Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Tale of Seven Marathons

The San Francisco Marathon tomorrow will be my 8th time tackling this distance.  If you had asked me 6 months ago if I was ever going to run the San Francisco Marathon, I would have told you, "probably not."  I run regularly on parts of the course and the idea of doing it in a race didn't really appeal to me.  I originally signed up for this race because my friend, Julianne, was going to be pacing the 4:45 group & because the timing of the race was great to keep me in shape for upcoming races.  You can see my thoughts from the beginning of the training here.

I decided to use a Runner's World Smart Coach training plan which had me running only 4 days a week but with a slightly higher peak than my usual.  I was therefore running moderately long distances every day I ran.  This plan also incorporated speed work.  Every Tuesday I had either mile repeats or a tempo run.

I'm not entirely sure when it happened... You might have picked up on the change in my blog... But somewhere on this 12 week journey I decided that a 4:45 wasn't an aggressive enough goal.

I have had an awesome training cycle.  

Twelve weeks of great runs. 

With speed work. I have NEVER done speed work for a marathon.

No injuries.  

No sickness.

I started ruminating about my marathon history:

Marathon #1:  Disney 2005;  First marathon so no time goal.  I didn't train or race with a watch (bought my first running watch as a congratulatory gift post-marathon).  I would like to say that it was 80+ DEGREES and sunny (I had trained for this race in 30 degree temps in New York City) Time:  5:16

Marathon #2:  New York City 2005;  Had intended to slap down a huge PR.  I got SICK the week of the marathon.  Hit the wall hard and had the worst marathon experience.  Seriously.  I wanted to die during the race.  There was a point I decided dropping dead was better than continuing onward.  Time:  4:51

Marathon #3:  Safaricom 2006;  Training was going totally awesome.  Then I got SHIN SPLINTS.  Really, really bad shin splints.  I could not even walk without pain, while medicated for weeks before the race.  If the race hadn't been in Kenya I would not have even tried.  Plus there was a little something called ALTITUDE.  Time:  5:58

Marathon #4:  Rome 2007;  Again, I thought this would be a great redemption race.  The SHIN SPLINTS flared up (but I got orthotics which helped a little bit).  But then I came down with what I am pretty sure was STREP THROAT the day before the race.  Yes, I ran.  Time:  5:09

Marathon #5:  Disney 2008;  Had repeated SPRAINED ANKLES during training.  Ran with an ankle brace for most of the training which otherwise went well.  But I was doing a little something called the GOOFY CHALLENGE where you run a half marathon the day before the marathon.  Time:  4:55

Marathon #6:  Napa Valley 2008;  Piggy-backed off of my Goofy training.  Awesome day!  We even had a 20 mph tailwind on this point-to-point course.  Time:  4:35

Marathon #7:  Big Sur 2009;  Used this race as a way to try to get some endurance back after another bout of shin splints last summer.  Because of the beauty and difficulty of the course this one was always going to be a FUN RUN with lots of camera stops.  It doesn't really matter, but I got SICK TWICE during Big Sur training.  Time:  5:19

So if you study the above break down, I have had exactly ONE marathon where the planets aligned leading up to the race.  I originally intended to save my next marathon PR effort for CIM in December since it is known to be a fast course.  But I got to thinking...  What if I get injured?  What if I get sick?  A lot can happen before December.  I have had an awesome training cycle.  Even though the SFM course is not PR-ideal, I feel it would be wasteful and somewhat disrespectful to my efforts if I didn't try my best.

I don't think I mentioned this before, but the plan I have been following has a marathon goal pace of 10:18 which is a 4:30 marathon (I didn't even realize this was the case until a few weeks into training).  I have done the majority of the runs at paces faster than what the plan specified.  However I have to admit that a 10:18 pace for a marathon is psychologically daunting for me.  I think on a perfect day I might be capable of it (the numbers suggest I can do it) but I'm not sure I have the confidence to chase that number from the get-go.  SFM is also a lot hillier than Napa Valley where my current PR is from.

With that in mind, these are my goals for tomorrow: 
A goal:  PR with a 4:30; OMG, did I just type that?   The plan says I can do it, so maybe I should believe!  Not probable, but hey!
B goal:  PR!  I will happily take a 4:34 :)
C goal:  Honestly, anything within a few minutes of my Napa time will make me proud given the disparity between the courses.
D goal:  4:45, That is what I originally wanted to do!

These are all very aggressive goals for me.  I mean, the D-goal would still be a second best time for me.  I tend to think any sub-5 hour marathon was a "good" race for me.  I'm going to do my best and leave it all out there tomorrow.

Thank you, everyone for you support during my training!  I am very excited for this race.


Marci said...

I think you can do sub 4:30!! Go for it, have fun! Good luck!

Meg Runs said...

I can't wait to hear how it goes! Taking pictures? Good luck!

audgepodge said...

How fun to see your progress over the years! Yes, I agree, your training seems to have gone really well for SFM. I hope you reach your goal - you deserve it!

Christie said...

Just go out there and do your thang. And try to enjoy it while you're out there.

ShirleyPerly said...

Best of luck, Sandra. I think you have a very good chance of meeting your A goal. Besides the great training, you have the experience and know the course well. I'll be rooting for you!!

bunnygirl said...

Good luck to you! Shoot for the PR, but keep FUN the first priority!

I'll be watching for your race report tomorrow!

Mica said...

Best of luck tomorrow! I'm glad you have a good attitude going into it. My fingers are crossed that all your hard work pays off!

L.A. Daze said...

Good luck! I can't wait to read the race report!

rUntoNamAste said...

Your marathon resume is impressive! Best wishes today, chica. I would say 'good luck' but I honestly don't think you need it :-) Regardless of the outcome, you will cross that finish line victorious! Can't wait to hear your report.

d. moll, said...

Hope you are having a great run as I type! Can't wait to hear how it went.

Marlene said...

I loved reading your marathon history! You sure have had some hiccups in the road and dealt with some major challenges.

I hope the planets aligned for you today!

X-Country2 said...

What a cool look back on all seven. You totally deserve a PR! Go get 'em!

Rabbits' Guy said...

I suppose you are almost ready to dream sweet dreams of victory ... we all await your report. One thin I enjoy about your running posts is that we all learn something from them, both thoughts you have and also training ideas, results, analysis, decisions ...

So what ever your result, we will get a good read, not just either a big I'm Awsome OR a big I suck!

Anonymous said...

ROME!!!! hello that must have been amazing!!!! you have done so many fun marathons :) I need to expand my horizons!