Wednesday, March 2, 2016

My Next Marathon

By the lake this a.m.
Deciding whether or not to do a spring marathon was not easy. I love all out racing my annual spring races like the Shamrock Shuffle, Ravenswood Run and Indy Mini. Maybe not coincidentally those three races are home to my 8k, 5k and Half Marathon PRs respectively. Perhaps those PRs are a result of all the winter training that precedes them or perhaps it's the cool spring race temps. Or maybe it's a combination of both.

However, almost all spring marathons in the area take place right in the middle of those races. So, if I run a spring marathon, I'd either have to not run them at all, or pull back on the stick as far as racing them hard. I would just use them as training/recovery runs and what fun is that?!  Despite the allure of actually racing those distances fast, the allure of running another marathon was even greater. I have decided I will indeed run a spring marathon at the Carmel Marathon on April 16th!  In order to do that will have to forego running the Indy Mini and at best I will be forced to use the Shamrock Shuffle (2 weeks prior) as a fast training run and the Ravenswood Run (1 week after) as a post-marathon recovery run. I feel like I have kind of "mastered" distances from 5k to the Half, but have yet to break and master the marathon distance. The marathon distance is the white whale of my running life, and since I feel pretty good right now fitness-wise, I decided to set sail and once again try and hunt down a decent marathon.

 The lake 3/2/2016
As a bonus, there are a couple of other Chicago running bloggers including Xaarlin doing the race, so despite the 3 hour drive, Carmel will be kind of a local race.

I have my BQ and CQ (Chicago qualifier) for 2017 in the bag, so I am free to experiment with pacing at Carmel. My main experiment will be to try and overcome the sometime large positive splits of my previous marathons. I badly want to negative split a marathon, so that will be my primary goal. My secondary goal is to run a PR (sub 3:05:03) at the race. I think both goals are attainable. That is, if I can run a marathon where I feel in control at the end, I think it will bode well for a PR. So, the question is, should my negative splits be 1:35/1:30, 1:34/1:31 or even 1:33/1:32? I have a few weeks to figure it out.
Training Plan
My plan is pretty simple - put in decent miles, do four 16 mile long runs and then do a three week taper. I am not going to kill myself with track workouts and instead I will rely on my two year old training base to get me through the final 6.2 miles of the race. My plan includes fast finish long runs, so I am hoping to get some strength and stamina from those at least once a week.

Here are my training miles leading up to the marathon (completed weeks in yellow):


Week Start
F^3 Half:


Taper 1:
Taper 2:
Taper 3:

Since the Chicago Marathon in October, I've been focused on losing about 3 to 5 lbs. and I've been pretty successful on that front as I've been eating lots more salad while increasing my mileage at the same time. Right now, I'm pretty close to my "racing weight". Since I will gain at least two pounds during my extended taper, it would be nice to lose two pounds in the next four weeks, so I can feel guilt-free gaining them back in April!

Running Outdoors:
I've been lucky that I've been able to run all of my miles outdoor this winter.  It really is a magical time to run. I have the trail pretty much to myself and the views can be spectacular. Plus, I almost never over-heat, which is my biggest running nemesis. People have called me crazy for running outside this winter, but it's actually my favorite time of the year to run - so go ahead and call me crazy!
Crazy beautiful place to run!
No Pressure:
Anyway, we'll see how this goes. The pressure is off this time around. I do have time goals but my main goal will be to run relaxed and enjoy myself! Maybe that's the best way to approach a marathon? We shall see...


  1. I'm so excited for you! And also super happy you'll be in Carmel too! It will feel like a "local" race with everyone around :)

    Will you do an analysis of your previous marathon halves to figure out what kind of negative split would work best for you? I'd almost say go for the 1:33/1:32 because then you're more at a steady pace as opposed to a more extreme negative split. But I can see how holding back in the first half a little more could give you some cash in the bank for the second half. Ahhhh marathons!

    I'm also not planning on running over 16 miles either. Are you following the Hanson plan?

    I feel like I could have written a very similar post as this one. I'm also in the process of losing 5-8lbs for race day. I feel that the loss of the extra weight will be a huge difference for me on 4/16.

    I love that this race is no pressure for you and you get to experiment with pace and everything.

    1. Yes, it will be nice to know that we'll all be down there to cheer each other on and to celebrate afterwards! From what I've read 1:33/1:32 is the best, since almost every coach recommends even splits in a marathon. That's going to be the most risky however since it doesn't leave much margin for error if I hit the wall over the last couple of miles. Also, at Chicago last year I ran a 1:33/1:35 so the 1:33 scares me that I'll have a repeat if I try the same thing! I like putting cash in the bank for later in shorter distances, so I really want to see if that'll work in Carmel. I guess a lot of this hinges on the weather as well. The warmer it is, the more conservative my first half should be. Oh well, I have a few more weeks to decide on a Plan A and Plan B. Yes, I'm doing a modified Hanson's plan with running everyday, 16 mile LR, but without the strength/speed runs. I am trying to get in about 10 marathon pace miles per week here and there. I run too fast in training as it is, so I'm hoping that skipping the speed stuff won't have too much of an impact. Good luck with the weight loss. It is not easy and I fluctuate all of the time. Yes, it will pay dividends on 4/16! Yup, no pressure is the way to go! :)

  2. You know I am not going to call you crazy about running outside!

    I love to see a breakdown of your weekly mileage - especially your higher weeks. The most I've seem to gotten to in the last year is 60 mpw.

    Good for you for doing something different this year! You can do the negative split and the PR. The fast finish long runs help so much with those last few miles.

    I am excited to see how it goes!!! :)

    1. Ha, if you did, I'd be forced to call you crazy too! Yes, I am usually a little nervous getting up into the 70's, but this time around it doesn't seem to be too much of a problem. I feel really good (probably b/c of the consistent base). I just need to get enough sleep so the next four weeks so the miles don't burn me out too much. I hope you're right about the negative split/PR combo! I love the fast finish long runs. It gives a sense of what my legs will be like in the latter part of the marathon!

  3. Woohoo! Awesome!! Good luck with the rest of your training!

  4. How exciting Pete! I think it's a good idea to mix up the usual race schedule from time to time and it sounds like your training is spot on run this marathon really well. I don't question you one bit for running outside. It really is a beautiful, peaceful time of year to be out there.

    1. Thanks Marcia. Yes, maybe I needed to mix up my race schedule. Why do all of the races I want to do seem to be held within a span of a few week?! Yup, gotta love the fresh winter air too!

  5. This has nothing to do with your race strategy at all - but just wanted to say your pictures are making me REALLY miss the LFT in winter! That's my favorite time to be out there.

    Way to go on the weight loss too! Are you at least putting a sausage on your salad? Or does that not help?

    1. Yes, it is really beautiful. The LFT is the #1 reason that I live in Chicago. There seems to be nothing like it in any city I've ever visited.

      My lunch everyday is a massive salad (with little or no dressing) and a few grilled chicken strips on it. I do have "normal" dinners which include sausage, but precede them with normal-sized salads. That way I fill half-way up on something healthy, which then makes it easier to limit myself to just one sausage/kraut and bun! I am also trying to go easy on desserts until after the marathon (which isn't easy)! :)

  6. Excited to hear about Carmel.. never done it but always peaked my interest. also, do you have 3-5 lbs to lose?

    1. Yes, I'm excited because it's my first "small town" marathon. The others have all been majors or L.A.! According to the "Racing Weight" formula I have another 3 lbs to get to my ideal racing weight! :)

  7. Your pictures are breathtaking! I am sure you will rock your training!!! Best wishes!

  8. I never cease to be amazed at how incredibly well you pull together analytics to help you get to your goals. It's no wonder you've had so much success over the years! It really is nice to be able to race without pressure, isn't it? Running so mental that it's super easy to just outthink yourself into oblivion!

    1. Thanks Emily! My analytics have helped me in most races except for the last 6.2 miles of my marathons! So, that's why I am throwing everything at the marathon distance to the exclusion of other distances! Yes, racing without pressure is usually how I run best. We will see on April 16th how that turns out! :)

  9. How did I miss this post? I'm excited for you--your race is the week before I run Big Sur. Of course, with California on my mind, when I saw Carmel, I thought Carmel, CA...

    1. Ha, yeah, not that Carmel instead "Carmel by the Corn"!

  10. That's great! Marathon training is so fun. I'm glad you decided to go for it. It sounds like you're making great progress already, too. Maybe removing the pressure will help you have a breakthrough performance. There's so much as can control with training, but on race day, I almost feel like it's the opposite, which is both frustrating on a bad day and liberating on a good day. Excited for you, buddy!

    1. Thanks Erin! I'm hoping the lack of pressure and small town atmosphere will be good for keeping a steady pace and helping with my breakthrough!