2:59 on my mind.
At what point is it no longer delusional to actively train for a 2:59:xx marathon?
I don’t mean having the goal hanging there as some vague aspiration for the distant future. I mean acting upon the statement, “I want to prepare myself to string together twenty-six 6:51 miles in my next marathon.”
Look, hold the cricket symphony, because I know. On paper, I don’t have the street cred to be seriously thinking about sub-3 yet. Not even close. Consider:
- Using my strongest PR (10K) on the run-down calculator, only one of the five magical math methods has me squeaking under 3:00. Everything else projects me more into the 3:03 range… and we all know how kind those calculators can be. The 3:03 only happens if I have a really good day.
- I recently ran an 11.6 mile road race at a 6:49 pace. It was hot, humid, hilly, and hopefully nothing like how the Philadelphia marathon will be, but the cold hard truth is that I’d need to hold that pace for more than twice that distance in order to see 2: at the beginning of my finish time.
I can’t get 6:51 out of my head, even though it seems dangerous to reach that far given how wholly unprepared I am. And yet… I have three months to work with. What could I do to make it happen?
What I’d like to develop is more thoughtful use of my long runs. More race-paced running over longer distances. More 20+ runs in general. Looking back at what I did for the Louisiana marathon, it’s clear that I was more interested in chasing overall mileage than doing quality work. In the 18 weeks leading up to that marathon, I had many runs in the 15-18 range but only two at or above 20 miles. A 18-mile steady run is nice, but what is it accomplishing if I’m running it at 8:15 pace? Or even 7:45 pace? Have I been reading too much Canova?
The approach I used for Louisiana was fine for where I was then, because all those miles were building blocks for where I am now. To earn any significant improvement, however, will mean going beyond mindless mileage-hogging.
Still, I’m a bit confused about picking a goal pace around which to base my more meaningful runs and workouts. 7:05 or 7:10 are reasonable figures, but I can’t stop thinking about those 6:51s.
It’s scary to admit you want to go under 3 hours. The blow-up potential is enormous, so there’s a giant part of me that just wants to settle back and focus on chipping away at more manageable barriers first. 3:05 will be a tall enough order to fill, after all.
Still, what is there to lose? What’s the worst that could happen — I try for the 2:59 and have an awful blowup and stagger across the line an hour later than I thought I would? I’m sure that for my three readers, the Schadenfreude potential here is tantalizing. At least such a failure would make for an interesting story.
Guess I’ll revisit this idea after a few months when I have a better idea of where my fitness will actually be for the marathon.
It could be that I completely lose the motivation to train intelligently once I start school. I wasn’t a slacker as an undergrad, but I was decidedly more concerned with rowing than with academics. Athletic hobbies can’t be the priority this time around. (And there’s no real possibility of that, but there is a danger of me not putting enough effort into having a social life in this new city if I prioritize the running too highly. Then again, it makes me happy, so maybe I can find like-minded boring-ass grumpy introverted runners with whom to be social.)
Speaking of that move to Philly, it’s strange how content I am right now during this little transition period between my last workplace and the grad program. (Real talk, my “transition period” has more or less been a long vacation living like a parasite off my parents and being useless. No wonder life feels so easy. Go ahead and tell me to GOMI.) Right now everything is really good, I’m excited about school and excited about my professional (lol) goals. Except you know in two weeks I’m going to get to school and suddenly be surrounded by people who are smarter and more experienced and more confident than me and I’ll consequently revisit these same crises of life direction/self-esteem and then on top of that I might cripple myself with student loan debt. (Which reminds me, has anyone else experienced the phenomenon where all the people telling you not to go to graduate school seem to have both a graduate degree and a roof over their heads? I’m not sure what I’m supposed to conclude from that.)
Maybe by the time I need to start paying off my debts, the economy will have crashed, we’ll have burned through all our fossil fuels, and someone will have shot the satellites out of the sky, which at the very least means there will be no dopes swerving around at 20 MPH above the speed limit in neighborhoods as they text on their mensaphones while I’m trying to run. I wouldn’t mind that.