Monday, April 20, 2015

Why This Marathon Will Be Different

Last year I ran the Illinois Marathon in a time of 3:47. I'm planning on a very good, maybe even great, Illinois Marathon on April 25. If I run under 3:30, I'll qualify for Boston. I'm shooting for a 3:27. If everything goes perfectly, I might run 3:25. My best marathon, run in 2001, was a 3:33 in Chicago. Fourteen years later, at age 49, why do I think I can run faster in Champaign, IL? How can I knock 20 minutes from last year's finish? Good question. Here are my reasons:

Experience (plus Desire)
The Illinois Marathon will be my 99th ultra/marathon. I have a lot of experience running long. And last year I ran this same marathon for the first time. I know the course and I know what I need to do to perform well. Plus, after 98 ultra/marathons, and being almost 50 years old, I won't have a lot of future opportunties to knock out a good marathon finish time. Time to do it now. Experience + Motivation should equal a fantastic marathon run.

In past marathons, I never took anything beyond water and gatorade. Maybe a slice of banana at an aid station. Now I've been practicing with gels on my long runs. I think I'll try to ingest 5 over the course of the marathon. Some will have caffeine for an extra kick. The extra calories should help propel me to a strong finish.

Caffeine really does work. It's a proven central nervous system stimulator. I stopped drinking coffee about a year ago. Now I'm really jazzed when I drink tea (or anything with 50+ mg of caffeine). I've been experimenting with RunGum for long training runs and a few races. Each piece of RunGum has 50mg of caffeine (and some B vitamins and taurine). It seems to give me that extra push when I need it. And it doesn't bother my stomach. Good combo on marathon day.

Long Runs
Last year, and for many of my marathons, I've not done that many actual long runs in training. This year, I've gotten in many long runs in rather tough trail conditions. I'm strong and I have endurance. I'm also injury-free. I seem to have strength and endurance. 20-30 mile runs don't kill me. Maybe 26.2 will be easy? Probably not, but I am confident I have the endurance. It's the speed over 26 miles that has yet to be tested.

Speed Work
It's been a long time since I did consistent speed work. The past 6 months have been much better and more consistent. Yasso 800s, tempo efforts, fartleks, marathon pace runs. I've done them all. I feel ready. Not sure if this will carry over to a full 26 miles, but I actually have some speed.

Music matters. It motivates and encourages you to dig deep. I'll have my iPod along for the run. My plan is to not use it for the first 10-11 miles, then grab it from a friend around that point and start pumping the music to motivate me to stay strong. It always helps in long ultras...why not in a marathon too?

I should have lots of friends along the full marathon course. Friends in the race and friends on the course, including aid stations, should inspire me to run well. Not sure I'll run with anyone I know, but I'll see lots of buddies along the route. Many will be working at aid stations (especially my club, the Kennekuk Road Runners at mile 10), others live within a block or two of the marathon route and will wander to the streets to cheer me and the others along.

The weather. I can't control it. Right now, it looks good. If it's warm and sunny, like last year, it'll be tough to stay on pace. If it's cool and overcast, I may just be punching my ticket to Boston around 10:30am Saturday morning!


Erin said...

You will be great! So excited for you. You're ready. Also, I have that Boston poster framed. It was the last time I ran it :)

Chris Ⓥ said...

Thanks Erin. That's a GREAT poster! I feel "almost ready." Forecast for race day is 41 low, 57 high, with 70% chance rain/storms. Without rain, it's perfect.

Ruairi said...

It looks like showers likely. I finished my first 100 mile at Potawatomi a few weeks ago, going to be a sloooooow marathon for me. Cooldown if you like. :) Good luck

Chris Ⓥ said...

Congrats on the 100 miler! Make the IL marathon a victory lap.