Running race is about speed, technically at least. But not long after I began to run, I gravitated to distances. Here speed is kinda relative, particularly in the marathon. During my best marathon, I averaged 6:55 per mile pace. This year, for the 2:59 project, I need to do 6:50 (probably 6:45 to be safe). Whenever I tell people I ran a 3:01 but desperately want to break three hours, they're a little puzzled. It's only a minute -- and a minute over 26 miles isn't much. This is pretty true. Still, I realize I needed to change my training to get faster since that 3:01 was in 2005.
A big change, for me at least, is introducing some speed work. Well, maybe speed isn't the right word. After all, the marathon is always going to be about endurance. The trick seems to getting my lactate threshold up. Fair enough. I'm just starting week three of the Pfitzinger plan. I'm positive if I follow this program, and avoid injury, I'll run a 2:59 or below. Tonight was a doozy: 9 miles with 4 miles at half marathon pace. I decided to run it in Central Park. I did a bit less than three miles warmup on the bridle path at 7:30 or so, then began the tempo portion. I wasn't sure how fast to go, but I knew I should be around 6:30, which is about a 1:24 half. I ran the tempo on the four-mile loop to know my time for sure. One of the challenges for me is figuring out if I'm at lactate threshold. The way I'm figuring it is uncomfortable but not I might die. This was a nice test for me because it's the last of six days running in a row and a hilly course in the park. By the third mile, on the east side of the park, I felt in a nice groove. The last mile wasn't great, in large part because it was predominantly uphills. When I hit my watch it said: 26:03, or 6:30. All in all, not bad. I did another 2.5 miles of recovery on the bridle path and back home.
Fifteen weeks out from the marathon, I couldn't be more pleased. When I do that workout again in October, I expect the 6:30 to be 6:15. My only concern is getting injured. My knee soreness is still around but not severe. I'm icing, taking the odd Advil, stretching, trying to run as many miles on dirt as possible, and banking on my body adjusting to the higher intensity.
Side note: I ran tonight slightly inspired by Jason Lezak, the swimmer who chased down the French world-record holder during the final leg of the 400-meter freestyle relay last night. My guess is it's hard for non-swimmers to understand how other-worldly that swim was, particularly the last 50 meters. It's all the more gratifying that he swam the race of his life at 32. Everything clicked at that moment.
9 miles, 1:05:47