It’s been on the calendar for months now. I had been checking off the weeks, putting in my training, focusing on my attempt to return to Boston.
But then a couple of weeks ago I got sidetracked. It wasn’t for anything bad. In fact, it was a pretty cool trip to our Nation’s capitol where our family got a private tour of the West Wing of the White House (you can read about the trip over at Jess’ blog). The side tracking was that the trip came in the middle of the week and require over 18 hours of driving in less than 60 hours. I was exhausted and my shoulders and back were a wreck. A massage helped, but for the last two weeks, I’ve been having trouble staying focused.
Just last night I realized that Sugarloaf is not weeks, but only days away – and that scares the crap out of me. I aches and pains the body goes through at the end of a taper I can deal with – I’ve been there before, many times. But with only 11 weeks of training, and that training being a new plan, I am unsure at best. I don’t know how my body or mind is going to react to Sunday’s race. I know my last couple of 20-milers didn’t go as planned…neither did my last couple of 15-milers.
I am dreading “the wall”. I know it’s out there, waiting for me. Over the last couple of 20-milers, it hit me just before 17 – the first without gels, the second time with. I’m trying to take comfort in the reality that the last 16 miles of Sugarloaf are essentially downhill, but I’m not convinced that will be enough. Will my quads hold up under 16 miles of pounding? Will I be able to take advantage of gravity?
The good news is is that I will have my friends with me. My buddy and teammate JB decided that after running several half-marathons and several ultra-marathons, maybe it was time to run a marathon-marathon. Although he is much younger than I am, his goal on Sunday is the same as mine – sub-3:15. In addition to JB, I also found out a couple of nights ago that another RaceMenu teammate, Tommy, will be joining us as well, and his goal is also a sub-3:15.
If there is one thing I have learned over the last couple of years of road racing, it’s that having friends with you is a huge help…as long as you follow “the plan”. My mistake at Boston 2011 was that I went out with friends (Tommy was one of them) who were running faster than I had trained for.
Not gonna happen this time.
The plan is to average 7:24 – 7:30 over the first 8 miles (the first 5 being flat, the next 3 rolling), do whatever it takes to not kill ourselves over the next 2 miles (uphill) and then slowly pick up speed over the final 16. Here’s a shot at the elevation chart:
The key to this race I think that stretch from mile 8 to about mile 10 1/2. I’m not sure what “not kill ourselves” will mean. Do we slow down to 8:00 miles? 8:30’s? 9:00’s? I don’t know. What I do know is that when we reach the crest, we’ll have some time to make up. Should JB, Tommy and I manage to run 7:30’s over the first 8 miles and fight through the hills with 9’s, that will mean running just a smidge over 7:12’s the rest of the way – even with the downhill, I’m not sure I can do that. If we can maintain 7:24 pace through 8 and then only drop to 8:00’s on the hills, we only have to run 7:23’s the rest of the way. Sounds more reasonable, but again, the hills are the X-factor.
One more little jog tomorrow and then it’s countdown ’til go time. Who am I kidding, the countdown started 3 months ago…I just forgot.
This weekend? Really?