A good tuneup

"The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work." – Oprah Winfrey

The half marathon in Fergus Falls today proved to be a good tuneup – with some hills and chance to run hard – before Grandma’s Marathon. By this time 2 weeks from now, I’m hoping to be drinking a beer after a strong marathon performance.

Most importantly, the half marathon proved the chiropractic work yesterday worked wonders on my ailing knee. As the doc said, things didn’t appear to be "tracking" right – with my joints essentially jammed up and unable to use full range of motion. But I’d say that my knee was at 95 percent today and racing helped me figure a few things out.

During most of the race, my knee gave me very little trouble, but there were a few twinges. Each time I felt them, I focused on running more on my fore foot – and the pain went away. My guess is that during a few long runs in the past few weeks, my form turned sloppy and I was running more on my heels – and putting more pressure on my hips and ankles. In turn, everything ended up misaligned and prompted some grinding in my knee.

While there was no personal record for me in today’s half marathon, I didn’t expect one. The course was hilly – but not as bad as I feared. Once I addressed some stomach cramps by stopping at mile 7, I really felt strong. I timed the stop – which cost me 2 1/2 minutes in my 1:41:52 finishing time – but I ended up running a negative split when you subract the lost time. Minus the mid-race issues, the time wasn’t far off my personal record, which was run on an easier course last fall in Detroit Lakes. Today I felt very strong the last 3 miles, stronger than the final 3 miles in any of my previous half marathons, which should give me the confidence I need heading into the marathon. In the next 2 weeks, I’ll key on a few of important workouts sprinkled into my daily runs to fine tune my fitness for the race.

Over the course of the next month, I’ll also look at overhauling my marathon training. My current program is good, but I’m wondering if it has taken me as far as it can. My hope is to run Grandma’s faster than last month’s Fargo Marathon, but I’m not sure it is possible. I’ll use a different pacing strategy and see what happens. And then a revamped training cycle will carry me to the Twin Cities Marathon, about 4 months away.

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