Writing and running in Austin, TX.
When I first looked at the dates for Rogue’s Fall Marathon Training, I thought, May 21st? That’s perfect! Two weeks to relax post-marathon, and then I’ll be dying to get out and run again.
Those were the fastest two weeks of my life. In fact I missed one of them entirely due to a combination of my mother’s visit and my recovery from my ill-advised skirt-wearing in Düsseldorf. (It’s not technically time off from running if you physically can’t run, right?)
Alas, you can’t argue with the clock (or the calendar), and this past Saturday I became officially “back in training”.
And this time it’s serious.
The goal, once again, is Chicago, and Dad has thrown down the gauntlet by declaring us both capable of running 4:30.
Technically, Rogue’s pace calculator tool agrees. If you enter my 5K PR and his recent half-marathon PR (an impressive 2:07:27), it spits out a predicted marathon finish of 4:28 and change.
Easy for a computer to say. A computer has no concept of the mental battle that is the second half of a marathon. A computer can’t plan for blisters and GI distress. It can’t understand what it means to take this on as a human endeavor. (And I am very thankful for this, lest 2001: A Space Odyssey become reality, and not just a bizarre 60s film.)
Then there’s the fact that, post-ITB nightmare, it took me 3 tries at the full to finally beat the PR I set in my first marathon back in 2004. And at 7 minutes, it was a pretty big beating. In other words, I’d be a fool to think taking another 17 off that mark will be easy.
But, as my good friend Jeanine pointed out in her comment on my last post, the problem with setting a new PR is that now you have to run even faster to beat it. And I want that 4:30 pretty badly. As much as I enjoy my time at the back of the pack, and as much as I do my best to embrace it, there’s still that part of me that desperately wants a “respectable” time.
Before you ask, yes, I do fully believe that anyone who can finish a marathon in any amount of time deserves respect. However, serious runners can be conceited pricks (just go check out online comments on any article about “the slowing down of the marathon”), and as a result, those of us who are slower tend to make one of three choices:
Well, I can’t really swim (although Jeanine did promise to teach me someday), and I’m pretty sure Handsome J would finally lose it if I said, “I’m sorry I can’t hang out with you this weekend because I need to go run 50 miles.” So that leaves me with option 3.
The question is: Can I pull it off?
The plan is: More miles.
That’s right. Just one year after being astounded at how much running Rogue’s “Beginner” program entailed, I’ve decided to move up to “Intermediate” – which for reasons I would imagine pertain to marathoners taking offense to being labeled “Beginners” – has recently been re-christened as “Level 2”.
Assuming “Level 2” really is the same as the old “Intermediate”, this plan should top out at 50 miles/week of running. In comparison, “Beginner” hits 40 and “Advanced”, 60. (If that’s still not enough punishment for you, there’s the “Team Rogue” program, which allows you to pay* for the abuse of running an elite-like 70+ mile schedule.)
*Full disclosure, I would totally do it if I was fast enough. I would just feel like such a badass in that T-Shirt.
I’m still a little unsure about this decision. Any increase in mileage also means an increased chance of injury, and I’ll have to tread lightly (no pun intended) to stay off the DL between now and October. Then there’s the nagging worry that I’ll just look like that silly slow person who everyone has to wait on at the end of the long run.
But, 4 marathons have taught me exactly where my weakness is, and it’s at the end of a long run. If I were going for 5K or 10K PRs, I might add more speedwork or hills, but I know that in the marathon what I really need is better endurance, and the only way I can think of to build that is to put more miles on my legs before race day.
Here goes nothing…