99 days. Just a little over 14 weeks. That's the countdown to the 37th Marine Corps Marathon, on October 28th. My first marathon, and with any luck, not my last.
My training has been going surprisingly well, knock on wood. I'm keeping my heart rate in check on my easy runs, my long runs have been productive, and I'm throwing in some cross-training for good measure. Last night, I took it up another notch.
The distance training group I belong to has a weekly track session on Thursday nights for speedwork. The sessions are optional, but I was finally able to have my schedule accomodate one of these sessions last night. The prescribed workout was 2 to 4 sets of the following workout: 800 meters at Threshhold pace, a 400 meter jog, and then 400 meters all out. Our coaches say your threshhold pace should be 10-20 seconds slower than 10K pace, which for me would be an 8:45-ish pace, or 4:22.
After a 4-lap warmup on the track, we got to it - and the results were surprising. I ran my first 800 in 4:17, which was not that far off from my plan. After my 400 jog, it was all-out for the next 400. I ran that 400 in 1:45, which translates to a 7:00/mile pace. Now, if someone had told me 4 years ago, when I started running, that I would be able to break off a 400 in 1:45, I'd have said you were crazy. But there it was, the pace on my Garmin read "7:00".
After the set, we were told to recover for 2-4 minutes, then start the next set. I broke off a 4:08 on my next 800, which was much faster than I had planned. I jogged a 400, then ripped a 1:52 for my all-out 400, a 7:28 pace. Man, I'm liking this speedwork. The paces for my final set mirrored set #2, almost to the second.
What does this prove? For one, it's that I'm more fit (and faster) than I imagined. Second, how much faster could I be if I dropped the few more pounds I need to get my weight under 200? And third, I don't hate speedwork - really, it was nothing more than sucking it up for 8 minutes before taking a short blow, and repeating it. This was my first "official" speedwork session (previous ones had been by myself, unstructured). I know that this is going to benefit me in 99 days.
I know that there are some out there who fear the marathon, especially the "what have I signed up for??" reactions, but not me. I am very much looking forward to this new challenge. And this is all because I'm training right, training smart, and training well. My confidence is brimming right now - these next 99 days are going to go slowly, but I need to keep this adrenaline in check and continue to train the right way.