Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Thoughts pre-Phoenix Marathon 2014

Ok, well, I got injured prior to Utah Valley last year, didn't get to run, and haven't updated this since then.  I got my hip healthy in time to throw in 2 weeks of semi-serious training and then threw down a surprising 1:16:01 at the Haunted Half Marathon in October.  I tried to double back for a PR on the super aided Snow Canyon Half a week later, but cramped in the first mile and only managed a 1:16:23, despite something like 1800' of downhill.  I took an easy week, and since then, I've been extremely consistent in building up for Phoenix, which is in a few days.

In my 14 weeks weeks specific to the marathon, only one was below 70, but I never broke 90, which means that I was always fresh and ready to hammer some big workouts.  I am employing a 13 day taper, so I'm feeling VERY well rested and extremely excited to race.  I've only raced seriously once in this time period, when I hit a 17:02 5k at the Salt Lake Winter Series 5k.  Interesting to note is that this is my fastest unaided 5k at altitude, by a margin of 2 seconds, and I ran it rather easily with faster splits each mile, passing nearly half of those in front of me in the 2nd half.

Beyond this, I've had some monster workouts that indicate to me that I'm in great shape.  The last workout of my training season was a 20 miler with the first 9 miles at 7:00 pace, miles 9 to 19 on a treadmill at altitude (found it to correlate well with flat road at sea level) at 5:53 average (5:55 from 9 to 14 and 5:51 from 14 to 19), before a 1 mile cooldown.  Prior to Phoenix last year (ran 2:50:00.1 while very sick), I could barely manage a single 10 miles at this pace (fastest 10 mile workout on an altitude treadmill was only 2s/mile faster), and I just did it in the back half of a 20 miler, so that left me feeling pretty great.

I very easily ran 26.21 in 2:45:32 on a treadmill in training a month and a half ago, with a marked quickening of pace after 23 (ie, had a lot left), so I'm confident that I'll be strong through the race.  Last year, I was very sick in the 2:50, but that was still coming after pushing quite hard for a 2:53 on the same treadmill in training (very nearly race effort, as compared to a not-quite-easy, but  more casual 2:45 this year), so that workout gave me a lot of confidence.

Beyond the mileage, I've gotten in an unbelievable amount of cross training (and hip strengthening) through skiing this year.  I've hit the slopes 38 times since mid-November and almost always ski really hard, so that's increased my leg strength, hip durability, and overall fitness.

My goal for Phoenix is to run a 10+ minute PR and break 2:40.  I'm in far better shape than when I ran it last year, so I think this is reasonable.  Since running Phoenix last year, I've reduced my half marathon PR from 1:22 to 1:15 and have since shown the ability to run 1:16 on a course equivalent to flat/sea level while nowhere near peak fitness, so I think I'm definitely in shape to run in the high 2:30s.  In fact, after taking several months almost entirely off after my hip injury (averaging well under 10mpw for 10 weeks), I was still in shape to run a 9 mile tempo on a rolling sea level course at 6:01 pace, so holding that sub-2:40 pace should be doable.  The only possible downside is that the current weather forecast calls for a 16mph headwind and rain during the race, so that won't be conducive to fast times.  However, we're still 4 days out, so hopefully things will change.

No matter what the weather brings, I'm in the best marathon shape of my life, healthy, and ready to throw down a performance that maximizes my current ability on Saturday.  I'll make sure to post a report here afterwards!

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