When you can see the Flat Irons over Boulder, indeed the Indian Peaks way back there, you know the air quality is safe to run in. I’ve learned to gage the index by looking at the foothills. When in doubt, I query Alexa before stepping out the door. I should be painting the trim on my carriage house, but with just five more weeks before the Boulder Marathon, I’m taking advantage of the three-day weekend to train.

I began Saturday running the East Boulder Trail. It’s one of my favorites, a trail I’ve been running for over thirty years. It gives me a good sense of my fitness level. I wasn’t fully recovered from a late afternoon run on Friday, but I ran well enough.

I ran alongside a twenty-something year-old woman at the turn-around for about a mile. She was running the pace I need to learn, around an eleven-minute pace, and we chatted for a bit. Since Karen gave me her Apple watch, I’ve started recording my runs and I now know I can run a 9.5 minute pace for up to ten miles. But running that fast in a marathon would lead me to a DNF. I should have kept running with her but she began to slow down from a 10:50 to an 11:10 pace, and I struggled to run that slow. Muscles have memory and mine remember running fast. I passed her to run what my legs were comfortable running, but wish now I’d kept with her. If I’m honest, I probably need to learn to run a twelve minute pace.

Check out the marathon course map. The northern loop above the Boulder Res is what runners refer to as the Boulder Backroads. I’m gonna run them tomorrow. I’ll trace the course which starts on the south side of the Boulder Res and heads north, returning to the start before heading into Boulder to finish downtown. If I’m successful, I’ll run sixteen miles. That’ll be a long run for me. I’ll use it to train slow running and to test my sports drinks and gels. If I can run sixteen miles tomorrow, I’ll gain some confidence at completing twenty-six miles five weeks from now.

By the way, I dropped my diet plan after last week’s blog. I’m not known for my patience and four friggin’ weeks without losing a single pound was more than I was willing to invest. And guess what, I lost two pounds this week. I don’t see myself getting below 190 now, with only five weeks to go, but I’m changing my strategy. Instead of bringing my weight to the run, I’m going to bring the run to my weight. I feel like the calisthenics I’ve been performing for the last five weeks have firmed my body up enough to enable me to run with this weight, assuming I run slow enough. I think I’ll be able to run an eleven to twelve minute pace at this weight, and finish that marathon under the 13.5 minute cut-off threshold. The goal this weekend is to learn to run that pace.