I Made It To Taper Time

Officially, my taper for the Grand Rapids Marathon started last weekend with a 13 mile run on Saturday. I haven’t gotten stir crazy yet, because I am still training enough that my body needs some recovery time. I do recognize that it is far too late to change anything, so there is no point is second guessing myself. Now I have my bouts of confidence and doubt. I have set my goal of 4:30 somewhat scientifically, using the Daniel’s vDot formula. Based on my most recent 5k time my vDot scored at 40, a few months earlier a 2:04 half-marathon scored a 35 and based on the last 3.1 miles, it probably could have been better. Using that 35 vDot would put my estimated Marathon time at 4:17. I have decided that I will be a bit more conservative and aim for a 4:30 which would be the time for an approximate vDot of 32.

My doubts begin because during my long training runs, I was blowing up somewhere around 14 and 15 miles running at a pace slower than my planned race pace. Last year at the Detroit Marathon, I blew up at mile 16 which is about as far as my longest training run. I remember the sufferfest of finishing the last 10 miles walking because my Heart Rate was too high and running because walking hurt too much.

What is giving me confidence is that I am significantly faster at shorter distance than last year and even my long runs are at a faster pace than last year. Just last night I ran a 27 minute 5k without trying real hard. I ran a 10k at 8:55 pace the day after a 10 mile long run. Last year I ran a 10k at 9:07 pace with a rest day before. I am a completely different runner this year. All of my long training runs are on average 30 seconds per mile faster than last year and I have double the number of runs over 2:30 this year over last.

I will be using the Marathon Nation pacing guidance like I did with great success in the Martian Half-Marathon earlier this year. I hope that I can make Coach Patrick proud with this one too. I actually am looking forward to tapering because I almost feel beat up. I expect the taper will help me get the strength back to get to mile 20. I know after that I am on my own.

When the Doubts Creep In

Saturday was supposed to be my 3rd and final 3 hour run prior to the Grand Rapids Marathon. However, you know what they say about the best laid plans. I was about 5 miles into my run on Saturday when I came upon an unusually busy intersection. It was a 4 way stop that normally has at most 1 or 2 cars at any given time. On Saturday, there were lines of cars on all 4 sides. I was trying to exercise caution and make eye contact with each driver I would have to cross the path of. In fact I was paying so much attention to the cars, that I forgot to watch where my feet work going. I managed to land the inside of my foot on the asphalt and the outside on the concrete curb which was 2 or 3 inches lower than the asphalt. I felt my foot roll to the side and quickly hopped over on my right hopefully before I did any real damage. I kept running and I was feeling Ok. I plan my long runs so I can stop by my house every hour to pick up a fresh water bottle so I my my first stop and started out for stage 2. I was still feeling good, and trying to pick the pace up, but quickly, my legs started hurting like never before. My knees and calves were on fire. At about 10 miles, I was forced to walk, not because of heart rate, but because of the leg pain. I ran/walked the rest of the way home and by the time I got there, my legs were killing me. I laid down with my legs up for 15 minutes and then took a shower. Walking was a challenge the rest of the day. I went to bed with my legs hurting all over, but when I woke up the only thing that was hurting was my ankle. This made me feel better, in that everything had a root cause, but I didn’t get my last long run in.

This week I would normally do a group run on Tuesday and some Speed work on the treadmill Thursday, but the ankle is going to force me to change those plans. Today I did a swimming workout. Tomorrow depending on the ankle will either be the Group Run or Bike Trainer ride. Wednesday will be a Swim regardless and Thursday will either be Treadmill or Trainer depending. Hopefully everything will be back to normal for Saturday’s 13 miler.

All of this now has the self doubt creeping in. Can I really run 26.2 miles in less than 4.5 hours? I ran a 2:04 half marathon earlier this year on slower and shorter training runs. And I did not taper for the Half. I really have no reason to doubt, I should be able to trust my training and with the Marathon Nation execution plan I should be able to be right on target. Still the bad thoughts keep running through my head. I have more miles on my legs Year to Date than I ran all of last year. I just keep stressing about how will my body really respond at miles 16 and 20. I don’t want to repeat last year’s sufferfest. I want to keep running no matter how slowly. I won’t be able to answer those doubts until 10/17, then it will be a matter of face. I am nervous and excited at the same time.

Why Am I Running The Grand Rapids Marathon?

This is for the one person who actually follows this blog, but is probably too shy to ask the question. You noticed I switched from the Detroit Free Press Marathon to the Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon. I thought maybe you would like to know why. The first reason is that I haven’t renewed my passport and I am afraid I couldn’t get it done in time. The second reason is that it will involve an overnight stay in a hotel instead of driving to downtown Detroit, my daughter is the most excited about that.

The third and probably more powerful reason is because this looks like a seriously fun event. One look at their FAQ answers explains a lot.

Some of my Favorites:

Can I take a Baby Jogger on the course? How about having someone ride beside me on a bike?
No! Let me restate that: Hell No! You’ll be disqualified and taken off the course if that happens. (Local authorities tell us we’re not allowed to shoot you.) There’s not enough room to safely have that happen. The only bikes on the course are the lead bikes. The only strollers/joggers on the course are with the My Team Triumph group which starts a half-hour early. DO NOT ASK FOR AN EXCEPTION TO THIS RULE.

How about dogs?

(See the “Hell No” part of the baby jogger discussion above)

Cutoff Times? Do you have cutoff times for either race?
YES! We’d really like it if you finish on some day ending in a “Y” Stay perpendicular and cross the FINISH LINE. We’ll save you a beer.

Is whining allowed on the course?
NO! You signed up for this on purpose. Deal with it. I don’t care if you were drunk when your friend talked you into it.

Perhaps my favorite:

What’s the course like?
It’s long. Officially 26.21875 miles. Mostly flat. Actually, there are a few hills between 7 and 12 miles, but none of them are liable to kick your butt. Well, maybe the one at 12, but it gets over with pretty fast.

What’s the Marathon Course like? It’s long. Now that is funny. And just to wrap it up:

You mean there really are stupid questions?
Yes. Does the water go all the way around that island? Why were so many Civil War battles fought in National Parks? What’s the difference between an orange? (One’s a fruit and the other’s a color.) Do these pants make my butt look fat? (Just pretend you didn’t hear and change the subject quickly.) When you walk down the street, do you sing “Do wa diddy diddy dum diddy do”? (This is pretty silly) Hey Don, can I buy you a beer? (DUH!) Oh yeah–my friend and fellow race director Dave Craker contributed this one from one of his emails: “I just found out that the half-marathon is over 13 miles long. How long is the four-miler?”

I am really looking forward to racingrunning the Grand Rapids Marathon and may even have a beer at the end.