Nailed It

I'm ready to give the Olympic Trials standard a shot at the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth in a few weeks.  I completed the hardest workout in my marathon buildup this past weekend and really nailed it.  The goal was a 24 miler at 95% MP, or ~16s/mile slower than MP.  Straight out of the Book of Canova.  A marathon pace of 5:18/mile is required to qualify for the Trials, so ideally I would run this workout in about 5:34 pace.

I ended up running 24 miles (in two 12 mile out-and-back segments on the Lakefront Path) in 2:14:57, which is 5:37 pace.  I also ran the two 12 mile segments in essentially equal times.  Very close to a perfect workout.  What was especially encouraging was the fact that I was never really breathing hard.  It wasn't too difficult aerobically, but muscularly it was challenging.  My legs were feeling heavy just 10 miles into the run, and I really didn't think I would be able to make it the full 24.  But I kept taking it one mile at a time and just kept hitting my splits.  My fastest mile was a 5:31 and my slowest was a 5:42.  The mental toughness required to get through the last 4 or 5 miles will be especially helpful come race day. 

The conditions were pretty solid.  A bit humid, but not too hot.  A bit windy, but from the East (so a crosswind) and not too strong by Spring-in-Chicago standards.  As I plan on doing on race day, I did not eat breakfast (this will help to metabolize fat better at MP).  I had a cup of coffee a couple hours prior to running.  I also took down about 36 oz. of fluid during the run.  Specifically, this was an electrolyte solution with no calories in order to enhance one of the workout's intended training stimuli: fuel efficiency.  All of the logistics went off without incident.  Did not need to use the bathroom, no cramps or other issues from taking fluid, no blisters wearing my race shoes.

My legs were very tired by the end of the workout, but nothing beyond expected fatigue—no particular muscle group failed or anything like that (I've had hamstring issues some in the past).  Again, on the whole, very encouraging.  The Grandma's course is about 150 ft. net downhill (mostly in the first 1/3 of the race), which will help with a quick time.  It will almost surely be windy on the shore of Lake Superior, but if that is a tailwind in any degree, I should have a pretty solid shot at the Trials standard.  It will be very tough, and I have little room for error, but this workout shows without a doubt that I'm right there.  A few races in the coming days, a couple more key workouts, then it's time to taper and then go for it.