This is always the part of the marathon training that I dread -- that high-mileage week (relatively speaking, of course) three weeks before the marathon. And because of schedule conflicts, this is going to be worse than normal.
My schedule called for a 20 miler last Sunday -- but I had been in a hockey tournament that weekend and, while we didn't end up playing on Sunday (because we suck), I wanted to run a 10k race in London Ontario as part of the Really Chilly Road Races. I did the 10k run as a training run and, because of the slippery conditions, set out to just do 'marathon pace' (5 min./k.). As it turned out, though, I felt pretty good and as the run went on, I stepped it up a bit and ended up finishing just a hair over 48 minutes for a 4:48/k. pace.
Anyhow, the point is that I didn't intend to run another 22 k after that race to get in my 20 miles, so Brian and I decided to do the 20 miler on Wednesday. This was the official start of 'killer week'.
Brian met me at my house at 8:00 am on Wednesday and we started our run. It was a cold -13 Celcius (8 degrees F.) outside, and there was a slight wind coming out of the southwest. We headed off towards Lucan where we did a couple of 5 mile loops on the country roads. But by the time we were done a half-marathon distance, I was getting tired.
To Brian's credit, he kept motivating me on -- and I dug deep to keep up a strong steady pace -- but by that time we were heading west and the wind was right in our faces. Have I mentioned that I hate wind? Anyhow, I kept chugging away, concentrating on every step as well as I could, to keep pushing myself forward.
By this time I had screwed up my GPS and was, quite frankly, too tired to see what I had done. It was showing me a pace of 8:05/mile which I knew wasn't right. So I just kept trying to keep pace with Brian and while I was unsuccessful, I was certainly giving it everything I had.
Brian had a finish time in mind for us and, while I don't know what that finish time was, I do know that we had a substantial 'negative split' -- where the last 10 miles of the run were faster (1:23:30) than the first 10 miles of the run (1:27:10) by a good 3 minutes and 40 seconds.
My legs ached when I was done -- and I couldn't face an ice bath to prevent them from stiffening up -- but a warm shower with some cold water on the legs at the end seemed to be a not-bad compromise.
Our overall pace was 8:32 -- not bad considering our first 10 miles was at an 8:40 pace, and the last half was basically into the wind. But I still had to wonder how I'd keep an 8:00/mile pace for 26.2 miles in a marathon.