I ran 3.4 easy miles today.
And so concludes training for the Chicago Marathon. I skipped a handful of workouts and made some adjustments here and there, but overall I stuck to my plan pretty closely. Consistency is what gets you the performance you want.
If I had to name the single most helpful thing in this training cycle, it would be getting a Garmin. I needed an accurate sense of pace. If you consistently practice hitting a particular pace, that pace becomes second nature. You push the button and go. You know what effort level goes along with that pace. Nike+ was good enough for a very long time. Good enough is not enough to take me to the next level.
I ran faster, even though the dog days of summer. I should have ran slower. And yet I didn't. I taught myself to drink Gatorade and eat pretzels. I have a sense of how warmth affects me and how to handle it. I ran my fastest long distance summertime race pace of all time. I set a half marathon PR in rain (warm rain, but rain nonetheless). Good stuff.
I got injured right before taper. Flareup of the pain in my ankle/heel. Again. Past me would have continued to run. Present me recognized that I needed to do something immediately, because future me has lofty goals. I took some extra rest days. I didn't do my second 20 mile run, but I did a 3-hour endurance workout with two 7 mile treadmill runs with an hour on a stationary bike sandwiched in between. Almost no pain, and it was actually fun. Backing off worked. I took a potential setback and turned it into a confidence booster.
Hopefully, I will take what went well at the Mardi Gras Marathon and what went poorly at the Cox Marathon and learn from them. Mardi Gras was a smart race. Cox was a stupid race. Mardi Gras couldn't have gone any better if I had tried. Oh right, I did. I went out conservatively, had an appropriate goal, met the goal, and had tons of fun. Cox was a failed attempt at a Boston Qualifier/Gansett Qualifier. Cox was one of those races where if it could go wrong, it did go wrong. I went out too fast, used all my mental energy in the beginning when I should have saved it for the end, had my timing device fail on me, mentally and physically lost it halfway through, and left all of my goals out on the course. In hindsight, I probably had an overly ambitious goal and was coming back from an injury. Pretty much the only successful part of Cox was that I never wanted to quit or thought I wouldn't finish.
I sometimes think that not meeting your goals motivates you to work harder next time.
Next time is here. I am ready to get the Chicago Marathon on the road. Let's see if I can run 26.2 miles in 3 hours 35 minutes or less. This time, I began lining up all my cards in a row from the get go. 3 hours 35 minutes has been in the back of my mind since early June when I started training.
I don't know if I will reach my goal in Chicago. The weather could get to me (The weather is a big monkey wrench right now. For now, I am sticking with 3 hours 35 minutes. But that is very likely to change). I still might have an overly ambitious goal. I could fail again.
I won't know unless I try. Survive the pain. Yes I can. Yes I can. Yes I can. Yes I can. Right here right now. I can. I will. Endure.
Flying off to Chicago in the AM ...