Time just keeps flying by, doesn't it? I am now finding myself staring down at 7 weeks until race day! Which means, 4 more weeks of peak workouts, a transition week, and then taper time. Phew...it seems so far away to have to get through the next tough weeks, but also so close. But as always, I like to take things one day at a time, because you need to focus on the now, before you can focus on the future. Otherwise, you risk losing sight of what you need to do first, in order to get THERE.
So that is where I am today. Taking a look at today's tempo run and looking forward to running outside. This past week brought some challenges, between busy family stuffs and a few minor snow events. I still ran outside wherever I could, but I had to hit up 3 treadmill workouts this week after the Z man was asleep, due to being on daddy duty for much of the week. Thankfully it was a recovery week, so it all worked out and my body feels ready to move forward. Ask me again in a few weeks and I'm sure it will have a different answer...but I digress.
As much as I recommend runners participate in tune up races as they build toward their goal race (no matter the distance), I am having a really difficult time making that happen for myself this training cycle. For the marathon, I prefer to use a 13.1 as a predictor/tune up. It most closely resembles the distance compared to other options, and works pretty darn well to figure out if you are in the ballpark of your marathon goals when you race one all out. For those curious, I've found that doubling your 13.1 time and adding 10-12 minutes gives a pretty good approximation, which is typically a little closer to reality than most calculators.
However, the DC area really lacks 13.1 and 10 mi distances in the January/early February timeframe, despite having thousands of 5ks to choose from each weekend. Rightly so, since it is the middle of winter, but it would be nice to have an option. There are also so many runners in this area training for goal races in mid March (ie RnRUSA, Shamrock, B&A), that it seems a shame there aren't more options for us. Last year, I ran the Snapple Half Marathon, and despite the mis-measurement issues of the course, found it to be a good race for a good cause and fairly priced. I had every intention of racing it again this year, since the timing fell perfectly at the end of my recovery week, but family business required me to stay home. No biggie at all, but I sure was looking forward to putting a shiny new PR out there. My 1:29:xx is a soft PR for me with my current fitness, so it would be nice to put a dent into that or the 10 mile PR which is even softer, since I set it DURING the 13.1 last year.
But given the place I am at in my training, I don't see where it makes sense to substitute anything shorter than a 10 miler into my plan, simply to get some race experience. And I don't subscribe much to the belief that racing hard (10k pace and faster) on tried legs the day after a long run will do anything for me, other than lead to a sub-par performance in the race (potential confidence killer and injury risk), and require even more recovery. The only 10 miler that is reasonably close to home is only 2 weeks out from my race, which could be substituted for my long run, but it is also not the time to blow out the legs just to get a PR. And I don't sign up for races just to run supported miles. Its just not in my DNA to stand on the start line and not run to my potential (unless I am supporting someone else of course).
Gotta have some priorities and the marathon is it right now. So I will continue to flex my mental muscle on my long runs, speed workouts, and tempo runs. I've been racing for a long time, so I don't think the experience will be that helpful. Really it would be more for race prediction and PR setting than anything, which is something that would be nice, but isn't a requirement for me. So I am going to hold strong and leave the PR setting at other distances until after the marathon.
It take a strong person to train patiently and properly throughout a race build up. It takes an even stronger person to refuse the temptation of short term gains (ie "testing" oneself in workouts, setting shorter distance PRs, straying from the plan) in exchange for sacrificing the big picture goal, which is obviously to run to my ability at Shamrock. And that's all I've got to say about that. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a lot of miles to go run!