Tuesday, October 2, 2012

This is getting tough

It's been a crazy summer. It started off with melanoma surgery, then there was that trip to Colorado, then we moved to a new house. It's been nuts.

In the meantime, I registered for two more marathons. For the first one, Thunder Road, I'll be pacing my friend Dustin at an 8:30 pace. It's just three weeks out from my target marathon, Rocket City, where I'll be trying for a PR, so it will serve as my final long run to prepare for that.

Oh, I also registered for a little race in Hopkinton, MA.

I've settled in on a goal pace for Rocket City. It's aggressive, but not insane: 7:15 per mile for a 3:10 marathon.

This past week, I've tried to raise my training game from the relatively easy work I've been doing all summer. The goal was to run 70 miles while doing two of the toughest long workouts yet in this training cycle.

On Wednesday it would be the declining tempo workout, and on Sunday, a long run with a lot of marathon- and tempo-paced miles. These would be my longest runs yet at the new marathon pace of 7:15 and my (hoped) tempo pace of 6:30.

Wednesday went okay: Bryan joined me for the workout, and we started out fairly strong. I managed a 6:42 pace for the first, 18-minute segment. The next two segments went all right as well: 6:46 and 6:41 for the 13.5- and 9-minute segments. This wasn't quite 6:30, but these were also quite hilly segments. All we had left was a 4.5-minute run -- that wouldn't be too hard, would it? It would. I slowed dramatically, all the way to a 7:12 pace for the leg. Oh well, at least I finished.

During my recovery runs on Thursday and Friday I didn't feel great, and decided to bag my easy run on Saturday as well, to save up my energy for the tough Sunday long run.

The plan was to run 8 miles easy, then 30 minutes at marathon pace, 5 minutes at tempo pace, and another 30 minutes at MP and 5 minutes at T before slowing down for a 2-mile cooldown. Sam would be joining me for the whole run, and Ben and Kevin showed up for the warmup and the first MP/T section. I didn't feel great, and I was even struggling to maintain an 8:30 pace as we warmed up. But when we took off at pace, I felt all right. My plan was to time my finish so I could take a little break at the cars when we finished the first T, but I had dropped a bit behind the guys and they turned around early. Kevin and Ben were ahead of me and Sam and Sam suggested we just try to catch them by the time we reached the cars. We sped up, but so did they. I ended up running just 1 minute at T pace -- but that pace was 6:20.

We stopped for a break and then headed out again. Sam suggested we start off slowly and work our way up to M pace. Sounded good to me, but when it was time to speed up I could tell it just wasn't happening. I managed two miles at 7:20 and 7:30 pace and then told Sam to pull the plug. It was all I could do to shuffle home from there at a 9:30 pace for the last three miles. Instead of 19 miles I had 17.8, but that was plenty. I was cooked. And I had only run 60 miles for the week, not 70.

Lesson learned: Don't bump up the total miles for the week, the length of your long run, and the intensity of your workouts, all in one week. I'm also starting a new strength regimen that is also taking a lot out of me. This week, I'm backing off a planned interval workout and just running the bleachers, which has always been a fairly friendly workout for me.

Finally, a weight update. After this morning's workout, I stepped on the scale and was surprised to see it reading 178.8. That's the first time I've been under 180 since college. Granted, I had just run hard, so some of that was probably perspiration loss, but still...

The craziness of the surgery and our busy summer had derailed my plan to get below 175 by July 30, but now it seems almost plausible that I could hit that weight by the end of this month. Massive roadblock to achieving that goal: I'm visiting my hometown next week, and I always seem to gain weight when exposed to the comfort food I grew up with.

Details of last week's hard workouts are below.

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