I completed my longest training run before the marathon today. I managed 20.25 miles at 9:41 minutes per mile. Slower than I’d like to run in the marathon, but faster than I had planned today and that included a large number of interruptions. Traffic lights, crosswalks, traffic and even a train slowed me down a bit. The weather was cool (verging on cold actually), but it felt good after 5 miles or so.
Using the McMillan Running Calculator this time gives me an estimated marathon time of 4 hours, 17 minutes, 43 seconds. I’d really like my time to be under four hours even if it is 3 hours, 59 minutes, 59 seconds and 99/100s. I think I can do it. A number of factors should help me out. First is I won’t have to stop at any lights or wait for any traffic (or trains). Second, I’ll have plenty of water. Today I ran with just one bottle holding 3 cups of water. This is just about 1/3 of what I’d like to be drinking. Third, my new shoes arrived along with new insoles. They are exactly the same model I have now. I’ll break them in over the next couple of weeks. It will be nice to have shoes with some padding again. I’ve literally put hundreds of miles on my current pair and they don’t really have the same level of cushion they once did. Fourth, I’m planning on trying out some of those little gel packs. It is supposed to help provide some energy and electrolytes while you run. Lastly, and maybe as important as anything else is that it will be a race. I’ll have adrenaline pumping and I always get a boost running near other runners. Hopefully it will all add up.
Nearing 20 miles runners talk about “the wall”. Basically “the wall” is the point at which your body has used up its glycogen stores. Without available glycogen the body has to burn fat which it doesn’t do very efficiently and can only do aerobically. Your body starts to give out. You lose the will to keep going and your basically in bad shape. In a marathon you still have 6 miles to go, more or less. I was supposed to hit it today. I’m not sure if I did or not. I was certainly tired and I was definitely hurting, but I’m not sure I really hit the wall. My muscles hurt in a different way than they did after my 18 mile run. More deep down and at the bone, but I’m not sure that was “the wall”. I guess I’ll find out for sure during the marathon. Hopefully things like the energy gels, plenty of water, and ample sports drink will minimize the effects.
From here until the marathon I enter the taper. I run less and less until the week before the marathon where I only run nine miles. My longest run is only 12 miles and I don’t do anything for several days before the race. My plan is to stretch religiously, eat lots of carbs and try not to overdo it. After the race I plan to do something like what I did today. Drink a lot, eat a lot, shower (very important) and then go take a short nap. After that I plan to get up and eat a lot of bbq. After all 26 miles should burn roughly 3100 calories so I can pretty much eat anything and as much of it as I like.