Let’s Talk about Long Runs (20 days to Marathon)

So today I ran 20 miles as part of my preparation for the NYC Marathon on November 5th. It’s the longest run in my training plan, and arguably the hardest day so far. Before we go into how I did over 20 miles, let’s talk about 18 miles.

Below is a chart showing my 18m run in 2014 Vs my 2nd attempt at it in 2017. I did manage to finish my 1st attempt a few weeks earlier, but 70 degrees plus more than 90% humidity and a crisis of confidence meant I actually stopped at mile 12 and walked off the course. I was fully intending to quit but after sitting down and eating a Honey Stinger for 5 mins, I (literally) got back into the race and finished. There were a few 11+ mins miles in there…

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Pretty much by mile 5 there is a 30 second difference, which stays constant up to about mile 12, and then widens significantly to well over a minute. Not good.

Now in 2014, I never actually ran a 20-miler. I ran 20 miles during the weekend of my Staten Island Half, but really in 4 broken parts. A warm up for the race, the race itself, a cool down and then 6 miles to get what was eventually 21 miles. I remember feeling pretty beaten up by the end of it and was doing 10mins/miles during those last 6, which back then was very slow (although I’d take it this year!)

Enough about the past, let’s talk about today. In short, I screwed it up. I’ve been having issues with taking on board fluids and gels, I get an acid reflux when taking water or gels when running, so often try and hang on with minimal intake. That’s not particularly bright on a day when it’s pushing 73 degrees and there is 83% humidity. My NYRR coach scorned me for only taking 3 gels and drinking about 30oz of fluid every hour, when I should have been taking in about 20oz every hour.

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The net result was a continuously slowing pace after mile 15 (10:32, 10:58, 11:27, 11:32, 12:40!) Given my sole goal is to beat my 2014 time of 4:33:33 this is bad news, and it puts me around a 5 hour finish time. I’ve got three weeks to fix thing…

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21 Days to the NYC Marathon

It’s 21 days until the 2017 New York City Marathon, which will be my third. I thought this year was going to be ‘the’ year, and perhaps it still will be, but the omens have not been good.

I was expecting 2017 to be a year of PR’s and PB’s but instead a niggling knee problem and ongoing issues with my right foot and ankle have clipped my wings, and a general malaise set in throughout the year. Compared to 2014, which was my first ‘serious’ year of running, the races I’ve run this year speak for themselves. Let’s take a look.

Here is a table of my Five Boro’ Race results from 2014 and 2017, and below this is plotted on a graph showing pace per mile for each race.

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With the exception of one race, the Queens 10K which is the shortest, my race pace is slower this year than in 2017. Not only that, but the gap is pretty consistent among the Half Marathon races (46 seconds at Staten Island, the latest, and 49 seconds at Fred Lebow).

I’m not sure where this leaves me, other than to make sure I run a really good tactical race on the day. In 2014, I should probably have run around 4:10 to 4:15, and instead only managed 4:33:33. My min/mile dropped from 9:24 for the first 5k down to 12:25 for the last 5k giving me an average of 10:26 per mile.

In 2017, my predicted (and recommended) pace is 10:20 – 10:38 per mile. If I can hold the higher end of that, without going too fast at the start, there is a chance I can pull this one of out the bag. A marathon PR really would make this year worth it.