Official marathon training

Since I was doing so many half marathons this summer, I didn’t actually start training for my marathon until mid-September. I was going to start increasing my mileage with the Great Smoky Mountain race, but ended up pushing it off another week. 

For this training cycle, I was most concerned about how to train for the super flat Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah marathon course. Looking at the elevation profile, you would think this course has major hills, but if you look closely, the course maxes out at less than 60′. Given all of that, I decided to focus my training runs on the greenway that is closest to my house since I could easily add mileage to extend the 12 miles I actually run on the greenway. 

My first training run was an 18-miler and I continued my walk/run pattern (5 minutes running, 1 minute walking) and mostly just ran by feel, not worrying about my time. I ended up with an average pace of 11:00. My goal for the marathon was to break 5 hours (11:27 pace), so this was definitely a surprise to be able to run it this fast. 
My second training run was a 20-mile run, just a week later and I ran virtually the same course, though I added some hills in the beginning, running through my own neighborhood. This run was much harder and I averaged about a 12:30 pace. I had a lot of technical issues with this run trying to get my watch to work correctly and then switching to my phone app instead, but in general it was just a much harder run than the week before. I think the lesson I learned from this one was that I need at least a week in between my long runs in order to fully recover.  
The good news about the 18 and 20 milers being back-to back is that I was able to get back onto my official plan and space out my remaining long runs with shorter runs in between. On October 3, I did a short 10-mile run on the same flat course again and managed a 10:54 pace. 

The weekend after that, I actually got to do a training run with my friend Beth who was going to be doing the marathon with me. She was in an official training group on Saturdays, so we only managed a couple of runs together. For this run, we were doing the Thunder Road first half preview run and added a few extra miles onto it to get a full 17 in. It was really nice to finally have people to run with and the group of ladies I ran with were awesome! We kept up a 12:00 pace with all the fun hills that Thunder Road has to offer. 
Next up is my last long training run of this cycle combined with my third running of the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon. 

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