Sunday, July 21, 2013

Regrouping with Caution

Detroit Marathon 7_20_13 JPEG cropped

Let’s talk about my new marathon training plans!

It’s clear that the definition of insanity is signing up for a marathon that requires you to do your longest runs in summertime Texas.  While I am excited to run Detroit in October, I can’t say I’m excited to train in August here.  August has always been an “off” month for me, as far as running goes.  But not this year!  Because I am insane.

My fall, however, has knocked some sense into me, and I am coming back to marathon training with a much more conservative plan.  In a nutshell, the new plan is to walk/run the marathon, with an emphasis on the walk part.  I figured out that in order to finish the race, I must finish it in 6.5 hours or less—the 6.5-hour pace group is the “last chance” for finishing.  If I were to walk the entire marathon, I could finish it in 6.5 hours if I walked fast enough.  Just now, I hopped on the treadmill to see how fast a few walking paces felt.  A 20-minute mile feels like a regular stroll—not too fast, not too slow.  A 15-minute mile is a brisk walk—speedwalking, if you will.  And you can still bump up the speed a bit more and continue walking.  If we do some math, here are the numbers.

26.2 miles at 20:00 pace = 8.7 hours

26.2 miles at 15:00 pace = 6.55 hours

So you’d need to walk a bit faster than 15:00/mile pace to finish in under 6.5 hours (or you’d have to start sooner than the 6.5-hour pace group to get a head start on them).

Knowing my body and my past accomplishments, here is a modest plan that I think I can complete.  If I run 13.1 miles of the marathon in two hours, I could easily walk the rest and finish in time.  It wouldn’t be an impressive finish, of course, but I don’t really care.  What I want is to finish, and to finish without injury or crippling aftereffects.  But let’s do some more math: what is the finishing time for 13.1 miles run in two hours + 13.1 miles walked at 15:00?

2 hours + (13.1 miles x 15:00/mile) = 5.3 hours

Not a super-speedy marathon, but it feels like a goal that I could accomplish with just under three months to reacclimate to Texas and train for the full.

Which brings me to my next point: my primary goal since returning from Colorado has been to reacclimate to Texas.  I’ve been walking outside almost every day, whether it’s to run errands or simply to get outside for a walk.  Last night I had the most wonderful evening walk after dinner!  It was reasonably cool, and for once I didn’t have any errands to do, so I walked one of my favorite running loops and just enjoyed the time alone.  There was a very real part of me that missed running, especially on such a nice evening, so I indulged myself with a few jogs—ten seconds here, 30 seconds there.  I’m still afraid of not being physiologically ready for the Texas heat and humidity, but I decided to test the waters a bit, so to speak, and this time there was no need to visit urgent care.

So it’s with a combined sense of caution and optimism that I have decided NOT to drop out of the marathon.  I feel strongly about meeting my commitments, and even though a marathon falls strictly into the “optional hobby” category, I don’t want to back down.  That was one of the things that made me most sad on the day of the accident: I thought for sure this meant I wouldn’t be able to train for the marathon and that I wouldn’t be able to afford the travel.  Once I thought more deeply about what training for the marathon could mean, I decided that money was a silly reason not to go.  My hope for this year financially is to (more or less) break even—I’ll probably come up a bit short because of my super fun medical bills, but I’m looking forward to a peaceful end of summer and a fall of simple pleasures.  (Also on my financial horizon: I think I’m adopting a cat.  But more on that later!)

Tomorrow two exciting things will happen: 1) I get the stitches removed from my chin!  Yee-haw.  2) I have a two-hour “long walk” on the schedule.  If I’m feeling good and if the weather is not too oppressive, I will try mixing in some running, probably in 1-minute intervals to be on the safe side.  I’m excited, as I have been really and truly missing my runs, and the treadmill is just not good enough.  The imperative to reacclimate to Texas was more important to me than running on a treadmill, so thus far I’ve embraced walking outside to the exclusion of running inside.  But tomorrow, I hope to begin my triumphant return to the world of running.

I hope I’m ready for it.  Detroit, we’re still on.

PS  Good job to my friend JD, who is rocking his marathon training!  I’m happy for you!  See you in October, dude!

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