Last Sunday I ran the Cascade 1/2 Marathon. My goal was 1:35. My outcome was 1:36:49. I know it's only 1:49 slow but I was pretty confident I should be able to pull off a 7:15 pace. Instead I was only able to run a 7:22 pace. It's taken me a bit of time to over analyze my race because of course I am going to over analyze it. No doubt I have been pondering why I missed. I don't have a ton of experience chasing marathon PR's. I have run a bunch of them (32) but most of them have been simply to run. I think I have chased PR's in about 8 of them. I have followed a strict training plan for 1. I should re-phrase that. I have always had a plan but only one other time have I had expert help. The rest were Rooster Plans! Last Sunday was a mixed bag. There was some good news and some bad news.
Starting with the bad news. Last year at about this exact same time I ran the Vancouver Lake 1/2 at a 7:16 pace. At that time I was training for the Muir Beach 50K. At that time I was building my speed and mileage. Since Muir Beach is held in March I wasn't booking a lot of miles in January but was doing a fair amount of quality workouts. I was rested for Vancouver. I was looking to establish a VDOT for the upcoming training so I went into Vancouver with fresh legs. I am in better shape right now or at least I feel like I am. I wasn't well rested for Sunday's run but I wasn't beat up either. I was ready and anxious to give it a good test. The weather was absolutely perfect for the Cascade 1/2 marathon. Only a bit of rain fell, it was warm and I was wearing shorts and tank for most of the race. Of course mile 1 was fast at 6:52 pace. I throttled it back a bit and found my pace for mile 2. I felt like I stayed there but mile 3 was 7:2???. Wondering if the mile markers were a bit off I felt no stress and forged on. The next mile was another 7:2???. Okay, I need to move it! Uh, guess not. My legs simply wouldn't spin any faster. I looked at my heart rate and see 168. That's way to low. I should be near threshold at 174 or at least knocking on the door at 172. I tried to pump my arms. Again, 7:20. At the turn around I tried to push harder. Wasn't happening. The legs were simply only going to spin fast enough to get me near 7:20. I did have a 7:13 but I think the wind worked in my favor because for the life of me I wasn't going to go faster.
There is good news! I think I could have run many more miles at that pace. After finishing we did a cool down run for about 4 miles. While running the race I was in full control, not overly taxed but the wheels were just not there. How many more miles could I have run at that pace? I don't know but would say at least 8-10.
Why did I miss my mark? After much thought and looking at training diaries I think I might have an answer. However smart I think I am I will qualify this by saying I have no idea if I am right. Here it goes. Since I train using the Daniel's method there are some key workouts. I have talked about them on this blog at nauseum! The M-Pace workout, the T-Pace workout and track workout are key elements. I have been doing them all. My lack of long true T-Pace work might be playing a roll. This method of training makes adjustments to the pace of a "Long Continuous T-Pace" run. When you do T-Pace workouts where you run continuously for more than 30 minutes Daniel's will adjust the pace. Since I am running so many long M-Pace workouts it made no sense to do long T-Pace workouts too. Why? Because my T-Pace would be adjusted and be very close to my M-Pace. Instead I have been doing my T-Pace efforts in the form of "Cruise Intervals" keeping my tempo work at true T-Pace (7:10). The intervals have been 10-15 minutes each and the total time of the T-Pace effort portion 40-60 minutes. Obviously I have trained my body to hold M-Pace for a long duration. My M-Pace is 7:32. On both workouts I have been hitting better numbers but not good enough to move them up a notch. The ultimate goal for race day is to have both workouts play a roll in hitting the PR. I should be able to run faster than 7:32 but not 7:10. I should be able to hit somewhere in the middle. Well, that's exactly what I did! However, I don't know if I will be able to hold a 7:25 pace for the full 26.2.
I am sure most of you have left the room by now. This is way over the top when it comes to numbers but it's important to what I am trying to do right now. What I have learned is I might have benefited from doing some longer Continuous T-Pace efforts. I might have gotten more spin out of my legs by pushing that limit. Swapping a week here and there may have been a good idea. Last year leading up to Vancouver I wasn't doing M-Pace workouts of 12-16 miles at a pop so I had some gruelling long T-Pace sessions. My T-Pace was adjusted down based on the length of session but it was still a bit faster than my M-Pace. I have not done any of that. The real question for the marathon is it a benefit to have more long M-Pace work and less T-Pace. Will I be able to dump lactic acid out my body super efficiently and just race in the strong controlled fashion I did last Sunday? I've got myself so curious now.
I only have one more big workout. Sunday is a 22-24 mile run with 16 at M-Pace. After that's it taper time. I won't have be curious for to much longer!