Today was my last big training run: a 22 miler with 9(ish) miles in the middle run not quite at (desired) marathon pace; more like as fast as I could muster. Which means 15-25 seconds slower than (desired) marathon pace. I am now questioning my fitness to run my (desired) marathon pace in three weeks, considering I’ve barely run more than a few miles in any given training run at it.
Was it the dreadful summer heat and humidity? Not enough recovery? Failure to adapt to training enough to reach my desired level of fitness? All of the above? What speed I can reliably hold over 26.2 miles is anyone’s guess right now. And I don’t like that.
Perhaps I will undergo a miraculous regeneration in the coming few weeks and, with (I hope) cooler temperatures, I’ll pull a rabbit out of my hat (or shorts) on race day. But a part of me is thinking I need to readjust my plans and expectations. What I do know is that the first 10 miles of a marathon should feel ridiculously easy and slow. So I think my entire strategy is going to be built around that maxim: Find a pace in the first few miles that seems absurdly easy and stick with it through the halfway point. Then start turning up the heat and engaging in my favorite marathon game of chance: “Guess When Julie Will Blow Up!”
The weather was astonishing this morning. Perfect. It was in the low sixties and dry. It was, as always, very windy (both coming and going). But I felt good until around mile 18 when I started to bonk. But, with only four miles to go (and a Powerbar in the car), I was fine.
I parked the car at Hartsdale Station and ran down to Bronxville with an 8 mile warmup at easy pace. Then I turned on the jets (cough cough) on the way back and ran all the way up to the Kensico Dam in Valhalla. Availed myself of the Ladies Room, sat on a bench inwardly whining for awhile, and then hit the road again for the last 5.5 miles.
There was not one but two huge training groups out there. I think one was a Team in Training group, since about a quarter of them had their distinctive purple TNT singlets on. There must have been 30 people, judging by the collection of bags they left in the park in Hartsdale. The other group was operating out of a van in the North White Plains train station parking lot. They were all so young, fresh and enthusiastic. Not at all like me! I wonder if they’re training for the New York marathon. It was nice to share the path with so many friendly runners today.
I did my big run today because tomorrow we drive up to Connecticut for what my uncle’s wife, Diane, is calling The World’s Smallest Family Reunion, and I’d like to be able to display something resembling a lively personality (which is out of the question after a hard 22 miler). I’m meeting one of my two second cousins, (father’s side), Ann (and her husband, Greg) for the first time in probably around 35 years. My dad and his wife, and my uncle and his are also coming. Except for going to Iowa in the spring for my grandmother’s demise, followed by her funeral, I’ve not traveled at all this year. And I don’t exactly count those two trips as “vacations.” So, even though it’s just two nights away, I booked us a tony suite in a B&B. I have extensive family history, good food and wine, and the possibility of getting to help cook in a real restaurant kitchen on Monday evening to look forward to. And, I’m certain, a lot of great conversation and company.