Today my marathon training entered a new phase: the pain.
Last week was the Montreal Marathon and, as part of my marathon training, I ran the half-marathon. I was determined to take it easy and integrate the race into my training regimen, rather than treat it like a normal race. The reason for this reasonableness is that with only five weeks to the Toronto Marathon, I couldn't afford to take 4 days off recovering from a race (which is my normal routine). So I promised myself I wouldn't focus on pace during the race and keep my heart rate in the 155 range. I was aiming for a time of 1:45, which I figured was a good compromise between a decent race pace and a slow-run pace. Of course, when it came time to turn on my Garmin 305 at race time, I realized I had stupidly forgot to charge it. Like it or not, I was running "free," that is, without any toys, just like the pre-humans did on the savannahs of Africa.
So I took it out easy and tried to keep a steady pace. And lo and behold, near the end of the race, I found myself having a fair bit of gas left for a good kick over the last 1.5 kilometres and a furious sprint to the finish. My final time: 1:44:50. I must say I was pretty happy that I managed to judge my pace just right and that I had a good finish, especially considering the fact I had only been training for a month. So while it was my slowest half-marathon result ever, it was in some ways the most satisfying of all.
But that was last week. This week it was back to the regular training grind with a planned long run today of 26 km. I was nervous before today's long run because I have never run over 25 km before, and no more than 21 this year, so I wasn't sure how my body would react.
The run started pretty well and I felt good up to about 15k. But by 19k I was struggling. I suppose the dinner party we had last night, during which I imbibed my fair share of wine, didn't really help the endurance side of things. But in the end, I managed to complete the distance, and with a respectable slow-run pace of 5'30"/km. I was very happy to stop but the good news is that my foot, shins and knees all held up well. I really tried to focus on the ChiRunning techniques, and I think that stood me in good stead. But I'd be sugar coating things if I said it wasn't a really hard run.
Next week, the long run will hopefully be 30k, which is getting into the realm of the dreaded "wall." More uncharted territory and cause for nervousness. But I guess that's the whole point of trying to run a marathon, right? At any rate, I think I'll skip the wine with dinner the night before.