It’s now taper time for Boston Marathon runners. Our Sunday Long Run program is in it’s last few weeks and the miles are dropping off rapidly.
Last week for Long Run Twelve, we ran 22 miles from Hopkinton to Boston College in Newton. This week we dropped down to 14.8 miles which at this point in time seemed like it was going to be easy.
When 15 feels like 22 miles
When we started our run last week in Hopkinton, I knew it was our longest run of the year. It was my longest run since The Honolulu Marathon on December 10th, 2017. 22 miles may not be a marathon but I have a healthy respect for that many miles.
If you run them foolishly and without a plan, you are likely to run into problems. With my disaster of a run in Hawai’i fresh in my mind, I approached the 22 miler cautiously. The day before I ran the Malden Rotary 10K, but I took it easy. A 10K the day before a 22 miler is not the best idea, but I ran smart.
It’s one thing to know that your going to run 22 miles, it’s another to KNOW your going to run 22 miles.
My goal last week was to run a 9:30 to 9:45 pace. If I can manage this pace for Boston I’ll come in between 4:09 and 4:15. I’ve run much better, but I’ve also been younger and healthier.
The entire run in from Hopkinton was a test drive. I’ve run the Marathon seven times and done this long run three times at least. I’m pretty familiar with the course and there seem to be fewer new hills each year!
I ended up with an average pace of 9:46. Not too bad. I managed to run all of the hills including Heart Break Hill. Running those hills and managing the Rt. 95 overpass hill was a big confidence booster.
Running deliberately and with a plan makes a huge difference in how things turn out. Feeling my plan work was really cool!
The big difference between a training run and the race is that I wont be stopping every few miles to re-fuel and hydrate. Those little breaks make a big difference late in the run.
Over the week since that run I’ve done a lot of thinking. Can I maintain a 9:45 pace for 26.2 miles with only one stop at the most? I don’t know.
The 22 miler helped me dial in a few details that will be important on Marathon Monday, but I just don’t know. Anything can happen.
Running 15 miles feels like running 22 miles
The goal this week was to embrace the taper and try the 9:30 to 9:45 pace again.
Well, that didn’t work out too well!
The temperature was about 10° warmer than last week so I dressed a bit lighter. But it was windier, so I was cold a few times. Not a big deal and it won’t effect my marathon.
None of the guys I usually run with were here this week, so I ran on my own for the most part. I started with the lead group and ended up keeping up with them for most of the run. A big mistake that I should know better than to make.
I kept trying to lose them, but I couldn’t make my self slow down enough to get them out striking distance. The few times they did get ahead, we ended up at the next water stop together.
Running successfully requires control and running your plan. My goal was to dial in my pace this week and embrace the taper, but it just didn’t work out. I’m like a dog chasing a squirrel.
Early in the run I fueled and hydrated properly, so energy was never a problem. But around mile 9 I began to notice my thighs.
We were heading up Main Street in Saugus towards Wakefield High. Over the distance of a mile we gained about 70 ft in elevation. It’s not a steep climb, but it is a slow burn. And I ran the hill in 9:06. Way too fast for a hill nine miles into a run like this.
Mile 10 to 11 gave back the elevation, but the damage had been done. My thighs were now tired. Even with the downhill, mile 11 came in at 8:58. Still way too fast. But if I was going to kill it, if I was capable of killing it, that mile should have been more like 8:30. It was just all wrong.
I kept telling my self that this was building muscle and hill climbing capability for The Marathon. I also told my self that I had no more than four miles to go. I knew I had four miles in me.
Running it in from Wakefield
At the last water stop my left knee was acting up. Probably from attempting to run the down hills like a fool. I topped off one of my water bottles with water and had three Snickers minis. My gut was doing okay. So, maybe I have a handle on that problem. We’ll find out in two weeks!
My last four miles were 9:29, 9:01, 9:13 and 9:41.
My legs were exhausted and both knees were saying hello.
The official distance for Sunday Long Run 13 was 14.8, but I just had to round it off and ended up running 15.07.
I’ve got two weeks of taper time to rest. My thighs will recover and be stronger and my knees should be in good shape as long as I continue to give them lots of TLC.
Next week’s run is 12.5 miles. If I can dial that run in I’ll feel much more confident in my ability to dial it in when it really counts. It’s easy to blast out a short run, especially at the end of a marathon training program. I’ll be in as good of shape as I’ve been in since December.
The real test on the 12.5 mile run will be self control. It’s crucial.
March Miles Tally
Because Easter is early this year, we ran on Saturday, March 31st instead of Sunday. Not only did these miles count towards my March total they also added to last week’s 22 miler.
My last week of March totaled 46.87 which is a pretty respectable week even for a good runner. My total miles for March came in at 117.20 which is also a pretty respectable number.
I thought it was an all time monthly high for me, but in March 2016 I ran 122.8 miles. That year I ran Boston in 4:09.
4:09 is my stretch goal for 2018. I’m not sure that I’m in better shape or smarter than I was two years ago. I’m definitely two years older.
Run well my Friends and we’ll see you out there!