Marathon Game Plan

Nearly three-quarters of the way into this year-long experiment.  

A couple of months ago a friend asked how I was feeling about it.  He wanted to know if I planned on continuing next year.  My readership fluctuates a bit from week to week and he caught me on an especially strong week.  Consequently, I told him I was planning on continuing, but now, in all honesty, I’m unsure.

I wanted to see if I could build a readership and spark conversations without taking away from my off-line writing.  Even though it’s trending slightly up over time, my readership is still small.  

Based on the paucity of comments, I don’t feel as if I’ve sparked conversations.  

And while I think it’s possible, so far I haven’t managed to capitalize on my blogging to publish more off-line essays and commentaries.

I’ll keep you posted.  We now return to regular programming.

S and I were out the door at 5:35a Saturday to pound out our final 20 mile marathon training run.  D was in Australia on business.  Very suspicious timing.

Twenty two days to the Portland Marathon.  The early morning running conditions in Olympia, Washington right now are idyllic, high 40’s, clear, dry, still.  The only bummer is starting out in the dark again.  

I think of each long training run as a brick in a wall.  The longer, the higher, the stronger the wall, the better the eventual race.  

I felt good today.  Usually, I stagger in at the end and wonder how on earth I’d ever tack on another 10k. Today, I could visualize maintaining the pace and gutting out the remainder.

Now the challenge is assembling a game plan.  My marathon metaphor is a crystal carafe of water that contains 26.2 ounces.  The goal is to pour yourself out as evenly as possible with the last drop landing on the finish line.  

I’ve always left everything out on the course, sometimes though, I’ve poured myself out too fast and blown up like a car with a steaming radiator.  Sorry for mixing metaphors.

At what rate should I pour myself out, 7:30, 7:45, or 8:00 a mile?  Should I stay well within myself for the first half and strive to run a negative split or should I try to run 26 7:45’s or should I run 7:30’s for the first half so that a personal record is a possibility?

Two opposite factors make this a tougher than normal call.  First, my training has gone well.  My splits haven’t been especially fast, but I’ve been injury free, I have a solid base, and I felt good near the end today.  I don’t expect to ever lower my personal 10k record, but I’m not quite ready to throw in the towel on a marathon personal record.  Second, I’ve run poorly in my previous Portland marathons, and I admit, those performances still nag at me.

One of my cycling friends was a professional marathoner in the 80’s and I’ve enjoyed picking his brains a bit the last few years.  He emphasizes the mental aspect of performance and specifically, “Ignoring that whimp ass voice in your head that says you can’t do it.”  The voice in my head is saying, “What makes you think you can run well in Portland?  Go ahead, run 7:30’s and blow up again.” 

Then again, I feel like if I go through the half at 1:45 (8:00/miles), I won’t be taking full advantage of my solid training.

My sissy thinks I’m crazy for voluntarily running 26.2 miles.  She may be right.  

I’m not a talented runner, so I don’t race to win, but I do enjoy the challenge of fulfilling my potential on race day.  My goal is to be able to say, “I couldn’t have run any faster.”  To do that, I need to assemble a game plan, a plan that may need race day tinkering depending on the conditions.  

Given my uncertain state of mind, it’s a good thing I still have three weeks to piece together a plan.

[I wrote this while listening to Erin Rose’s Stay on acousticalternative.com, what a great track.]

2 thoughts on “Marathon Game Plan

  1. I agree with Dean. Plan to run the first 18 at a safe but honest pace then gradually empty the tank over the last 8 miles. Do not let the “wimp-ass” voice rationalize a less than honest effort. You have worked hard to acquire your fitness. Enjoy it. Be true to yourself.

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