Leaving Today: 2017 New York Marathon Training, Week 15

And just like that, it’s taper week. A mere seven days remain until I join the throngs pounding the pavements of New York.

Maranoia is setting in. For me, this year, that means two things: endlessly picking apart my training to see if I have done enough, and endlessly picking apart accounts of the upcoming race to find a strategy that will (a) get me around in one piece and (b) (hopefully) get me to the finish time under four hours.

Training Wrap-Up

As I have for my last eight marathons, I’ve followed the Hanson’s program, but with one big tweak: I replaced their Tuesday night interval workouts with the Rochester Running Co.’s speed workouts, which proved to be very interesting. Overall, I feel faster than I have in a while — perhaps not 2015 fast, but with average paces on my Thursday night tempo runs ranging between 8:30 – 8:40 min/mile, fast enough to come in under four hours on the day.

The choice to run Tuesday nights with Coach Mac and crew had an unintended domino effect. Mac’s workouts, designed to be completed in an hour, were grueling and effective, but they were always a good four to five miles shorter than the ones designed for the Hanson’s program because the Hanson’s interval workouts usually call for two miles of warm up and two miles of cool down. So, in order to get my mileage in for each week, I had to add extra miles onto other runs later in the week.

The good news is, over the last ten weeks, I have been +/- two miles of the Hanson’s mileage each week, and I have logged over 50 miles a week since the beginning of September for a total mileage in excess of 650 since the middle of July. Better still, I am healthy, with the IT band getting better and just the usual aches and pains in my legs to show for my efforts.

Strong speed workouts. Plenty of hill work. Fast tempo runs. Four successful long runs at around 9:00 min/mile paces, augmented with numerous runs designed to drill that 9:00 min/mile pace into my head for the early part of the race. And weekly mileages that were consistently higher than my PR program in the spring of 2015. Will it be enough? I suppose it’s now all down to the day.

Speaking of which …

Strategy.

In addition to all the conversations about running New York I have had with runners in the last couple of months, I’ve also read numerous analyses and accounts of the race. Here are just a few of them:

As you can imagine, the quality of the advice varies. Some accounts are written by experienced runners, some by rookies, and some by people who, to be brutally honest, have no idea what they’re doing. And I’ve found the vast amount of information about this race to be overwhelming. But there does seem to be a consensus, so here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. Miles 1-3: Go out cautiously and slow. Don’t fight the crowds, don’t give in to the emotion, don’t crush the elevation going up the Verrazano Bridge, and don’t try to speed up on the downhill. Try to remember that any time lost here can be made up later.
  2. Miles 4-12. Gradually move up to a 9:00 – 9:10 min/mile pace. Shoot for a negative 2:00:00 split or a little slower at the halfway point.
  3. Miles 13-16: Drop the pace a little for easy climbs up the Pulaski Bridge and, most important, the Queensboro Bridge so I can feel groovy on 1st Avenue (see what I did there?).
  4. Miles 17-20: Don’t get carried away by the crowds. Dial in the 9:00 pace again. Shoot for a 3:00:00 split at mile 20.
  5. Mile 21-Finish: Gradually put my foot on the gas down 5th Avenue and around Central Park. Bring it up to an 8:40 min/mile if there’s enough left in the tank. Because, as the title of a post from a few years ago puts it, I’ll take anything with a three in front of it.

But I’ll let Coach Mac have the final words. After Tuesday evening’s workout, his parting words to me were something like “You’ve put in the work. You can do it physically. Run with your head, and you’ve got this.”

That’s going to be my mantra from now until a little after 2:00 PM next Sunday.

FUNDRAISER UPDATE: We’re almost at the top of the heap! The ER&D fundraiser is moving along at pace. But we’re still almost 30% short of our goal. So, please donate, join Team Love Nugget during this last week of training and be a part of this momentous New York City Marathon run!

Here are three easy things you can do:

  • Support: Follow me and send me encouraging notes on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or right here as I train and prepare for the big event.
  • Share: Forward my social media or Vagabond Shoes posts to your friends, family, colleagues, or anyone else you think might be interested.
  • Sponsor: Please consider giving to my ER&D fundraiser by going to my page: https://my.episcopalrelief.org/brucepegg. In true ER&D style, we can all make a big difference one small donation at a time. So give what is in your heart — your whole bank account, some change from your piggy bank, or (preferably) something in between — and let’s make this Fifth of November something to truly remember.

Keep the adventure going! Send me your thoughts and I’ll feature them in the last couple of Vagabond Shoes.

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About Bruce Pegg

I write about running, music and spirituality.
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