Marathon Training Wrap Up – The Plan for Jersey City

Tomorrow, I’m running the Jersey City Marathon. Last time I wrote about my training, I had just wrapped up my peak weeks and I had a few weeks left.

With the training behind me and the race ahead of me, I figured this would be a good time to reflect on how training went and think through my plans for tomorrow.

The Training Plan

I based this training block off the 12/85 plan in Pfitz’s Advanced Marathoning. I made a few adjustments, mostly dividing some of the medium long runs into shorter runs with doubles. But I also adjusted some long runs because of travel, and while I did all of the other workouts I pulled back on most of the marathon paced long runs.

Other the final peak, which I reduced in mileage to taper for a 10k, I more or less hit the mileage targets throughout the plan. My weekly mileage for the last twelve weeks was: 62, 70, 75, 79, 71, 85, 82, 77, 60, 70, 60, 44. Ignoring the final taper week, that’s an average of about 72 mpw.

Things have gone pretty well, as I wrote in my past training recaps. I raced a 10k 3 weeks out, and I finished in 40:59.

The Last Three Weeks

Following that 10k, it was really about coming down slowly from the peak and getting to the finish line healthy.

In the three weeks leading up to the 10k, I ran peak weeks of 85, 82, and 77. My knee started acting up a little bit – feeling tight behind the knee. It was probably due to driving long distances as much as it was the running, but it left me a little worried. I pulled back in the fourth peak week, rested up for the race, and felt great.

The following week, I had no issues bumping back up to 70 miles. I ran a lot of doubles that week, and I kept it easy until Thursday. I ran a workout on Thursday, and it was a little slow, but I chalked this up to heat and humidity as much as to race fatigue. My general aerobic run the following day was great – with an average pace of 8:22/mi.

Easter threw off my long run schedule for the next week. I swapped Sunday and Monday, and ran an easy six trail miles Easter morning. Monday, I went out for my last long run of the cycle – an easy 17 miles. Without feeling like I was working too hard at all, I averaged 8:16/mi and finished with the last three miles in the high 7’s.

I also used this long run to test out my fueling. This time, I decided to go with GU (Tastefully Nude). I used Honey Stinger in my first marathon, and they were ok. I used Gatorade Endurance in my last marathon, and I wasn’t a huge fan because it was bulkier. But both times I had some GI issues. I was hoping that the GU might work better, and I’m also planning to only drink water on the course instead of sports drink. During this 17 miles, I took a gel every 30 minutes (four in total), and things went smooth.

That week, I swapped out the Pfitz workout for a JD workout I like – 2 sets of 2 miles at marathon pace and 1 mile at threshold, with an easy mile jogged in between. It also happened to be super hot and humid that day, but I was within 5-10 seconds of my goal pace and felt great afterwards. The following week, I also used JD’s final workout – 3x1T with 2 minute rests. This time, I was right on target (6:40-6:45). I absolutely could have ripped and run faster, but I forced myself to keep it conservative.

I wrapped up the taper week with some short, easy runs. Six miles on the treadmill Monday morning was a great way to enjoy watching Boston. Four miles this morning seemed like nothing.

Over the last few days, I did feel the tightness behind my knee coming back slightly. I think it’s a result of driving to Baltimore last weekend and walking around the city. But it isn’t bothering me while I run, so I don’t think it’ll have any impact tomorrow.

Goal Setting

My ultimate goal tomorrow is to put down a Boston qualifying time – 3:10 for me, since I’ll be turning before next year’s Boston.

I’ve been going back and forth over the past couple weeks with exactly what time to target. I think if I went all out, and if conditions were perfect, then I could get below 3:05. But I’m not trying to crash and burn, and I’d rather leave a few minutes on the course than miss the qualifying time. So my plan is to target 3:08, which feels well within reach, and give myself a two minute buffer for minor mishaps.

The weather tomorrow isn’t perfect, but it’s also not bad. The forecast changed a few times, but it looks like it will rain overnight and either stop before the start or be lightly misting in the early part of the race. The temp should be in the mid to high 50’s at the start of the race. It may still be a little humid, but the dew point will drop over the course of the race. It’ll be sunny later in the afternoon, but it should still be cloudy in the morning. I’d prefer it to be a little cooler and/or drier, and Monday looks to be a more or less perfect day. But what can you do. It could be a lot worse.

With a solid B target of 3:08, I’m going to set my A target is 3:06 – a stretch, but possible if the stars align – and my C target as 3:10 – the bare minimum that I’ll accept.

The Timeline and Pacing Plan

I plan to wake up around 4:30 to 4:45. This will give me time to eat a toasted bagel with honey and drink a cup of coffee. After a pit stop in the bathroom, I should be ready to leave the house by 5:30 or 5:45. It should be a little under a half hour to the parking garage, so I hope to be parked no later than 6:15.

Start time is 7:00. That gives me a half hour to walk over, jog a few minutes for a warm up, hit a porta-potty, and make my way to the start corral by 6:45. My wife will be there with me at the start, so I don’t need to check a bag. That should make the morning routine smoother and eliminate a variable.

The parking garage in which I reserved a spot is right next to the start line, and the start line is right by the porta-potties. If there is some kind of delay, I could skip the warm up and just head straight there. If there’s traffic getting in to the garage and I’m running late, I could also hop out of the car and let my wife park. So contingencies are planned.

There’s a 3:10 pacer in the race, and I think I might start out with that group for the first couple miles. I’m thinking of starting with them for the first few miles. 3:10 pace is 7:15, and 3:08 pace is 7:10. I’m going to try and use the pace group to stay calm and relaxed for the first three or four miles, and then after a water stop I’ll slowly pull away.

Let’s say the first four miles are around 7:15/mi. From there, I can speed up to 7:10/mi and see how that feels through 16 miles. If I’m feeling good, I’ll try and speed up a little more to 7:05. At mile 20, I’ll re-evaluate and possibly edge down towards 7:00. If it’s a great day, and I can really pull off a negative split, I’ll let her rip at 23 miles. Otherwise, I’ll cruise along at 7:00 to 7:05 and that should bring me in right around 3:07 to 3:08.

My plan is to take six gels, roughly every 30 minutes (every other water stop). I’ll probably bring seven just in case, and make a game time decision at the end. It’ll be humid but not too hot, so I think taking a little water every other stop should be sufficient.

And that’s the plan. Wish me luck. I’ll be back with a race report – probably on Monday.

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