I know I said this last week, but... I'm super nervous. Increasingly nervous. I can't fall asleep at night because I'm going over the course, calculating splits, visualizing my race — you might say I'm obsessed with this race at this point! Having a plan makes me feel much more comfortable, so going over the plan millions of times is the way I make sure I'm ready.
I spent this week really diving into my race strategy — but I'll save most of that for next week. I'm generally a fan of negative splits, but know that they aren't always practical for "normal" marathoners. Elite marathoners, sure, but the sheer length of effort for a marathon generally leaves people at a steady-pace at best, if not a positive-split. I do NOT want to count on having a positive split (by putting "time in the bank") — I know that is NOT a smart option. Any tips from you experienced marathoners out there? How do you plan your races?
One cool tool I found this week is Taz Running — you can choose your race, your goal time, and your general ease with hills (do you run up and down at the exact same pace? do you run considerably faster on the downs, and slower on the ups?), and it spits out a custom chart for EACH MILE. The link above has the chart I made for Napa, although I likely won't print it out (or order the tattoo) to follow religiously. I have been studying the course religiously this week, though! Below is the elevation profile of the course:
It is overall a downhill race, but there are definitely some hills! I've been stressing out about my ability to run the hills, but then compared the course with my usual runs... I think the hills in Napa will be fairly comprable, if not easier, to what I run on my normal runs here. Also, usually I run a good 5-7 miles of consistent (albiet gradual) up at the beginning of my runs here, as the entire town is on a tilt — Napa will never have an uphill segment nearly that long. Downhills are my friends, so I'll enjoy having them frequently to recover. See this elevation profile of my run yesterday — only 14 miles, but the scale is similar: I think I'll be fine on the hills in Napa!
This last week of training was decent — I did cut my speed-work in half... it was just too hard/distracting having to do it on the streets, avoiding puddles and/or ice, and running uphill half of the time. I wish the tracks weren't covered in snow! Looking back, it was sheer laziness that cut the workout from 4 miles to 2 miles — I should have just run on feel and not worried so much about the timing, given the circumstances.
My other runs were good — some shorter (6 mile) runs with race-pace running, and my "long run" yesterday (14 miles) had the last 9 miles at race pace, which ended up actually being much faster than race pace. I still need to focus on running AT race pace, to get used to it, but I honestly sometimes feel like my body prefers running at a 7:50-8:00 pace. I almost never run between 8:05 and 8:40 miles — always faster or slower. We'll see: surely I can learn to run 8:10 miles.
Now that we're officially into my taper, my mileage is slowly coming down — although this week it isn't incredibly obvious. The main difference is the shorter tempo run, and shorter long run. This week will look like this:
My goals for the next two weeks are to sleep more than usual (e.g. take naps and go to bed when I'm tired, not 2 hours later), and eat a really balanced diet. I have had a surprising lack of appetite for the last few weeks, which I know has hurt my runs — I'm going to be forcing myself to eat regularly, healthfully, and bountifully. Next week: RACE PLAN!