Monday, September 8, 2014

Fall marathon reality check

One month, 10 days and change.
Triathlon season is officially over, so it's on to the next thing: My fall marathon.

And with that comes a fall marathon reality check.

I've run five marathons so far, and I've been pursuing the elusive sub-4-hour finish for the last few. I held goal pace for a large part of my last one, but by the time I got to mile 18 or so I simply couldn't sustain it. My finish time of 4:10:06 was still a PR of about a minute and a half, but still didn't begin with a 3. Grrr.

Looking back at my training last year made me more frustrated — I did lots of speed work, goal marathon pace runs, fast finish runs, etc. — for a measly 83 seconds off my PR. Why bother with all that extra work?

But I also realized that I wasn't honest with my long run training. I wasn't really doing 20-mile runs; I was doing two 10-milers with a bathroom and refueling break in between. During a race, the clock doesn't stop when you stop to drink.

So where does this leave me for this year? My long runs have been very, well, long. I've put a lot of speed work on the back burner for triathlon training. And the heat and humidity have been killer this year. My first 20-miler of the cycle was a full 2 minutes per mile slower than goal marathon pace.

I'm holding out hope for some amazing last-minute speed work and a 50-degree race morning, but realistically, I think a sub-4-hour finish is off the table for this year. I briefly considered dropping out or deferring, but I've put in too much work already to not even try. Plus, the chance to run across the Ambassador Bridge into Canada and back over through the tunnel only comes once a year!

And the most important thing is that I have fun on race day, right? RIGHT???

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