Breaking Three

The first of February is always a great time of newness for me. We’ve escaped from the clutches of January, hopefully you have begun taking real action on your resolutions for the year, and it’s the start of tri-specific preparation, as race season is only about eight weeks away. It’s a wake-up call that the world is moving on with month number two, and you should kick it in gear!

For those of you who may live under a rock, (or simply don’t really follow the running world), the two hour marathon mark was nearly broken by Eliud Kipchoge in Berlin just a few months ago. He obliterated the official world record and ran a 2:01:39. I don’t know if you know just how freaking impressive that is, but that is running 26.2 miles… at a pace of 4:38 per mile. What the heck. He even pulled off a negative split between the two half marathons – 61:06 and 60:33 – mind boggling! So close to 13 miles per hour.

Seriously, watch this incredible documentary on this guy plus some teammates.

For those of you saying “he only needs to drop 3.81679 seconds per mile to run 1:59:59,” you would be correct – and kudos on the number crunching – BUT you try running that fast for even 30 seconds and let me know how that goes.

Running is deceptive in how much time can be gained/lost by altering your pace per mile by just a few seconds. The slightest changes can have huge impact.

Starting today, my own quest for the marathon begins – breaking 3:00 hours. For reasons that are more arbitrary than not (although my Boston Qualifying time has been greatly reduced to 3:00:08), I want to get after my own goal of “Breaking Three,” especially since I hardly consider myself a runner.  I have run two marathons, in 2011 and 2012 respectively. I haven’t touched a pure marathon since, except in several full-distance triathlons, and that’s a whole different animal. My first-ever attempt was still my fastest, with the 2012 race falling apart at the seams. Of course this was all at a very different time in my life. I had not completed a single 70.3 triathlon, didn’t have an established speed work routine (or long runs, for that matter), and was still in the infancy of my endurance exploits. My recent focus has mostly been on the 13.1 distances, with steady improvements over the past years.

The pacing to run a sub three is to run 26.2 miles at 6:50/mile, a piece of cake for the world champ, who runs a 4:38, but a monstrous challenge for 90% of the humans out there. It’s no easy feat (feet?) and should be a grueling stretch goal for the year. This adventure serves a larger purpose, but that is to be unveiled at a later date…

Equipment

  • Altra Paradigms – this is my second pair of this shoe, and while they look clunky, they’re actually quite fast. I crushed my first pair doing about 400 miles of strictly long runs (10+ miles) so know that these will suit me well
  • ma gels – For whatever reason, marathons and endurance events are typically synonymous with gallons of Gatorade and icky gel pouches. Hüma has changed the game with portable energy that is full of ingredients you will recognize and a chia based product. Portable energy to go!
  • Skratch – Ever since my first IRONMAN, I have sworn off Gatorade and have substituted in Skratch as my hydration item of choice. Also full of fruit-based ingredients, I prefer this lighter substitute to keep me powering through.

Strategy

Hal Higdon’s masterpiece Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide has gotten me through two marathons before, and my wife as well, so that will be my primary source of intel. I’ve read a bit on the interwebs about people who have attempted the three hour haul, and have found that most are ‘only’ runners, so I’m hoping the multi-sport background is a secret weapon in the arsenal *gleeful fingertap*

The plan is for four weekly runs – long run, tempo-ish, speedwork, and another easy one. May have to bump it up to five as race day get closer.

Location

Huge TBD – there is a lot going on this year and schedules still need to align. The current prospects are the Jack and Jill marathon, as well as St. George.

And so we’re off! Will be posting specific marathon updates as they’re appropriate. I guess we’ll see how this goes…

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