The mileage, of course, has not been a problem. The first week of the plan called for 27 miles total, and I'd hit 70+ multiple times in my training this spring, rarely going under 50 miles. But the speed work and pacing recommendations. Whew! That's another story. Apart from training to break 4 hours (which I did for the first time at the Gettysburg North-South marathon last spring), I've never trained to run a marathon at a specific pace. And honestly, this early in training, I'm having a difficult time settling on what my goals for this race really are. My A goal is to Boston Qualify (I'm fine with anything under 3:35 - this may sound weird, but I'm kind of more interested in besting that number than I am in actually running Boston), but my paces running outside this summer aren't quite promising that. My training plan is actually for a runner hoping to break 3:30, which is definitely a stretch. I keep saying I'd be happy just to PR, but after missing my goals at Laurel Highlands, I kind of really want to put in an awesome performance here, if at all possible. I'm not sure how much of my trouble hitting times is due to the fact that my speed just isn't there (because I basically didn't do ANY speed work this spring, just logging lots and lots of slow miles), and how much is due to summer heat and humidity which, suffice to say, I do NOT thrive in. I have been doing at least one run per week at a faster pace on the treadmill at the gym though, and on those runs I can stick to my paces successfully.
Because I knew I needed to get myself into the habit of doing speed work regularly, I signed up for a month of GoalsFit "Track Attack" for July. For some reason it feels like just about every Tuesday in Philadelphia is hot, humid, and, at some point, stormy. After the first two of these speed work sessions (which were butt-kicking in a very awesome way), I ended feeling weak and dizzy, a sensation that lasted 30-60 minutes after the run. My times were absolute crud too. The third time I made sure to liberally salt my pre-run snack of almond butter toast AND to eat some salty margarita shot blocks right before the workout. My times were still depressingly slow, but at least I had no cause to be paranoid that I had some mysterious wasting disease.
The humidity is definitely a huge factor. One Thursday my friend Megan and I went out to Temple Track and ran 6x800, I think at around 3:40-3:45 for most of our splits, one closer to 4 minutes, the last one at just over 3:30. Maybe a little slower than ideal, but damn was that a psychological boost - I can do this speedwork thing and actually complete a workout more or less as planned! We ran around 4pm, and it was ~85 degrees with a magical, magical lack of humidity. Go figure.
Afterward we jumped!
Then we slurped!
I've been trying to do yoga pretty regularly, 2-3 times per week. Usually I take classes at my gym (some of the instructors are very good!), and I've occasionally been doing free and donation-based outdoor yoga (including with Yoga Peach, who teaches awesome yoga for runners classes and also just had great success racing Ironman Lake Placid and fundraising for the MMRF). I've been enjoying this more regular practice, and after the first extremely sluggish and dispiriting few weeks of marathon training, the middle of week 3 I finally started to feel a lot more like myself as a runner. Speed work is hard, but I feel like I'm actually recovering from it rather than living with constantly aching quads. This weekend I ran a 13-mile "long run" on the road at 8:50 pace followed by an 11-mile trail run the next day. The road run was much faster than I would have run while ultra training, but I recovered well enough that the hilly trail run the next morning was far more fun than torture.
IN OTHER NEWS, I did sign up for my first 100-miler, and it's NOT Rocky Raccoon, but rather Zion! I'm both incredibly excited and a bit relieved it's not till April. Though because it's so far off I have no excuse not to concentrate fully on Marine Corps in the meantime....