This training cycle has gone okay. I started really "training" again back in May for a 10k, and jumped in to Pfitz 18/55 in July knowing I'd need a long endurance building session, and I was right. My fitness level has improved greatly in the past 5 months, but I'm still quite a ways away from my previous fitness and speed levels that I used to be. Which is okay, I'll get there. It took me a lot longer than five months to slow down, it'll take me longer than five months to speed back up! With an 18 week training cycle, I definitely had some ebbs and flows with my desire to train. 18 weeks is a LONG.DANG.TIME. to train for a marathon. Especially through the heat and humidity that was July, August, and some of September, uff.
There were some weeks where I knocked it out of the park with weekly mileage in the high 40s, multiple 4:30-5am double digit runs, and there were weeks when I posted zero miles, (Jenn's wedding week, being cautious after a high mileage week and 18 miler that left me with knee pain). On one hand it's nice to have 18 weeks of training, because it's not the end of the world if you have a crappy (or non-existent) week, but on the other, it really messes with your confidence to not nail every single workout in a training program.
The miles I have ran have mostly been long and slow. I focused on endurance, knowing that adding in speedwork on top of the endurance building with new running form was just asking for an injury, but I am excited to get to work on that speed again post-marathon and set some new big goals for the spring.
After looking at my training runs, the cycle as a whole, and general pondering and musing on my last few runs, my goals for Madison are as follows:
A Goal: 4:20ish. I think a super stellar all stars aligned day could result in a slightly sub 10 pace. That would be magical unicorn happy as most of my long runs have been in the 10:30-11 minute pace, by HR. My 2nd fastest race time would be a 4:25, so it'd be cool to have my two fastest marathon times in Wisconsin!
B Goal: 4:30ish. After really closely analyzing the HILLS in Madison (Sidenote: HOLY CRAP) I would be ok if I ran a super great race, but gave myself a little wiggle room with the hills so that I don't pound the crap out of my IT bands early on (in the first 18 miles of hills... GAH!)
My recent 10k time and long run paces both point to a 4:15-4:20 finish, so that helps give me confidence that it's a doable time. My current race strategy is to start conservatively at 10:30 pace for the first 8 miles, run 10:00 for the next 8, and then for the last ten miles run as hard as I can. The race flattens out at mile 18 until 25, so I'm hoping I can drop the pace a bit there. Most importantly I want to finish the race feeling strong, and that I ran as hard as I could on that day. I've only ran one marathon where I ran a negative split, and running that well the second half of a marathon is the greatest feeling ever!
26.2, let's do this!