One week after the most painful marathon I’ve ever run, I went and did something potentially very stupid. I ran a half marathon.
I know, I know, recovery time, and in between two marathons spaced just three weeks apart, not necessarily the smartest thing a guy can do… but I had a plan, and it was a good one.
- Show up
- Start slow
- Gradually increase my pace if I felt good
- Slow down if I felt bad
…and that’s exactly what I did. Why not? I needed to get about a dozen miles, and the New England Half Marathon is one of my favorites. It’s a beautiful point-to-point course that ends at the state capitol in New Hampshire, and for a small race, a lot of people come out and cheer on the runners. The aid station volunteers are top notch, too. I can’t say enough about this race, it’s a true New Hampshire gem.
But this is more about running a half marathon between back-to-back marathons, and not so much about the race… click the link above to learn more about it. That said, it was a lovely morning at the race track in Loudon where the event starts. The runners were excited to run, and they were running cars on the track. Good times.
As I’m targeting 9:31 miles in New York, I decided to start at that pace for the half. That’s about 1:10 per mile slower than my personal best, so I figured it’s a good start for the half. After a couple of miles at that pace, I was feeling really good, so I gradually turned up the pressure. I ran the next two miles at roughly 9:00 per mile, and was still feeling really good, so bumped it up again. I hovered around 8:30 per mile for the next eight miles, then kicked it up to 8:00 per mile for the last mile of the race.
This is what the cadence chart looks like when you gradually increase your pace over the course of the entire race.
That’s the number of steps per minute I was taking; each dot represents a portion of the course. Cadence always varies; as you go up and down hills, or if you’re consciously trying to speed up or slow down… but the trend here is gradual increase, and that’s how negative splits SHOULD look!
The end result? I came into the finish area looking and feeling fresh. I felt great.
A quick note about the Miss New Hampshire contestants that man a water stop at this race, and also are the ones who hand out the medals at the end. I am not a pageant guy. I’ve never “gotten it.” But these young ladies are always polite and friendly, and I think their families and neighbors must be proud of how poised they are and how well they represent their community. ’nuff said.
I’m about to run the New York Marathon. Less than three days from now, lucky bib number 42299 will start the race at 10:40 AM this Sunday. If you have ESPN2, you can watch the race live. I doubt you’ll see me (there are over 50,000 runners!). This will be the second time I have run a marathon three weeks after running a marathon.
Last time it worked out really well. I dropped 14 seconds per mile off my time between Chicago and Manchester last fall. My goal on Sunday is to replicate that feat. I ran 9:44s at Baystate and I want to run 9:31 or better in New York.
The kicker: I don’t know if I can do it.
My glutes are not as strong as the need to be, and that is contributing to calf issues late in marathons on a regular basis. It didn’t give me trouble in the second of those two races last year; so hopefully a full recovery has happened for New York also. I suspect not; in spite of doing only very light running since the NE Half, I have a few twinges in my calves that don’t feel fully recovered.
So what’s the plan?
Short term, I’m going to see if there’s a 4:10 pace group I can run with in New York. If there is, I will source my pacing to them, and just try to keep up for the first 22 to 24 miles. If things are going well, try to accelerate the last mile or two. If things are going poorly, try to hang with them in spite of the pain. We’ll see.
Long term, I am going to have to work on my glute strength in a serious way.
- New York Marathon on Sunday.
- Jingle Bell Half the first Sunday in December. I want to actually race this one… I suspect I’m capable of a new personal best in the half, and I haven’t gone all out on a half since the LAST time I ran this race.
- Hyannis Marathon in February. Because why not run a marathon in Massachusetts in the dead of winter, right?
- Ragnar Cape Cod and Niagara Falls in May.
- Bay of Fundy Marathon in June.
- Peak to Brew and Reach the Beach in the fall
- …and a possible trip to Berlin in September. I’m in the marathon lottery, and will know if I got in later this year.