JC Marathon Training Week 14: Wrapping Up and Planning Out the Race

And just like that, it all comes to an end.

For the past 14 weeks, I’ve been training for the Jersey City Marathon.

At the start of a training cycle, the race seems so far away. There are so many weeks, so many long runs, so many workouts. And then all of a sudden, it’s all over – and the race is here.

This week was an easy week of tapering. I’ll recap the week’s runs quickly below, and then I want to take some time to reflect on the full training cycle and my plan and expectations for tomorrow.

The Plan for the Week

My peak mileage this cycle was 85 miles. I came down from that to 70 miles for a couple of weeks, and last week was 60 miles.

In the final week of the taper, I planned to run 45 miles – with a shortened long run and one easy workout mid-week.

Here’s how it broke out:

  • Sunday: 13 mile long run
  • Monday: 6 miles easy
  • Tuesday: 6 miles easy
  • Wednesday: 6 miles, with a short workout
  • Thursday: 5 miles easy
  • Friday: 4.5 miles, with strides
  • Saturday: 4.5 miles

And here’s how things went.

The Final Week in Recap

I started the week with a short, 13 mile long run.

I ran out and back along a hilly route for the first 9 miles. Everything felt great, and my average pace was around 8:15 to 8:20/mi. When I got back to flat terrain, I planned the run the last three miles around marathon pace. They ended up being 7:11, 6:59, and 7:00. I jogged the final mile home as a cool down.

I was done in 1:45, and I felt great afterwards. The point was to work in a little more marathon pace without tiring myself out – and I think it worked out fine.

Monday and Tuesday, I hit the trails. There were a few downed trees from storms over the last week, so I skirted around them. Otherwise, these were uneventful – but enjoyable – runs. I was feeling loose and quick, and it was so freeing to have all the heavy mileage weeks behind me.

Wednesday was a final, short workout. The idea, which came from Jack Daniel’s 2Q plan, is to run a bit at threshold pace, then slow down for a stint at marathon pace, and then recover at an easy pace. I warmed up for a mile, then did 5 minutes at threshold and 10 minutes at MP. That first rep was right on pace – 6:26/mi for T and 6:49/mi for M. It took a minute to loosen up, but once I got going I felt like I was flying.

After a 5 minute recovery jog, I did another rep. I dialed it back a little bit so as not to overdo things, and the T pace was 6:30/mi and M was 7:00/mi. I cut the M segment short (5 minutes) because I was coming up on the end of my 6 miles. But overall, it was a great workout.

Thursday, I hit the trails for an easy five miles. It was a little warm, and I found myself sweating. Thankfully, the temps are dropping towards the end of the week. They should be good on Sunday.

Friday, I went back to the Reservoir for a couple laps. I warmed up for the first lap, and did some strides on the second lap. I felt great, and I was done with the 4.5 miles in less than 40 minutes.

Then came Saturday – the last shake out run. Another 4.5 miles at the Reservoir, with a couple final strides towards the end. The temperature had dropped, and it was windy. But the wind should calm down tonight, and the weather should be perfect tomorrow. I was back inside in less than 40 minutes, and then I showered and grabbed some coffee to sit down and write this up.

Reflections on 14 Weeks of Training

Looking back, this training block has been a massive success. It’s been consistent, and I’ve nailed just about everything I planned to do. Hopefully, that translates into success tomorrow.

Mileage wise, I ran slightly more than I did leading up to the Erie Marathon. Over the course of 14 weeks, I did 2 x 85, 2 x 80, 1 x 78, 1 x 75, and 6 x 70. The only two miles less than 70 were the two taper weeks (60, 45) and I had two weeks of easy running at 70 miles before I started the plan. Not counting the taper, my average weekly mileage was approximately 75.

In terms of long runs, this training block was another step up. I did 2x 20, 4x 18, and 6x 16. That’s the most 20 milers I’ve ever done, and it’s more 16+ runs than I’ve previously done. My pace on these runs also improved – my two 20 milers were ~8:25/mi (compared to 8:40 – 9:00/mi) and my three of my four 18 milers were also around 8:25-8:30/mi.

I didn’t have any midweek long runs, which was a departure from previous training cycles (Pfitz and JD). Instead, I had two longish workouts of 10 to 12 miles each week. My T pace was routinely 6:30-6:35/mi, with a few workouts towards the end in the 6:25-6:30/mi range. I had a couple good I/R paced workouts as well, but I struggled with the pace on those later in the training block. I think the heavy mileage was holding me back on these.

I only had a couple workouts at the end with marathon pace, but they were all in the 6:50-7:00/mi range. I think 6:50/mi (~3:00 pace) would be a bit of a stretch. But 7:00/mi felt pretty comfortable. With good conditions and some race shoes, it should be well within my grasp.

The Weather Outlook

Weather is the bane of my existence sometimes. I’m sure you feel the same way.

In my four marathons so far, I’ve had decent weather for one of them.

Atlantic City (my first) was probably the best. High 50’s to low 60’s, but with moderately high humidity early on and then a blazing sun at the end.

Philly was cold – 30 degrees with heavy winds. The cold I can deal with. The winds weren’t fun.

Last time I ran Jersey City, it stormed all night, rained early on, and then it was ~60 and humid for the rest of the race.

And last year at Erie, it was 60 overnight with full humidity. There was a 60+ dew point in the morning, and the temp rose to the mid 60’s throughout the race. Warm and humid for sure.

But I’ve been watching the weather forecast for tomorrow, and it looks great.

It’s supposed to be cold overnight, getting down to 47. It should be in the high 40’s to low 50’s through most of the race, getting up to maybe the mid 50’s in the final hour. Partly cloudy, light winds, and moderate humidity.

“Perfect” weather would be a little chillier (high 30’s, low 40’s throughout the race). But this is close enough, and I’d definitely classify it as “good” running weather. Hooray!

The Race Plan

Coming into this training block, my goals were to a) qualify for Boston and b) run under 3:00 if possible. I’m beginning to think (b) is a bit of a stretch, so I’m going to focus more on (a).

That means a goal time of 3:02 to 3:03 – 7 to 8 minutes under my qualifying time (3:10 for men 40-44). 3:04 would still be ok, but I would consider anything above 3:05 a failure.

If I start off conservatively at 7:10 to 7:15 for the first mile or two and then work down to 7:00/mi by mile 3 or 4, that should put me on track to come through the halfway mark around 1:32. No matter what how good I feel, I will resist the temptation to dip under 7:00/mi before the halfway mark.

At the half, I’ll take stock. If I feel amazing, I’ll work down a little bit (6:55/mi). If not, I’ll hold at 7:00/mi. Then, around 20 miles, I’ll take stock again. If I already sped up at the halfway point, then push it down to 6:50/mi and try to firmly negative split things. If not, just up the effort and try to maintain a little under 7:00/mi through the end.

This strategy means there’s little chance I’ll go sub-3 – I’d have to feel amazing and have a deep negative split in the second half. But I think it gives me a good shot at 3:02 to 3:03, and unless there’s a disaster I should be fine to finish under 3:05.

For reference, my last race was 3:09:47.

Anyhow, that’s it. That’s the plan. Wish me luck – and check back later for an update on how things went!

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