The week ended up looking like this:
- Monday - XT (elliptical), plus circuit, stretching and core work
- Tuesday - 5+ miles easy
- Wednesday - 8+M, with 4x8 second steep hill sprints
- Thursday - 5+M easy
- Friday - 7M, intending to do 15 mins (or 2+ miles) at HM pace, but due to snow & slippery ground, did about 10 mins at HM effort
- Saturday - 4+M easy
- Sunday - 16M, with 12 outside easy and last 30 mins on TM hard (though I forgot that Hudson said it should have been uphill)
Total mileage was about 46 and change (adding in the overages) and I feel pretty good. The plan is to get to 50 miles this week, again doing my own version of what Hudson might suggest for the week. I've taken his Marathon Level 2 schedule and written out the final 13 weeks. I've sketched out my weekly mileage goals, including cutback weeks and a peak week of 65+ miles. Before each week, I'm writing my workouts below his, trying to keep the same "rhythm" to the week, but accounting for any fatigue, extra recovery, scheduling, racing or other issues. This seems very sensible, so long as I remain true to his philosophy that no plan should ever be written in stone so that we follow it blindly. The variety seems like a good thing, as it's been rather easy to settle into the same types of workouts, while avoiding others. Unlike Pfitzinger's plans, Hudson's workouts seem to involve shorter periods of intense running, with enough change of distance and paces to keep it interesting. On the other hand, learning the new stuff "on the fly" makes for having to focus in order to get it "right".
The main difference I've noticed is how I feel about training now that I have some objective, external confirmation that 3:20 is possible at Sugarloaf. My relatively untrained half-marathon time from February 15th puts me in line with a 3:18-ish marathon (yes, I know that the calculators can be optimistic for those of us who run less than 70 miles per week), and I expect to gain speed and endurance during this training cycle. Also, Sugarloaf is a fast course, for those who run the first 10 miles intelligently. I cross-checked other marathon results for those who have run Sugarloaf in the 3:15 to 3:20 range over the past couple of years, and it was invariably each person's fastest marathon over that same time period, faster even than Philadelphia, which many of them ran. I suppose if Eustis, Maine was not in the hinterlands, more than 200 or so people might run the race. Ironically,. though Maine is my neighbor state, the drive to Sugarloaf will be about the same as driving to NYC. Yup, it's up there, all right.
I don't know if I've crossed a fitness threshold or what, but surely 2+ years of consistent running is paying off. I also think that race experience and mental toughness are part of the equation. The Hamptons half-marathon was the first PR race where I never once thought how I'd like to slow down or quit. That tells me that (a) I'm finally learning how to race, and (b) I might have been able to run harder.
It's a joy to feel nearly 100% healthy, and to have palpable sense that my goal of qualifying for Boston is getting closer to being within my grasp. I can only imagine how it will feel if and when I arrive at that moment on the marathon course, be it at mile 20 or 24 or 26, where it becomes clear that the BQ is "in the bag". I won't be the first person to finish a marathon with tears in his/her eyes, but that will be a first for me. Ok, ok . . . I realize that there are still about 600 miles of training runs ahead of me, so I'll zoom back into the shorter-term view now.