June 2, 2020

Nashville Marathon update: 8 weeks to go! [journal entry]

Good Omens: some personal wins

This November 9th will be my first marathon. Because this is a second attempt, I’m being cautiously optimistic. (The first attempt wasn’t a problem with training, or anything like that at all. It was simply a matter of “life getting in the way.”)

I’m not letting myself expect everything to pan-out perfectly. This is not forced pessimism. Rather, it’s (to use the words of David Roche at Trail Runner Magazine) “accepting uncertainty.”

Yet… things are looking so great so far! Two weekends ago was the ten week mark. That has meant my training plan calling for longer long runs, and extra miles on the other days as well. And last weekend everything got real.

Third place in AG at a 10K

Last weekend was a very fun local 10K race that always gets a great turn out. It launches the fall the race schedule for all of Murfreesboro, it’s Labor Day weekend, and the race itself has a story behind it that attracts runners and non-runners alike.

I ran this race last year, and the time from the 2018 race (52:05, with an avg pace of 8:24/m) had remained my PR.

On the one hand, I wanted land a new PR; but on the other hand, I’m taking my training seriously and I don’t want to push myself too hard in any race between now and the marathon. On top of that, I was keeping in mind that I had a long run to tackle that weekend. So, I promised myself that I would not look at my watch during the race. Instead, I’d enjoy the morning. I would only fall into a comfortable pace and stick with it for the duration.

Funny thing. I stopped to walk twice during the 10K. Once at a water stop. A second time was because I got a stitch in my side that hurt pretty bad. (A sign, I suppose, that I did in fact overdo it without realizing it.) But I still came in 9th overall, and won 3rd place in my age group.

More astonishing to me was my time. 47:44, with an avg pace of 7:42 /m?! What the crap??? How did I shave a solid minute off my pace? I mean, it’s reasonable to expect that I have improved, but I don’t “feel” like I have improved that much. And yet, there it is. This was the same 10K, on the same course. Much improved time. Yay, me.

I’ll take that as a sign that I am on the right track.

My first LONG long run

This weekend was my first very long long run. I used RunKeeper to track it, partly because I prefer the RK audio cues over the ones from Strava; and I’d rather hear where I am at than look down at my watch all the time.

For some odd reason, Strava says I did a little shy of my 18 miles. Whatever. I also walked a half mile prior, and a mile after, so I’m still calling it 18 miles.

Until now, anything beyond thirteen miles was super-rare, and anything beyond fifteen was not happening. So I expected to do a lot of walking, and I was pretty much counting on 11-minute miles at best.

Again, I fell into a comfortable rhythm. Since I’m doing a long-ass run, I decided that it was time to try my hydration & re-fueling plan (which worked perfectly). I dropped into a short walk while taking water and/or Gatorade every two miles. I had a GU every four miles.

Beyond those walking moments, and one other time, I didn’t walk until about mile 17. I kept chugging along. I certainty didn’t stop my run. About the last mile I started feeling it and walked a bit extra.

All said and done, I maintained a serviceable pace the first 17 miles. And I averaged 9:49/mile?!!! How?

I’m surprised at my progress. But I guess I’m still learning that steady progress comes with time, patience, and following a realistic plan + listening to our bodies. (I’ve added a few light & easy runs into weeks when I was feeling, and cut a few runs short when I was feeling beat-up by the workout.)

It’s hard to be patient, it’s hard to wait for the fruits of our efforts. And some times it doesn’t seems like it’ll ever come. But when those fruits start to show themselves, it’s pretty damn awesome.

The only thing that sucks now is that I am still trying to remain cautiously optimistic. Lately I’m feeling more cocky and overly confident optimistic.


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