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Eighteen Saturdays: Canton Marathon 2012, Week Eight

Without any pace runs scheduled, this looked to be a good week. Turned out kind of odd.

Started out OK on Tuesday. With four miles on the calendar, I thought I’d work on maintaining a steady pace, trying to keep things as constant as possible. I altered the Garmin display to show my current pace as well as my average pace, and tried to make an effort to push a little bit harder if I saw the current pace regularly displaying above 8:40. (The current pace stat can be a bit maddening, since it lags slightly, and since it occasionally spikes or drops off by a jarring 30-seconds-per-mile without me feeling like I’d changed pace at all.)

I didn’t really brake myself on steep downhills – that’s just wasted energy – but I tried to conserve energy on the more level stretches so that the steeper climbs wouldn’t hit me as hard. And I was pretty happy with the results. The miles looked like this: 8:11, 8:20, 8:27, and 8:10. Overall, that’s 8:18 per mile, slightly ahead of my race pace goal, and I felt really good afterward.

Wednesday and Thursday weren’t that enjoyable, really: It was sunny and breezy both days, and chillier than it had been in awhile, so the wind kind of made things feel raw. With no pacing to worry about, I just tried my best to put in the miles and appreciate the sun and the time and the landscape.

Then came Saturday.

I was expecting a rough run, of course: 15 miles on the schedule. When I did my first marathon, I remember the 15-miler as a really significant challenge, and even though we did 14 last week, I found myself dreading this one.

The sun was up, but it was freezing outside at 8 a.m. Technically, just below freezing, at about 30 degrees. I knew the high for the day was only in the low 50s, so while I had been counting on wearing my hat and gloves to ward off the wind anyway, I followed Adam’s lead and wore a sweatshirt over my short-sleeved running shirt.

While it was a nice morning (if chilly), and I like my brother’s company fine, especially on these long runs, both of us admitted afterward that we were surprised how early on this run just turned into a slog. And seriously: Nothing makes a run pass more slowly than when realize you’re already counting miles less than a quarter of the way in.

My lungs were fine, really – but my legs just felt shredded by the fifth mile, and I was really struggling to keep my energy level up.

Maybe it’s being a couple years older than the last time I did this, but I really found myself questioning and doubting and wondering whether, in fact, I am actually up to running another marathon.

So I’m thinking of trying out an adjustment in my training, something I avoided back in 2009, but which seems like it might not be such a bad idea this time around: incorporating brief walking breaks into the long runs. Although I’ve always figured that for me, walking would only make it harder to resume running again, Hal Higdon himself writes:

Walking is a perfectly acceptable strategy in trying to finish a marathon. It works during training runs too. While some coaches recommend walking 1 minute out of every 10, or even alternating running and walking as frequently as every 30 seconds, I teach runners to walk when they come to an aid station. This serves a double function: 1) you can drink more easily while walking as opposed to running, and 2) since many other runners slow or walk through aid stations, you’ll be less likely to block those behind. It’s a good idea to follow this strategy in training as well. You will lose less time walking than you think. … Walking gives your body a chance to rest, and you’ll be able to continue running more comfortably. It’s best to walk when you want to, not when your (fatigued) body forces you too.

The thing is, I never want to walk. When I did the Towpath Marathon, not walking during the final five miles was the hardest mental and physical battle I’ve ever fought, and not stopping or walking was a big part of my goal.

But if walking needs to be part of a strategy, since I’m actually trying to hit a specific time in the Canton Marathon, well, maybe I need to see how it affects me.

I wish I could say that I was being logical and strategic on Saturday around mile eight when I called ahead to Adam and asked him to hold up. I kept running, and when I caught him, I said, “Gotta walk. Just for one minute. Then I’m good to go.” I can’t even say I felt like I was giving up, because honestly, it felt so good just to be walking and sipping some water and trying to recharge even for those all-too-quickly-passing seconds.

Looking back at the route stats, it looks like it was about 90 seconds, during which my pace went from 9:23 to 14:10 and then back up to 9:10, and this was about a third of the way into our ninth mile. When I consumed my second gel and washed it down at about the 10.25-mile mark, I took Hal’s advice and walked while I did so, this time slowing for about 1 minute and 15 seconds.

Miles 12-14 were, without question, the most difficult I’ve done in quite awhile, and I felt pretty miserable. The sun was fully up, and though it was still probably only 40 degrees or so, I was feeling too warm in my sweatshirt, and I removed my hat and gloves. But having stopped to walk twice, I wanted to push through the rest of the way.

We reached Adam’s driveway more than two-and-a-quarter hours after we’d set out, and I was completely spent.

Still, what I learned later, crunching the numbers, was encouraging. Even with my two walking breaks, I had managed an overall pace of 9:03 per mile – 15 seconds faster per mile than I’d run 14 nonstop miles on the previous Saturday. Maybe I can make this a strategy for improvement after all.

By the numbers:

  • Tuesday,  April 3 – Schedule: 4 miles. Actual: 4 miles. Time: 33:10. Pace: 8:18/mi.
  • Wednesday, April 4 – Schedule: 7 miles. Actual: 7.18 miles. Time: 1:01:52. Pace: 8:37/mi.
  • Thursday,  April 5 – Schedule: 4 miles. Actual: 4 miles. Time: 34:24. Pace: 8:36/mi.
  • Saturday, March 31 – Schedule: 15 miles. Actual: 15.05 miles. Time: 2:16:11. Pace: 9:03/mi.

April 9, 2012 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , , , | 1 Comment

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.

April 2, 2012 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , , , | 1 Comment

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.

March 26, 2012 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , , , | Leave a comment

Eighteen Saturdays: Canton Marathon 2012, Week Five

This week turned out to be really about one surprisingly enjoyable and good run, so let’s get the short ones out of the way:

Tuesday I ran after work, taking advantage of my new hour of daylight. It was gorgeous and warm, so I pushed things a bit the first two miles. Unfortunately, the big climb in mile three plus a bit of a headwind slowed my overall pace. Wednesday morning’s six mile wasn’t a race-pace run, which was good, because I had some stomach issues and had to make a detour home about 3.5 miles into the run. I went back out and covered the rest of my distance after my stop, but my overall pace suffered because I was slowed by gut pain for about a mile and a half during that first stretch. Thursday I went out in the morning and did three out-and-back stretches, since a) 5:30 a.m. is once again back to full darkness and b) given Wednesday’s events, I thought I’d better stick close to home. It was a decent enough run, marked by some really spectacular pre-storm lightning that spread like fingers across the clouds and reminded me of the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where they’re prying open the Well of Souls.

So: Saturday. Twelve miles. And I was going solo because I needed to get my run in early.

When my alarm went off at 5:30, I really didn’t want to get up. Didn’t feel like going out in the dark alone, didn’t feel like hitting the pavement myself for that long a stretch, didn’t feel like dealing with the mental hurdle that I seem to hit around mile three of every long run.

In addition to still being completely dark when I went outside just past six, there was a dense fog settled at ground level. (Oddly enough, you could look up and still see the stars clearly.) Fortunately, the air was 50 degrees, so it was warm enough for shorts and a light long-sleeved shirt. But the fog gave everything a really isolated, quiet feel, and the unlit stretches of road beside the woods and fields were velvet darkness.

Around the middle of the second mile, I turned onto a road and felt like I was looking at the end of the world: The fog was incredibly dense, and the only light was from a building at the intersection behind me. The street just … vanished into the mist. When, a few minutes later, a car passed me from behind (Yes, I was wearing a yellow reflective safety vest.), the headlights had the odd effect of creating a halo on the fog in front of me which contracted like an iris until the car passed.

I felt like I was making decent time – not pushing things, of course: Saturdays are all about the miles – but trying to maintain a decent pace while I still had my early-run energy. I figured I’d be happy if I could equal the pace (8:57/mi.)I’d managed during the prior week’s 11-miler. I also thought maybe I’d approach hydration a little differently, taking smaller drinks regularly – every mile to mile-and-a-half or so – instead of waiting until I felt like I really needed one.

So when I had three miles behind me, I was actually feeling surprisingly good. I started mentally looking ahead, thinking thinks like, “OK – so, in 2.5 miles, I’ll eat my gel; and right after that, I’ll be halfway through the run.”

I had started out with an 8:29 first mile, but through five, I had watched my overall pace creep closer and closer to the 9-minute mark. (Skewed, ever so slightly, by a 15-20 second stop to tie my shoe during the fifth mile.) This wasn’t unexpected, really, although I was a little confused because, I was, surprisingly, feeling really good. I mean, yes, the hills in mile seven kind of hit me, but I never really reached that dragging point where every step just feels like a battle. I found myself thinking, “Hey, as long as I’m feeling OK, I should make sure I’m not just coasting,” and I pushed my pace a little more.

Most of our eight-plus mile routes finish with the same three-mile stretch, the first mile of which my brother and I pretty much think of as the worst part of our run. There’s no sidewalk, and it’s a fairly busy road, and a good bit of it is an uphill grind.

When I reached this part of the run, I was right around a 9-minute-per-mile pace. I had hoped for a better average at this point, because this tends to be one of my slower miles, but the sun was up over the horizon now, and the fog had burned away, but it was still cool and comfortable, and I just felt like I was In the Zone. With two miles to go, I had pulled my average back down below nine minutes; with a mile to go, I had pulled it even with my previous week’s pace, and I thought, “Heck, all I have to do is just keep this nice pace, and I’ll beat that!”

I pushed hard the last mile and made it my fastest mile of the morning by almost a half-minute, making my overall pace two seconds per mile faster than last week.

And I hadn’t wanted to do this run at all.

By the numbers:

  • Tuesday,  March 13 – Schedule: 3 miles. Actual: 3 miles. Time: 25:10. Pace: 8:23/mi.
  • Wednesday, March 14 – Schedule: 6 miles. Actual: 6.05 miles. Time: 56:25. Pace: 9:20/mi.
  • Thursday,  March 15 – Schedule: 3 miles. Actual: 3.04 miles. Time: 24:53. Pace: 8:12/mi.
  • Saturday, March 17 – Schedule: 11 miles. Actual: 12.01 miles. Time: 1:47:06. Pace: 8:55/mi.

March 19, 2012 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , , , | 1 Comment

Eighteen Saturdays: Canton Marathon 2012, Week Four

This was a pretty good week: I did both of my three-mile runs outside on a new out-and-back route (as opposed to a loop), which means I wasn’t on the treadmill at all, and I did my first double-digit-mileage run since last September (and only my second since August of 2010!).

Tuesday morning, I just couldn’t bear the thought of the treadmill, so I went out in the pre-dawn darkness and put in three miles carrying my flashlight and wearing a blinking green shamrock medallion (part of this year’s In Like A Lion race packet) on my back.

Wednesday morning’s six-miler was kind of a bear – the weather was much better than last week’s rain-drenched five mile pace run, but trying to find and maintain race goal pace was much more difficult. First mile was an 8:15, but I felt like I had hit the wall through most of miles two and three, and they took 8:23 and 8:55. Mile four had a couple nice downhill stretches, but it still took me 8:36, and the fifth mile just sucked: 9:09. I recovered enough to push back with an 8:42 final mile, but afterward, I really found myself questioning whether an 8:23 is doable for 26.2 miles. I’m still going to keep shooting for it, though.

Thursday I just couldn’t drag myself out of bed in time to run, which turned out to be a blessing: It was warm that morning, but extremely windy, and though it was cold and dark by the time I ran after work that night, the wind had moved through. Still feeling the sting of the previous day’s letdown, I pushed myself a little and did my three miles at an 8:12 pace.

I’ll admit that I really wasn’t looking forward to Saturday’s 11-mile run, even though the long runs are about mileage and not speed. I plotted a new course for Adam and me to run (Higdon’s Novice 1 training, which I used in 2009, doesn’t include an 11-miler.), and bought a PowerBar and PowerGel for the morning, too.

It was only 20 degrees when we set out, but it was sunny and calm, so we warmed up pretty quickly and got out to a good start. Still, the third and fourth miles (particularly) felt like a lot of work, and though my lungs felt OK, my legs were saying, “Hey – seriously? We’re doing how many more?”

A nice second wind came out of nowhere, though, and the fifth mile felt pretty good. I consumed my gel just past the five-mile mark, and drank some extra water to wash it down.

After the big climb that finished the sixth mile, the rest of the way was decent. Some slow miles in there, but we did the last two in 8:56 and 8:30 respectively, which was enough to pull our overall pace back to just below the nine-minute mark. Best Saturday pace so far, and one second per mile faster, in fact, than the previous Saturday’s six mile run. And I felt really good afterward.

By the numbers:

  • Tuesday,  March 6 – Schedule: 3 miles. Actual: 3.01 miles. Time: 25:09. Pace: 8:21/mi.
  • Wednesday, March 7 – Schedule: 6 miles, race pace (8:23). Actual: 6 miles. Time: 52:03. Pace: 8:40/mi.
  • Thursday,  March 8 – Schedule: 3 miles. Actual: 3 miles. Time: 24:35. Pace: 8:12/mi.
  • Saturday, March 10 – Schedule: 11 miles. Actual: 11.18 miles. Time: 1:40:08. Pace: 8:57/mi.

March 11, 2012 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , , , | 1 Comment

Eighteen Saturdays: Canton Marathon 2012, Week Three

Week Three was marked by two significant runs: A return to the middle-distance pacing run on Wednesday, and the 13th annual running of In Like A Lion at midnight, on Thursday, March 1.

The week’s first run (Treadmill Tuesday – blech) was a 29-minute struggle, during which I had some drifting problems. We will speak no more of it.

Wednesday morning called for five miles at my race pace goal, which is roughly 8:23. During week one, I had a tough time coming in at 9:02 for five miles, so my hope was to roughly split the difference and improve this week to an 8:45 or so. I’m also really aiming to improve my ability to maintain a pace, and not vary too much mile to mile. It was about 40 degrees outside. Adam and I ran our first mile in 8:29, and I felt OK with that, but in mile two, the light mist we’d been running in turned into a steady rain, and my legs started to get sore, and we slowed to an 8:49. The rain continued to come down harder, but somehow we pushed through the rest of the run with mile times of 7:58, 8:14 and 8:28 – and when we crossed the 5-mile mark, we were at 42 minutes – which averages out to an 8:24. Awfully close to race pace, and an improvement I felt good about. (Next Wednesday, we’re scheduled to do a 6-mile loop at pace. Urgh.)

So: That run was at 5 a.m. I went to work, then drove home and almost immediately headed out with Kelsey to a mandatory school meeting about orchestra. Afterward, we grabbed some dinner, and once we were back at home, I packed up and headed up to my friend Keith’s for In Like A Lion.

A storm front moved through that evening, but by midnight, the thunder, lightning and rain had stopped, and though it had cooled significantly from the afternoon’s stunning high near 70 degrees, it was still close to 50 degrees at midnight, so I wore shorts for the run. It was windy in the Cuyahoga Valley, but the temperature was comfortable, and we had a dozen people out there, and the 3-mile run fit perfectly into my training schedule, since it was technically Thursday. I didn’t push things at all, since we were in groups and talking most of the way. And yes, we finished once again with the traditional round of Shamrock Shakes.

I stayed at Keith’s, got to bed about 2 a.m., then got up and went to work from there at about 7 a.m. Crazy good times.

Saturday’s long run with Adam was only a 6-miler, but the first mile-and-a-half was into the most brutal headwind we’ve encountered in awhile, so it took a longer time than usual to settle into the run, even though we managed a decent time, finishing up with an 8:58 average.

By the numbers:

  • Tuesday,  Feb. 28 – Schedule: 3 miles. Actual: 29 minutes (approx.) on the treadmill.
  • Wednesday, Feb 29 – Schedule: 5 miles. Actual: 5.01 miles. Time: 42:00. Pace: 8:24/mi.
  • Thursday,  Mar. 1 – Schedule: 3 miles. Actual: 3.12 miles. Time: 28:30. Pace: 9:14/mi.
  • Saturday, Mar. 3 – Schedule: 6 miles. Actual: 6.05 miles. Time: 54:17. Pace: 8:58/mi.

March 4, 2012 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , , , | 2 Comments

Eighteen Saturdays: Canton Marathon 2012, Week Two

I feel much better after this week’s four-day running schedule than I did after finishing up Week One. I think actually managing the three consecutive mid-week days went a long way toward re-establishing my training rhythm, I know I was glad to have just one treadmill session, and I think I’m starting to feel the familiar benefit of just putting in the miles.

By the numbers:

  • Tuesday,  Feb. 21 – Schedule: 3 miles. Actual: 30 minutes (approx.) on the treadmill.
  • Wednesday, Feb 22 – Schedule: 5 miles. Actual: 5 miles. Time: 45:40. Pace: 9:08/mi.
  • Thursday,  Feb. 23 – Schedule: 3 miles. Actual: 3.14 miles. Time: 26:52. Pace: 8:33/mi.
  • Saturday, Feb. 25 – Schedule: 9 miles. Actual: 9 miles. Time: 1:23:36. Pace: 9:17/mi.

Tuesday’s treadmill run was about as much fun as expected – in other words, not much – although it was nice to have the Retroist podcast about Revenge of the Nerds to keep me distracted while I ran in place and tried not to hear every little creak and groan of the machine.

Because Kelsey had her tonsils taken out that day and we had had to be at the hospital at 5:30 a.m., I didn’t run until late afternoon – late enough that my next run was less than 12 hours off.

Wednesday morning, shortly after 5 a.m. my brother Adam and I went out for the same 5-miler as a week before, though this was just a “normal” run, and we weren’t supposed to be running for pace. We ran it about 6 seconds per mile slower than last week, but I felt better about this Wednesday’s run than the last one, because my recovery was much quicker, and I felt like I still had gas in the tank at the end. We’ll see how next week goes, when we’re supposed to be aiming for pace time again.

I worked from home on Thursday so I could keep an eye on Kelsey, and I went for an outdoors afternoon 3.14 miler (henceforth known as the Pi-Mile loop, as noted by my friend Kato). I really enjoyed this one: My first third-consecutive-day run in a looooong time, and I managed a much more acceptable pace.

Saturday morning was cloudy with flurries and just below freezing when Adam and I went out. We ran into a bit of a headwind on the outbound portion of our loop, and encountered some slushy spots, but it wound up being a much better run than I anticipated: a mile longer than last week, and yet we did it with an average time of 9:17, which is more than a half-minute faster per mile than I managed on Week One’s 8 mile.

Canton Marathon is 16 weeks from tomorrow.

February 25, 2012 Posted by | Ohio, running | , , , , | Leave a comment

Eighteen Saturdays: Canton Marathon 2012, Week One

So, my first week (of 18 total) in preparation for the 2012 Canton Marathon, by the numbers:

  • Tuesday,  Feb. 14 – Schedule: 3 miles. Actual: 30 minutes (approx.) on the treadmill.
  • Wednesday, Feb 15 – Schedule: 5 miles. Actual: 5 miles. Time: 45:09. Avg: 9:02/mi.
  • Thursday,  Feb. 16 – Schedule: 3 miles. Actual: NONE. Overslept.
  • Friday, Feb. 17 – Schedule: Rest. Actual: 30 minutes (approx.) on the treadmill.
  • Saturday, Feb. 18 – Schedule: 8 miles. Actual: NONE. Run postponed a day.
  • Sunday, Feb. 19 – Schedule: Cross train. Actual: 8 miles. Time: 1:19:07. Avg.: 9:53/mi.

I’m following the Hal Higdon Novice II training schedule, though it should be noted that it’s likely (as was the case with my first marathon) that the “cross training” Sundays will become rest days, unless – once the weather gets nicer – you count things like push-mowing the lawn.

Notes from Week One:

I still don’t like running the treadmill, and I don’t trust its mileage tracking, so I figured that running for 30 minutes should more than cover a 3-mile run. When the weather’s nice and it gets lighter, I plan to take these short Tuesday and Thursday runs outside so I can better work on my pace.

My friend Keith gave me an older model Garmin Forerunner, and I love it. In 2009, I did all my training carrying a stopwatch. While the pluses are many – I like being able to monitor my distance and pace, upload and crunch all the data, and wear the timer on my wrist – I confess that it can be too easy to glance at it too often, especially toward the end of a tiring run. It can also contribute to a habit I hope not to get into, which I’ll touch on in a minute.

My mid-range and long runs this week were much harder than I’d anticipated, and I was discouraged by my times. Wednesday morning, I ran with my brother Adam, and this was supposed to be a run at my race pace goal of around 8:23, so coming in at over nine minutes per mile was a gut check. I mean, I ran my first marathon at an average of 9:01.

Today’s eight-miler didn’t help. I was supposed to run yesterday with Adam, but Kelsey had an all-day gymnastics meet, so I put it off until late this morning. It was right around 32 degrees and pretty nice – overcast at first, then sunny with a high haze of clouds. The thing was, what I took to be a pretty calm morning, wind-wise, turned out to have been simply having the wind mostly at my back for the first four miles, which meant spending the second half of the run heading into a steady and pretty cold breeze.

And while I have made at least one freezing-weather run a year since March 1, 2009, I think today’s was probably the longest I’ve ever done, and it took a toll.

Which leads me to a confession: The route I had planned was a complete 8.3-mile circuit. Armed with the Forerunner, though, I stopped the timer right after passing the 8.0 mile mark, and walked the rest of the way home. During the summer 2009 Seventeen Saturdays training, I can only think of one other time when I “moved the finish line” in similar fashion, meeting the planned distance goal, but still feeling like I fell short. Both times, it’s probably worth noting, I was running solo, which made the mental battle a little tougher.

My nearly 10-minute-per-mile pace today didn’t help things. (I am at least somewhat encouraged that what slowed me up today was my legs: Lungs were fine.)

I think most of my frustration lies in my own impatience, and I need to remember that I haven’t been running regularly at all, and I can’t expect to just pick up and start again at the paces I was running in the summer of ’09, when I was out in the nice weather four days a week. There are adjustments to be made and miles to go, and I know that the seconds will come off incrementally.

It does feel good, though, to have that schedule taped up beside my desk again, and to see that one week of miles are already behind me.

February 19, 2012 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , , | 2 Comments

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