Eighteen Saturdays: Canton Marathon 2012, Week Seven
This week, we added miles.
The Tuesday and Thursday runs, which had been three-milers, bumped up to fours, and Wednesday bumped up from six to seven.
Saturday was a fourteen-miler: five more than the previous weekend, which had been a step-back nine-miler in preparation.
Because of the increased distances and the extra daylight, I’ve shifted to running after work, rather than trying to get up even earlier in the morning.
On Tuesday, to start the week, Adam and I decided to run our usual four-mile around-the-block route in the opposite direction just for a change of pace, but also because it means we finish the first mile with a big downhill instead of beginning the last mile with a steep climb. (Of course, since we start and end at the same place, we know full well our ascents and descents wind up washing each other out.) Without much effort, and boosted by that nice downhill, we did a 7:48 first mile, and then surprised ourselves by following it up with an 8:02 second, even with a decent climb toward the end. The third mile was by far the toughest – it’s basically a couple long gradual climbs separated by a short dip – and it took us 8:41. I hadn’t really set out with a time goal, but as we got close to the finish, I realized if I pushed hard, we just might make it in under an 8-minute pace, which I’m not sure I’ve ever done for four miles. I accelerated hard for the final two minutes, and we came in at 31:59. I may have whooped a bit at that.
I did Wednesday’s seven-miler solo, and had my doubts about the race pace goal, since I tend to struggle to push myself when I’m running alone. Looming in my mental rear-view was the surprisingly successful six-mile pace run of a week prior. I figured I’d try as hard as possible to mimic that run, at least through the first three miles, and then try not to lose whatever pace cushion I had built up. I actually ran the first three faster, and was right about the same time through four. At 8:50 each, though, miles five and six took a serious toll and ate up a lot of the time buffer I’d accumulated. Still, I managed an 8:09 final mile, which made my final pace average out to 8:18 – five seconds faster than my goal.
Thursday, I took it easy on the four miler, looking ahead to Saturday’s distance.
The jump from 9 to 14 miles was reminiscent of the 10-to-15-mile increase back in 2009, when I was training for my first marathon, and I remembered that it was rough. Yes, we had just run a 12-miler two weeks prior, but the knees and muscles really start feeling the mileage at these distances. And I was doing this one solo, too, since Adam had to be someplace else on Saturday. I set out with the following goals:
- Don’t walk.
- Don’t stop.
- Don’t puke.
- Don’t care (too much) about the time.
Achievements unlocked – in fact, after about the 1.5-mile mark, I completely stopped looking at my overall time and accumulated pace, focusing only on the distance, enjoying the overcast and comfortably cool 40-degree morning. The first 3 miles were into a bit of a breeze, and they felt long, but after that, I kind of settled in and paid attention to setting small goals, doing the math and figuring what fractions of the run remained; noting the appropriate points to eat a gel and drink some water.
Since I wasn’t pushing my pace, my lungs felt fine, and I really didn’t start feeling the fatigue in my legs until about mile nine. At that point, though, it did hit pretty hard, and miles 11-13 were by far the slowest of the day. Still, my last mile of the run was my third-fastest, and I recovered pretty well over the next couple hours.
Seven full weeks in, eleven to go.
By the numbers:
- Tuesday, March 27 – Schedule: 4 miles. Actual: 4 miles. Time: 31:59. Pace: 8:00/mi.
- Wednesday, March 28 – Schedule: 7 miles, race pace. Actual: 7 miles. Time: 58:03. Pace: 8:18/mi.
- Thursday, March 29 – Schedule: 4 miles. Actual: 4 miles. Time: 34:19. Pace: 8:35/mi.
- Saturday, March 31 – Schedule: 14 miles. Actual: 14 miles. Time: 2:10:24. Pace: 9:18/mi.