Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fail to Plan

Only a couple of weeks until the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, I’ll be pacing a friend in the half Marathon as a member of Canadian Running’s Marathon Quest Team.

After the half, tapering begins for my second full marathon attempt at the Toronto GoodLife Marathon the week after (Canadian) Thanksgiving. My training group will be back from Chicago. I’ll have some excellent feedback from their performances to know how well our Smart Coach Training Plan prepared us .

I’m working through the process of defining what my goals should be for the marathon, particularly after my problems during the Mississauga race with calf cramps. First off, the main rule of running a marathon is “Respect the Distance”. I take nothing for granted, I will accept what the day brings.

No problem defining my primary goals, which are:

1. Finish (upright and smiling)

C’mon who starts a marathon with the goal of not finishing?

2. Break 4 hours

This was my original pace goal for my first marathon attempt. I was happily on pace for the first half of the race, then thing deteriorated around kilometer 23.

More difficult are the goals that I feel I’ve worked towards. This training session, I’ve committed to ensuring that I didn’t overdo the training and wind up injured. While not a marathon goal, it’s been my primary motivation every training run. How do I feel? What hurts? Why does it hurt? So far, I’ve been successful, nothing hurts that shouldn’t be hurting. I plan on keeping it that way.

In order to finalize my goals, I need to have a plan. Right now, I don’t have that plan. I have questions, lots of questions.

Do I try and Boston Qualify?

My head tells me that I’m not quite there yet. My heart tells me there is no harm in trying. What’s the absolutely worst thing that could happen? I blow up and have to walk? Been there, done that, still finished (upright and smiling). I don’t like the feeling that I’m pressuring myself to try and BQ. At the same time, I really don’t want to have to wait a year before I get another shot at qualifying. Looking forward at my schedule and knowing how difficult it was last winter with my hips and the cold weather. I don’t believe there will be a spring marathon for me in 2011. My other option is less palatable and that is to try and BQ at the Disney Full. Logically, that doesn’t work for me. Too many variables, little things like a half marathon the day before come in to play, my heart may win this debate.

Even Split, Negative Spit, or (*gasp) Positive Split? And Walk/Run or Run or Mix it Up?

I planned to run Mississauga with even splits. I also followed the 4 Hour 10&1 Pace Bunny. I ran the first 21.1 km 15 minutes slower than my PR and still had cramping problems in my calves. So ignore that race and fall back on what did training feel like. I’m not a great run/walk runner. I run tight. My hips protest the walk break and I feel better maintaining a continual pace. Having said that, I’m a fader over distance, it doesn’t seem to matter about pace, I fade over time. I don’t think in an endurance event that I’m a negative split style runner. Given that I fade, an even split might be a bit of a stretch. So, that leaves the (dreaded) positive split. I’ve read that performance can degrade as much as 6% when running for over three hours, and that statement rang true to me. At the same time, I don’t want to create a scenario where it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy either. Going out to fast can be a sure way ensure an slow finish. Here I trust my training, and my training says “positive split”. It’s an area for improvement in my training but not this training cycle.

Long story short, I’m working over a plan in my head. The last couple of weeks of training will seal the deal.

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