It's been over a year since I was at this point in marathon training, but now that I'm here, I remember it so well. I'm tired. I'm ready to be done with training and just run the race already. I'm ready for taper to begin.
That's not to say that I'm not getting excited, because I am, but I'm also very much looking forward to starting to wind down this whole training thing. Sixteen weeks is a long time, and I'm happy to be getting really close to finishing it up.
I think part of the reason I feel that way is also due to the fact that this was probably my biggest training week yet. A total of almost 51 miles, including a speed workout, a 7-mile tempo run, and a 20-miler with a total of 10 miles at goal pace.
The good news, though, is that all went well!
The speedwork was a series of 5 x 800/400 repeats, with a 200 rest interval in between each, and then a 400 rest interval in between each set. I ran the 800s at 3:15, and the 400s at 1:34. A challenging workout, but I felt very accomplished walking off that track.
Spring weather arrived in full force last week, and when I ran Thursday, it was actually a very warm 63 degrees. For the first few miles, it felt lovely. But when my 2-mile warmup was done and I started picking up the pace for my tempo miles, it wasn't so lovely anymore.
I know I've been extremely lucky and have had a relatively mild winter for training, but most of my runs have been in temperatures in the 20s, 30s, and 40s, so jumping up to temps in the 60s was a bit of a shock to the system, and by the time I ran those final two tempo miles, I was dying, and I fought for every step.
I still got my tempo pace, though, with an average of 7:14 for the 7 miles (even managed 7:06 for the final mile), so it was a tough one, but it was a success. Friday's easy-paced run was very welcome, though.
Saturday Dante and I ran a 5K together, and I am so glad that he wanted to run it, because if I had run it by myself I would have had a hard time not racing it, and I knew racing a 5K would have been a bad idea the day before I had a tough 20-miler planned - especially this 5K in particular, which features a very big downhill at the start, which you have to run back up at the finish.
With the downhill start, we went out way too fast, running the first mile in 9:13. Once we hit the flat part of the course, though, we slowed down and took a few walk breaks, too. I was following his lead, and letting him stop and walk when he needed to, but there were a few times where I encouraged him to start running again, because I sensed that he'd just mosey along for half a mile if I let him.
It's a fine line between not pushing him so hard that he thinks running isn't fun, but also not letting him quit just because he's a little tired. This is the sixth 5K I've run with him, so I'm getting a good sense of when to push him and when to back off, and I think I struck just the right balance with this one.
The second mile was pretty slow - that 9:13 caught up with him - and took us 11:25. As we passed the 2-mile mark and headed back toward the hill, I reminded him several times to not go too fast, because we needed to save our energy for that climb. And I'm glad I did, because we ended up running the 3rd mile faster than the second one, despite having to tackle the huge hill.
We stopped and walked twice, but ran way more of the hill than I thought he'd be able to. I was so proud of him. Mile 3 in 11:14. And he saved enough to run the final .1 at 8:35 pace. His final time was 33:05, for a 10:32 average pace - an incredible accomplishment on such a tough course, and also considering that he hasn't run a 5K in nearly a year! So happy to have run another race together :-)
Sunday's 20-miler was looming large, though. The plan was to run 5 easy, 5 at goal marathon pace, 5 easy, and 5 more at goal pace. I felt pretty sure I could do it, but I was still a little nervous.
I had the weather in my favor, though - low 50s and dry, and not too windy. Couldn't ask for much better. I worked really hard to hold back for the first 5 miles - I wanted to be sure to save my energy for the goal pace miles, and also wanted to practice not going out too fast. Most of the first 5 miles came in around 8:30, so I think I was successful.
I stopped at a convenience store for a bathroom break at mile 5, and the song "Call Me Maybe" was playing in the store, so I had that song stuck in my head for the next 15 miles. That was probably the most difficult part of the run. Seriously. That was a whole different kind of mental training.
Picking up to marathon pace for the next 5 miles went pretty smoothly. I felt good at that pace, and actually had to slow myself down quite a few times. But overall I did well staying in the right pace range - just a little too fast the last couple of miles - 7:53, 7:49, 7:43, 7:42, 7:40.
It was nice to drop back down to an easy pace for the next 5, but after having run faster the previous 5, I had a hard time slowing back down to 8:30s, and ended up running these miles around 8:10 pace. Not too fast, but probably a little faster than they should have been.
I saw a bunch of friends out running during this stretch, which is always nice. I've been fine with running my long runs solo, and I really believe it's a good thing for me to do, but seeing them out there and saying hi definitely lifted my spirits for a few miles.
At mile 14 I had to stop and refill my water, and I was starting to get tired, and not really looking forward to those last 5 miles at goal pace. But I knew I just had to get it done, and I tried to remember how smooth and comfortable the first 5 at goal pace had felt.
Miles 16 and 17 were almost that smooth and comfortable - 7:47 and 7:46 - and I was surprised at how good I felt, even though this is the point at which I start to hit the hills heading back toward home.
Mile 18 felt a little less smooth and not at all comfortable, thanks to the hills, and thanks to the fact that I ran it in 7:35 instead of 7:50. At that point, though, I just wanted to get it done, and I decided that a little faster than goal pace was ok, because it would get me home that much sooner.
Miles 19 and 20 were kind of a blur. The hills in mile 19 are not big ones, but it's a series of rollers that feel like absolute mountains when you're at mile 19 of a 20-miler and running a 7:36 pace.
And mile 20 features a short but very steep hill that I absolutely hate. It's not the biggest one on this route, but it's the steepest one, and I do much better with long, gradual inclines, so this short, steep one always kills me. I was determined to finish strong, though, and even with that hill, I completed mile 20 in 7:32.
Downhill start, uphill finish - my Boston training route.
Total time for the 20 miles was 2:41, for an overall 8:03 pace. A tough effort, but a pretty well-executed effort, I think. And it felt great to know that I only have one more 20-miler left in this training cycle.
I'm getting excited now that race day is getting closer, but I'm also tired, and really ready for taper to begin.
As part of my race prep, I've been reviewing my splits from 2013, and re-read my race recap from that day, also. It's a tough one to read, but it reminds me of why Boston has such a huge place in my heart, and why I'm so honored to be going back again.
The journey to get there is sometimes discouraging, sometimes frustrating, and often exhausting - but it's so, so worth it.