With just three days to go until the 2013 Richmond Marathon, there’s not much left to do to prepare for race day. Training has been done for a week and a half, carbo-loading starts today, my bags are packed, and I’m mentally and physically ready for this thing!
While I stuck with the same 16-week training plan I did for the 2012 Chicago Marathon, things were a lot different this time. I spent almost two months earlier this year not running due to injury and, in April, I started hormones. Neither of these are very conducive to having great training, so realistically, I started training back in April to get myself back into shape and fight through the changes in my ability as a runner brought on by the hormones (post on this coming sometime after the race, I promise). I tried to keep things easier and lighter until official training begin, but I still had to get my mileage back up since I was essentially starting from zero.
The first six or seven weeks of training were rough. I still didn’t feel like I was in shape and I hated how body felt while running. I was slow and tired easily. I didn’t enjoy running at all, to be honest, and I feared it would be a long and mentally and emotionally painful season. Fortunately, things started to pick up after the Disneyland 10k and Disneyland Half Marathon.
I’m not sure what did it, but things started to click and I
enjoyed loved running again. I started feeling better on my runs and was able to get through the miles much easier, like I used to. I started to feel like my old self again. Slower than I was before because of the changes from transition, but otherwise great.
Over the last 16 weeks, I put in more miles for a race than I ever have before. I mentioned that this was the same plan I did for Chicago last year, but I missed a bunch of runs and refused to run six days a week for that race. I didn’t think I was ready for it then. I still didn’t think I was this time around, but I decided to go for it anyway. I ran six days in a row for the first time (as well as the second, third, and fourth time). I smashed my monthly personal distance record by 25 miles with 203 miles in October. I beat my weekly personal distance record by five miles with 53 miles. I successfully completed both my twenty-milers for the first time since my first marathon. And top it all off with the fact that my nineteen-miler and both twenty-milers felt great, were negative split, within 15 seconds of goal marathon pace, and ended with the last four miles all
under marathon goal pace and getting progressively faster (last miles were 30-60 seconds under goal pace). Oh, and I also placed in my old age group (i.e. males 30-34, yes…male :-() without even trying in a local 5k after running eight miles right before the race started.
I’ve never had training go like this before. Usually, life gets in the way and I miss a bunch of runs, but I stayed on point this time. I missed one run due to being sick and one more run while I was in Disney and San Francisco in the beginning of September. Otherwise, I was on point and I’m pretty psyched about that!
However, as good as all of that was, I didn’t get in much speedwork at all. I was able to do a little bit in the middle of training, but the last few weeks have been completely devoid of all speedwork. I also haven’t been as good with my strength training as I should have been. These are the only two areas where my training was lacking, but they’re important. Unfortunately, when it came to the speedwork, I’ve been lacking a lot of confidence in myself and trust in my body. Mentally, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. And when it came to stretching and strengthening routines, well, there are only so many hours in the day. I just couldn’t get to it most days.
Still, all-in-all, this was probably the best training I’ve ever had for a marathon and that’s awesome! I’m proud of myself.
I knew when I started hormones I’d lose a lot and no longer be able to run what I used to run, so another 3:08 marathon was out of the question. I needed to set new expectations, but the thing is, this will be my first marathon since starting hormones. I know how my body was in training, but I don’t know what to expect from it on race day. I don’t know what it’ll be able to do and sustain.
Early in training, I pegged 3:45 as a fair goal for this race. I knew I wouldn’t want to push 100% and completely trash my legs, but I wanted to give around 95% or so. As training progressed, this continued to be a reasonable goal in my eyes and I continued to aim right there.
As I sit here and type this, just a few days away from race day and with all my training behind me, I really don’t know what to expect come Saturday. My last few long runs suggest that I should be able to keep a much faster pace than the 8:35 min/mile necessary to hit my goal, but how much will my lack of speedwork factor in for the late miles? I just don’t know. The only race time I have to go off of since starting hormones is a 5k from the end of September. It’s not much, but when plugged into McMillan, it says I should be able to do a 3:42. So basically, I really don’t know.
I’ve never been this prepared for a marathon before, with this many miles behind me, and I also feel a bit more confident at my chances for hitting my goal than I ever have before.
I’m keeping my A goal at 3:45 and putting my B goal at 3:50. I don’t think I have a C goal, but let’s just say that even if all of it goes to crap, I’ll be pretty upset if I’m not under four hours. I also decided that I want to have an A+ goal. I’m calling it an A+ goal because I won’t be pacing myself for it from the beginning of the race, but if all is going really well and I’m feeling good around mile 20 or 21, I want to be prepared to push my pace and pick it up. I know it would be impossible to make up enough time to get all the way down to 3:40, but I want to set 3:40:59 as something to chase if I’m feeling good. Realistically, even on the absolute best of days, if I’m on pace for 3:45 at mile 20, hitting even 3:42 would be pretty much unbelievable.
So, those are my time goals for the race. I also want to stay healthy and make this the first marathon I’ve completed without fighting through some sort of tendinitis or injury, but mostly, I just need to hit my goal. With this being my first race since starting hormones and still lacking all the confidence I used to have, I really need a big win here.
How is/was your training this season? Is your fall marathon still ahead of you?