TITLE: Two Kinds of Marathon Weekend AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: September 12, 2010 12:49 PM DESC: ----- BODY: I feel so much better right now than I did two weeks ago at this time. Then, I had just finished a big weekend of running, with more than a marathon's worth of mileage in little over a day. On Sunday morning, I ran my first 20-miler of the season. The day before, I ran in an 8-mile race. I had never raced at a distance other than 5K, half-marathon, and marathon. That weekend was unusual, of course. I usually rest on the day before my long runs, but a race that was originally scheduled for last May was postponed due to flooded trails to that Saturday. So I decided to skip my 8-mile speed workout on Friday, rest that day, run the race on Saturday, and then do my scheduled 20-miler as planned. The race went much better than I planned. I averaged 8:00 miles. That used to be my marathon goal pace, back in 2005-2006, but after health problems over the last few years, I now consider it more of a marathon fantasy pace. I now have a much friendlier goal pace, 8:30, though that is still a challenge. I set up the Sunday 20-miler as two loops from my house, the first 11 miles and the second nine. That way, if I were to run into trouble, I could always cut the run off at half and call it a day. I ran slowly, deliberately, and all seemed fine until 15 miles. At that point I started to dehydrate, and the last five miles were as hard a struggle as I've ever had on a training run. The rest of the day was unpleasant: sore and feeling poorly as my body tried to shake the effects of the dehydration. I wanted to write, but didn't have the energy. Fast forward to this week. I actually ran more miles during the work week than in any previous week of the training cycle, thirty. But I did only one speed work-out, on Wednesday: 9 miles with 7x800m repeats and 400m recoveries. I decided to take it as easy as my body wanted for Friday's nine miles, and a stiff headwind that affected 40% of the run made it easy to take it easy. On Saturday, I rested. For this morning's run, I resurrected a 20-mile route from my previous neighborhood, an old friend who I knew would give me a good mental ride. Last evening, I made a plan to drink at specific points in the run, much as I will in the marathon, in hopes of resisting my weakness for running long without taking nutrition. The morning started at 50 degrees, sunny with a light wind. The temperature rose steadily as I ran, but the morning remained beautiful. My old friend served me well, taking me through new scenery and giving me a new view on some familiar scenery. I warmed up slowly and soon found a steady pace I was able to maintain as the miles fell behind. The last five miles take me out to an urban lake for a couple of hilly laps and back near my house. I broke 3:10 for the twenty miles, just under a 9:30 per mile pace. That's a good long run speed to prepare for a 8:30/mile marathon. Better still, I feel good -- tired but strong, physically and mentally. Whatever dent the first 20-miler made in my confidence, this run has begun to rebuild it. With five weeks until race day, I again believe that it is possible for me to be ready to make a credible effort. So, my first 50-mile week of this training period is in the books. I'll probably run one more 50-mile week, and one more 20+ mile training run. I hope that my work so far has prepared me to sustain mileage comfortably and to begin picking up my pace on the longer runs. But for the rest of today, I will rest, take a good meal with my wife and daughters, and enjoy the feeling of a single good run. -----