Thoughts on marathon pace runs

The snow was delayed, so I got up ultra early today and got my long marathon pace run in before work.  13 miles with 8 at MP, in 19 degrees (7 degree windchill) done before 6:15 a.m.!  What a relief to get the run done before the storm.  It was the last key workout to week one of Little Rock training.  I wasn’t sure how the MP miles (or even doing 13 miles, period) would go.  The most I’ve run since TCM was 11 miles (one time).  And I haven’t done much speedy stuff.

I did 2 warm up miles and then started with the MP miles.  I was aiming for 8:20 – 8:30.  Although I would have loved to do all 8 in a row, since I was doing this run after running every day this week (and 9 miles yesterday), I decided that I would just take it a mile at a time and if I needed to do them as intervals, with short breaks in between, that would be ok.   If I couldn’t do them at MP, as long as I got 13 miles done, I would be happy.  Each mile clicked by and was close to pace, so I just kept taking it a mile at a time and before I knew it I had done 8 MP miles in a row.  8:22, 8:24, 8:35, 8:28, 8:32, 8:36, 8:37, 8:34.  Yipee!  They definitely were harder after the 4th one.  I found myself having to concentrate more and work harder.  I would say they were challenging, but not a struggle.  I feel like the thing that made them difficult was my energy level was down after the 4th one (likely due to improper fueling since I just woke up, took a gel and ran).

It’s interesting to look back in my running log and old blog at the marathon pace runs during my first week of training in the other two marathon cycles this year and compare them to today’s run.  This one was definitely the best, in terms of how it felt,  pace and being able to do more in a row.  The contrast in temperatures/weather conditions between the runs is crazy, too.  Check it out:

1/6/10:  10 miles w/ 6 at MP in a row.  MP (8:36 – 8:46).  Temp -5

7/17/10:  13 miles w/ 8 at MP, but could only do 3 MP in a row, 1 mile easy, 2 MP, 1 easy, 1 MP, 1 easy, 1 MP, 1 easy, 1 MP.  MP (8:22 – 8:40).  Temp 68-77.  My notes blamed not being able to do it on the heat and full sun, and major GI issues.

12/10/10:  13 miles w/ 8 at MP in a row.  MP (8:22 – 8:37).  Temp 19

Although it seems hard, mentally and physically, to have so many MP miles in the first week of training, I like it.  It gives me a base line to test my fitness and to see what I have to work towards.  It seems IMPOSSIBLE that I will (hopefully) do 26.2 miles in a row at this pace in just 11 more weeks, when I could have maybe done only 1 more at MP today.  But the training somehow does its thing and transforms the body to be able to handle it on race day.  I love that.  I love love love this whole marathon training thing.  So much fun!

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