I'm home from PA, I'm still happy with my day yesterday, but I'm curious. Why did I have a day so different than what I expected?
My last long run, 3 weeks out, indicated a totally different result. I think. I did an easy 18 that day and then a final 6 at 7:50 pace. I was working in those last 6, but I wasn't all out. Yesterday, the first 6 miles were slower and tougher than those last 6 a few weeks ago.
My speed has improved steadily all fall. My 800 meter times were right where I wanted them to be. I didn't get sick during my taper, I thought I tapered reasonably well, and I felt strong all last week while doing my last few short runs. I thought my long runs were sufficient, with a 20, 3x22, and a 24. I don't think that I overrated my fitness level.
It's possible that I simply need a longer training period focused on the marathon if I'm going to run well there. I really only trained specifically for this race for about 15 weeks. When I ran my PR 13 years ago, I focused on one race for 6 months. I do the same for key ultras. So, just barely half that time may be woefully insufficient to build enough speed and endurance for a fast marathon.
Maybe my total training miles were too low; I ran fewer total miles than in most previous marathon training cycles.
However, neither of those options explains why the FIRST 6 miles were so tough yesterday. I honestly have no idea why the race was hard right from the start. I'll probably never know.
Today, I'm still glad I stuck it out and finished the race. Next June, at Western States, the experience of sticking it out on a tough day will be something I can draw upon when the day gets tough.
Starting today, I'm taking my first complete rest week in a long, long time. Next week, I'll gradually return to working out, but I won't train hard again until the first of the year. Well, I may lift hard, but I won't run hard or long. If the weather cooperates, by the 22nd of this month, I'll be spending my weekends skiing rather than running.