TITLE: Ready for a More? AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: July 15, 2009 4:28 PM DESC: ----- BODY: As I set out on my first 12-miler since running a half-marathon in May, I could not help recalling Barney's First Law of Running. Just keep running. It is dark, and the miles lie formidably ahead, but you conquer them in the simplest of ways: keep running. A couple of weeks ago I began to think about training for fall marathon. If I could run a full post-race week, maybe I was ready to try. Well, I have now run two full weeks, for the first time since a strong three-week stretch in April. Last week was my highest-mileage week -- 32 even -- since April 7-13, 2008, when I put in 33.5 miles. I have been fatigued, but I have managed to run each planned running day. These have been strange days, indeed. In the span of five days, I ran my fastest 5-miler in recent times, ran a negative split 12-miler that started oppressively slow and finished reasonably, ran my slowest recorded 5-miler ever, and turned around the next day to shave 4 seconds off of last Friday's fast 5-miler. Th two fast 5-mile runs were on the track, my first real forays on the track since coming down with whatever ails me last May. One day on the track is a healthy practice for me mentally, because it helps me think of pace and speed in a way that longer-form runs outdoors don't. I'm not running "fast" yet, just faster. That I have been healthy enough to do three in the last week and a half is a positive sign, even if they have sapped me more than I would expect. I have thrown in one cross-training twist. Since I began training for races quite a few years ago, I have tended to neglect stretching and other basic exercise. I was getting plenty of work on the road. My wife has recently started doing Classical Stretch, which is a perfect fit for her, because she danced a lot of ballet growing up. I've been doing a workout or two with her each night. Wow. This is what in the modern running world is called a core workout. It focuses on the usual body parts, such as the abs and hamstrings, but also on infrastructure like the back and hips. The athletic workouts are tough. I never realized how had a workout one could get without using weights or other resistance. This could be good for getting me back closer to marathon condition. The last time I started on a training plan for a marathon was July 30, 2007. That week, I ran 43 miles, including three 7-milers and a 5x800m track workout. I am nowhere near ready for that yet. I was already in great shape and had trained hard for a half-marathon earlier in the year. That plan required only twelve weeks, though, so I have some hope for getting ready to run an October race. It will be slower, less aggressive, but no less challenging, given where I am right now. My October travel schedule complicates picking a race. Right now, I am giving most consideration to Indianapolis on October 17 and Mason City, Iowa, on October 25. Indianapolis would repeat the destination of my half earlier this year, but it would be all-new as a run; the half was downtown and on the west side, and the full is on the northeast side of town. This is a big city (373.1 square miles), and so a repeat would not seem like one. Running there twice in one year would be ironic, though after growing up there and never running there at all. The Mason City race is run by a local school system as a fundraiser and has a longer history than most anyone knows. The experience there would be a polar opposite to that of Chicago, my first marathon. It would require a different sort of mental preparation: fewer runners, much smaller crowds, and a lot more solitude. Can I be ready for that? The cost, looser registration deadlines, and later race date have me leaning toward Mason City. The prospect of running a bigger race, on a day I'll already be in central Indiana, makes Indianapolis attractive. I need to decide by the end of the month for early registration, if nothing else, but more important are getting my training schedule in order and beginning to prepare my mind for the rigor of training. It's time. -----