The marathon should never be taken for granted. It is not a walk in the park. Heck, Pheidippdes never actually finished a marathon...he reportedly announced"Νενικήκαμεν" (Nenikékamen, "We have won"), collapsed and then died on the spot.
My focus originally heading into this year's Detroit Free Press Marathon, was to once again play sherpa to my wife and support her as she attempted to run her second marathon this year. I was completely ok with this as I really didn't have any other goals set for myself, but when she decided to first downgrade to the half marathon and then drop completely from the race itself, it left me at a crossroads. I could maintain my current training plan which would allow me to finish the marathon in a time that would be well south of my PR or I could take the opportunity to with the short window I had to jump into a training plan and see what I could do.
I chose to jump into a training plan and more specifically the Hansons Training Plan. For one thing, the Hansons Running Stores are my local shop and along with reading the above article in Runners World awhile back, my neighbor was also using the plan as he was attempting to qualify for Boston. Seeing, as I had only 8 weeks from the time my wife backed out until race day, I liked the plan which included a mix of speed/strength miles, marathon paced miles,long runs which topped only 16 miles in length, and a few easy days. I also felt that with my average mileage over the preceding few months at around 40 miles, I could handle the mileage which would top at around 55 miles per week.
For as unstructured as my training has been over the years, I have found some value this year in following a plan. While the buildup leading into the Martian Marathon did not deliver on race day, I felt confident going in after hitting paces. Jumping in as late as I did with the Hansons plan, I quickly found myself looking forward to the structured workouts and began thinking that a 3:15 marathon and maybe even a 3:10 marathon might be attainable. A 10k in 41:05 a few weeks out from race day indicated a 3:12:48 projected performance using the McMillan Running Calculator.
Race day came and with projected rain showers and cooling temps, and I donned a garbage bag over my tech shirt and arm warmers. The early miles moved quickly and I settled in comfortably between the 3:10 and 3:15 group. The training had paid off, or so I thought. I had some trouble with my temperature (either to hot or cold) but I thought little of it. Cruising through the half on 3:15 pace, I downed a gel and some really poorly mixed Gatorade. I walked for a bit to let the sugarly sweet mixture settle and started running with the 3:15 group. Unfortunately, I was starting a back slide that I just couldn't get stop. For one thing, my shorts were soaking wet as was my tech shirt. My mistake in not dispatching of the the garbage bag sooner. I think I had misjudged the fact that it never rained as it was supposed to and it wasn't as cold as I thought. The remaining miles I was reduced to a run/walk as my left hip began to hurt and I was struggling with my temperature. I grinded out a 3:32:49 finish, good enough for 20 seconds better that my previous best.
It wasn't my best, but I was proud of the effort. Sure, I had jumped into a plan with only 8 weeks to go, but I really liked and looked forward to the workouts. I would be interested to see what I could do following the plan from the beginning. At a slower pace, I dont believe that I would have run smack into the wall as hard as I did. The marathon may have broken me for a day, but I will be back.
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