I'm taking a break (of unknown duration) from 26.2 after the race tomorrow. This will be my 4th marathon in 15 months - not a crazy amount by any means (especially considering how quickly I can recover), but I don't need to run another one later this fall. If I run fast, I'll want to run another marathon to legitimize the performance on a flat course... and if I bomb again, I'll want to redeem myself. So no matter what I know there is a part of me that's going to want to jump right back into marathon training... I'm better off just saying I'm NOT running another marathon this year and then I'm publicly accountable :-)
Around the beginning of August I got on the CIM bandwagon and starting looking past TOU for a couple of reasons: 1) I didn't really know if I'd round into shape to run fast by mid-September and didn't want to force the issue, and 2) At the time it seemed like Andrea was back on track for a late fall marathon, and I thought it would be fun to train for the same thing as her (like we did last year). Well, she is obviously not running a marathon anytime soon, and my fitness (which was always there but just needed some fine-tuning) has transformed into solid racing form over the past 5-6 weeks. I feel confident about my ability to run a good marathon tomorrow, despite my somewhat unstructured approach to training this summer.
This was a different marathon buildup than the last couple - big(ger) mileage weeks, no shorter interval work (I haven't done a track workout in over 3 months), slower tempo runs... honestly it didn't feel like the "grind it out" hard work that marathon training can be (it was actually laid back and pretty fun, which is really what I was after)... but the results from the past couple races show that I'm not too far off my best performances in the 5K/Half-Marathon range than I am when doing the workouts that are specific to those races. I believe that training is largely cumulative - I've been very consistent for a long time now, and the work I put in leading up to Boston and Portland/Duluth had a long-term benefit that I can still tap into. Training cycles build on each other. I may not be as fast over one-mile as I was in June, but I don't think it will come down to that. Maybe I'm being overconfident, but I feel like I'm as ready to race the marathon as I ever have been in the past.
I'm excited to run tomorrow and see what I can do. The last two marathons I've run have ended somewhere between very bad (Boston) and very, very bad (Philly)... so I'm hoping I can prevent that from happening again and race all the way, like I did at UVM last June (back when I thought the marathon was easy).
Assuming I don't get trampled by a moose or elk, after this marathon I'll shift my focus back to the half for the rest of the year - Monterey Bay and RnR Vegas will be good opportunites to go after a 1/2 PR on fair courses. I want to wait and see what USATF announces as the new OTQ standards, qualifying window, and site of the 2013 USA Championships before I start thinking about when my next marathon will be. If I'm smart (and more importantly - we get lots of powder days this winter!!!) I won't even think about the marathon again until next fall. There are a lot of other races I want to run in the meantime.
Not that the numbers really mean anything (and they definitely are not a performance predictor), but I have a spreadsheet that makes cool graphs that are nice to look at, especially when looking back at this stuff down the road. These are some comparisons of the buildups towards all four marathons...
Total Miles (11 weeks leading up to marathon)
"Fast" miles (Marathon effort or faster)
Week by Week
I think the most interesting thing about this, looking back, is that I was really hammering out a ton of quality workouts leading up to Boston. This buildup has been more similar to UVM, where I just built a huge aerobic base and then sharpened up with some races over the last month.
In terms of objectives for tomorrow... my goal is to win the race. My "plan" is to run by feel (no real target splits I sort of know what range I should be in at the halfway point) and finish this one with authority.
I saw this quote earlier in the week and I think its fitting...
"If you live cautiously, friends will call you wise, you just won't move any mountains"
I like to make these "big picture" calendars to look at training cycles. This is what it looked like this summer...