I had three goals today:
1. Have fun, see a new city, explore;
2. Get a long run in, sustain minimal damage, still feel relatively fresh afterward; and
3. Check where my baseline marathon fitness is, now that I’m mostly running with low-intensity, long-distance races in mind.
I thought about attempting a sub-3 today. If I could run well under 3, I wouldn’t have to train and race for a BQ next year! Wouldn’t that be nice?
But I’ve accepted that in order for me to break 3, I need a real training macrocycle. I’m not so talented, nor have I been running all that much since Jack and Jill, that I can just hammer out a 3-hour marathon on the fly. So, pacing-wise, my target today was somewhere between 3:00 and 3:05 — ideally around 3:02, my non-training CIM baseline last year.
But knowing that time wasn’t _really_ the goal today, I wanted to treat this target as a guideline (yes, after all this time, I’ve gained the ability to take races “easy”!). So, even though I still got the pre-race jitters, and it did kind of hurt (mentally) to see my pace drop closer to 8 mid-race, I’m glad to say that I pretty much hit every goal!!!
I made an effort to recognize when I was getting that “tunnel vision” (where I’m just staring down the road or at the person ahead of me), and instead look around and enjoy the scenery. I wish focus vs. presence wasn’t such a trade-off for me. But it is.
I dialed it back, especially after Mile 15, when my recurring left hamstring issue started to give me significant warning signs.
And, when I finished at just over 3:06, I actually felt pretty happy that, YES, I can still gut out a reasonable time, with short notice, without resulting in injury, and with gas left in the tank (judging by how much and how quickly I could eat immediately afterward).
Of course, I’m disappointed that I didn’t quite hit the same 3:02-3:03 “baseline” benchmark that I set for myself last year at CIM, and earlier this year at Napa, and I highly doubt that I’m going to do that much better at this year’s CIM in just a couple months. But especially at Napa this year, I really beat myself up without adequate preparation, and knowing that digging deep was a gamble.
Ultimately, I think there’s a time and place to finish as a near-vomiting, limping mess. At one time, I thought that time and place was _every_ race. But not today (and hopefully not at North Face 50 in 3 weeks, CIM in 6 weeks, and the Chiang Mai Marathon in 8 weeks!).
October 11th, 9 days prior to race day! Could be a new personal record in deciding when to run one, haha.
I’ve only had one “serious” training cycle this year — the period in-between the Oakland Marathon (late March) leading up to my second A-race of the year (Jack and Jill, in late July). Since BQ-ing and PR-ing there, I’ve never felt so FREE! LIBERATED!
But, for better for worse, I’ve really let my training habits deteriorate (or more politely, “go off-cycle”) — meaning that all I’m trying to do now is maintain some semblance of baseline fitness. For me, this also means that I run a lot of races for purpose of training itself. This is something I kind of started doing last year (when I ran almost back-to-back marathons in Japan leading up to training for Ottawa), and especially since I’ve found it such a great way to see the world… I think it’s going to be a lasting trend.
CONDITION GOING IN
* Unknown taper condition; I don’t feel much residual effect from the Dick Collins 50-miler 2 weeks ago. But going race-to-race like this isn’t something I’d generally recommend. 😅
* Ongoing left hamstring injury that now only rears its head either after running over some 1.5 hours… or sitting still for even 30 minutes.
* Minor to moderate runny nose. Some sore throat. Moderate headache with kind of pressure sensation between my temples. Occasional cough. All the usual cold symptoms… appearing the Friday night before this Sunday race.
* Restless sleep. Fortunately this was a pretty late race, starting at 7:30am. So I got to sleep in to around 5-ish am. Still only got maybe 5 or so hours of actual sleep though.
CONDITION COMING OUT:
* Really big, watery blister on my right index toe. At least it’s not bloody.
* Some chafing on the sole of my right foot.
* A bit headachey, and soreness, but no issues otherwise.
* Chip Time: 3:06:12 (7:07 min/mile)
* 29/209 M30-34. 146/1971 Men. 162/3568 Overall.
* Start-7K: 29:01 (6:41 min/mile)
* 7K-15K: 1:04:21 (7:07 min/mile)
* 15K-13.1M: 1:30:49 (7:01 min/mile)
* 13.1M-16M: 1:51:15 (7:03 min/mile)
* 16M-20M: 2:21:13 (7:30 min/mile)
* 20M-26.2M: 3:06:12 (7:14 min/mile)