At long last, I have reached the final week before the Richmond Marathon. This race distance and I have had our differences since I ran my sub-2:45 nearly two years ago. However, a lot is going right for me this time around. My new measured, lower mileage, less frequent racing approach has paid off quite well. I've run a string of really good races and notched another PR this season. I've avoided major injury. I've steered clear of burnout.
Now all that's left is to race! I never exceeded 65 miles of running in any given week, kept my racing to about 2 a month, sometimes less than that, made sure to take it easy leading up to races and immediately after, and took days off when I needed them. If my bike and I hadn't become so acquainted with the pavement this Summer, I really only would have missed about 3-4 days total since late May. I've nailed all my workouts and long runs, save 1 which is quite the high batting average.
Now my legs are fresh, and dare I say, I'm fully confident going into this race. Last year, in early 2011, I never got my chance to run Boston, giving myself a stress fracture. In late 2011, going into Philly, I was physically and mentally exhausted, running myself into the ground before race day. In my "take 2" attempt at the NCR Trail marathon, I felt so good that I got way too eager way too early, and paid for it. Going into Boston 2012, I was also over trained, coming down with the start of a stress fracture, and then melted into a pool of despair somewhere between Framingham and mile marker 17.
But, that 1.5 years of marathon failure taught me a lot more than my rise from a 3:29 to a 2:45 marathoner over the course of its own 1.5 years. So now I'm entering race week with fresh legs, confidence, and high hopes of a PR. I have no lofty, and perhaps unattainable goal that could trap me into going too fast. I have no massive pace or race plan. I'm not treating this marathon any different than any other race I've done the last few months.
The plan is to go out relaxed and controlled. Hopefully that means 6:20 pace, but it doesn't have to. It can be slower, but it won't be faster. I crushed the Baltimore 10 Miler this year because I was smart, I PR'ed at Race for Our Kids 10K because I took what the course gave me, and I once ran a 2:45 marathon because I went out relaxed and dropped the hammer in the second half, when it really matters.
As long as I'm not an idiot, trust in the process that got me here, and have fun, next Saturday will go really well. I'm in the same exact shape I essentially have been over the last 1.5 years, but it has been accomplished on a more sustainable level of training, and with a body in much more sound shape.
My previous two weeks of training...highly summarized:
Week of the RM Classic...65 miles total with the 16:13 5K and a 17.6 miler on the NCR Trail at 6:33 pace with the last ~8 or so at 6:24 pace or better. Worked down to 6:10 pace by the end
This week....Hurricane Sandy threw me a bit for a whirl, but I haven't missed any miles...50 miles pending a 6 miler on Sunday. Monday became an off day to avoid the worst of the storm, though my afternoon/evening was just as good if not better than running anyway. Tuesday brought one last 5 mile tempo run averaged at 5:46 pace in the cold, dreary aftermath of the storm. It felt really, really good. Today, was an easy 12 miler.
Leading up to the race I'm running Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, around 20 miles total.
Then, it will be go time! I am looking forward to a race that no matter what, will have cooler temperatures than Boston.