Friday, April 22, 2011
Boston: A Reflection
Two weeks before Boston I would have said I was in the best marathon shape of my life. Five days before Boston I was worried because I had started to get a cold. Three days before I was very worried because after the plane ride and all that I was very congested and afraid that I was going to get even sicker.
It turned out that while my cold was hanging around for the race (and still is), it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. In fact, I don't think it was a big factor at all. Marathon Monday was a good day for weather, as evidenced by a world record performance in the men's field.
Since Monday I've been thinking a lot about the race and reflecting on my performance and training. I achieved my big goal of breaking three hours but I really felt I'd get closer to 2:55 than I did. I ran more miles than ever, did more 20+ runs than ever, and felt like I could get a more equivalent performance compared to my adjusted 10k than I had for my first two marathons.
Amazingly, compared to my adjusted 10k a few weeks before the marathon, of the three marathons I've ran, Boston was the slowest. It was an even slower ratio than Twin Cities where I averaged around 30 miles a week compared to the 54 I averaged for Boston.
Don't get me wrong; I'm still thrilled about breaking three hours. I have, however, been racking my brain about why with more miles and more focus on improving my endurance I still ran slower for a marathon compared to my 10k time several weeks out. I'm not sure, but here's some things I've been thinking:
The most obvious reason my 10k time and marathon time didn't line up was my cold. I did not, however, really notice the cold during the race so I don't think it affected me a ton. It may have been a bigger factor than I noticed though, as it might have taken some of my fitness in the several days prior to the race.
Another factor might have been that the race was much warmer than any weather I did a long run in besides one 20 mile run on the treadmill. The weather was great for the most part as a tailwind was definitely a factor, but I was definitely hot and drank way more water than I ever have during a race or a long run. I guess the slight warmth may have factored in for a minute or so.
Besides the slightly warm weather, I also felt I wasn't able to take advantage of the downhills like I wanted. I ran the uphills pretty strong, but the downhills after Heartbreak hurt. If I ever do Boston again I'll prepare better for downhill running.
One factor, I'm sure, is the fact that I'm just naturally better at shorter races than longer ones. With no specific training for a 5k I'm sure I could do a time with an equivalent faster than a 2:59 marathon. There's nothing I can really do about this besides to keep improving my endurance and getting older and losing more speed.
The last thing I think I'll look at when I run my marathon is having an even shorter taper period. I think next time I'll cut back but not as much--it's possible that one of the reasons I got a cold was because of the taper. I know trying to peak is always somewhat elusive but I am almost certain I'll change my workouts around next time to see if I can come closer to peaking. I didn't really follow any sort of training plan other than my own and I'm wondering if I'd do better if I used one for my next marathon.
Before Boston I told Laura that I wouldn't be running another marathon until I'm 30. Of course, I've got a 50k planned in July and I'm pacing a marathon in Brainerd next weekend. I guess I should say I won't race another marathon until I'm 30. I might pace a couple but I think after I run the 50k in July I'm going to focus on 1/2 marathons and shorter for the next few years, then shoot for a sub 2:55 marathon.