First, thanks for the comments (directly and indirectly) regarding the marathon. I was disappointed with my time. I really wanted a sub-4. However, I'm over that. I'm really happy to have completed the marathon healthy! I also know I had a tough race. Just never felt myself and yet still finished with a time within my range. So, I am happy.
I also learned a few things:
(1) I need to run through my long runs (18 miles plus) without walk breaks. During the long runs, my running group ran a mile and then walked 30 seconds. I was okay with that routine because I was battling my knee injury and did not have much confidence that my knee would hold up through the training schedule. For the next marathon, I think for training purposes the last 1/3 of every long run (at least) I have to run it with no walk breaks (to the extent possible) and try to run that last 1/3 near marathon pace. I'll have to think about the details, but I think the walk breaks on the very long runs do not work for me because I need to get my body used to running for 18, 20 . . . 26.2 miles straight.
(2) My hill work and speed workouts were good, I think. Next time, I need to get in more tempo runs at marathon pace. Because of my knee injury I could not run for about 5 months before training so when I started training I took it very slowly and carefully. I don't think I pushed myself enough on the tempo runs at marathon pace.
(3) I need to learn to relax more in the marathon. I think because I knew I was fighting a cold and had horrible sleep the night before, I was real tense. I need to keep in mind to relax and run smoothly.
I'm so thankful that I was able to complete the marathon and beat my prior time by about 55 mins. I know that I can do better and I really look forward to my next race. Yet, when I started this training program I was very unsure whether my knee would hold up. Even though I had to tape my knee daily and run with a brace, it held up through the training and the marathon!
Part of me wants to go out and run another race right away. Yet, it has been over a year since my left knee has been pain free. I told myself I would take about a month off and hopefully it will heal completely. My physical therapist recommended that I take 6-8 weeks off (that's a long time). There is a turkey trot in San Jose that I really want to run. That would be about a month off. Thus, I am going to keep that race open and if my knee feels good, I'll run it (likely slowly). If my knee needs a couple more weeks then I'll pass.
For 2010, I want to run two marathons. The first one I'm considering is one of the following: Napa, Big Sur, San Diego, or Seattle. Which one will depend on my knee and whether I can start running in late November. The second marathon will either be Chicago, DC or the SV marathon.
As far as exercise during this time off from running, I plan to bike and use the elliptical. I went for a bike ride on Sat. and jumped on the elliptical on Sunday. Not the same enjoyment as running. I also want to do weight training and maybe try Yoga. I would love to play basketball, but that would not give my knee a break. Whatever I do . . . I'll be counting the days until I start running again.
BTW: we put together the jogging stroller for the baby-to-come this weekend. Still have two months until she is due, but can't wait to take her running.
Also, Jake is doing great. We dressed him up a devil for Halloween.