The past 2 years I trained for Chicago using different methods. I first used the Hanson Marathon Method in 2013 and failed miserably at keeping up with the plan and fell short of my goal. In 2014 I tried a different approach and basically came up with my own plan roughly following the weekly mileage guidelines of Higdon intermediate while sprinkling in speed workouts from Hanson and Yasso. I did meet my initial goal last year, but some gastro-intestinal distress left me short of my full potential. I've run 6 more marathons since Chicago without following a training plan at all, basically just maintaining fitness in between and have managed to excel and get faster.
This year I decided to return to using a defined plan. I chose the Pfitzinger 18/70 plan as something that will challenge me and hopefully take me to the next level. The plan is 18 weeks long and peaks at 70 miles in a week. The mileage from the plan would be 400 more miles than during my training cycle last year. I'm hoping the additional mileage will help my body adapt and stay strong through the whole race in addition to preparing me for the rigors of a 50 mile run.
So what have I done so far? I didn't quite follow the plan exactly the first 2 weeks. I was starting just 3 weeks after my last marathon so I did a reverse taper. Week 1 wound up being 43 miles instead of the planned 53. Week 2 was 54 instead of a planned 56, which is actually damn impressive given that I did this in spite of running 17.5 miles entirely too fast during Ragnar. Week 3 I was finally in sync with training and ran 58 miles.
The current week has been a bit different. I changed my routine and am now starting to run before work. It is definitely much cooler and peaceful running 14 miles on a Tuesday morning. Yes, I ran that much on Tuesday and it was only my mid-week medium long run. I still need to do a long run of 18 on Sunday. The plan is not for the timid. I won't drop below 55 miles until I taper. If you're curious to see what the schedule looks like, someone made a calendar that is just a week off from my plan. http://www.negativesplits.net/files/longbeach09.pdf
So what is my goal for Twin Cities? That's hard to say at this point. I seem to make improvements by leaps and bounds. My last 2 marathons both featured blazing fast starts followed by 2nd half fades. With smarter pacing I would likely be somewhere between 3:20 and 3:25. I would love to make the improvement to BQ, but that would likely require a time around 3:03 for my age group. I'm not sure if I can make that jump in this time frame, but I'll definitely train hard and smart and see what happens. I need to stay healthy to make it through all my fall marathons.