Here I Go Again on My Own ...

on Friday, October 24, 2014 at 8:49 PM

So it's only two more sleeps till marathon day.  Since then, I ran the Scotiabank half as the 1:45 pacer and I did a short run with 2.5 miles at marathon pace.  I was hoping to get a sense from Scotiabank where my fitness was at by doing 8 min/miles but due to some HR strap issues, I didn't get any HR data from that. 

The 7 miles this past Wednesday left me a bit more confident about my goal.  I generally run this last MP run around a track to get accurate and precise feedback.  I was able to hold 7:21min/mile pace at a HR that maxed out at 166 over 4000m which I think is around where my MP heart rate should be.  I used to use 170 as the number but that was several years ago and the basic rule is your drop a beat with every additional year.   I actually only want to hold about 7:24 min/mile pace so that's kinda good.  This would put me at a 3:14 marathon which is what I'm going to aim for.  Technically 3:14:00 probably wouldn't get me into Boston, but I figure I can probably find 15 seconds or so somewhere over the course of 42 km. 

Though that is my goal, there are a couple things working against me.  Firstly, there's the wind. Temperatures are looking great, and with a predicted overcast day, I won't have to worry about the sun beating down on me.  The wind is currently predicted to be from the west at 30 km/hr. That's not good as it's a pretty much a strong head wind over the last half of the course. If only the wind would swing a bit south and approach from the S, or even the SW I could handle. The second thing is I have a trigger point in my right calf. I noticed it on Wednesday while sticking my calves and while I've tried to work through it, it's been very painful.  Not sure, I'll get rid of it in time for race day, but hey, not much else I can do at this point. 

A part of me still thinks that maybe I should hold back and do Hamilton next weekend, but the other part of me says I probably will pig out on halloween candy next week so better to take what fitness I have now then risk my weak willpower to potentially running next week. I will admit that I have been looking at back up plan marathon in the US in the month of December, but I'm not sure I want to do that just yet.  Live in the here and now, I suppose.

Taper Time

on Saturday, October 18, 2014 at 8:11 PM

With only a week to go before the race day, I'm well in to taper mode. Even without the relatively long early morning runs, I still find myself rushing to get ready to work. Funny how the body works that way.

I still haven't decided on a marathon goal as of yet. My recent tune-up race suggest that 3:20 is a reasonable goal. I've spent a lot of time reading previous blog posts and analyzing pace and HR data and based on comparisons to when I did Chicago (albeit in 2006), when I was aiming for 3:20 and finished in 3:17. I think I'm faster than that right now. However, when I look at the last time, I did 3:15 at Niagara Falls, 5 years ago and compare my training and HR data to that, I feel that I'm not quite as fit as I was back then. The one big "but" is that I was actually on pace at the half for a 3:13 marathon during that race, but backed off a bit in the second half due to a head wind. So without a headwind, 3:15 might be doable. Even if it is doable, the next question of course is do I go for the BQ cushion time? I really don't have an answer to that yet. Part of me says "Boston or Bust" while the other part of me says, I haven't raced a marathon in 5 years so maybe it's better to just get one under the belt and worry about BQ'ing next spring. I've always hated winter training and with the prediction of the upcoming winter being as nutso cold and snowy as it was this past winter, I'm not looking forward to it.

The weather in Niagara predicted for next Sunday is looking good temperature wise, but the wind is a concern. It's currently predicted to be from the northwest at about 20km/hr which is basically a headwind for the last half of the course.   I've also started looking at doing Hamilton instead a week later and scouting out possible hotel rooms.  Not sure I'll switch, but it's nice to have a back-up plan.

Pondering the Pace

on Thursday, October 2, 2014 at 8:29 PM

With less than a month to go till race day, it's usually at this time that I try to decide on what marathon pace I will attempt.  I haven't quite figure it out yet.  I think I"m probably at about the same fitness level maybe a bit faster than I was at this time last year. Back then, I was thinking 3:20 was reasonable with maybe a 3:15 being a possibility.

The BQ magic number came out for next years race which was 62 seconds. That means you got in if you beat your BQ time by 62 seconds.  This was a big reduction as compared to this years race where the magic number was 98 seconds which probably has something to do with this year's event being after the bombings in 2013 and also possibly because of an increased field for next year.

So what this all means is that I could probably get into Boston, if I ran 75 seconds under my 3:15 BQ time, probably safer to say 90 seconds.  This translates into about 7:23/7:24 min/mile pace.  The fastest I've been doing my MP runs at is 7:30 min/mile pace. Though the 6 or 7 seconds per mile may not seem like a lot, I know for me it is considering that my LT pace has been at around 7:00. There really is very little room for error. Do a couple of miles at too fast a pace and I'd be basically screwed.

While originally signed up for Niagara Falls, I've been giving some serious thought to holding back a week and doing the Hamilton Marathon instead.  While Niagara Falls has about a 30m net elevation drop  with a kinda big uphill and downhill as you cross over the border in the first 8 miles or so, Hamilton is a generally flat course will no big hills, but one very big downhill at the halfway point. I'm talking a 140m drop, with the overall course being 160m net downhill.  That 160m would certainly buy me a good chunk, if not all of, the extra time I'd need.

So what this essentially means is, well, I don't really know.  I have one more tune-up race scheduled for two Saturdays from now. I was thinking of doing a Yasso's workout, but don't think that will be particularly useful at predicting my current marathon pace. There's a 10k about an hour and a half drive from Toronto, but that seems a long way to go for just a 10k race.  Way back when, before the advent of GPS watches, I had mapped out a fairly precise flat 5k loop course around the neighborhood. I once tried to do a 10k time trial on it, but I just sort of gave up after the first loop.  I never tried it again.  But seeing as this could be important indicator of my current fitness, I may just decide to take another crack at it.