Log for September 10-11 – Training for Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 9th. Goal for the fall and winter marathon season is to break 3:15 for the first time.
- Freak Injury – When my alarm went off at 4:30am this morning I tripped over a table as I was going to turn off the alarm on my dresser. This caused me to fall very hard and hit the middle of back against a chair. I knew immediately that my back was hurt, but at that point it just felt like a “catch” and really didn’t affect my movement. It was an annoyance during the marathon workout described below, but really didn’t affect my running. However, after the workout it began to spasm and continued to get worse throughout the day. I’m fortune that it’s my mid back and not lower back. So far this training season my two worst injuries have come getting out of bed and playing with my daughter on the playground. Go figure.
- 20.25-Mile Marathon Workout – I honestly believe this was (on paper) the most difficult bi-weekly marathon workout we have done as a group over the past three years. I don’t say this as a criticism at all, because I also think it was the best designed workout and the best marathon simulation we have ever done. Hats off to Dan Ashmead for putting all of our workouts together this year. They have been fantastic.
The workout started at 6am, but Nathan I got there about 30 minutes early to get in a couple of extra warmup miles before the start. After the group arrived, we did another couple of easy miles around the lake outside of the Shelby Bottoms Greenway. My total warmup was 4 miles at 9:41 average pace.
After the warmup Dan began going over the workout and emphasized that everything we were doing was all about the last 20 minutes. The workout was designed so that the last 20 minute interval would simulate the fatigue one would feel at the end of a marathon. With that in mind, our first set consisted of 2 x 10 minute intervals that were to be done at 20 to 30 seconds faster than goal marathon pace (7:26). From the beginning of these intervals, I felt fantastic. My average pace was 6:58 for the first interval, and 6:49 for the second interval (2.91 miles).
Our second set was 30 minutes at goal marathon pace. Again I felt really good even after the hard effort in the first set. My pace on the first 15 minutes was right at 7:26, but I sped up a little in the second half for an overall average of 7:23 (4.07 miles).
For the third set, we slowly jogged over to a hilly area for 5 x 30 second hill repeats. These were intended to further fatigue our legs as we worked toward that last 20 minute interval. These were pretty difficult, but I still felt strong. After the last repeat, we ran easy for just over 10 minutes. The totals for this set including hill repeats and the easy run were 2.22 miles at 9:08 average pace.
The fourth set was another 30 minutes at goal marathon pace. By this point my legs were beginning to feel pretty fatigued, but I still felt really good during the interval. For the first 15 minutes my pace was right at 7:26, but I picked it up quite a bit for the second half for an overall average of 7:21 (4.09 miles).
Our final set was the infamous “final 20 minutes” which were to be done at a pace 20 to 30 seconds faster than goal marathon pace. Just before the interval Dan said “my legs feel like lead,” and that exactly described how I was feeling as well. I knew that I had pushed it a little too hard during the fourth set and would have to pay the piper.
As we started I noticed that my legs were beginning to feel exactly like they do in the closing miles of a marathon. My mind was focused on this….I knew that up until that point in the workout I had hit or exceeded the designed paces in every repeat. Now all I had to do was finish this last set at a pace faster than goal marathon pace. No need to blow it out of the box….No need to be a hero….Just needed to finish strong with a consistent pace.
I ran with Paxton for most of the first mile, but he was pushing just a little harder that I wanted to go, so I let him ease away. My legs were SCREAMING, but I kept going. At the 10 minute mark, my pace was just over 7:00 minutes, and shortly thereafter Nathan and Susan passed me. I tried to remain consistent even though everything in my body was telling me to stop. At the 15 minute mark my average pace had dropped to 7:08 and I resolved that even on tired legs I was going to finish strong. Over the last 5 minutes I dropped my overall average back down to 7:04, with a total distance of 2.83 miles.
I was completely exhausted, but what a huge confidence boost to stay consistent throughout the workout and finish strong even with shredded legs. My overall totals were 20.25 miles completed at 7:55 average pace (this includes warmup miles). I know that 3:15 is still going to be a HUGE mountain to climb this fall / winter, but workouts like these give me confidence that it IS possible.
- Cross Training – I did a partial set of P90X: Ab-Ripper X with Olivia, but was not able to finish because of my back injury. I also did 4 sets of pushups.
- Rest – Since I missed running Thursday, I briefly toyed with the idea of breaking my normally scheduled rest day and going out for a recovery run. However with the hard workout on Saturday and my middle back injury I decided not to push it and give myself one more day to recover.