Tuesday, September 27, 2011

So Now What?

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?


Jess said...

My "season" is always the opposite of the rest of the country since winter is the prime racing time here in South Florida, so when everyone else is gearing down, I'm just winding up for my peak months (typically, Dec-Feb). For the summer, when races dry up like a celebrity at rehab, I usually just create some sort of self-made reason to keep at it, ie: Streak!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the winter months can be spent improving a weakness through resistance or cross training while maintaining a decent base. This would put you in front of the curve when you can pick up regular training.

Robin said...

I love training during winter. I'd recommend Run for Regis trail run in January and Cleveland Plays Racing puts on a great February trail race. Both are great for keeping up your motivation as well as increasing strength.

B. Jarosz said...

I'm with Jess - winter in FL means RACING... So I've been working on undoing the damage caused by 3 months of 90+ temps and you-might-as-well-swim humidity.

I like your key points, especially: have fun, beer (and more beer), run efficiently, and finish strong.

PS - I smile every time I read "married PR" on your blog. My hubby and I ran our last "single 10k" together the day before our wedding and finished hand-in-hand. I guess I'm just a sucker for a happy couple story, especially if running is involved in some way. ;)

Carolina John said...

I do train all year, but tend to fly through the sports. Fall tends to be cycling to see all of the leaves changing colors, then winter and spring are mostly running. Summer's heat makes me hit the open water swim races. And I'll do triathlons from april to november but tend to avoid the hottest months of the year for long distance tri's. It works for me.

Al's CL Reviews said...

I feel like this will be my last half-marathon in the fall. I never want to have to train in the summer again.

Congrats on things you learned for the year.

BrianFlash said...

I've been training (and racing) pretty much continuously since July, 2010. After December 15, I'm done with planned races and will take some time mostly off (very short barefoot or minimalist runes).

I think I need to take a month a year mostly off in order to get recharged. I can feel the burnout a little bit at the moment.

misszippy said...

Congrats on the wedding and the marathon. Sounds like a success on all fronts.

Yes, do train all year. I always do, although winter is the time for easy, shorter miles. Then by March it's time to crank it up to get ready for spring races.