Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It was the best of weeks, it was the worst of weeks

So, officially we enter the taper.

On the whole, my training for the last three weeks has been great. I
have just about given myself the best chance to run a four hour marathon
that I can manage. When we last spoke I was in the middle of a 74K week.
Since then I have run 76 and 79.8K weeks.

The 79.8K needs some explaining. I was sitting on about 45.5K going into
Sunday, and I went to the SMC 30K with the intention of running a long
warm up to get the extra Ks. The race went well - 30K in about 3:08; a
good solid training run. At the end the Garmin read 34K and I said to
myself, "mmm, another 500m and it's an 80K week", so I ran back to the
sheds and until the Garmin read 35K. When I got home Sportstracks
reinterpreted the run down to 34.3 and the week at 79.8K, and so again I
said to myself: "that's what you get for being a wanker!" So it's a
79.8K week.

Last week being Easter we took the family to Mackay. I ran on the Friday
morning before we left, and it was one of the best speedwork sessions of
my life. I had 6 * 500m planned. So after my warm up I ran 500m in just
under 2 minutes. Prior to this session I had only run one sub 2:00 500m
in my life and in the following effort I fell in a crumpled vomiting
heap after 250m. This time I followed it with another sub 2:00 effort
and then another. The party was over after that and I finished with
2:07, 2:06 & 2:04, but I felt good for the rest of the day.

In Mackay John and I met Des's grandmother (John's great-grandmother)
for the first time. This was also our first meeting for several other
family members, and I knew it was going to be full on from when we got
there on Friday afternoon when we left to Sunday afternoon when we
headed home. So I packed my gear for a run, knowing that Des's uncle
runs a bit, but he had been struck down by the flu. I almost had a
coronary when I discovered that I would be spending the weekend with a
flu carrier 3 weeks out from the marathon, but I didn't get too sick. I
got a bit of a tickle in my throat and a bit of lethargy, but no cold or
flu. I also didn't get a run in.

On Monday I felt a bit rough, but I thought I was OK to do the long run
that I should have done on Sunday. I was wrong. This was 33K of utter
garbage. At no point did I feel on top of my game, and I had to take
walk breaks on numerous occasions. I covered 33K in 3 hours and 45
minutes and felt like death warmed up for the rest of the day. I just
wasn't up for it.

I must be a bit better now: Marlz and I went out for a 13K run this
morning at close to marathon pace, and whilst I didn't feel great it was
a whole lot better than Monday.

So three weeks to go, and if I can stay out of trouble I should be able
to get close on the day. Bring it on!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

You'd think I'd Learn my Lesson

Regular readers of this blog may spot a familiar pattern here. It goes
something like this:

Ben realizes that his training is insufficient for an impending race.
Ben ramps his training up rapidly.
Ben gets sick.

This pattern has recurred. I'm not sure I can blame it on the rapid
ramping of the training. As I said in the last post - John has had
croup. When I took him in to the doctor I was just starting to get a
tickle in the throat, and the doctor said I had the same virus, but it
was only in my throat and for the first time ever I heard a doctor utter
these words: "you don't need to change your training - you just might
feel a bit more lethargic during your sessions". I'd just finished a 72K
and a 75K week up from mid 60s.

Well, this turned out to be one of the world's great understatements.
The following day I went out for 13K at marathon pace (target 5:41). It
was an hour and a quarter of pure torture. I think the value of this
sort of session is that builds character - this is how you will feel at
30K in a marathon, and you have to keep running. I took walk breaks at
stumbled home for 13K at 5:55 pace. I pretty much felt like death warmed
up for the rest of the day.

I took the hint - impromptu easy week. The following 7 days came in at
49K of pretty easy running that felt laboured. I'm starting to come good
now, and this morning it was time for another marathon pace run. Marlz
and I did 13.3K at 5:33 pace, and all things considered (including not
nearly enough sleep for the last 2 days) I feel pretty good today.

The plan from here is to resume full training. If I start to fade on
Sunday, my plan is to take walk breaks and conserve energy, but still
cover a minimum of 32K. I've got a hankering to do some 2K repeats for
speedwork on Friday.

I have taken on board the comments about running on how I feel. The main
problem is that having only run 2 marathons 4 years ago I don't have a
feel for how I need to feel early in the race to conserve myself for the
rest of the race. The current plan is to line up with the four hour
pacer, and run with him/her for as long as I am comfortable. If I'm
still in the group at 28-30K then I'll try to stay with it - from that
point it's supposed to be uncomfortable. I remember that much.