I’ve only trained for a full marathon once before, and for my runs of 15 miles or longer, I found I could only be comfortable with
a pace that meant I was doing more shuffling than walking.
That was in Florida in March and April of 2007, before the Nashville Country Music Marathon. I finished that marathon in 4:34 — roughly 10:30-minute miles — feeling fabulous, but with the sinking feeling that perhaps I was feeling a little *too* fabulous, and should have pushed myself harder somewhere along the line. To be fair, I ran and trained for the race in true southern heat — sometimes the blistering, soul-sucking kind. But still …
I’m happy to report that things are coming along a bit differently this time. Thursday marked my third long run during which I’ve managed a 9:30-minute-mile pace, quite comfortably, with negative splits at the end. Negative splits! Me! Who woulda thunk?
I mention this because my success on my 17-miler on Thursday has allowed me, for the first time since an old hip injury flared up this spring, to start seriously planning to run this marathon. This, in turn, has highlighted some weird scheduling conundrums I need your advice about.
My training plan calls for the following long runs: 18 miles on Sept. 20, 10 miles on Sept. 27, 20 miles on Oct. 4, 13 miles on Oct. 11, eight to 10 miles on Oct. 18, marathon on Oct. 25.
My life calls for a road-trip to see a University of Colorado football game in West Virginia Oct. 1, followed by a backpacking trip immediately after, which is really, really not conducive to a successful 20-miler. The weekend before, there’s a 10K I’d really like to run on Sept. 26, the Clarendon Day 10K. I feel comfortable running up to 17 miles on a weekday morning before work, since I make my own schedule, but 20 is enough to basically ruin any chance of productivity for the rest of the day.
So: How do we feel about me swapping my 18-miler and 20-miler? It would be nice to do the 20-miler exactly three weeks out. But it would also be nice to, you know, have a life. Plus, my husband’s helping a friend move the morning of Sept. 19, making it the ideal Saturday morning for a life-consuming long run. And a glance at my running log from 2007 indicates that I did my sole 20-miler that year five weeks out rather than three (thanks to a wicked case of food poisoning, but whatever).
What do we think? Would all hell break loose if I timed my only 20-miler a bit earlier than my plan calls for, or is this swap OK? Please, please weigh in on this — I need some affirmation!
In other news: After fears of rain nearly led me to postpone the aforementioned 17-mile run, it turned out to be dry, gorgeous, ego-boosting and uplifting — in short, everything I hoped for and more. I ran 17.15 miles in 2:43 — 9:30 minute-mile pace, with an 8:30 or two thrown in at the end. I went on Sligo Creek Trail again, creature of habit I am, with a few hills thrown in to avoid getting *too* much of an ego boost. I also tried a few new things, with varying effects:
- Champion shorts from Target are my new true love. They cost $15. They don’t chafe, even on the longest, sweatiest of runs. Truly, my shirt chafed before my shorts. Buy these NOW.
- Mocha Clif gel and I will have to go on another date to see how things go. The gels contain 50mg of caffeine a pop, which I’m a total sucker for (I dream of a day when gels will all contain carbs, caffeine and a wee bit of acetaminophen), and taste like Hershey’s syrup with a little bit of espresso. I like that they’re all-natural, but I might just like the texture of my tried-and-true latte-flavored PowerBar gels better. Jury’s still out.
- Big bowls of frozen berries and my stomach are, from this point forward, forbidden to have contact the night before a long run. Seriously. My stomach isn’t even accepting calls from berries anymore. I told myself fruit was light enough to balance the high fiber content. Yesterday morning, my stomach informed me I should shut up and stick to the pizza, please.
Two other changes I’ll make for future long runs. First, I really do need to start my pre-run diet two days beforehand, eating roasted vegetable lasagna and homemade pizza rather than, say, burritos and bean dip two days out (true story). Also, I need to find a new lucky long-run shirt that doesn’t chafe on long runs. The one I wore in 2007 has a permanent stench after many, many miles and many, many races.
Don’t forget to enter my very first contest for a pair of Saucony ProGrid Xodus Trail-Running Shoes! All you have to do is post a comment sharing your best trail-running story at the bottom of this post by the end of next week.