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The final two weeks

Ah, it seemed like just yesterday when there was plenty of time to prepare for the ING Miami Half Marathon. It was light years away.

And now, it's T-minus 13 days.

At this point, it's more an observation in how quickly time passes rather than any sense of panic. Because after this weekend's long run, I feel ready to tackle the 13.1 mile tour of downtown Miami and South Beach.

This week's long run was another two-hour endeavor. While the temperatures and the roads were just fine for outdoor running, I kept my workout on a treadmill. I wanted to be able to control my pace. I wanted the heat and humidity of the gym. And I wanted to mentally challenge myself.

I took the lessons learned from last week's long treadmill run and applied them to this one. Focused on my workout, I let go of the obsession of trying to hit my prescribed workout paces perfectly. Instead, I tried to simulate a road workout, where my speed would vary greatly without me even realizing it. During tempo intervals I played with the speed button on the treadmill, paying close attention to the 40 second countdown intervals on the machine's dashboard. I picked a base pace -- quick but still something I could sustain -- and increased my pace every 40 seconds, falling back for a 40 second recovery to my base pace. My tempo intervals were 10 minutes long and the 40-second game made that time fly by.

At the end of my run I had covered just about the same distance as last week. Only this time I felt so much better. The quality of the run was amazingly good. It was hard and challenging, but I felt confident, even in the last half hour. I straddled the treadmill only twice taking a pair of 1-minute "walk breaks" which, to me, simulated how I approach water stops in a race anyway.

More important than the actual pace and distance was how good I felt. I didn't breeze through the workout physically. Mentally I had to challenge myself, talk myself up that I could do that final 10 minutes of intervals and finish off the workout at my fastest pace. But while there were difficult parts to get through, there was a decided absence of struggle. That made all the difference in my attitude before, during and after.

My volume of workouts begins to decrease this week as I slide into taper during race week.

And I have never felt more ready for a taper to begin.

--- Amy Moritz
www.twitter.com/amymoritz
For video of Sunday's long run, visit www.amymoritz.wordpress.com

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