Only three days to go before my next race, the 2011 Cebu City Marathon, and I'm wracking my brain over two critical details that could make or break me during my fifth mary. It's kind of annoying, really, because I should already have established a set routine by now. I am no longer a marathon newbie, and, as a matter of fact, I already have certain well-formed habits that have carried me through four injury-free marathon finishes. But with only about a hundred hours before my next full, I find myself in uncharted territory because I will be running my first ultramarathon less than six days after I complete a full marathon. After Cebu on 9 January, I will be doing the Bataan Death March Test Run 50k on January 15. BDM TR 50 will trace the first half of the BDM 102 route, spanning 50 kilometers from Km 0 in Mariveles to Abucay, Bataan.
Here are my issues:
First - Do I race Cebu, or do I run at picture-taking pace and conserve my legs for the following weekend's ultra? During last week's Rizal Day Run, I sought Bald Runner's advice on how I should tackle Cebu. Being an ultramarathon virgin, I am totally clueless on how I should handle the two races given the relatively short time interval. BR's advice was simple and made a lot of sense: Take it easy in Cebu and have just enough juice to finish BDM TR 50. He said the Cebu route is relatively easy, so he doesn't foresee that I would need to push myself all that much. Logical and uncomplicated approach --- and then good ol' BR threw in the monkey wrench. I did't know if he was kidding, but he said the magic words: If you can improve your marathon PR by five to ten minutes, that should be fine.
Oh boy, here goes nothing. My original plan - my goal - was really to chase a 4:45 finish in Cebu. This would be an improvement of almost 11 minutes over my 4:56 finish in Singapore last month. And I know in my heart that it is very much feasible, as I did 35 kilometers in 3:47 at the Rizal Day Run just last week. I mulled this over while I was doing my easy run a while ago, and I think I already have my answer: I'll go for 4:45 in Cebu, recover during the five-day lull (i.e., do a single 5k recovery run two days after Cebu, as well as regular stretching routines), and then run BDM TR 50 at a relaxed pace. This plan is somewhat consistent with another nugget I picked up from one of BR's older posts.
Second - What shoes should I wear? It's almost absurd that I am asking this question just days before my fifth marathon. Again, I have BR to thank for my dilemma. In this post, he noted that a lot of the participants in the Soochow 24-Hour Endurance Run were wearing stability shoes and/or shoes that provide cushioning. This got me thinking- again. For my first three marathons, I ran in my recently-retired adidas Adizero Tempo. For the fourth (my PR marathon), I wore the adidas Adizero Mana. Both the Tempo and the Mana are lightweight stability shoes (I overpronate) - almost minimalist and very close to the ground, ergo, reduced stability and cushioning. However, because I will be doing a marathon (at my target marathon race pace of 6:20-6:30 mins/km) and an ultramarathon only five days apart, I think I will do my body a huge favor and wear full-on stability trainers for both races. I would have loved to run these two events in my adidas Supernova Sequence, but the poor soles (pun intended, as always) have already breathed their last breath. And so, a blast from the past (i.e., my shoe cabinet) shows up and saves the day. Back from the grave (and covered in dust and cobwebs!) came my Nike Zoom Structure Triax 12 - my very first stability trainers that I ditched over a year ago after I became an Adi guy. I have been doing a lot of training runs in them lately, and I ran the Rizal Day Run in them at my target marathon race pace last week. Felt great after the Rizal Day Run (35k @ 6:30 pace), thanks no doubt in large part to the Triax. During my 10k training run on a tartan track a while ago, I ran in the Adizero Mana just so I'd have some basis for comparison. Suffice it to say that I'm now kicking myself for not having given the Triax a chance in any of my previous marathons.
And so --- this, too, is almost settled. I will go with the Triax for Cebu and for BDM TR50. And maybe even for Condura and BDM TR 52 next month. And maybe even for BDM 102 in March! And then the Triax can go out in style.
Can't wait to hit the streets of the Queen City of the South. Taper week sucks big time.