Since I wasn't in great shape before the injury, the four weeks of downtime resulted in me losing a lot of fitness. I was hoping to be in sub 65 half-marathon shape at a minimum by now, but I'm a good bit behind that. If I had a "real" fall racing season last year or even a good spring racing season before that, I'd debate going on. But I can count on one hand the number of fast workouts I've done in the past year. So I feel I'm pretty underdeveloped on that aspect and I'm not sure if I can get marathon fit in 3.5 months.
My main running goal is to get under 2:15 in the marathon before the Trials. I don't have any big Trials goals other than random ones, like trying to beat all of the other Scott's in the field (no easy task), trying to lay a whooping on the other P.E. teacher in the race and it'd be nice to sneak into the top 15 if I run really well.
Right now, I'm looking at three different options. And since I'm self-coached, I try to be pretty analytical about my decisions so I can look at it from all angles and make the best overall decision.
Option #1: Move forward as originally planned and peak for the Grandma's Marathon in June
- I get a marathon race out of the way and have plenty of time to build up for the Trials.
- I know and like the Grandma's Course.
- Tyler Andrews and I talked about going out in the 67:00 range, so I'd have some company for most of it.
- I'll have no school for the last four weeks of training.
- I'll have to shorten my marathon cycle and hope I can get somewhat fit before I start it.
- Since I missed so much time, I would have to use a lot of guesswork in training to try and get where I need to be, instead of doing a mostly traditional build-up.
- Since it would be a rushed build-up, I wouldn't have any time for extended sickness, little injury niggles, etc.
- The marathon starts 1.5 hours later than the half, so weather is a potential issue (even though it's usually pretty decent).
Option #2: Start my training over and do a long build-up for the Chicago Marathon in October
- I can ease into training and have a lot of time to work on each aspect of my fitness.
- Chicago is the perfect course for me (dead flat) and the weather has been good the last couple of years.
- Chicago has been a bucket list race for me and one I've always wanted to do in really good shape.
- There's a lot of good races in August and September, full of guys who would smoke me.
- Connor Kamm is staying in Nashville this summer and is open to running Chicago, so I could get in some good training with him.
- I feel I can be more marathon fit in October than in June.
- Chicago has some pretty good incentive money.
- I have to train intensely over the summer. Even though I won't be in school, it's freaking hot and humid during the summer. And I don't want to hear from the Boulder hippies about how it gets hot over there too. Compare the dew points, my friends.
- I'll go a little under two years without a peak race. That's a long time.
- With such a long build-up, you can get stale. And by starting my speed workouts around May, I will be very far removed from consistent hard workouts, so it'll be tricky to find the balance leading up to it.
- Marathon training will start at the beginning of the school year. I'll be going from a lot of sitting to being on my feet all day, which will be an added stressor for a few weeks. Along with the reduction in sleep.
- I'll have to start over training. Again.
- Chicago is just four months before the Trials. Normally this would be a big con but you can't just look at the future, you have to look at where you are coming into the race. I would have gone 21 months without a marathon race, so I will have much less battle damage and will come in more "marathon fresh" than if I stuck on the 1-2 marathons a year plan.
Option #3: I randomly thought of this a few days ago when I was laying in bed debating whether to get up early and hope for a nap later or to fall back asleep. Thanks a lot daylight savings time. But the option is to make a hybrid of the two plans and peak for Grandma's Half (technically it's the Garry Bjorksomething Half), take a 2-3 week mini downtime/base phase and jump into a few weeks of speed workouts before starting a marathon-specific cycle for Chicago.
Pros (other than what's listed above)
- I can get out and compete this spring rather than sit on the sidelines (and also make a little bit of money)
- Getting in half-marathon shape takes less time than marathon shape.
- I can attack my half-marathon PR (I figure Houston next year could be my last chance) and see if I can run under 63 minutes.
- I can spend a good 10+ weeks working on my speed, which is something I really need to work on. I'm always somewhat marathon fit and transition very well to longer workouts and steady runs but my body hasn't consistently had that intense "hurt" in a while.
- I can get in a "mini" season before starting my build-up, rather than starting from scratch.
- Racing a half won't beat me up as much as a full, so I will be in great shape 3.5 months out from Chicago and since I'll already be developed on that end, I'll only need to maintain the intensity, rather than increase fitness, which sounds more appealing in the swampy summer.
- Racing a half in 60 degree weather isn't too bad but it would wreck a marathon (assuming the weather isn't ideal).
Cons (other than what's listed above)
- Jumping into workouts too early could result in another injury
However, I really won't know which route I'll take until after the Country Music Marathon. I'll race that race flat-out if I have to, which would definitely have a great impact on my training/racing plans.
I'm also debating going to altitude or somewhere for a few weeks over the summer. Flagstaff would be my first choice and I wouldn't mind Boulder, even though it's a couple thousand feet lower. It'd be relatively easy on my own, but it's much harder to find a place when I'm bringing along my wife and a couple of kids.
Yeah, altitude can be a crapshoot, depending on whether you're a responder or not but it'd be a good escape from the heat and it would be cool, as well as eye-opening to get in a little bit of group training somewhere.