This was the first time I attempted to run marathons close together. I ran in Tampa 3 weeks prior to this one. I found that the timing was just about perfect. I took about a week off after Tampa, and then just settled into my usual taper.
Albany was within driving distance from Tampa, where I was doing my fellowship. I got off work on Friday and was able to make it in time for packet pick up. I thought it was kind of funny that a candy bar was the official sponsor. That's one way to carbo load, I guess. The marathon was on Saturday. I was in the best shape I had been in for a while. I was nursing a calf strain, but nothing too severe. I put a tight ACE wrap on it and I was good to go.
I was trying for 4 hours on this one. I started out running a little bit under the pace I needed to maintain. I decided to try an unusual strategy. Most experts suggest maintaining a steady pace or trying for "negative splits." I reasoned that if I could run as many miles as possible just under my needed mile split times, that I could hold on at the end.
The strategy worked well. I probably ran the first 16 or 17 miles an average of 15 seconds or so per mile faster than I needed to. My pace slowed to goal pace for a few miles and somewhat slower for a few miles after that. I had built a cushion and was able to coast to a sub 4 hour time. I was really pleased, because I hadn't run a sub 4 hr marathon since medical school. I could have probably run a little faster, but the course was pretty hilly.
I was happy with my time. I went back to the hotel and hopped in an ice bath for 20 minutes. After a quick shower, I was on the road back to Tampa, with #15 in the books.