Final Preparations for Grandma's

I was getting a bit nervous the last few weeks.  Between the 24 mile tempo and the two races I did all within a week, my body was wrecked.  Add to it a couple weddings, not enough sleep generally, and outrageous heat, and I was in a funk.  I went for an easy 14 miles on Memorial Day (95 degrees out), and managed to get blisters, sunburned, and have a side stitch surface that lasted for over a week.  The rest of that week was pretty awful—no working out, and even a few days off.  This odd cramp issue is something that has happened to me a time or two in the past.  A side stitch will pop up that can last for weeks at a time.  I seem to have finally gotten rid of this one by stretching, doing lots of situps, and really focusing on deeply breathing (both while running and at rest). 

I tried to go for a long run last weekend (2 weeks out from Grandma's).  The original plan was 1 mile w/u, 17 miles at ~6:00 pace, 3 miles at MP, 1 mile w/d.  However, it was 95 degrees out again at about 9:00 a.m. and it was killing me.  I once again only got through 14 miles, and the pace was nothing to brag about.  I knew the fitness for Grandma's was still there, the last 3 weeks before the race being the least important, but I was still getting a little concerned. 

Finally, I hit a pretty solid progression run on Tuesday, despite temps in the 90s, and as things cooled off last night, I had a great confidence-building workout.  Exactly what I needed 9 days out from race day.  After a mile warmup, I did 6 miles cutting down from 6:00 to 5:30 pace, then straight into 4 miles at MP.  As I kicked it up to MP, my legs were a bit heavy, but I focused on sensory data, essentially my breathing, to dictate the pace.  While breathing pretty comfortably at MP effort, I hit 5:16, 5:17, 5:16, 5:17 for the 4 miles.  I haven't done a ton of actual running at MP during this buildup (though I did do quite a few workouts that bounced around to average MP), so hitting my goal race pace comfortably was very encouraging. 

Once I'm fully rested, the legs will feel fresh, and hopefully next Saturday I will be capable of running 5:18/mile for 26.2 miles.  I know I'm right there.  The 24 miler at 5:37 pace, some solid races in less than ideal conditions, a victory at Chase while beating a 1:04 Half guy...  Weather reports for Duluth a week out say high of 59, low of 50, a few showers (so probably overcast), and a light E or NE wind (which will be a tailwind, as the course goes NE to SW along Lake Superior).  Everything is shaping up right for me take a legitimate shot at the Trials standard.  There isn't much room for error, but I genuinely believe I'm in shape to run 2:18 something.  Just gotta put it together on race day. 

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