Boston Athletic AssociationThe Boston Marathon is about a month away, which means that this week and next week I will be winding up my training and then starting to wind things down before the race. The original plan this weekend was to run the New Bedford Half Marathon. I ran it a bit shy of 83 minutes last year, and I figure that I would have run it in 78 or 80 minutes this year. Last year I only had about 3 weeks of running under my belt, whereas this year I am in pretty good shape at this point. Unfortunately, Dirigo couldn’t field a men’s team, so I decided that I would run part of the Boston Marathon course as prep work instead. I was going to be in Massachussetts already anyway, and this way I would not have to run when I got home.

Nature had other ideas, however. Instead of driving down to visit friends, I got to look out my window at the sleet and ice falling out of the sky. I also got to spend most of the weekend shoveling.

I managed to come up with a loop that is just a bit shy of 18 miles that I could run on, though, and it served quite well as a substitute for the half marathon. The last two loops add up to about a half marathon; given the hilly terrain, it is probably more on the order of about 13 and a half miles. I managed to run that in around 86 minutes, which is a pretty good clip for (a) not having anybody to run with/against, (b) having already run a fast 4.5+ miles, (c) dealing with a hillier course despite the finish of New Bedford, (d) having spent around 6 or 7 hours throughout the weekend shoveling snow, ice and slush and (e) not having any money on the line. In other words, I was tired and sore to start, and I managed to run the 18 miles at a pace that would have beaten all of my previous marathons save one.

The last 8 miles is obviously nothing to sneeze at, but this run was a great confidence builder. I may not be able to beat my previous Boston Marathon time by a full 60 minutes (I would have to run around a 15 minute PR to do that) but I am going to be close to it. I should have at least an 8 to 10 minute PR based on the pace that I am going to use.

My training goals for the next few weeks are going to be pretty modest. I will probably not do quarter mile repeats on Tuesday night, which is what I have been doing for the past month. Instead, I think I might do slow half mile repeats. Rather than a quarter mile at 4:40 pace, I’ll do halves at around 6:00 minute pace. That will be closer to my marathon goal pace, and will give me a chance to recover from today’s run and from my race next weekend.

Next weekend is the Eastern States 20 Miler. I have never run it before, but I have been interested in giving it a go. Since I did not run the half marathon this weekend, I thought that the 20 miler might be a good alternative next week. The race begins in Maine and finishes in Massachussetts. It is supposed to be a pretty flat course, so I imagine that it will take me around 2 hours and 10 minutes if I follow the training plan that I have for it. I only want about 10 miles at my marathon race pace, and I want the first few miles to be quite a bit slower and the last 8 miles or so to be marginally slower than my marathon race pace. It is not my goal race, after all.

Are you running the Boston marathon? How is your training coming along?