Here's the deal - I want a sub 4 hour marathon. My first marathon, the Country Music Marathon in April 2006 was a 4:17:17. I used an intermediate plan I got from CoolRunning.com that involved running 6 days a week with intervals, hills, and long runs up to 26 miles. The week I was supposed to do the 26 mile long run I did not make it. I struggled about 16 miles into it and couldn't go another step. I had to stop at a friend's house and get a ride home. After resting up some, and then tapering as the plan said, though, I finished the marathon and felt fairly well until about mile 22.
My second marathon, the New Las Vegas Marathon in Dec 2006, I was serious about getting under 4 hours. I chose the FIRST plan from the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training. It involved 3 key runs per week (1 interval, 1 tempo, and 1 long run) with cross training in between them. I loved the idea of this plan because I could continue my swimming and cycling while training for this marathon. The training went fairly well - it consisted of 5 20 milers. I can only remember a couple of tempo runs and 1 long run where I really felt too tired, and the paces of my long runs and tempo runs really indicated i was capable of a sub 4. Enter: 30 mph head winds between miles 10 and 15 in Vegas. By mile 18, I was hurting. By mile 20, I was falling off pace. By 26.2, I was just thankful to finish alive in 4:08:28.
You can't predict what the marathon might throw at you. And you can never underestimate the challenge. It's nothing like running a half marathon - it's a whole different ballgame. Barry Magee, the bronze medalist of the 1960 Olympic Marathon said:
"Anyone can run twenty miles, it's the next six that count."
In the past, those last 6 miles have punished me for running my first 6 miles too fast. They have hurt me severely for not taking in enough calories during the race. Or eating the proper pre-race meal. You can get away with a lot of things for 20 miles...but it all comes back home for the last 6. They have my utmost respect...
...but this time, they are mine.
I am serious about training the way Pfitzinger says to train. If he says "run fast", I will run fast. If he says "run slow", I'll be running slow - to hell with the ego. I realize that I am not going to get in as many good bike rides or swims or late season triathlons as I would like during this training. That's okay. I realize that I have to watch my diet closely - garbage in = garbage out. I realize that I have to practice nutrition during training like I intend to use it during the race, something I have not done so well in the past. All of this is easier said than done, but I'm going to give it my best shot. And last but absolutely not least, I realize that I have to pay close attention to keeping everything else in my life balanced so that I do not get overwhelmed. I have to stay on top of the laundry (ha!), I have to get enough sleep, I have to keep my priorities straight, and I have to stay healthy spiritually. I often find a deep spiritual value in running - the shear exhaustion sometimes strips me down and forces me to face things about myself I normally overlook. The being surrounded in the beauty of nature for 3 or 3.5 hours of running can render an awareness in myself that does not exist in the every day hustle and bustle of life. I'll be blogging almost every day - so you guys hold me accountable. Give me your feedback. Scream if you see me falling off track. We're bringing home a sub-4 this Dec...
"Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back." Philippians 3:13-14, The Message