Well, the curse has struck again. After the Rocket City debacle, I took it easy for a few of days and then went back to hard training. Even though I was still pretty congested a little over a week later, my workouts were on fire. Since I peaked for Rocket City and had some pretty fresh legs, I decided to try my which was 6 miles at 85% of marathon pace, a 1-2 minute break and then 6 miles at 100% of marathon pace. That really isn't that hard by itself, but when you repeat the same workout in the afternoon and don't eat any carbohydrates from the time you wake up until the time you finish the second workout, it can get pretty tough.
I ran this same workout three weeks before the Country Music Marathon and ran 39:30/34:04 and 39:26, 33:32. Those splits were actually 10k (which adds just over a minute) and one week post Rocket City, I was able to run 36:05/31:45 and 35:36/31:49. Other than feeling insanely hungry, I felt really strong. I woke up feeling like a million bucks the next day but a couple of days later, the inside of my knee was really hurting. This same thing happened to me a few weeks prior and was gone in a couple of days, so I was hoping it would be a repeat performance.
As time went on, the knee became worse. I wasn't sure if I would be able to run anything hard but headed to the HHS track to give it a go. My plan was to run 6x1600m at around 110% of marathon race pace, which put me at 4:46-4:47, with a 400m jog rest in-between. With the bum knee, a belly full of Demos' steak, soup, bread and spaghetti, and the fact my legs haven't done anything near that fast in a long while, I would have be fine with starting out just under 5:00 and working my way down to 4:50. I ended up feeling rusty on my first one in 4:47. but somehow managed 4:44, 4:43 and 4:42 for my next three. When I would run this workout in college, I would begin to die terribly after four but surprisingly, I was barely tired at all. I decided to drop down the pace a little more and ran my next two in 4:38 and 4:39. I briefly debated two more at sub 4:40 but with the bum knee and the fact that it was approaching 10:30pm, I decided to call it a workout. I was pumped because the pace felt so controlled, despite not running anything near that fast for a long time. With those two workouts in the bank, I was confident that I was in at least 2:17:-2:18 marathon shape. Granted being in shape and going out and performing, especially in the marathon, are two different things.
But as time went on, the knee just became worse. At first I couldn't get in any fast running but then it got to the point where I couldn't run at all. I decided to wave the white flag and keep things low key and then start a new build-up again once my knee is fine. It's frustrating because I never got to race all-out when I was in good shape but at least I didn't beat my body up with a marathon. The Country Music Marathon put a complete thrashing on my body and I didn't feel right until months afterward. When I start my next cycle, I should be able to start on fresher legs. And with the fitness gains I made over the past year, I'll be strong enough to try some new things in training that will hopefully give me some big breakthroughs. 2011 turned into the year of "what-ifs" but I think 2012 has a lot of good things in store.