Sunday, July 19, 2009

Countdown to San Francisco

The taper has gone as planned: 55 miles last week, 45 miles this week -- with some decent speed work and plenty of recovery miles.

All of our travel arrangments are finalized. We fly out of Chicago on Friday morning. We will be staying 0.9 miles from the start.

My mother-in-law, bless her heart, will be traveling to our home from Pittsburgh to stay with our daughter. This will be our first time away from her since she was born 15 months ago.

No doubt, I am stoked to run this marathon. Afterward, I am totally pscyhed to visit San Francisco, Napa, Sonoma and the vicinity. Post-race, we have a great itinerary lined up including several winery tours in Napa/Sonoma, a Counting Crows concert, a Giants game, Alcatraz and lots of great dining and scenery. I call it a pretty good day when you run a marathon in the morning and see one of your favorite bands ever in the evening.

As far as predictions go, it's a tough call. I will say that, despite the elevation change to contend with, I will be surprised if I don't run a 3:05 or better. I think I would be chasing sub-3 on a flat course.

I'm in pretty good shape. Really good shape, I should say. I am going to soak in the thrill of running over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Temperatures will be in the low to mid 50's -- perfect. Can you believe this race starts at 5:30 AM on Sunday?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Ready to run the Streets of San Francisco

Legendary actor Karl Malden died this past week and was perhaps best known for his work in the classic TV series The Streets of San Francisco. Recounts in the news of Malden's role with Michael Douglas chasing bad guys reminded me that I am bracing for my own experience in the Streets of San Francisco.

I've received a number of comments warning me to lower expectations on my finish time due to the difficulty of the course in San Fran. It's not lost on me that the elevation change in San Fran is pretty significant -- even greater than that of Boston.

This is my first try training for a summer marathon. It's going reasonably well, I must say. My most successful training run was my 20-miler of two weeks ago, which was run entirely on a treadmill. I ran much of the pace mileage at 4-7% incline. I ran the entire workout in 2:19 and finished extremely strong at the end. It was a true progression with over 15 miles at race pace through significant incline intervals.

Today, I capped off a 70-mile week with a pretty strong 21-miler - albeit not as intense as the one from two weeks ago. I did this run at the I&M Canal with running partners Nate and Dave. Nate and cruised the final five miles of the 21 in 34:10. Now, granted, this path is pancake flat.

I know the hills will be daunting, so I recognize it's a stretch to aim for a PR. Nevertheless, I will go out there and give it my best and try to run 3:00 pace and see what happens. If I decide to back off to the 3:02-3:05 range, so be it. I'm confident that I am in pretty good shape to run my third strong marathon of 2009.

Bring on the taper... three weeks to go.