I've had weeks of 74, 77 and 72 miles the last 3 with a few big strength workouts. Yesterday I did 18.5 miles with 3 x 2 miles at MP (although they came out a bit faster) around the fields at Ipswich River Park. The last 2 mile interval was in 12:19.5 but I split it 6:14, 6:06 and was getting stronger as the workout went along. I'm getting that indestructible feeling I get when marathon training starts to really roll.
I feel the last 3 weeks I've made huge strides in strength and endurance. After working more on the speed end of the spectrum for the first half of the summer and running a decent 5k (17:22) and 4 mi (22:53), not to mention my big 5 mile showdown with Thunder, I took 2 weeks down not really on purpose before getting serious about marathon training with these last 3 weeks. In hindsight it was a perfect combination. I think it takes 3 weeks of something to make a difference and I'm feeling the difference now. And I think the 2 down weeks in late-July and early-August, one of which was a vacation week, were perfectly timed to let some little niggles heal and let my legs recharge. I love it when the training starts to come together. I feel like I could run through a brick wall right now, the fall-like weather probably helps.
Right now I think I'll actually get this sub 17 thing this year. I have a couple target races picked out for early November, after a quick recovery from Baystate on Oct 18th. But it would not shock me if it happened before then...I'm going to leave myself open to the possibility of a breakthrough between now and then. The funny thing is even though I'm allegedly training for Baystate I spend a lot more time thinking about the 5k than the marathon.
The 5k and then some rinky-dink podunk marathon in Tennessee in November that I'm not even signed up for. We'll see.
Keep running my friends.