I will be running my tenth marathon tomorrow, and this is my second time running in Long Beach. Last year, I incorporated speed work and more focused training paces following the FIRST program. I found the structure to be helpful, and the speed work did improve my pace.
But I showed up at the start line worn out and possibly sick. I had intended to double down this time around to see what I was capable of, but ended up taking it easier instead. It was frustrating to prepare so hard last year, only to show up ill(prepared). After a couple of weeks of training, I decided to run more by feel like I used to. I still paid attention to my time, but did not rigidly follow the pacing set out in the program.
The weekend long runs were the same, but I reduced some of the mid-week mileage. I just checked my training calendar from last year, and it looks like I ran about 15% fewer miles this time around. Same number of runs, just fewer miles.
One of the additional things that seemed to fail me last year was my fueling. I crashed hard at the finish line, desperately low on energy. The past few weeks, I have switched what I eat during runs. I am swapping in Shot Bloks for gels, and the more solid food seems to sit a little better on my stomach. Against the oft quoted "never try anything new on marathon morning" advice, I am going to try something I picked up at the expo yesterday for breakfast. The PR* Bar is supposed to level your blood sugar and let you tap in more easily to body fat as a fuel source. Marci tried it earlier this year, and thought it helped. And PR stands for "Personal Record", though I don't like the unexplained asterisk that follows.
This marathon will be a test of a few theories. Of course there are so many factors that affect your performance on a particular day, so there won't be any clear answers. But I am running pretty well, and a little faster over all. I am also five pounds lighter than I was at the start line last year, so there is less to drag for 26.2 miles. I am hoping that by running by feel and listening more closely to my body, I will get to the start line feeling more rested.
If you are up early tomorrow and want to follow along, you should be able to track me here. It should plot my progress on a map, and show my average pace. My best pace at a marathon was 8:52 per mile back in January. I am hoping to beat it, and ideally come in at around an 8:35 pace.
The gun goes off at 7:05am. We will see what the day brings. I plan to enjoy it no matter what.