I have been following a rigid training plan since MAY, when 70.3 training began. That’s a lot of gluten-free waffles. I’ve probably peaked at least three times. Races are often described as the “victory lap” at the end of a training cycle. After eight months, some significant emotional challenges, and about a gillion miles, I’m beyond ready to put this training cycle to bed. If I sound demoralized, I’m not at all. I’m just a bit overcooked. Very ready.
Goal-setting and planning for this race has been a bit of a conundrum. I registered for CIM a few weeks before I dropped out of Augusta, needing a big challenge I knew I could enjoy meeting. When I transitioned from triathlon to marathon training, I was a bit nervous about my past tibial tendinitis or ITB issues flaring up. To avoid injury and increase enjoyment, I experimented with walking breaks during my long runs. It was wonderful. I felt very strong and unbelievably calm. No joke, I actually enjoyed my twenty milers! They were faster than my first marathon pace (even with a break every 9 minutes) and recovery was really quick. I figured I would transition to continuous long runs once I had ramped up my mileage without injury. But I just never did. For runs ten miles and fewer, I ran through but all my significant long runs had regular breaks.
I didn’t have any ego issues with frequent walking breaks initially but now I feel slightly less comfortable with them. I’ve debated several different race plans:
9 or 10 minutes running / 1 minute walking
Pro: I’ve trained this way. It’s very psychologically comforting to know that there’s always another break on the horizon, usually before I need it.
Con: It’s awkward to stop, especially early in the race. I have to run faster to maintain my overall pace. My walking breaks may not align with the aid stations.
Pro: Running pace is slower since it’s continuous. Ego boost.
Con: Much more physically demanding. Haven’t run anywhere near that far continuously in over a year. Much more challenging mentally.
Walking at aid stations
Pro: Similar to my training. Running pace can be a bit slower since walking breaks are less frequent. Walking breaks are proactive enough to stave off fatigue later in the race. Won’t back people up.
Cons: Walking breaks aren’t quite as often but hey, it is a race….
I’ve settled on the compromise option: walking for 0:45-1:00 through the aid stations beginning at mile 3. I will PR this race, without question. By how much, I’m not sure but I’m aiming for >4:30 (10:17 pace) which is totally doable, even with walking breaks.
This race marks the end of my Beginner Chapter. My intention for CIM is to enjoy (relatively) easy racing one last time. In the new year, it’s time to get brave and get fast!