Sunday, September 23, 2012

(New Record High!) Week in Review

107 miles
11 runs
15-mile long run
1 hour yoga
7 days/nights at home

With a significantly less hectic work schedule, no travel and my previously detailed abundance of sleep, it was actually quite easy to hit this week's unexpectedly record-setting mileage total. Winning a few bucks was a much-appreciated bonus, as was capping off the week with some enjoyable miles and even more enjoyable social time along the Charles with Emily and a strong BAA contingent--including a special guest appearance by Teresa, back from her Fulbright fellowship in Mumbai for a brief sojourn. The air is crisp, the leaves are beginning to change and pumpkin-flavored products are in abundance: it's officially autumn in New England!

Not only am I lucky enough to enjoy this famously beautiful and temperate season, but I'm also fortunate to be embarking on my marathon-specific training at the same time. The past three weeks' half-marathon trifecta established a baseline for this incipient phase of my race preparation, and by all accounts I'd say I'm feeling pretty good about where things stand. The most important thing is that after a summer of unprecedented (for me) high mileage, I'm feeling 100% healthy and remarkably fresh as opposed to banged up or worn down. This is likely due to taking several strategic down weeks, banking some much-needed sleep (have I mentioned that already?) and not having really gone to the well with any grueling workouts or long runs. In fact, true "long" runs have been all but nonexistent save for an impromptu 20-miler with Brett and Jordan during my first high-mileage week way back in June. With only eight weeks remaining until Philly, it's time to start incorporating a smattering of 18-22 milers--ideally with some of those miles at marathon pace--into my training regimen, along with, you know, some sort of structured workout routine. Honestly though, I don't think it will take anything drastic to round me into race shape provided I can continue to stay healthy and strong.

While Philly stands as the end goal, I will have several interim opportunities to test my fitness. The first will be Army 10 Miler, exactly one month from now and one month from the marathon. Last year, recently removed from injury, I ran this race "for fun" with Caitlin and pleasantly surprised myself with a 58:55 clocking. Seeing as I split 59:00 through 10 miles in last weekend's half-marathon, I've obviously got higher hopes for this year's edition. In fact, I've set the ambitious if somewhat arbitrary goal of running 57:00, or just under 5:45 place, which has a realistic chance of placing me as the first non-African (which again is completely arbitrary seeing as there's no prize money or specific award designation either way). The next week I'll be in Dallas working and running yet another 13.1 event. Last year I just eeked under 1:20 at this race (including an unplanned but absolutely necessary bathroom detour) and really enjoyed the relatively flat, fast course. This year the event will fall three weeks before Philly and I'm hoping to run 1:16:30 or faster. Not only would that be a much-needed half PR but it would also boost my confidence with the knowledge that I could split a full three minutes slower through the half at Philly and still achieve my marathon goal.

So, there you have it: a goal, a plan, a checklist to keep me on track along the way. It sounds overly simplistic, but then I've never been one who believed marathon training to be complicated. I trust the process, I trust my body, and I go to bed tonight excited to wake up early and begin the next phase of this journey.