Eighteen Saturdays: Canton Marathon 2012, Week Six
Week six felt almost like an inverse of week five: The weekday runs provided the highlights, while the long run was a mental battle.
Tuesday morning was incredible: 60 degrees at 5:30 a.m.. In full sun, this would feel uncomfortably warm, but in the pre-dawn darkness, it was perfect. I stuck to my tripled-up half-mile out-and-back route and managed a 23:04, which works out to 7:40 per mile, and starts to reach that pace territory where, last summer, Adam and I built up to a speed of about 7:24 for a 3.15-mile loop. Felt good to be in that neighborhood again, even though I know this is the final week for three milers, at least until the pre-race taper.
Wednesday morning was a six-miler, with the goal of tackling it at race pace, 8:23. It had been two weeks since our last pace run – which I hadn’t enjoyed, and during which I struggled to finish with an 8:40 – and we were covering the same distance and route. This time, I wanted to try to get out to a little bit faster start, and after a warm-up first half-mile, Adam and I picked things up and took advantage of a nice downhill to pass the first marker at 8:03. We felt good enough to keep that overall pace going, and through two miles, we were still averaging just over 8 minutes, prompting Adam to note that the third mile of this loop had tended to be one of the most difficult, but if we could just manage to keep this pace up, we’d have almost a half-minute-per-mile cushion for the second half of the run. And the third mile was tough – and it felt tough – but still: We did it in 8:15, and our overall pace was, frankly, starting to surprise me.
The fourth mile has two nice downhill stretches, and we used them to our advantage, marking our fastest mile of the run (7:44) and knowing full well that the fifth mile would feel like a real slog. And it did – but we still managed to get it behind us in 8:25, and with an 8:13 final mile, we completed the run in 48:38 for an overall pace of 8:07.
I couldn’t believe it. 33 seconds per mile shaved off the same course from two weeks ago, and I felt great. This was a confidence-booster that I really needed.
I rode the adrenaline to a relatively easy Thursday morning three-miler, which I put behind me in 24:14.
So after those runs, Saturday’s nine miles didn’t seem too daunting: It was a perfect, windless, overcast morning of about 55 degrees, we didn’t have to run for pace, and this was a step back from the previous Saturday’s 12-mile run. And yet here was my weekly lesson in overconfidence – three miles in, I was already feeling like I was up against the wall. We got off to a decent enough start – 16:11 over the first two miles, and an 8:32 third – but I felt like I was fighting every footstep of miles four through eight. That stretch took us nearly 45 minutes – close to nine minutes a mile. I knocked a couple seconds off the overall pace by pushing for an 8:28 final mile, but wow, was I glad when this one was over.
Next week, the mileage jumps: 4, 7, and 4 on the weekdays, and 14 on Saturday. It’s a steep curve: We’re one full third of the way through in terms of training days. Distance-wise, however, the 124 miles we’ve put in so far are only only just over one-fourth of the 488.3 total we’ll run, counting the marathon itself.
By the numbers:
- Tuesday, March 20 – Schedule: 3 miles. Actual: 3 miles. Time: 23:04. Pace: 7:40/mi.
- Wednesday, March 21 – Schedule: 6 miles, race pace (8:23). Actual: 6 miles. Time: 48:38. Pace: 8:07/mi.
- Thursday, March 22 – Schedule: 3 miles. Actual: 3 miles. Time: 24:14. Pace: 8:04/mi.
- Saturday, March 24 – Schedule: 9 miles. Actual: 9 miles. Time: 1:18:02. Pace: 8:40/mi.
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