training. Good luck at Sugarloaf!!!

Preston said...

You are going to kill that marathon!