Monday, October 28, 2013

New York City Marathon Week 10/11

Monday: -
Tuesday: 2 x 1'-2'-3'-2'-1'-2'-3' @ 17,5 kph with 4.5%-2.5%-1% incline
Wednesday: 60' @ 4:06
Thursday: 60' @ 4:12
Friday: 60' @ 4:27
Saturday: 2 x 30' @ 4:00
Sunday: 21.1 km @ 4:14 (1:29)
Total kilometres: 87

I had another trip to London this week so I had to shuffle my training around flights and meetings. As time was a bit tight, I decided against staying with my brother down in Stockwell and instead treated myself to a night in a hotel near the office. What was supposed to be an easy run on Wednesday turned into more of a Marathon pace run, fueled by pent up energy. In fact, if I ignore the first kilometre which gave a dodgy GPS reading (200m elevation in London is a bit of a give-away), the average pace was a snappy 4:02 per kilometre. My idea had been to run along the canal but, when it disappeared underground, I lost my bearings and ended up heading down towards the OXO tower instead.

The following morning I decided to stick closer to the hotel and went for a pre-breakfast run around Regent's Park. It seemed like a lot of other people had the same plan as me and, in fact, one guy stuck so close that he was drafting off me for one whole round trip. This time I ran a little slower but, again, if I ignore the GPS error at the start, my average pace was closer to 4:08 than the 4:12 overall.

I thought it would be much harder than it seems to be so far to give up caffeine. Perhaps I was taking so much of it that it no longer had any effect. Perhaps the sleepiness I felt before was purely psychological or maybe it is just that I have been - let's say - in "tension" lately in between work and training demands. I'm quite glad to stop drinking so much Coke Zero, which I am convinced can't be good for me, quite apart from its caffeine content, but I do miss coffee. I often find myself yearning for a coffee - after all, its about the only thing I take reasonably slowly - but a descaffeinated expresso (without milk) seems a bit like the concept of achohol free whisky.

After slightly overcooking the pace earlier in the week, I considered commuting my Marathon pace run on Saturday for an hour long run at easy pace. But, as I find often happens, I woke up on Saturday from my easy run the night before feeling refreshed, so I decided to stick to the original plan. There is a fine art to tapering because it is tempting to use the extra energy to run faster and therefore end up as tired as you would have done after a normal week. On the other hand, I believe that a good taper is one in which you whittle the training down to the bare essentials which, at this stage in the day, should be mostly runs at close to Marathon pace. With that in mind, I ran the 21.1 km the next morning in 1:29 (4:14 per kilometre). Although I have been calling 4:00 my Marathon pace for the purposes of training, in New York with the extra complications (jet lag, hills, crowds, etc) I'll be happy to break 3 hours so this may well be my true Marathon pace.

The previous day I had been much of the day on my feet firstly at a wedding and then at a Halloween street party in an American urbanization. It was just as well that the wedding had a medieval theme, so I was able to go dressed as a Tuareg which also served as a Halloween costume (nothing frightens Americans more than someone looking like - as someone put it - "a Bin Laden"). Unfortunately, the babuchas I had were far too small for me so I ended up walking barefoot. Correction: nothing frightens Americans more than someone looking like Bin Laden and doing something as crazy as walking around barefoot. Thanks to the leathery soles I have cultivated, it was actually fairly comfortable. On the other hand, it wasn't the most sensible thing to do just a week before the Marathon. I seem to always need to do something unrecommended just before every Marathon I run: perhaps it is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel that makes me relax my disclipine at the last moment.

So now it is time to reflect a little on how my training has gone, what shape I am in and what my race plan will be for Sunday. I think my training has gone very much to plan, much as it did in the lead up to Seville. I'm pleased to have started a couple of weeks earlier - given that I didn't have so many months of consisent training immediately before - and I think that the fact I have stuck to running all through the summer (rather than cycling, for example) will help break what seems to be winter Marathon curse for me. I have run 4 of my 7 Marathons in October / November and only one of them went according to plan, in which I set off a lot more slowly than I needed to (my second half was 7 minutes faster than my first!). I haven't been so discplined as I would have liked about doing my extra curicular exercises such as plyometrics, hill sprints, Power Breathe, achilles and core but I think I have dedicated enough time to them to ward off any injury (touch wood). I'm particularly pleased about my weight which is consistently down around the 80 kg mark, some 4 kilos less than I weighed when I ran Seville in February: carrying 4 extra kilos for 42 kilometres even if some of them are muscle is no joking matter.

All that's left is to come up with a race plan remembering, of course, that I won't be running 42.2 kilometres but rather 26.2 miles!