Sunday, July 29, 2012

Marathon Training - Week 13

This week started off a little rough on the running front, but finished on a very high note.

I missed my long run last weekend (which was only a 7 mile easy run since last week was a rest week, but I'm still disappointed I couldn't fit it in), and I missed my 2 mile easy run on Monday.

So on Wednesday, I was determined to rock my 6 mile tempo run.

Wednesday, July 25th - 6 mile tempo run

It didn't feel too hot out when I started running at 10:15am, so I was really hoping the heat wouldn't affect my run too bad.

And for the first couple of miles, it didn't.

Unfortunately, just shy of halfway through the run is where everything started to fall apart.

Just like my other recent neighborhood runs, my legs felt fine; it was as if I just didn't have any energy left.

It's such a frustrating feeling, too -- I felt like I should have been able to push through it, but I could barely manage to run 1/4 mile at a time before needing to stop.

My middle four tempo miles should have been at an 8:16/mile pace. Here's what they actually were:

Like I said, things just fell apart.

I was pretty bummed out with that run, which made me question if I really had a chance at hitting my goal of doing a sub-4 hour marathon -- especially considering that this is my first.

On Thursday I blogged about feeling defeated, and my plans to turn things back around.

We had a pretty busy weekend, so I was nervous about fitting in my longest run to date of 18 miles. I knew it would be a turning point in my training, though, so I made sure to make it a priority and get it done.

Saturday, July 28th - 18 mile long run

Once again, I was really excited to do this run. I was determined to make it a good run, and I knew that in doing so I would really restore a lot of my confidence.

Especially since I've heard that most people hit a wall around miles 18-20.

Even though I was excited about it, I was really nervous about fueling. That's probably the one thing I struggle with the most, mostly because it's more of an afterthought for me.

I've tried lots of different fuels, but I haven't really found anything that's my go-to choice.

The powders that you mix into water are usually too sweet if I make them strong (which gives me stomach cramps), or not strong enough if I dilute them (and I end up drinking so much that I feel sick from having all that liquid in my stomach).

Sports beans have worked the best for me in the past, but they're definitely on the sweeter side, and they're really thick, so I have to wash them down with a lot of water.

I've even had success with peanut butter-filled pretzels, but they're not really practical to carry during a race, so I'm trying to stay away from those.

A couple weeks ago I decided to try some GUs we got when we did some races earlier this year, and although the texture takes some getting used to, they have become my go-to choice for fueling.

Saturday's run reinforced just how awesome those little gels are.

On the way to the gym I picked up four new flavors to try: strawberry-banana, vanilla-orange (Rocktane), peanut butter, and chocolate. Since I had breakfast before I went, my plan was do a GU every 45 minutes.

Another thing I did a little different for this run was to start out at a reasonable pace and keep it there. Most of the time I feel like I really don't have the time to do my long runs (with travel time and showering added in, it easily takes up 4 hours of my day). That, and like I've said before, I get bored easily and just want to get the run over with, so I push the pace.

On Saturday, I forced myself to keep the pace right around what my plan said it should be so I didn't burn out too quickly. And I made sure to incorporate walk breaks every couple of miles, since I'm planning on walking most (if not all) of the water stops during the race.

The result? I rocked the run! Seriously the best long run I've ever had!

I think it helped that the Olympics were on -- it was a good distraction, and watching the men's cycling was amazing (seeing how hard those guys were pushing after biking 150 miles made me want to run even harder).

And I'm a GU kind of guy from now on for sure.

I started with the vanilla-orange Rocktane since it had twice the caffeine, and the flavor wasn't too bad (not my favorite, but still pretty good). Halfway through the run I did the peanut butter, which tasted just like eating regular peanut butter. At the 3/4 mark (13.5 miles in) I took the chocolate one, which was pretty much like eating chocolate icing. That might sound weird, but it was awesome.

Of course, I had a whole water bottle (I really could have done more, but I didn't want to stop to go to the water fountain), and another bottle of diluted EFS.

I never felt tired, I never felt hungry, and I never felt sick. And with the Olympics on, I never really felt bored, either. I guess I convinced myself that I was going to run for 3 hours and that was that, so mentally I was prepared for it.

All told I went 18.2 miles in just under 3 hours (2:59:51 to be specific). I was a little slower than my goal pace (9:50/mile when I should have been more like 9:44/mile), but what mattered most to me was that I still had enough energy left at the end to sprint the last mile.

I still have three more long runs before I taper for the race -- 20, 22, and 23 miles -- and now that I have a plan, I really feel like I can do them all without any problems!


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