Let’s take all of the fun out of it:  Metabolic Efficiency Training

Fundamentally I have two core tenets about my running:  1) it should be fun and 2) it should allow me to eat double bacon cheeseburgers as often as I want.  Given these basic precepts, it is a bit bizarre that I’ve decided to pursue Metabolic Efficiency in an attempt to improve performance.

Running reward

The reason to run

Quick background for those new to the blog:  I’ve run 10+ marathons and more recently have transitioned to ultras, including a 100k a few months ago.  I’ve decided to train for a 100 miler with a goal of a ~24 hour finish – very challenging but not a reach based on existing training and performance.

Oh, and more background – I read too much and overthink everything.

So as I wandered down the wormhole of google: ultra training plans I came upon the concept of Metabolic Efficiency Training (MET).  Before we go any further let’s just acknowledge that I am not a doctor, scientist or even a particularly smart person.  I’ll recount what I’ve learned to the best of my ability, but go read some informative articles or listen to some good podcasts if you want to get all learned and detailed.

The basic idea is this:

Your body can store ~2,000 calories in carbohydrates in your liver and muscles.  The typical human has around 80,000 calories in fat.  Your body loves to burn carbs and has a really hard time burning fat.  Given the choice, and especially during harder efforts (e.g., anaerobic) you will go through those 2,000 carb calories very quickly.  Since your body is not very good at burning fat, you tend to bonk when you run out of carbs and maintain a hard effort.

During a marathon you can expect to burn ~3,000 calories.  The prevailing paradigm is to stuff yourself full of carbs in order to top up your 2,000 calorie carb. storage and make it through the race.  Carb-load, eat bars before the race, drink Gatorade and eat GUs during the run.  So much of our attention around races is focused on getting enough carbs to get through the day.  Now imagine a 100 miler where you are likely to burn 10,000+ calories.  Since it’s impossible to get this many carbs into your body, one strategy is to train your body to burn fat instead of carbs.

Hence, Metabolic Efficiency Training.

There are two aspects to the training, the first and more complicated of which being the diet.  The goal of the diet is to avoid producing insulin, which causes your body to burn carbs.  This basically means that you have to follow a diabetic’s diet, eating only foods low on the glycemic index.  So all starches have to go, but especially processed starches.  No rice, pasta, bread, potatoes.  Most fruits are out.  No milk (though for some reason cheese is okay).  No sugar.  After a few weeks you can roll this back a bit and start eating whole grains so long as they are accompanied by fat (think whole grain corn tortillas dipped in guacamole).

Nope

Nope

So while this is not technically a low carb diet, it will obviously reduce your carb intake pretty dramatically.  And that’s where training modification comes in.  In order to train your body to burn fat instead of carbs, you have to reduce the intensity of training.  You want to stay in the fat burning zone, which means lots of slow miles.

Dr. Phil Maffetone, the guru of this approach, has created the 180 Formula to determine how quickly you can run while staying in your fat burning zone.  The basic formula is 180 – your age + a number assigned based on your fitness level.  When I plug in the numbers I get 149.  That means that I have to do all of my training slowly enough so that my heart rate never gets above 149.

With my cool new running watch and heart rate monitor I’m tracking this very closely and…have found out that it’s very hard for me to run at all with a heart rate below 149.  I’m used to doing a pretty easy 8 minute pace on my runs, but am now running slower than 9 minute miles in order to stay in the sweet spot.  This makes running a bit of a chore.  It takes a lot longer and feels a lot less fun.

However, all is not lost.  Running hard and getting your heart rate really high trains your body to extend the amount of time you can run anaerobically.  Conversely, running aerobically over long periods increases the speed at which you can run aerobically.  That means that over time I’ll be able to increase my pace and maintain a low heart rate.  So maybe I’m doing 9:30 miles at a 149 heart rate today, but tomorrow I’ll be at 9:00 minute miles with the same heart rate.

When you think about it, this approach makes sense.  During an ultra you spend the great majority of the race in the aerobic zone.  So why are we spending so much time with anaerobic training?  It makes sense that the goal of our training should be about increasing our ability to burn fat, stay in our aerobic zone and log lots and lots of slow miles.  As my fitness improves I’ll be able to increase my aerobic pace and thus, over time, log lots and lots of less slow miles.

The good news is that you don’t have to do this forever.  After building a base, your body will learn to burn more fat and you can slowly work more starches, etc. in to your diet without undoing all of your good work.  You can also incorporate more speed and strength training into your workouts while still burning mostly fat.

My current plan is to build a base for two months using the MET training method.  After that I’ll do training more specific to my actual race, including lots of hills, strength training and some speed work.

Not me

Not me

Wow, that was a long-winded explanation.  True, but it’s a hard concept and if I’m going to dedicate months to this training technique, writing about it for a few hundred words doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

In my next post I’ll give you an update on how the MET method is working.

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Sometimes failure can be fun: The New Orleans Marathon (Part 1 of 3)

A post in three parts:

Part 1: Dead man shuffle: A recap of my race

Part 2: I’ll admit when I’m wrong: Broader thoughts on the New Orleans Marathon

Part 3: The long weekend that wouldn’t end: Six days in the Crescent City

Part 1

This is the first real-time race recap I’ve ever written and I suspect it will be a pretty easy one. Had I run a great race, exceeded expectations and set a blazing PR, I would have had to weave the fine line of recapping my triumphs while maintaining a thin veneer of modesty, so as to retain a sympathetic voice to the reader. Sometimes it’s just easier to write about abject failure.

I previously wrote about the new three day training program I used for this race. Over the past four months I ran fewer miles than in any previous marathon training, but at much faster paces. I felt fast, but uncertain if I had the endurance to last all 26.2.   Despite my doubts, I decided to go bold. Rather than settle for a comfortable 3:20-3:25 finish (current PR 3:19) I planned to push a 7:30 clip and chase glory or burn out spectacularly. I estimated a 25% chance of a glorious new PR and a 75% chance of good blog fodder. Fodder it is.

Race recaps focused on the post-mortem and minutiae of what went wrong are boring, so I’m not going to belabor the point. I ran 17 strong miles, then fell off pretty sharply and finished in 3:36. Below is a simple, short annotated history of my race.

Splits by mile: This chart shows pretty clearly what happened. Halfway through mile 18 things started to go wrong and then basically stayed wrong.

chart111

Below I’ve split the race into two different charts (with different scales) in order to simply walk through what was going on during the long stretch of ~7:30 miles and during the longer, painful denouement.

Annotated splits – the good part

chart22

Annotated splits – the bad part

chart33

So sure, I didn’t meet my goal, but I really don’t feel so badly about it. I enjoyed my training and I got an excuse to go to New Orleans with my good friends. I enjoyed the marathon and I really enjoyed eating lots of jambalaya. In a perfect world I would have enjoyed a PR, but I guess I can’t be so picky.

A couple of notes:

Many, many thanks to Awesome Wife Kelly, Running Partner Lindsey and our supporters, Adam, Anne, Dave, Isla and Stella. You guys made it a great race and a great weekend.

One more hats off to the amazing 3:15 pace team leader. I wish I’d finished with him so I could have gotten his name. He was so spirited and fun and I’m certain he pushed me further than I would have been able to go on my own.

Tune in later in the week for a review of the race itself (e.g., not my performance) and a recap of a great week in New Orleans

Fresh thoughts on final week marathon planning and tapering

It’s Tuesday, January 20th, 5 days before the New Orleans marathon. As you likely know, I’m contractually obligated by the Union of Running Bloggers (URB) to write a post about final preparations. Taper’s driving me crazy! Lots of carbs! Trying to stick to routine! Not doing anything I haven’t done before! Prepping my race bag! Reviewing the course map one last time – no surprises for me! Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the stuff that matters – what I’ll be eating and drinking. To break ranks with running blog protocol, I’m not talking about carbo loading and hydrating, but about Coop’s jambalaya and Napolean House’s Pimm’s Cup. The race is in New Orleans, which presents special challenges that need to be addressed in this space. There are basically two schools of thought here: 1) You’ve spent four months training for this race. In the final days prior, you should be taking it easy. Eat lean foods, up the carb content of the diet and stay really hydrated. Sightseeing should be minor and low impact. Four months worth of turning in early, skipping out on drinks and running in the freezing cold, come to a glorious, sweat soaked culmination on Sunday. Make it worth it. 2) You can run a marathon any time. You’re in New Orleans, you’d better eat your weight in jambalaya, gumbo and po’ boys. Who cares if you run a few minutes slower, or even if you oversleep and miss the race? Eat every grilled oyster you can find, then buy some more and put them on top of some beignets. Then wash all of this down with Hurricanes. Then wash the Hurricanes down with Hurricanes (note: I know that Hurricanes are disgusting. I still love them). 232323232fp-8->nu=3247>-65>667>WSNRCG=3396893888325nu0mrj Anybody who knows me (and even many who don’t) know that I’m going with option 2. Awesome Wife Kelly and I arrive on Thursday. The rest of our group, including my running partner Lindsey, arrive on Friday. That gives us 2 days of totally guilt free eating. I plan to treat Thursday and Friday just like any other trip to New Orleans. This may mean a couple of extra pounds to lug around the course, but I feel like the overall impact will be pretty light. Maybe I’m lying to myself. Because I’m a responsible person I plan to take it relatively easy on Saturday. How easy depends on what restaurants we end up at, and how much grief my buddies give me. I mean, if they’re REALLY making fun of me, I may have to cave a bit. They do say that drinking is fine so long as you have two glasses of water for every alcoholic drink. Plus there’s that old adage (read: lie) about beer being a good source of carbs. So there’s that. Some more silver lining: if I show up hung over and bloated and wreck 4 months of training with a DNF, at least I’ll have great fodder for Monday’s blog post. Finally, and with no real reason, I’d like to recall an all time great homage to New Orleans, courtesy of The Simpsons:

A day so cold the fountain froze - we still had hurricanes outside

A day so cold the fountain froze – we still had hurricanes outside

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaJjZ9svMYM Long before the Superdome Where the Saints of football play… Lived a city that the damned call home Hear their hellish rondelet… New Orleans! Home of pirates, drunks and whores New Orleans! Tacky overpriced souvenir stores If you want to go to hell, you should take a trip To the Sodom and Gomorrah of the Mississip’ New Orleans! Stinking, Rotten, vomiting, vile New Orleans Putrid, brackish, maggotty, foul New Orleans! Crummy, lousy, rancid, and rank New Orleans!

A Jew runs with Santa: The Rovaniemi Marathon

In 2009 I lived in Finland for a year. Finland, land of reindeers, saunas and brooding, silent Finns. In order to get the most out of my time there I resolved to take a one year marathon hiatus. I mean, I love running and racing, but I didn’t want to miss out on a trip to Rome or even a night drinking with new Finnish friends in order to get up early and log 20 miles. Also, in case you didn’t know, Finland is very cold and icy, making running just a little bit less attractive. I was doing some maintenance mileage, but all slow and easy and never anything more than 8.

In early May, my buddy Rich, who was living in England at the time, calls me up to let me know he’s planning on running the Stockholm marathon. As a runner who appreciates dedicated and reckless spectators, I immediately offered to meet him and lead his cheering crew. So at the end of May I escorted three women around the two lap Stockholm marathon where we cheered our heads off every time we saw Rich or pretty much any other runner. The Scandanavians tend to be a pretty reserved group, so we clearly stood out as foreigners as we chanted Rich’s name over and over. A quick aside – the Stockholm marathon was followed by the best post-race partying I’ve done (even though I didn’t run), highlighted by a midnight sunset, drinks until early morning sunrise, and a crazy woman throwing a drink (not just the liquid, the entire glass) at Rich with absolute zero provocation. Good times.

Back to the story. Watching Rich chug through Stockholm in front of a crowd of subdued Swedes was inspiring. Even though I had sworn not to race for the year, I got an itch. So then I figured: the reason I’m not racing is not so I won’t get a marathon experience in Europe, but rather so that I won’t have to miss anything fun in order to train. And here we come to the loophole – I could run a marathon as long as I didn’t train. This is creative problem solving at its best.

Then to find the right marathon. I’d grown to love Finland and wanted to find something domestic so I could have a Finnish race experience. As I searched the possibilities, one jumped out as a clear winner: The Santa Claus Marathon. To this day I still don’t know if this is the official or unofficial name of the race, but that’s what everybody called it. The race takes place in Rovaniemi, on the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland which, for those of you who don’t know, is the birthplace (or home, I don’t really know) of Santa. Seriously, that’s what Finns believe. We who hail from outside of Finland know this to be laughably untrue. Even we Jews know that Santa and Mrs. Claus incontrovertibly live at the north pole in a bunker filled with elves, reindeer and wooden toys.

I found the race in the first week of June, which allowed for exactly one week of training. Three runs later, capped by a slow 13 miler, I was onto the taper. Thus was I ready to take on the world (or to get a cramp and bow out after 6 miles).

Taking advantage of the endless daylight of the Finnish summer at the Arctic Circle, the race started at 8:00 PM, as many Nordic marathons do. I toed the line, a bit nervous, along with 100 other dedicated or crazy runners who had travelled far distances for the singular glory of having Santa fire the starter pistol. The race starts exactly on top of the arctic circle at a place called Santa’s Village, which is a big tourist attraction. The first mile runs around and, indeed, through Santa’s workshop, which is a pretty novel thing. It’s a bit like running through an underground Christmas themed Disneyland, so that was a new experience. After that, you get some nature and pretty lake views, but the course basically winds through mostly abandoned streets and neighborhoods over the next 25.2 miles. Despite some great spirit and comradery from this obviously dedicated group of runners, the spectators reflected the small size of the race. If you ever need a bunch of spectators to edge you on, it’s when you’ve done the patented David 1 week training program.At the finish

The first 10 miles went pretty smoothly. I ran slowly, but without issue. Soon thereafter I got the first signs that things were starting to go south. You know how you get that one muscle twinge that’s not so bad, but indicates that you’re not getting off scott free? I got that around mile 11. I gutted out a few more miles at a 9:30 pace, then finally got the good idea to start a run walk. As these things tend to, I started out at a 10 on 2 off, then slowed to a 10:4, then an 8:4, then a who-knows-what. I was just trying to move forward in any way possible – relentless forward progress as they say. Sometimes this was running, more often it wasn’t. The good news is that there were sparse, but friendly runners around and I knew that I had nobody else to blame but myself. This was all my doing. It’s odd, but that does make one feel better.

One thing nobody tells you about the northern summers is that the mosquitoes are more aptly compared to birds than bugs. So while I’m gimping along at a crawl, the mosquitoes are feasting for long, long hours. At least they did motivate me to move a bit more quickly.

One of my favorite memories of this run – or of any run actually – was the final mile and the post-race festivities. At the end of the race you enter the downtown area which is filled with bars. In the summer months the folks of cold countries try to fit 12 months of festivities into the 2-3 months that are reasonably not freezing. In a place like Rovaniemi this goal is taken to an extreme. So  at midnight, as I’m struggling through the last 300 yards on the main street through the center of Rovaniemi’s nightlife, there are hundreds of inebriated, partying Finns drinking and cheering all along either side of the course.  I have to say that I was in no shape to run, but I didn’t want to disappoint the party goers so instead I got on my horse and galloped.  Spectator motivation at its best.photo

Finishing at midnight (it took me 4:30, so I actually finished at 12:30) in the blazing Finnish sun was a pretty serene event. The medal is a thick chunk of wood emblazoned with a reindeer – one of my absolute favorites. Rather than going home to shower after the race I made a ninety degree right turn and joined the revelers in the bar. I’ve got to say that joining hundreds of rowdy, partying Finns at the finish line of a 100 person race (101 if you count Santa Claus) and partying the night away covered in sweat was a pretty cool way to celebrate my slowest, most painful race ever!

Running resources and reads

There are so many great resources and blogs out there that adding one more to the mix (mine) seems pretty silly. Regardless, I’ve done it and if you’re reading this, then at least I may be able to turn you on to some great resources and fun blogs out there.

Resources:

Marathon Guide

http://Marathonguide.com/

Their race calendar and user commentary are basically the (marathon) industry standard and their map is soooo much fun to play around with. Whenever I’m looking for a race at a certain time of year the first thing I do is head to this site, narrow down my options, then go to the racer reviews to see what’s good.

Map My Run

http://Mapmyrun.com/

One of those sites that is just so awesome that every time I use it I think back to the days before science and apps and GPS satellites made magic possible. I get that in the age of Google maps it’s not such a revelation any more, but seriously – I can find the exact distance of any run with just a couple of clicks on the map – to top it off, it follows logical road routes. Don’t be so jaded folks, the world is an astonishing place.

Hal Higdon marathon training programs

http://www.halhigdon.com/training/51142/Marathon-Advanced-2-Training-Program

I don’t know if Hal Hidgon’s programs are the gold standard, but they’re certainly the most frequently used and are time and mile tested. I’ve followed a slightly modified Advanced 2 training previously. In my opinion it’s a bit light in mileage and maybe a bit slow in some of the speed work, but overall a great place to start.

Ultra training programs

http://fellrnr.com/wiki/Ultramarathon_Training_Plans

While marathon training programs are becoming a dime a dozen, good ultra training programs are both rarer and harder to separate from some of the more mediocre stuff. This is a good overview of several programs to let you get your feet under you and start to think about what works for you. Many of these are way too intense for me, but then again I’m kind of fragile.

Ultrarunning’s race calendars

http://calendar.ultrarunning.com/

If you run ultras or even think about running ultras, you should subscribe to Ultrarunning magazine. These people dedicate a ton of time to covering a niche sport that will almost certainly make them no money ever. If you must, think of it as a donation. This link is to their race calendar, which is a super helpful resource.

Reads:

Sabrina Little’s blog

http://notallergictoadventure.blogspot.com/

Sabrina is an awesome runner and a really fun writer. She mostly focuses on excellent race logs, with just enough of the personal stuff thrown in to make it more broadly interesting. My only complaint is that she doesn’t update enough…come on Sabrina, your public is impatient.

Sweaty Emily

http://www.sweatonceaday.com/

Emily loves running and beer and apparently, sweating. The first two make a pretty great combination and her writing reflects what a fun person she must be. I also like her because she’s a long-time marathoner who’s just moving up to ultras and she’s very fast, but not elite, so her stuff is relatable.

Competitor.com

http://running.competitor.com/

A great, but mostly under the radar site, this is more an on-line magazine than a blog. It tends to have somewhat more serious articles with more serious runners in mind. Let’s just say that it eschews some of the fluffier material that some more mainstream offerings focus on. It relies on galleries (requiring lots of clicking) more than I appreciate, but I guess it’s hard to complain given the amount of high quality content available for free.

Ultra Runner Joe

http://ultrarunnerjoe.com/

This is a gear heavy site, with lots of very helpful product reviews. If you’re interested in a new piece of gear he’s probably got a thorough description for you. I found this site when I was looking for the dirt on some new Hoka’s and of course he had the most informative post out there.

New Orleans, New Training: The three day per week marathon training plan

Every boring story about regimented training programs starts with a boring story about how you decided to run the race in the first place. Here is mine:

In the weeks following the Virginia 24 Hour Run for Cancer I had pretty awful left knee pain and cut my running back pretty significantly. In the next months I was running with little purpose or direction, just putting in as many miles as I was inclined to at whatever pace felt comfortable, with little goal other than to enjoy myself and stay in some type of shape. One Saturday I went out for a run: the weather was great, I felt light on my feet and a random 4 miler stretched into a brisk 12. By the time I returned home I was already contemplating what race I’d run. I knew I’d need about 5 months to get into shape, so my first stop was naturally Marathon Guide’s race calendar. What began as an idle investigation quickly turned into steadfast resolve as I realized the timing was perfect to train for the New Orleans Mardi Gras Marathon. Sure, it’s probably a great marathon, but more importantly, Awesome Wife Kelly and I love New Orleans and I had a hunch I could convince my running partner, Lindsey, into joining.

Me: Lindsey, feel like running a marathon any time soon?

Lindsey: Well, I just had my baby and I haven’t really been running.

Me: When has that stopped you before?

Lindsey: But this is different, I’m really out of shape. I HAD A BABY.

Me: But it’s in New Orleans. Do you know how much Jambalaya we could eat? And oysters to recover after the race?

Lindsey: I just signed up as you were finishing that sentence.

I think more people would run marathons if they knew it would give them an excuse to binge at Acme Oyster House afterwards.

My strategy for training for the Virginia 24 Hour Run for Cancer had been lots and lots of slow miles, consuming tons of hours and resulting in varied and sundry injuries. So that was bad.

Years ago I had read a Runners World article about a three day / week training plan that promised fewer injuries, lower time demands and faster race times.  — WORK FROM HOME, 20 HOURS PER WEEK, $500,000 PER YEAR!!! — Obviously I was skeptical, but I looked up the article just to check it out. I mean, who doesn’t like to Get Rich Quick?

A quick and insufficient summary of the two very good articles referenced above: Something called the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST) – I wonder if they made up the Furman guy just so it would be FIRST instead of PIRST as you’d expect Bill Pierce’s institute to be named – came up with this idea of three high impact runs per week. The governing principle is that every run has to have a purpose – each week you run long (build endurance), tempo (increase lactate threshold running pace) and speed (faster leg speed). No long, slow miles whose purpose is, at best, poorly understood.

They have lots of serious sounding research apparently backed by actual real life results of people running fast and not getting injured. So I thought to myself:

1) I want to run fast

2) I want to not get injured

3) I want to spend less time running slowly on a treadmill

So there you have it.

So I’m just about finished with the program, as this is my last week before taper. Here are my thoughts to date:

Running is Fun

If running is ice cream, then running on this program is like only ever eating Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked (indisputably the world’s perfect ice cream and an integral part of any marathon training dietary regiment).

I run three days a week and each run kicks ass. On Monday night I excitedly look at the training log to see what intervals I’ll be doing on Tuesday. 12×400. Awesome, that means I’ll have to run as hard as I can 12 times! 4×1600. Sweet, a blend of speed and endurance, picking up the pace on the 4th lap of each mile to push my split time down further and further. On Wednesday nights I eagerly look to see how long the tempo run is. Ironically the shorter runs are harder, as you have to push much faster to make them seem worthwhile. The weekend long runs are more standard, but long runs are always fun and these are paced a bit more aggressively than the typical long training run.

Long story short: I’ve been more or less exhausted after every run I’ve done in the past three months. That’s a pretty awesome thing to say. You feel like they are all worthwhile and not in the “I’m building a base” kind of way but in the “I feel a raging animal deep down inside me is about to come out and do something awful in New Orleans in January” kind of way. And that’s fun.

Doing Other Stuff is Boring

I get that you don’t all live in New York and belong to the terrible Dolphin Gym (seriously, it’s too awful to even link to here. I’ll tell you about it some other time). For you fortunate folks, you can probably find a pool or even better, the ocean, or some really cool cross fit class where you get to lift really heavy every-day like objects. You probably enjoy the 2-3 hard cross training sessions you do each week. But me, I’m mostly stuck with the elliptical, which both boring AND dull. And at the Dolphin Gym angry gym employees poke you with a sharp stick on every third step, so the elliptical is not only boring AND dull, but boring AND dull AND painful. Lest you think I don’t make the best of a bad situation, I have a little game to keep it interesting: I do 30 minutes on the elliptical and keep score of my success by seeing how many calories I can burn during that time. I started off with about 450 calories and just maxed out at 512 – a 14% improvement! So yea, it’s boring but you can still see progress, it should be helping me achieve my goals and it’s low impact.

You Get Fast

My splits have improved significantly over the course of the training. Keep in mind, I’m not particularly fast, but my last 12×400 was done at a 6:00 minute pace for the 12 repeats. That’s slower than warm-up speed for a competitive marathoner, but it’s Ludicrous Speed for me.

Now, predicting race results is like the hardest thing you can possibly do, but there are two common methodologies.

The first is the Yasso 800s, which says do a bunch of 800s and however long it takes you to run the repeats, that’s how long it will take you to run the marathon. So a 6:10 pace for repeats means you spent 3:05 on each, which implies a 3:05 marathon.

The second doesn’t have a name that I know of (I’m sure it does and I’m sorry to Mr. Inventor for not crediting him here). The idea here is that you take the fastest 26 miles you’ve run in any given week and that’s as fast as you can expect to run the marathon.

Now if these two methodologies seem random and bizarre, I agree. But it’s like they say: The game is crooked but it’s the only game in town.

Based on these, I should expect to run a 3:05-3:10 marathon, significantly better than my PR of 3:19.

I Have No Idea What Will Happen

I’ve never gone into a marathon with so little mileage behind me. My peak mileage will be 32 + 2 cross-training sessions. That is light. Will the pace predictors hold up? Will the increased speed work make a 7:30 pace in the race seem leisurely? I honestly have no idea. I’m inclined to just go balls to the wall, push my pace and if a bunch of early 7:30s means I crash and burn at mile 18, well at least I went out swinging for the fences.

I will keep you posted.

Update:

Just did my final training run before the taper. 21 miles by the East River on a glorious 45 degree day with almost no wind. Great conditions, but I was dealing with a persistently sore hamstring. Nothing serious, but the kind of thing you expect towards the end of a typical training program. The run was pretty mediocre, clocking in just south of an 8:10 pace. Didn’t kill me, but also didn’t inspire much hope of a 7:30 pace over 26 miles. Let’s hope the taper, adrenaline, etc. make the difference.