Training Recap: Erie Marathon Training Block Part 2

I’m running the Erie Marathon in one week, which means that I’m solidly in taper mode. With all of the hard work behind me, I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on how things have been going the last few weeks.

The short version: I feel like I’m in a good place.

Keep reading for the longer version.

Background and Context

I’m training for the Erie Marathon, in Erie, PA. This will be my fourth marathon. I started with Atlantic City (3:35), Philly (3:20), and then Jersey City (3:26). I had hoped to notch a Boston qualifying time at Jersey City (under 3:10 for my age group), but it wasn’t in the cards that day. Erie is my second chance for Boston 2024.

I’ve been training following a modified version of Jack Daniels 2Q 18/85. I’ve used both Daniels and Pfitz in the past. I used Pfitz 12/85 last time, and I thought it was a good way to ease into a new peak of 85 mpw. But in my opinion, Daniels is a tougher plan – so now that I’m comfortable with the mileage I reverted back to that. I modified the plan to fit into 12 weeks, cherry picking which workouts to use.

The first six weeks went fairly well. I hit all of my mileage targets, and I felt good. However, I had a few less than ideal workouts, and I also had to move some workouts inside to avoid the heat. I thought I was on track, but with the heat and humidity I wasn’t getting the real feedback I wanted.

I’ll pick up where I left off with that last training recap five weeks ago.

Weekly Mileage

In the last five weeks, I comfortably hit my mileage goals. I started at peak mileage – 85mpw – and I’ve been slowly tapering off as I got closer to the race date.

  • Six Weeks to Race: 85 miles over 10 runs
  • Five Weeks to Race: 77 miles over 8 runs
  • Four Weeks to Race: 70 miles over 8 runs
  • Three Weeks to Race: 70 miles over 9 runs
  • Two Weeks to Race: 60 miles over 8 runs
  • Final Week of Taper: 45 miles over 7 runs (projected)

Despite spending a week out of town (read about the trip to Baltimore here), I managed to stay on track. This time around, the peak mileage didn’t seem to wear me out that much. I’ve gotten very comfortable with eight miles being a standard easy run most mornings.

Long Runs

A key difference between this training block and the last one is that I’ve been able to stay consistent with my long runs. Despite traveling and weather complications, I haven’t had to cut any of them short.

The only one I cut short at all in the past five weeks was my long run while I was in Baltimore. It was hot that day, and I was struggling by the end. Instead of finishing the planned 20 miles, I called it quits at 19.

Over the last five weeks, I ran 20, 19, 18, and 2×16 for my main long runs. My midweek long run workout, the second quality session in JD’s 2Q, included 2×14 and 1×10. I ditched the second quality workout the week I was out of town. I had already shifted the previous long run to Sunday, and that hot run really wore me out. I figured it was better to rest up for the week and attack the next Q1 head on.

Looking back over the full twelve week training block, I had 17 runs that were 14 miles or longer: 1×20, 1×19, 4×18, 1×17, 2×16, 3×15, and 5×14.

Compare that to the last training block, where I had some interruptions impact my main long run and where I didn’t properly prioritize the midweek long run. I had only 9 runs at 14 or more miles: 1×20, 1×18, 2×17, 2×15, and 3×14.

My 20 miler this time around went very well. I finished in 2:53 (8:38/mi overall), and a good chunk of it was run around 8:00 to 8:15.

Key Workouts

I had one workout where I had to bail out at the end due to the weather, but the rest of them went pretty good.

I’m assuming you under Jack Daniels’ terminology. If not, check out this post about his Running Formula.

My last two T workouts were a 12 mile Q2 with 4x2T and a 16 mile Q1 with 3x2T. I convert the T miles to time, so 2T is 10 minutes at T. The first workout, I consistently hit 6:50/mi throughout the workout portion, and in the second one I was between 6:50 and 6:55/mi. The weather wasn’t great for either, and the humidity was probably worth a couple seconds at least.

My last (and only good) M workout was an 18 mile Q1 with a warm up, 6 miles at M pace, a mile to recover, a mile at T pace, another 6 miles at M pace, and a cool down. My goal going in was to hit around 7:10/mi for the M sections. I averaged 7:09 for the first section, ran 6:43 for the T mile, and then managed to speed up a bit to finish the second M section at 7:00/mi. I pushed it a little bit at the end, but 7:05 to 7:10 felt very comfortable. I also tried out my new racing shoes (New Balance SC Elite v3) on this run, and I loved them.

Finally, I had a solid H / R workout in there to focus a little on speed. It was a 14 mile Q2 with a long warm-up, 6×4 minutes H, some recovery, and then 4×85 seconds R (~400m). The H reps were all on target (6:15-6:20/mi), except for one that was a titch slow (6:24/mi). The R reps were a little slow, but not bad (5:45-5:55/mi).

In all these workouts, I felt great and strong throughout. The times were all more or less in line with a 3:08 marathon finishing time.

The Plan for Race Day

At this point, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be and I feel pretty confident.

It’s still a little far out to be certain about the weather. But the temps look decent (high 50’s, low 60’s at the start), and there’s no heavy rain in the forecast. It’s going to be hot and humid earlier in the week, but that’s supposed to break Friday and the dew point should be in the low 50’s by race morning. All told, the weather should be nice enough that it won’t be a factor.

I plan to drive up Friday afternoon, have a lazy day Saturday, then try and get some sleep. Although the start is early (7am), it’s not far from my hotel to the park so I won’t have to wake up crazy early.

The course is two loops through a flat park along the water. There are no hills to worry about, so it’s all about keeping a steady, conservative pace throughout.

I plan to start off around 7:15 for the first few miles. I don’t want to get carried away, and if I force myself to slow down that’ll help me pace the rest of the race.

After three miles or so, I’ll cut down to 7:10. If I just hold that pace for the rest of the race, I’ll be on track to finish in around 3:08. That would be fine.

But, if I plan to check in on things at the halfway point, the 20 mile mark, and the 23 mile mark. At each point, if I feel good I’ll shave off a few seconds per mile. If not, I’ll just maintain. I’m pretty sure I should be fine to do 7:05/mi for the second half, and that would put me around a 3:07 finish time.

I’m less confident about pushing the pace after 20 miles, but there’s an outside chance I could hit 3:05 or 3:06 if things go perfectly. We’ll see. At this point, I’d much rather walk away with a comfortable 3:07 to 3:08, knowing that I left something out there. So I’m not going to push too hard in the final 10k unless I feel really good.

So that’s it. That’s the plan. I feel good about it. Now all that’s left to do is rest up and wait. Check back next week for a race report to see how things actually went.

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