Q: Why do I like to run road marathons 3 weeks after big ultras?
A: I don't. It just works out that way for some reason.
Apparently I didn't learn my lesson when I tried to run the Rocket City Marathon 3 weeks after the JFK 50 miler last fall. This time I'm attempting to follow the Mad City 100k with the Flying Pig Marathon with the same 3 weeks of recovery time. Not that Rocket City went all that bad. It really went quite well all things considered, but I wasn't in top marathon form, so it kind of hurt...a lot. When does a marathon not hurt, right?
But, Rocket City is my hometown marathon, and now the Flying Pig is my major local marathon, so I'm going to do it just for fun. Who knows, I might be able to pull something surprising off. The Pig has gone as fast as 2:20 and as slow as 2:38 over its 12 year history. I can guarantee one thing. I won't be running anywhere close to 2:20. At the very least, it'll be a good training run.
This will be my 4th road marathon and my first one not at Rocket City. The Pig is not as flat as RCM and the nearly perfect weather I've enjoyed at the December marathon in Huntsville is not expected on the first day of May in Cincinnati. The weather is one of my biggest concerns. I did a 5 mile tempo at marathon pace Saturday - it was 70 deg with 80% humidity and windy - and it was tough. I'd much rather race in cold conditions. Everyone's got to race in the same conditions, I know, but I have this mental hangup that humidity affects me more than everyone else. Stef's got to work Sunday morning of the race, so I'm not sure how I'm going to handle my nutrition situation just yet. I probably should figure that out soon.
So, here's the plan. Go out conservatively. Relax getting up the hills the first 10 miles or so, then start easing the pace down depending on how I feel. The second half of the course rolls a bit, but it's a net downhill so it should allow for negative splitting. And stay fueled and hydrated. Simple right? It always sounds that way.
So how do you prepare for marathon 3 weeks after an ultra? I don't have a clue, but I'll tell you want I did this week. In addition to the previously mentioned 5 mi tempo on Saturday, I did a 5x1600m (5:18 avg w/400m recovery) workout on Tuesday and easy runs every other day to reach 65 miles for the week. I'll aim for 40-50 miles over the next six days leading into the race and that includes a light workout on Tuesday.
I am very encouraged that I feel almost completely recovered from the 100k now. We'll see if I still feel that way after the Pig next Sunday. Wish me luck.