With the Akron Marathon now behind me, it's time to take stock of my running life and make some plans for this final quarter of the year.
My goals and desires for the marathon were modest, and I managed to notch a few notable successes despite adding an hour to last year's time. Here's a quick glance back at how I did.
Have fun: There was never that feeling of disappointment I've gotten in the past when I've raced and not done as well as I'd like. I embraced the slower pace and interacted with my fellow runners. My race was a communal effort.
Wave to the crowd: Akronites come out in force for the marathon. I waved at quite a few folks in appreciation of their support, including anonymous spectators, friends, and loved ones. These are the people who make this race my favorite marathon.
Slap high-fives: Early on in the race, I grabbed my opportunity to high-five a few kids. It helped me remember that I run because I enjoy it, not because I'm looking for some kind of glory.
Beer, beer, beer: I didn't notice any beer samplings to try on course. I probably could have gone up to some of the party-goers for a taste--as happened to me so long ago--but I'm not that outgoing. However, my Dogfish Head Punkin Ale made it through to the finish line with my drop bag unscathed, and I'm sure I made more than a few Michelob Ultra drinkers envious.
Walking: Amazingly, I only really walked at water stops. I had been practicing some of my long runs with 30-second breaks every 10 minutes, but I didn't feel the need during the race.
Run efficiently: I monitored my steps-per-second rate every few minutes. Until about the Bastard Garman Hill, I was right at four steps per second. I struggled to maintain three steps per second for the rest of the race. I probably fell below that after I started cramping.
Finish strong: When I regained the lead on the five-hour pacers, one of them said I looked strong with less than a mile to go. My final 1.2 miles were under an 11-minute pace. Also ...
Negative split: With a five-minute negative split of the clock time, I'm even more determined to make this strategy work for a new personal best.
Garman Hill: This hill has tortured me ever since I began running, as it falls within my neighborhood running loops. It's been nicknamed the Bastard Garman Hill on this blog since forever ago. I think I finally figured out how to conquer it during the marathon: power walk.
Married PR: This race will always hold a special place in my heart as the first race I ran as a married man. Of course, my wife, the Enthusiast, was there as she always is to cheer me on. I don't take that for granted.
So now what? There are still three months of running left in the year. Jamoosh posted a good blog entry about longer training plans for races, and there is no time like the present--especially with winter coming on--to start training for next year.
Miles and miles: The greatest difference in my training this year compared to 2010 was mileage. This year I have run 470 miles. Last year, I had run 775 miles. There is a direct correlation between my total mileage and my performance on race day. Nothing prepares the body for a marathon better than mileage.
Trail race: Running on trails has become one of my favorite places to log miles. I feel less pressure to run the whole time, the scenery is better, and the challenging terrain keeps things interesting. However, I have yet to carry that experience over to a competitive setting.
Half marathon PR: As with the Akron Marathon, I ran the Buckeye Half with less than ideal training, not to mention the whole bachelor party thing. Now that I've packed on more mileage, perhaps my legs could be ready to set a new personal best in at the 13.1-mile distance this year. There's a race in November that I'm eyeing.
Winter weight: Another contributing factor to my slowness this year has been the extra 10-plus pounds I've been carrying around. With winter coming on, I'd really like to avoid adding any additional insulation. Maintaining my running motivation will go a long way in fighting off the bulk.
Barefoot: My barefoot mileage is hovering around 20 percent of my total. There is still plenty of good shoeless running weather ahead. My goal is get my barefoot percentage up to a quarter of my total mileage for 2011.
Next year's racing: After a slow year, I really want to get fast and knock off some PRs in 2012. Developing a plan to carry my running through the winter and prepare for next year's goal races is crucial. Have any of you ever trained all year?