Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Taper Protocol

Another day down, another day closer to the marathon, another day into Taper Madness.  Once again, I find myself tweaking my training to optimize my training to keep from falling down and crying repeatedly successfully complete the marathon.  My first week of tapering, I shortened my mileage per day, but I did harder, faster runs.  I still ended up logging around 30 miles this week, so it wasn't too bad.  Not too good either, but not too bad.

This week, I figure that I'll do 3 more easy training runs about 5 miles each, but definitely no longer than 7 miles.  Today, I weighed in at 163 lbs, so I'm right at race weight, so no major changes to the diet either.  I need to finish up my marathon playlist, but that's nearly done (I'm almost ashamed to admit the amount of girly, teeny-bobber songs on it.  Almost.).  I'll review the course map a couple times more and re-check that I have all my gear ready for Saturday.  All par for course.  The only change that I'm making is to be in bed by 10:00-10:30 each night, so that I get plenty of rest.

Everyone that knows that I'm running the marathon this coming weekend has asked what's the time I'm shooting for.  My answer has been 3:45:00.  For those of you mathematically disinclined, 3:45:00 translates into 8:35/mile.  Now nothing in my training suggests that I'll hit this number.  If anything my lack of training would indicate that this is either a pipe dream or the wild fantasies of a self-deluded ego-maniac.  I can assure you that the answer is both.  I, for one, have never let reality get in the way of my greedy ambitions, and I'm not about to let it start now.  I could rattle off a list of rationalizations, like this is actually a slower pace than I have aimed for in my last two marathons or that my half-marathon times suggest that this time is well-within my reach, but let's face it, I just flat out believe that I can do it.  If I didn't have that kind of belief, I would never have gotten off the couch to lose those first 10 lbs.  I didn't have that kind of faith, I would never have run my first 5k.  And if I didn't have that kind of stupid confidence, I would never have run my first marathon.  Under 4 hours.  Booyah.

So when I line up on Saturday, I will think of my family and the strength that they give me.  I will thank God for the opportunity to keep subjecting myself to this mental and physical torture.  I will wish that I had all my friends with me and will look forward to seeing many along the course.  And I WILL believe that 3:45:00 is a number that I will see when I cross the finish line.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Tuneless Experimentation

With just barely a week left until my marathon, I've been tapering my runs, but trying to keep up my speed and intensity.  The rationale being that I will be able to go into the marathon rested, but not soft.  Sounds good on paper but as in all things I do, it's a work in progress.  This Saturday, I'll finish up the week with a long run of 11-15 miles, and I'm thinking of doing it tuneless.  Before today, I couldn't tell you the last time that I did any run of long distance without my tunes, but I've been running without music for the last couple of training runs.  Today, I did 8 miles without my music.  I am definitely a believer in the motivating power of music, but I've been listening to my marathon playlist for so long that I'm afraid it's starting to get stale.  Hence the tuneless runs.  And I hate to admit it, but it's been kinda fun running without my music.  I was able to really pay attention to all the sights as I ran through Belmont.  I enjoyed it so much that I'm considering running without my music for the first half of the marathon.  The only problem is dealing with the headphones while on the run.  Do I put them in my pocket?  Do I wear them but not turn on my player?  Decisions, decisions, decisions. 

Just to make sure that you don't think that I've lost my geek cred, I'm only running tuneless.  I'm still otherwise technologically pimped out with my trusty Garmin 405.  At least it was until a few weeks ago before it started to lose power dramatically mid-run.  I've done a hard reset, and I'm hoping that resolves the issue.  However, it does make me wonder if I should sport my Forerunner 305 come marathon day.  Again....decisions, decisions, decisions.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Procrastination Doctrine

For whatever reason, I insist on making things hard for myself by waiting till the last minute to do things.  When I was in school, I waited till after 10 (or midnight) to my homework.  Studying for exams could not happen until I finshed cleaning my apartment.  I never do laundry till I need my lucky shirt the following morning.  Christmas presents should always be purchased on Christmas Eve.  Go to sleep early?  Sleep is for the dead, and I have hours of gaming to roll through!  A marathon in 2 months?  Well I don't have to do a real long run until 3 weeks out, right?  That's completely fine...Sure it is...If you're a delusional asshat.  And that would be me.  I claim this title honestly and rightly.  When they make the call for delusional asshats, I'm ALWAYS at the front of the line.  If I wasn't a delusional asshat, I would have realized that I'm NOT 7 feet tall, NOT bulletproof, and NOT as fast as Hermes himself.  But these things do not occur to me, because...well...I'm me.

So true to form, I did my first long run over 13 miles today with the Nashville Striders.  It was a 20 mile run along the Country Music Marathon half-marathon course with an additional 7 miles of punishment fun thrown in.  Now every training guide in the world says that I shouldn't have done what I did today, but I needed to know how bad April 30 (the Marathon) would be.  After all, if I couldn't do a 20 miler at an easy pace, then there would be no way that I could finish the CMM in any reasonable time (as my lovely wife reminds me, what I consider reasonable and what every other person on the planet considers reasonable are two totally different things). 

I even tried prepping for the run the night before by drinking lots of fluids and laying out all my gear.  I'm not sure why I even bother sometimes.  True to form, I woke up late, wolfed down my breakfast and left half my gear at home (my GPS watch, my wallet, my GU).  Luckily for me I had a spare watch in my gym bag in my car, so I strapped it on hurriedly as I got to the park just as the Striders were starting to leave.  I grabbed some Vanilla Bean GU and took off. 

I learned two things today:  First, I can stomach, and actually like Vanilla Bean GU.  I usually go for berry/citrus flavored drinks, gels, etc., but vanilla bean wasn't too bad.  Second, I learned that I'm in better shape than I thought.  I managed the run at a slow and easy pace mostly around 8:50-9:00/mi for the first 13 miles with the random 8:30 and 9:41 thrown in for good measure.  Then for the last 7 miles, I tried to hit race pace an managed to keep most of miles at right under 8:30/mi.  Other than the usual soreness and exhaustion that comes from running 20 miles, I feel pretty decent.  Luckily for me, I have to spend all day in court tomorrow, so I have to take a rest day and recover.  We'll see how quickly I recover by Tuesday before I make any predictions about the marathon in a few weeks. 

Some might say that I would have had a better run if I had gotten more sleep and made sure that I was more organized in the morning, but that hardly seems like something I would do.

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