I like to run. I've learned that it really isn't about where you're going, it's about the getting there - the how, the why, the who with. This blog is just a little repository for my thoughts along the way; the setbacks, the lessons learned, and the occasional triumph.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Eye of the Storm

This is the calm weekend in between marathons. The first being the ultra last week at the Rock Cut Hobo Run, the next being the Chicago Marathon a week from today, and finally the Farmdale Ultra on the 18th. So, I’ve been taking advantage of the time down (actually my “taper” between races!) to plot my goals for next Sunday.

I’ve been reviewing the last few months in my training log to try and evaluate my fitness. How did all my long runs go? How was I able to do in my tempo runs? What kind of mileage was I able to maintain? The general answer to all that is: I think I’m in good shape. Three weeks ago, in particular, I really had a breakthrough week. Not only did I run a lightning quick 7-mile tempo run during the week, I also followed it the next day with an equally powerful 9-miler, and then ran an amazing 20-miler in a steady downpour on the weekend that I finished in less than 3 hours – something I’ve never been able to do before.

The only questions I have going into the marathon Sunday are: Did I peak too soon? Hopefully I’m still carrying the basic fitness I showed three weeks ago. Also, am I recovered yet from the wear and tear of the Hobo Run last week? I may not really know about either until the early miles of the race Sunday morning. I intend to be optimistic.

So: Time to set some Marathon goals….

My baseline goal: Break 4 hours.
I finally turned in my first sub-4 in Madison, WI this past Memorial Day. The Chicago course is flatter and faster than Madison. If the weather stays mild, as forecast, I expect to be able to duplicate that.

My Pretty-Sure-I-Can goal: Break 3:55.
Since I’ve already run a sub-4, it’s time to set the bar a little higher. So, I’d like to finish a marathon with a sub 9-minute per mile pace for the first time. A 3:55 would give me that- and it would also automatically re-qualify me for a Corral C assignment at next year’s marathon. (I earned it for this year with a fast half-marathon time.)

My Pie-In-The-Sky goal: Break 3:50.
I don’t think the sky is so terribly high for that pie. If everything goes perfectly, the weather, my legs, the field, my fuel plan, I don’t think it’s completely out of the question. It would require an 8:45 overall pace, and a little magic. This is a decision I would be able to make as late as the half-way mark of the race. If I feel really good at that point, I could try to step it up a bit and go for a negative split that could put me in low 3:50 territory.

There they are. In black and white. If things don’t turn out well and I don’t even break 4, it won’t ruin my day. I should still be able to break 4:06 which is my Chicago PR. I think I’ll aim to run the first half in 1:56 (8:55 per mile) then I’ll assess things and go from there.

So now, I’m committed. I have six days to focus my brain and hone in on my goals the same way I’ve been honing my body. May commitment become action!

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