A Lesson in What NOT to do on Marathon Day

So, yesterday’s successful Galloway experiment sent the gears in my brain just buzzing last night with “What ifs.” “What IF I could run a BQ race using Galloway? Recover faster, feel great at the finish line, make the Olympics team, etc, ha ha ha.” You know.. because once those wheels start turning, all sorts of crazy things go through your overly optimistic mind. 

Well, last night I decided that instead of taking a rest day today, I should do my tempo work instead.. AND… I should use the Galloway method.. AND.. I should aim for my BQ pace of 8:37. Now, that pace is not totally foreign to me. I ran my entire half in July (in 80 degree temps) at exactly an 8:37 pace and felt fabulous at the end. My exact quote to others that day was, “I feel so good, if someone handed me a Gatorade and offered me $10, I’d totally run back to the half point and I feel confident I could keep this pace another 6.6+ miles.” Now, that’s how I felt and what I said… but it’s really a guessing as as to weather I could have actually pulled it off. But — I know the pace. In that particular half, I only walked at water stops and made those short and then zipped back up to the overall ave pace of 8:37. Not really a true Galloway-type of run at all. It felt more competitive. In the races that I’ve done well at this year (2 miles in 14:48 for a third place AG win, 10k at 52:26 (where I first “tried” to be speedier back in June) for a 2nd place AG win and my 8k a week and a half ago in 39:51 for a 1st place AG win – I didn’t walk at all – not a step.) So, I’m torn. The Galloway method seems to offer so much – yet it also sort of makes my gut-reaction say “Careful! Remember your Mama told you that if sounds too good to be true, it probably is?” And the rhythm doesn’t feel as good since I love getting lost in the thump, thump, thump of my Asics on the road and the walk breaks just blow my meditative feeling to bits since I have to stare at the watch more watching for that overall pace and those one minute walk breaks. Hmm..

Today was a disaster. It was hot. Hotter than yesterday. 63 degrees. 55% humidity and not a cloud in the clear, blue sky. No breeze either. Not even a small one. After the 1.5 miles of warm up, I hit the “start” on the Garmin and walked for a minute right at the beginning of the first mile. As soon as the minute was up, and my watch was showing about a 12:40 ave pace, I gunned it up to where I figured I’d have to reside for the rest of the run (between 7:45 – 8:16 ish it seemed.) It didn’t feel good. It felt harder than it should have. I wasn’t enjoying myself. I felt tired. I wanted to slow down. But I kept at it. The one mile beep came and I saw I’d done the first split in 8:31. Great. Ahead of pace just a hair. Man, I didn’t feel good like yesterday, though. So, I walked the one minute, then gunned it again – feeling thirsty, legs feeling like logs and my brain telling me, “This isn’t smart! If your body is reacting this way this early into this workout, it’s time to pull the plug and call it a day. It’s too late to add any really hard training. You have about 11 days to the race. You’re in taper. No point in hurting yourself when you’ve already done all you really can to prepare for this thing. Be smart – stop this instead of being vain and pushing it just because…” I did the second mile in 8:41 which gave me an average pace of 8:37 – right on target and as soon as that watched beeped for the walk break to start, I just knew I was done with the speedy portion. I walked for the minute and then tuned everything out and just ran the way I felt. Turns out I felt like running a 10:33 pace for that third mile. I just wasn’t feeling it today and pushing to 8:37 – at least today – was too much.  After that easier mile, feeling a bit recovered, I ran the last .5 mile at an 8:49 pace feeling good again. (My total miles by that point were 5 since I’d done the 1.5 warm up.)

I finished the workout with an easy 1 mile cool down then went home – a bit discouraged, but also wiser. I was pretty sure it would be crazy to even attempt the BQ pace at my upcoming race. McMillan’s predictions for me based on the last 4 races I ran are: 4:06, 3:54, 3:58 and 3:55. The Runner’s World Smart Coach plan I’ve trained with has a goal of 3:50. All seem lofty to me – and NONE of them are BQ times. I’m just not fast enough yet. Last year’s time of 4:57 is really the one to overcome and I’d love to really improve on that. Breaking 4 would be a HUGE dream! 4:15 or so would make me incredibly proud. I think I will be disappointed if I can’t come close to the 4:15 this time around. Maybe I should focus on that number and keep that pace in mind when the gun goes off. I feel like it’s a gamble no matter what I choose — go out too easy and never get a chance to earn back those times later in the race and finish too comfortable — or go out too hard and hit the wall at 20 and watch my pace slide downhill fast. Hmmmmmm….. Still figuring this out.

Warm up – 1.52 miles. 12:25 pace
Workout Gone Wrong – 3.51 miles. 9:11 ave pace.

Cooldown to lick the wounds – 1.01 miles. 10:20 pace.

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