Nathan finds his marathon pace…and not a moment too soon

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I knew this was a big run.  This was a run that would either tell me that the marathon was going to break me, or that I’d be able to finish with a decent time.

Now I’m not one for counting my chickens before they hatch (I am, however, adept at making sure I get the full 12 wings when ordering from Wingnutz), but I’m feeling really good about Saturday’s run.

Here’s why:

1.  Even Steven
I managed to have enough self-control, to not just blast off and deplete my resources.  My goal was to keep a 9 minute pace and just “see how it goes”.  My first 11 miles were (9:09, 9:05, 9:01, 9:09, 9:11, 9:12, 9:06, 9:13, 9:07, 9:07, 8:52)…pretty much averaging around 9 minute miles.  This afforded me the energy that I needed, to basically keep that pace (until miles 18 and on- where I clearly break down.)

2.  Mindset
I read an excellent article on keeping your mind focused and relaxed and willing to accept, even invite the pain that inevitably comes along with long or intense runs.  During Saturday’s 20 miles, I tried this out.  When my left knee started to hurt (keeping in mind, I have a history of IT Band Syndrome), I didn’t get afraid.  I decided that this pain was ok, not something to get nervous about.  Within minutes, it was gone.  Each subsequent pain was dealt with in the same way.  I need to remember to read this article before the Saint George Marathon in October.

3.  Sticking to the plan
Clothes:  The night before, my clothes were laid out, ready to go, to ensure a timely departure- thus more hours run at cooler temperatures.

Food/drink:  I ate a bagel with peanut butter.  It was…fine.  I also had most of a banana (it was too soft at the end, so I threw the rest out.)  I drank some water and headed out.  I drank as often as possible.  I hit up Will’s Pit Stop for a drink of water on the way up to the canyon (where I turned around after 10 miles) –this was the only place I stopped my watch, due to how long it takes to get my water and what I need– and on the way back, got another drink of water, plus bought a Gatorade from the same place.  This turned out to be smart.  I was running on fumes by the time I got home.

When I finished my run (and as soon as I was able) I drove down to 7-11 and bought a 20 lbs bag of ice and chocolate milk.  I sat in my ice bath for about 10 minutes, studying my Strava pacing and drank down the chocolate milk, plus some Propel.

Having proper clothing ready to go, eating and drinking well, plus taking about an hour for myself to “get right” with the world, post long run, turns out to be essential.  On Sunday I woke up with pretty darn strong and relaxed muscles.  It will be interesting to see if adding the 6.2 miles at the end of the marathon changes this.

All in all, this was a very important run.  It boosted my confidence (after having a pretty rough 13 and 17 mile run, earlier in the month) and gave me a chance to test my overall strength.

Next week:  I’m hoping to peak at 22 miles on Saturday.  It’ll be interesting to see how that goes.  I’m probably pushing a little too much, too fast (breaking the 10% rule), but if I need to, I’ll just call of the balance of whatever I am able to do.  I can always have someone pick me up.  Right?

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