Published October 7th, 2009
I knew when I became a Marathon Maniac and embraced multiple marathoning my times would suffer. Yes, there are a few freakishly talented Maniacs who can log fast marathons one after the other, but I’m not one of them. So even though I was already qualified for Boston 2010, I thought I’d try to run at least one fast race during 2009 (and by fast I mean in the 4-hour range). I had heard great things about the Portland Marathon, so I figured that would be the one to target.
I briefly toyed with trying for a 3:50 or at least a PR, beating my Light at the End of the Tunnel time of 3:54:34. But considering Portland would be my 26th marathon overall — 17th for the year — I knew that would be a stretch. My plan to run five marathons in June further put my goal into question. Even if I were to survive such a stunt it would only leave me 14 weeks until Portland (two weeks of recovery, 12 weeks of training). But with nothing to lose I decided to give it a shot. (I settled for a more realistic goal of a sub 4-hour).
While I made it through my “monster month” injury-free, I did have a few niggling aches and pains I’d have to baby for several weeks. Therefore, I basically put the kibosh on any type of speed-work and instead focused on incorporating hills into my runs whenever possible. But by early August I was ready to gauge my fitness level and raced a half marathon on the 8th. My 1:55 finish was a minute and a half off of my PR, but at least it told me I was on track. I got in a couple of 20-milers in August, as well as raced the Hood-to-Coast relay (I was on a competitive women’s masters team). I ran a couple of marathons in September as training runs, and also raced a 10K three weeks before Portland. Once again it wasn’t a PR (it was a hot day), but my 51:47 finish placed me third in my age group.
For sh!tz & giggles I plugged my times into the McMillan calculator, which predicted a 4:02:43 finish based upon my half marathon, and a 4:03:01 based upon my 10K time. I realize you can’t rely on these calculators, especially if you’re not putting in at least 70 mpw (I averaged 45-55), but I felt it at least proved I wasn’t smoking crack rock for thinking I could pull off a sub 4-hour. It certainly was no guarantee, but was in the realm of possibility.
One thing in my favor was the fact I have run several marathons. Sure, I didn’t race most of them, but I knew how to pace myself. I’ve very good at holding back in the beginning, even when getting passed by several runners (typically I catch up with — and pass — them in the latter miles). I also knew that just because you feel great at mile 13, 14, 15+, it doesn’t mean you’ll continue to feel great at mile 20, 21, 22+ (cue foreshadowing music).