Monday, March 26, 2012

Finish What You Start

This is the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates' rallying cry that they have on their team t-shirts. If you remember, last summer my woebegone Buccos were actually above .500 and in first place as of July 25th. However, injuries and fatigue derailed their season and they ended up with a 72-90 record. More about them in the future.

No, I'm not referring to any blog-writing goals (haven't written in a month...oops!). I get around to that when I get around to that.

Rather, my marathon training. My past three marathons (Philly in 2009, Pittsburgh in 2011, Harrisburg in 2011) all started well and seemed like I was in good shape after about 18 or so miles. However, all ended badly. Philly and Pittsburgh ended in hamstring cramps/seizures and Harrisburg induced a trifecta of vomiting episodes around mile 24.

So, Beth and I have been trying to figure out how to get me to the finish line, or, like the Pirates' slogan "Finish What You Start." In my plan for this year's Pittsburgh Marathon, we have implemented a few new things. Primarily, MORE miles. My weekly mileage so far in this training cycle have been 56, 58, 63, 53, 60, 57, 56, 70, 54, 64, and 65. In the past, I was mostly in the 40-50 mile range, so it seems like this will make me stronger. Also, I have stuck to a lifting plan that includes squats, lunges, and leg curls & extensions to make the legs stronger.

Will all this pay off? Will I finish what I start in a satisfactory way on May 6th? We shall see. But, the early returns seem to be positive. At the Spring Thaw, I went out in 8:00 miles for the first three and then proceeded to go 6:40 pace for the next 17 miles and put me overall on pace for a sub-3:00 marathon. Then, this past weekend, I had a 25 mile run on the docket. I ran with a fellow teacher for the first 8 miles and we just over 8:00 pace. From there, I went a little faster, but couldn't believe how GREAT I felt for the rest of the way, ESPECIALLY the last five miles. Granted they were downhill and flat but a couple of 7:20's and even a 7:05 felt so smooth. I ended up with 3:17 for 25 miles so something like a 3:25 for a full marathon at the end of a high mileage week. And it felt "easy."

This is where another facet of the raceday strategy is being cemented. Go out SLOWER than pace for a sub-3:00 marathon. The Spring Thaw and this past weekend certainly showed this plan can work. This will hopefully enable me to finish strong and not crash & burn. The next 6 weeks will hopefully solidify this strategy and get me to that starting line to "Finish What I Started" back in the streets of Philadelphia in November of 2009.

Beth update - in other news, Beth has wrapped up her training camp in Denver, is spending a few additional days with a triathlon friend and then heading off to San Diego to make her pro triathlon debut this Saturday at Oceanside.

Running for Laptops Update - many people have been really amazing! There's still room for more, though. If you can, every $5 and $10 counts! You can donate at this link:

Track update - somehow May showed up in March. We had a string of 70+ degree days. Crazy! It's been such a productive first few weeks. We've had two meets that were warm and our first invitational this weekend. No snow on the track this year!