Pondering marathon pace

on Saturday, September 5, 2009 at 6:48 PM

It's coming to that time where i should probably nail down what fall marathon I'll be doing.  Right now, if i continue the training plan as is, i would be doing the one in Niagara falls.  A week early is the Toronto one and a week later is Hamilton.  With several weeks left to go, it would be easy to adjust the schedule now.

There are a number of different factors that I'm considering.  I've done the Toronto one before.  Have not done either Hamilton nor Niagara.  Weather is always a factor.  During the spring, I had intended Hamilton to be the main goal, but it's on November 1 and with the weather getting cooler now, I'm starting to think that Nov 1 might be too late and too cold.  The other variable that has come into this is what goal time do i want to attempt.  3:15:59 is my BQ time for next year and i would like at a minimum to obtain that, but a part of me wants to take a shot at going sub 3:10.  A (small) part of me has always been nerved that I needed to use that extra 59 seconds that Boston gives you to qualify. Being the numbers geek that I am, always seeking precision, I've found myself  feeling a tad guilty when telling someone I've qualified for Boston by running a 3:10 marathon when in fact it was 3:10:23. I know it's only a 24 second difference but the engineer in me just is bothered. Anyways, I figured that if I went for 3:10, i would need the extra 2 weeks of training.  I had also decided i would only attempt 3:10 if I was absolutely certain that I was more fit than I was back in May of 2008 when i ran that 3:10:23, which leads me back to my training.

This past week of training looked like this.

Wednesday: 12 miles with 7@LT pace.
Thursday: 6 miles recovery
Friday: 12.1 miles
Saturday: 6 miles recovery

The Wednesday run is the big Pfitz training run that I usually dread.  Back in the first few weeks of the plan when one is struggling to put down 4 miles at an LT pace, I always look forward in the plan and wonder how the heck am I ever going to do 7 continuous miles at the same pace.  Started off with two very slow recovery miles and then started into it.  LT miles went off as 7:12, 7:04, 7:00, 6:57, 7:03, 6:56, 6:51.  First two miles felt hard.  Probably not warmed up enough. HR spiked on the 4th mile.  I had noticed that my HR was less than 170 for the first 3 miles when I usually try to keep it between 170 and 180 for LT runs.  I tried to increase the pace during mile 4, but this caused the HR to spike. With only 3 LT miles left, I ended up just running through it and the Hr dropped back to normal within a mile after me slowing down.   I'm still trying to figure out if there's anything that i can do to try and prevent this.   I've read that this can be caused by electrolyte imbalances and lack of sleep so i've been trying to make sure those are addressed by eating salt pills and going to bed relatively early.  This run has me thinking that in regards to fitness, I'm probably very close to where I was back in May 2008.  At the time, in the week leading up to that marathon, I did 3.5 miles at 7min/mile pace on a track and averaged a HR of 167-168.  Based on the info before the spike now, i think i was probably averaging about the same and this is still with about a month of training to go. 

The Thursday recovery run was done at 9:04 pace.  I'm starting to like recovery runs.  I try to work on my cadence and don't have to worry to much about tiring out.  I try to consciously run these slower than 9 min/mile and am always interested in where the HR is.  For these, it was lower than 140 for most of the run.  This i like.

The Friday run was a 12 mile General Aerobic run.   I started slow and gradually built up the pace over the course of the run. No HR spike. Towards the end, did a couple of sub 8 min miles and finished with one mile at a 3:15 marathon pace (7:26 min/mile).  Interesting thing was that the average HR during that last mile was around 160.  In the past, this would be the maximum HR that i would have during a long run.  That I might be able to hold a 3:15 marathon pace at this HR kinda has me thinking that 3:10 isn't out of the realm of possibility.  I kinda wish my HR hadn't spiked during that marathon pace, 30k race a few weeks ago cause it sure would be nice to have a little more data to support that goal.

Today my recovery run sucked.  I did 6 miles at over 10min/mile.  I weighed myself before the run and my weight was down to where it would be after a long run so i knew i was dehydrated.  Did 3 miles of a little faster than 10 min/mile, HR then spiked, walked for about a mile and then did 2 more at slower than 10min/mile.  I guess you have to have these types of runs every now and again to keep you honest.

Long run of at least 20 miles tomorrow.  Will probably try and do a tad on the fast side.

Hope everyone enjoys their long weekend!


yumke said...

You probably have the fitness for 3:10, I've not been digging through my stats enough to know how I'm doing, I figure a future 10K and half mary race will give me the proper feedback.

I'm a little more sure that I'm going to aim a little faster than 3:15 for the marathon. Although I'm training like I'm doing for 3:10 I kinda want to give myself a buffer. Always room for improvement in future years.