JC Marathon Training Week 5: Prepping for a Tune Up Race

I just wrapped up the fifth week of my training for the Jersey City Marathon. This also brought to a close the first phase of the training cycle.

After four weeks of building mileage and (mostly) nailing workouts, I took it a little easier this week in preparation for a 10 mile tune up race tomorrow. I’ll be back with the race results and some reflections on what they mean tomorrow.

But in the meantime, here’s how the beginning of the week went.

Here’s some more context about my training for this marathon:

The Plan for Week 5

Over the course of the first four weeks, I ramped up from 70 to 80 miles. I also put in two solid workouts per week.

This week, I’m taking it a little easy in anticipation of a tune up race on Saturday. So I dropped my weekly mileage back down to 70, eased up on the workouts, and front-loaded the mileage a bit so that I’d be fresh on Saturday morning.

With that in mind, here’s the plan:

  • Sunday – 10 mile easy
  • Monday – 16 mile easy long run
  • Tuesday – 8 miles easy in the morning, 4 miles easy at night
  • Wednesday – 8 mile, small T workout
  • Thursday – 6 miles easy
  • Friday – 6 miles easy
  • Saturday – 10 mile race + warm-up

Here’s How Things Went Through Friday

Sunday morning, we were out of town. We drove down to Kennett Square Saturday night, and we planned to go to Longwood Gardens on Sunday.

As a result, I shifted my long run to Monday and only aimed for 10 miles on Sunday. The roads around Kennett Square aren’t great, so I started with a couple loops around Anson B. Nixon Park. There’s a nice trail, around 1.5 miles, that loops through the park and there are some bathrooms there. I wrapped up by zig zagging through downtown.

There were rolling hills, and I took it easy. Besides the nice views in the park, one of the other highlights of the run was passing by someone’s house and seeing a full pigeon coop in their yard. I was staying down the street at the Fairfield Inn, but I drove into town to park at the Kennett Square Parking Garage – because there was a charger there to charge up my Chevy Bolt.

I made it back in time for breakfast at the hotel, and then we enjoyed a wonderful day at the Gardens.

A view of the massive conservatory at Longwood Gardens.

Back home on Monday morning, I woke up early to get in a full 16 miles before work.

I started with a couple of loops around the Reservoir, and then I went out and back to Verona Park. I wasn’t looking to push the pace, and I just eased in to things. At the halfway point, I was humming along smoothly at around 8:15/mi. Coming back from the park, I was at or under 8:00/mi for the last 6. I finished in just over 2:15.

I felt great, and just went about my business for the rest of the day. It’s a good sign that these long runs are feeling easy.

Tuesday was an uneventful recovery day. I ran an easy 8 miles in the morning. The Reservoir was closed as a result of the Deer Management Program, so I ran out and back towards Verona Park. It was cold, and it was windy. I passed by a house, and the wind chimes were clanging like crazy. But after I turned around, I had a the wind at my back and I cruised on home. In the evening, I added an easy four miles on the treadmill.

Wednesday was my only workout for the week. I planned a shortened T workout – 4 x 5 minutes at threshold with 2 minute jogging recoveries. I wanted to dial in race pace for Saturday, and I didn’t want to tire myself out with too much volume. It went swimmingly. The paces were 6:24, 6:28, 6:25, and 6:30/mi – for an average of 6:27/mi. My goal was 6:25-6:30/mi, so right on target. Total miles: 8.

Thursday and Friday were easy 6 mile trail runs. The weather has been nice, so things dried out a bit. I realized that the other reason I hadn’t been on the trails lately was that the shoelaces on my trail shoes had broken. I opened up the replacements that I ordered, laced up my shoes, and hit the trails.

It was nice to be back in the woods. I saw chipmunks running along the trail, heard a woodpecker pecking in the distance, and passed a handful of other runners enjoying the warm-ish winter weather. I took it slow both days, focusing on keeping the effort easy so that I’m fresh for Saturday morning. Friday, I added in some strides, as well, just to loosen up.

The Race Plan: Super Saturday 10 Miler

I feel ready for the race tomorrow, and I’m excited to go out and see what kind of shape I’m in. My training the past month has been going well, and I think this will provide me with some positive feedback as I continue to train for Jersey City.

Given my consistent threshold pace of around 6:30/mi, I think a 1:05 to 1:06 target is pretty reasonable. If this were a goal race, I might be able to dip under that a little bit, but I’m not looking to over do things here.

The Super Saturday 10 Miler starts and ends at the Millington Station Cafe in Millington, NJ. I plotted the course on How Far Did I Run to check out the elevation profile.

It looks like there’s a decent incline in the beginning, followed by a steep drop. Then, it’s flat for the next five miles before some rolling hills in the final stretch.

I plan to take it a little easy the first mile, with the hill. I can pick up some time on that steep decline, and hopefully be on track (13:00) at the 2 mile split. From there, keep it controlled over the flat section and come into the 4 mile mark at 26. If I feel good there, I’ll push the pace down a little bit to 6:20-6:25/mi.

Then it’s just a matter of hanging on through the final rolling hills. If I pick up a few seconds in the flat stretch, I can afford to give back 10 or 20 seconds on those hills. If I’m ahead of the target pace (39:00) at the 6 mile mark, I’ll call it a win, even if I end up losing a little time and finishing in 1:06:XX.

Looking Ahead

After this race, I’ll launch into the next phase of my training. Then, I have a 15k race coming up on March 24. That’ll be my final check in before the marathon.

Check back tomorrow for a race report to see how things went – and how they’re looking for the rest of the training block.

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