This Sunday was my last 20 miler at two weeks to race. That makes a total of 3, which I feel is better than only one or two. At least it seems to work for me.
For the next two weeks I'm in the 'taper': we want to bounce back from all the running stress, but we want to preserve our conditioning at the same time. On race day, we should be fully rested and recovered from the heavy training but still very fit.
Typical marathon schedules for beginners have only one 20 miler, and have it 3 weeks before the race ...i..e a longer taper. After I got experienced I felt I was losing too much conditioning with 3 weeks...and I've met many multi-marathon runners that feel the same.
It was great weather for my run: cold (35F!) , clear and sunny. But 5 miles into my run I found a roadblock!:
The ped/bike underpass of highway 101 was closed due to flooding of the river which had left a ton of mud.
Argh! What to do? Eventually I found my way back to the Shoreline road overpass of 101 and connected up with the Steven's Creek trail again.
The air was super clean from all the rain we've had and it was truly a wonderful day!
For various reasons I couldn't do my 20 miler until Monday (a holiday) and so I'd had two rest days after my last run: legs feeling pretty fresh. Eventually it warmed up enough that I could shuck my jacket and it was totally perfect running weather.
When I came to the Charleston Slough Levee I found this:
Can you see the little white dots? They are Black Crowned Night Herons. I see them often but in this case there were 30+ of them! ( A "siege" of herons). Each one was spaced out from the next by 3-5 feet (let's get close...but not too close) and they went on and on. I have no idea why they were doing this.
They look like this when they are closer:
I have been running the baylands for 12 years and have never seen so many in one place! Usually they are quite solitary.
My run went really well and I managed to speed up a bit in the second half for an overall pace of 10:37 min/mile. I have been pondering my marathon goal pace and after this run I think that a 10:40 pace might be reasonable.
If I take my first Napa Marathon pace (my first marathon) of 10:05 and scale it to my current age (10 years older) that suggests 10:51 as my pace. That's pretty close to 10:40.
But more telling was that I felt pretty good at the end of my 20 miles and thought I could have easily handle another 6. Granted Napa has some hills which will cost a few minutes. But I'll also be more tapered and feeling even more full of beans (I hope).
The long and short of all this thinking is: assuming we have good cool weather and not huge headwinds on race day I think 10:40 m/m is a good starting pace. If I'm right I'll finish strong, with no walking, and with close to even splits for first half vs second half.
You heard it here first!