Training Purgatory Ends; the Fun is Just Getting Started.

Blah, blah, insert lame excuses about not writing, blah.

Here’s most of an email I just sent my coach:

Before we get started with the organized chaos of this marathon training cycle, I thought I’d give you more of the specifics of what I’ve done over the last couple of months. I know you have the few track workout details and the general idea, but I like making lists.

4/30-5/6  : 70mi, 15 long
5/7-5/13  : 81mi, 16 long
5/14-5/20: 80mi, 16 long
5/21-5/27: 69mi, 18 long ~8:30 pace
5/28-6/3  : 90mi (in singles), 18 long
6/4-6/10  : 90mi (again in singles), 18 long slow and tired
6/11-6/17: 70mi (added doubles x3), no real long run
6/18-6/24: 67mi, 15 long, travel to CA
6/25-7/1  : 74mi, 20 long ~8:20 pace
7/2-7/8    : 70mi, 16 long (almost died; I love summer), crap 5k
7/9-7/15  : 85mi, 16 long (not dead!)
I’ve run 1644mi total this year so far (~8.5/day), and I’m feeling good about my mileage and it’s pretty easy to be in the 80s for me with a few double days right now. Of course I always wish I’d run more/better but when I make myself step back and look at the progress since 2015 training especially, I can almost convince myself that I’m getting somewhere.
Aside from that one long run where I nearly keeled over from my own stupidity (dehydrated/slightly hungover/started too late in the morning), I’m really pleased with how I’ve felt past the 2 1/2 hr mark. I’d like to suggest we do a couple 22-24 milers this cycle?
I know there’s a lot of supplemental stuff I need to be doing, and I hate to make you build a day-to-day schedule, but I probably need it to start with until I make the “stuff” into a habit. We have another month until my school schedule changes things, but until then I get to pretend I’m an elite, so we might as well take advantage of all this time now while we’ve got it.
Tomorrow is the start of my 16 week training cycle. I’m terrified and excited

Training Purgatory Weeks 4&5

Well well well, just when you thought I’d already quit blogging, I make a comeback! Ok, you probably didn’t even notice I missed a week, but I won’t hold it against you.

Since I procrastinated so long on writing up the week of May 21-27, I figured I would just embrace the laziness and lump the last two weeks together. This is actually a decent moment to remember that training doesn’t happen in a vacuum. While we often tend to think only in terms of weekly mileage, it’s the larger picture that gets us to our running goals. The months on months and years on years of training are more important than any one long run or big week. In fact, someone asked me what I’d done to have recently gotten so much better from my previously lackluster results, and my response was that I finally started taking training seriously…in 2014. Yup, my breakthrough in the half marathon earlier this year was built on the consistent mileage and workouts I began running three years ago (and certainly even the sporadic training before then helped a little). That said, there’s still lots of running to do, and here’s what the last couple of base building weeks looked like:

Sun 5/21: 0 miles! I hadn’t had a day off in about a month, the weather was awful, and I planned this as a down week anyway.

Mon 5/22: 13 miles…hmm, I feel refreshed from the off day, so perhaps this week won’t be as down as I expected?

Tue 5/23: 10 miles with a relaxed fartlek on the back half.

Wed 5/24: 10 miles again, but easy peasy this time.

Thu 5/25: 18 miles. Errr, in my defense, the weather was absolutely beautiful with cool temps and lots of clouds. I couldn’t resist! I was extra naughty and even wore my GPS watch and looked at my pace. I kept it slower at 8:30ish on the first half. I may have gotten a little excited on the second half, but I felt good and didn’t go under 7:00s at least?

Fri 5/26: 10 SLOW. I actually felt fine from yesterday, but I knew I needed to slow my roll.

Sat 5/27: 8 only! It was hot, this was technically a down week, and I felt lazy.

Total: 69 miles. This balances out that odd 81 mile week two.

 

Sun 5/28: 13 miles. Time to crank it back up!

Mon 5/29: 12 miles. Oh yeah, I also lifted and did some drills. I have actually been doing a couple of days of weights these last two weeks, even though I forgot to mention​ it.

Tue 5/30: 13 miles total. Did 3 on my own, then met up with Hannah and we did another 10 with a little trip to the Greenville High track! We decided to do 12×200 with 200 jog. No timing the intervals allowed, but it was nice to open up the legs and move fast-ish.

Wed 5/31: 12 slow miles. I’m embarrassingly sore from squats on Monday combined with sprints on Tuesday. So maybe I haven’t been as consistent with the weights as I thought… My monthly ​total for May was 342 miles. Not bad!

Thu 6/1: 18 miles. It got a little toasty in the last couple of miles when I lost cloud and tree cover, but it wasn’t too bad. I resisted the urge to use my watch for this week’s long run, and I’m glad I did.

Fri 6/2: 10 miles. Felt decent, but of course I waited until it was stupid hot out to get going, but I survived.

Sat 6/3: 12 miles with a few pickups scattered in. Got out slightly earlier, mostly in an effort to avoid all the “weekend people” who descend upon my city. It’s not that bad, usually, but I’m so used to having Greenville mostly to myself during the week that it just grates on me. Plus there’s a whole rant about trail etiquette in me, but I’m preaching to the choir here, so I’ll refrain.

Total: 90!! In singles! I’m really not feeling too beat down, which is good because I’m planning on another big one next week. I do think I’ve hit my threshold for mileage in singles though. I aim to experiment with a few doubles next week and maybe get into triple digits, but I’m also conscious of the dangers in spiking mileage just for the sake of it. I feel like I got in a decent amount of quality for a base phase week and I’d much prefer to have 5-7 more weeks like this one rather than one huge mileage week that I have to come way down from to recover from. So we’ll see. Mostly I’m just pleased with how good I feel, which means I’m doing the right things as far as food/water/sleep goes and I’m excited to tackle another week!

Training Purgatory Week 3: Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch

And don’t count on timely blog posts from me, ever.

This week, that metaphor became literal as one of our hen’s hard work of sitting on a clutch of eggs was rewarded. We don’t have a rooster, so when the bird turned broody (for the un-chickened, that just means every now and then a hen will decide it’s time to incubate some eggs and be a mama) we quickly swapped out her unfertilized eggs with five fertilized eggs from my sister’s flock. Of the five eggs however, only three hatched out. Unfortunately, the last chick to hatch was obviously unwell and didn’t make it past the first day. That’s just the nature of…well, nature. We now have two healthy baby chicks running around as an adorable addition to the chicken party happening in our backyard. I spend an inordinate amount of time sitting outside and just watching them all run around and do chicken things. Not even a little sorry, because it’s so damn cute and funny!

Anyway, now that I’ve bored you with poultry-talk, let’s get to last week’s running, shall we? In actuality, the running stuff was significantly more boring than the chicks hatching, but that’s what you’re here for, so…

 

Sun  5/14: 10 miles. Like last week.

Mon 5/15: 13 miles. Also, like last week…are you sensing a theme here yet?

Tue  5/16: 10 miles with 2 sets of 8xhill repeats in Cleveland Park with Hannah. Then we went to trivia after and WON! Okay, fine, it was entirely due to the fact that my husband came with us and knew the final question to double our points. But still.

Wed 5/17: 13 miles.

Thu 5/18: 10 miles. I genuinely don’t remember a thing about these two days of running at all. I think that’s a good thing, actually. If I remembered too much about all these miles I’d probably realize how insane I am.

Fri 5/19: 16 miles. This run was a lot warmer than last week’s, but I still felt pretty decent. I’m not sure when I want to start stretching out my long runs, but I guess it’ll be about the same time I find the motivation to wake up early enough to not be out running in 88°F with 88% humidity. So, it might be a few more weeks.

Sat 5/20: 8 miles. Oh hey! The struggle bus! I wondered when it was going to come by. I was expecting some fatigue to catch up to me this week, as the third week of higher miles and hotter weather, so even though I mentally wanted to get in a few more miles to bump my weekly total I could tell I was pushing the limit a bit physically.

Total: 80 miles. One less than last week, and about four less than I was aiming for, but I can’t be mad at an 80 mile week, y’know? And I am happy to report that I lifted weights TWO times and did core work THREE times! It is almost enough!

Looking ahead to next week, methinks that my grand delusion of continuing to add miles indefinitely might not work. Turns out, my body does need a bit of a rest every now and then, despite my best recovery methods and trying to tell myself “it’s mostly slow miles anyway, it’s not that taxing”. Thus, I’m allowing for a bit of a cutback week, but just a little bit! The weather is getting more brutal (because duh, South Carolina in the summer), so I know I’m going to have to be more vigilant about hydration and continue my streak of paying zero attention to pace at all right now. All in all, I’m feeling good, healthy, motivated, and excited about the fitness gains, so that’s where I’ll leave you this week!

Happy Running!

Training Purgatory Week 2: One is the Loneliest Number

This week featured far too much “me-time” for this extrovert, an odd number of miles, and a fail. Let’s just get right to it, shall we?

Sun  5/7: 10 miles. Nothing fancy.

Mon 5/8: 13 miles. Trying to step up a few mid-week runs right now. My husband left for a couple of days to work in Columbia which isn’t my favorite. I’ve grown accustomed to [his] face, to paraphrase Prof. Higgins.

Tue  5/9: 10 miles with 10xhill repeats in Cleveland Park. Not enough repeats if I’m honest, and definitely not fast enough. All my training partners have abandoned me this week because they have lives and things to do like actual adult humans, so I was feeling very lonely.

Wed 5/10: 12 miles. It finally started to feel a bit like summer! Today, those extra two miles more than my “usual” 10 seemed extra long. I also got word today that the summer course I was scheduled to teach didn’t have enough enrollment so it was cancelled. This isn’t too surprising as summer enrollment is always low, but that does leave me without a guaranteed paycheck this summer and needing to be somewhere with human interaction. Super.

Thu 5/11: 10 miles super slow. I tested out a new pair of shoes (the Brooks Asteria–should I do some shoe reviews? what do the people want?) which may not have been a fair shake in the middle of a long mileage stretch, but I liked them well enough.

Fri 5/12: 16 miles out-and-back on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. For those of you local, from my house 8 miles out puts me a little bit past Furman Univ, but not quite to Travelers Rest. It’s a nice flat run which is great when I need to hit specific times, but means I probably ran too fast today (I didn’t time it; I know my exact turn around spot because I use the trail markers, and I’ve been trying to run by feel for the most part). I felt unexpectedly excellent and the weather was quite cool, so I rolled with it anyway.

Sat 5/13: 10 miles. SLOW. Unsurprisingly, I felt less-than-spry for today’s run. I wore the Brooks Asteria again though, and they felt even better today, so they are getting a permanent spot in the rotation.

Total: 81 miles. That extra (or missing, depending on your perspective) mile[s] to make this week odd is annoying! As you may have noticed, I didn’t mention any weight-training…because I failed. I did do some core work on Tuesday, but that hardly counts. I recognize the irony in saying that I was lazy during an 80-mile week, but that’s the truth of it. I have the time, I know I need to do it, but it’s so easy to just let the day slip by without going near the weights. I’m determined to do better next week!

Speaking of next week, aside from actually lifting weights and doing core, my goal is to keep the mileage in the 80s and stick to single runs for now. I’m not sure what else the week will bring, but I know I’m likely to be more fatigued from the mileage accumulation, so I am going to attempt to be more diligent about best recovery practices and hydration/nutrition. I’ll probably just end up eating another entire box of Cheez-its like I did this week, though.

Training Purgatory Week 1: The Blogining

I got the itch to write about running again and I was assured by a couple of my running partners that people do in fact, still read running blogs. So welcome! or welcome back! if you have been around for awhile.

While I’d love to bore you with an overly long recap of the last, um..year! of running since I last blogged, I’ll try to keep it brief: I spent most of 2016 working on my non-existent speed which netted a few short distance PRs. Ironically, even though my focus was on speed and I never ran a marathon (or any single run over 18 miles), I also had my highest ever year at just over 3000 miles! 2014/2015 were 2600-2700+ miles each, so I was really happy to bump things up a bit.

The beginning of 2017 brought a shift in focus. As a plodder, I was decidedly OVER IT with all the speed work. But, I also didn’t want to waste the little bit of quickness in my legs, so we opted to get ready for the Myrtle Beach half marathon on March 4th. I really only spent about 8 weeks getting specifically ready for this race, but it worked out well. I had something of a breakthrough, running 1:26:11 for 2nd place female. I was admittedly upset that I didn’t dip under 1:26, but this was the first half where I went sub-90 so I tried not to dwell on what I did poorly and focus on what this meant for my future running.

And that future is a fall marathon.

I’m a little nervous since I haven’t raced a marathon since Fall 2015, and two years suddenly seems like a LONG TIME. But it’s not like I took two years off. It’s been, marathon excepted, the best two running years of my life. And according to the various equivalency charts (which I know all have their faults), my 1:26 half puts me right at or under the 3:00 mark for the full. Eeeek! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet, though…

As for Training Purgatory, I couldn’t think of a better thing to call this in-between time. After the half in March, I was excited to use that race as a springboard into a couple of fast 10ks. My body and mind were not as on board as I thought. I struggled to recover from the race, unable to hit easy times on the track, and I was feeling a bit burnt out. On the upside, I think this shows I peaked really well for Myrtle Beach, but what goes up must come down, after all. After a little break in April, I put in a couple of easy running weeks while trying to decide what next. It was obvious to me that a fall marathon needed to be the overall goal. But it’s now the beginning of May, wayyyyyy too soon to start a proper marathon cycle. The idea of doing a spring/summer of 5-10ks again gives me an eye twitch, so that’s out. I don’t want to take any more of a break, and I’m excited to be running again, so the only choice I see is to go back to doing the thing I do best:

All. The. Miles. (For the next 8-10 weeks, until we narrow down exactly which full.)

Training Purgatory isn’t going to be just jogging around however; my fitness and goals are too evolved for that now. Sure sure, there will be plenty of days that aren’t much more than a jog, but that’s the nature of recovery miles. I’ll write more about these in specifics later since this post is getting obnoxiously long (I tried!), but I’ve revisited a lot of training literature in the last few weeks and what I’m doing is best categorized as a hybrid of Lydiard Base (which I’m convinced most people interpret incorrectly, and I’ll get into that), and the Summer of Malmo (don’t worry if you’ve never heard of that; it’s relatively obscure). It’s all pretty simple really: lots of miles, some of them fast, even more miles, add some strength work.

This first week was straightforward and unexciting, which is exactly what I hope for the rest of Training Purgatory:

Sun 4/30: 8 miles easy. *iron supplement*

Mon  5/1: AM- lifted upper body PM- 10 slowww miles

Tue  5/2: 10 miles with 10 sets of 2min on/1min off with Hannah and Porter. *iron*

Wed 5/3: 12 miles. Rolled out my left plantar fascia. It is unamused by the mileage jump.

Thu  5/4: 5 miles. A wee bit overzealous with the beer last night plus a rainy dreary day means I was a lump.

Fri  5/5: AM- Weighted core work while watching the first Diamond League meet of the year in Doha. PM- 15 miles with a little progression at the end. It was rainy and grey, and everyone else in Greenville was either at the Swamp Rabbit 5k, already drinking for Cinco de Mayo, or just avoiding the weather because I had the downtown SRT area and Cleveland Park almost entirely to myself at 6pm on a Friday. It was glorious. And I felt really good, so that helped. *iron*

Sat  5/6: 10 miles in the morning. Not an ideal turnaround from a long run the evening before, but I had plans, so early was the only time I had to get these miles in.

 

Total: 70 miles…time to do this again 8-10 times, but more! Also, kudos if you made it this far!

5Ks, 10Ks (and a little bit of FOMO)

When was my last post? Really, let me check…whoa, in January?! Well m’dears, let us catch up:

After a fairly lackluster start to the year, I continued my winter training in February to much mediocrity and way too many days off. My training group began track workouts again which helped keep things somewhat, well, on track, but my mileage was crap and so was the weather. I was also experiencing a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) by reading about everyone’s spring marathon training. I know that I need to have this season of shorter races, but I couldn’t help but miss the marathon build up.

March brought with it much better weather and my attitude improved immediately. I know, it’s such a runner cliche to complain about weather, but I try to limit my complaints to the 2 months that Greenville actually experiences winter. Anyway, despite my pathetic mileage in February, my fitness from the fall obviously hadn’t dropped too much because I ran a new 5k PR on March 4th! I FINALLY dipped under 20 minutes with a 19:53 at the Myrtle Beach 5k. This race had everything to be ‘Hilary-approved’: dead flat course, no wind, nighttime race start, plus a dash terror of potentially having to explain to my coach that I screwed up. He was already unimpressed by my last few weeks of training, so I had to get my shit together. When I called him after the race, he answered the phone with, “If you didn’t break 20, you better just hang up right now.” Ha! Tough love at its finest.

Every runner knows that a PR is an instant motivation boost, so I carried that momentum throughout the rest of March and crushed some track and tempo workouts while finally getting my mileage back up to something respectable.

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My husband and I took a little trip out to Portland, OR for the IAAF World Indoor Championships and it was more awesome that I even imagined!

April proved to be much of the same: consistent miles, hard workouts, and trying to trick my marathon mind into being a 5k-10k runner. And speaking of the 10k, I dropped another PR at the Reedy River 10k on April 23rd! The new course is much improved (but by no means easy; it’s impossible to avoid hills in downtown Greenville, after all), and it was a perfect weather day. Even with my increased training load and the decidedly not flat course, I was pretty sure I would at least run a PR (41:28 from last August). I talked with my coach beforehand and as I began to list my ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’ goals for the race, he interrupted me in classic fashion, “Screw all that; you need to just break 41. The hills don’t matter.” And so, I did; running a 40:57. Hey, he didn’t say how MUCH I had to break 41 by!

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Mid-way through the 10k. Thanks to my teammate Jessica for the picture and the words of encouragement!

So, although I’ve been quite an absentee blogger, things have come along fairly well this first 1/3 of the year. I still have big goals in mind for the remainder of the year (and I’m sure my coach has even bigger goals for me), but I am feeling pretty confident in how training has gone and the progress I’ve made as a racer.

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I’d like to say I’m going to make progress as a blog updater, too, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Until next time, whenever that is!

In Which the Season of Speed Gets Off to a Slow Start

The first half of 2016 is to be dedicated to doing something about my basic lack of leg speed. I have no delusions of becoming a sprinter, or even a miler, but I know that I must be stronger and faster overall before getting back to my happy place (the marathon). But first, a small recap:

After my marathon on October 31st, I took it easy for a couple of weeks then did a little bit of work ahead of the local Thanksgiving 8k. The night before however, I got knocked down by a norovirus and spent most of my Thanksgiving holiday curled up beside my toilet. Rebounding from that a bit, I somehow managed second female at Paris Mtn 20k in a course PR of 1:31 and change. Obviously that is slow for a 20k, but the whole mountain bit in the middle makes this race uniquely challenging. Then, I was kind of a bum the rest of December. I needed the physical and mental break after a long season of track workouts, big miles and lots of new PRs. I did manage to get just over 2600 miles for 2015 despite my sloth-like December (I did lift a lot, though! And still ran like 150 miles so it wasn’t the worst).

Anyway, 2016 has begun and today marked my return to racing at the Greenville News Downtown 5k. This race is pretty huge with over 1300 runners. I was excited to see my teammates that were running, and pretty happy with the weather (low 40s and overcast with light wind). However, I’m not so sure I should have bothered. I’m drinking Theraflu Severe Cold and Cough as I type this and my voice is on its way out again– to the delight of my husband, I’m sure. The semester started this past Monday, so I’m certain I caught something from suddenly being in warm enclosed spaces with a bunch of germ factories students. I actually lost my voice mid-lecture on Thursday, but luckily I lesson plan with backups in case something falls flat with the class or we have technology fails. So, I stuck on a short video and wrote an assignment on the board and my voice returned a while later. But, its gotten worse, and the congestion in my head and throat migrated to my chest on Friday.

Anyone who has ever attempted a hard run with chest congestion knows exactly what I’m about to describe. It seems fine at first, because your legs are okay, but then it’s as if you’ve been suddenly transported to high altitude and also you just got asthma. Oh, and you’re barely a half mile into the 5k. As if 5ks aren’t painful enough even when you feel good.

I knew it was bad when we weren’t even at the 2 mile mark and I was counting the number of people in front of me that have NEVER beaten me and knowing I wasn’t going to do a thing about it. I finished in 21:12 (for reference, I ran 20:47 last year and even with a lazy December, my fitness is much higher), and barely top 20 female (I was shooting for more like top 10 on a good day).

Given how crap I feel, I shouldn’t be too bummed, and mostly I am just so stoked to get this spring racing season going. But, this race is HUGE and it seems like everyone in town runs it. And I lost to people that I could typically run circles around, so I feel pretty dejected about it. I mean, I know I’ll bounce back just fine and get back up where I should be when I can breathe again, but my ego is a bit wounded at this first test of the year.

Wow, I knew I was going to write out my excuses/frustrations, but I didn’t expect this to sound so depressing. Thanks Theraflu? Anyway, lets just call it setting the bar low and hopefully my next race report will be much cheerier.

That Time I Won a Marathon

So…my bad. I totally dropped the ball on updating this thing in the last few weeks leading into the marathon and I’m so sure the 4 of you that read this are on the edge of your seat waiting for my race recap. I did actually have a couple of folks check in to make sure I was just lazy about blogging and not injured or something…whoops! Anyway, the title of this post gives it all away: I won my hometown marathon! Results here.

This was somewhere around mile 11...happier, simpler times. Photo credit: Pace Running Magazine
This was somewhere around mile 11…happier, simpler times.
Photo credit: Pace Running Magazine

The Spinx Carolina Marathon took place waayyy back on October 31st– there were a lot of costumes, but I was just dressed as a very nervous runner. I don’t want to do a mile by mile recap because it’s pretty much just like everyone else’s recap: ran a mile, repeat until the finish line. Instead, here’s what went well, what went wrong, and what’s coming next.

First, the things I wish had gone better:

  •  Of all things, my right quad started to cramp up. I’ve never in all my miles even thought about my quads, but somewhere around mile 22 I was seriously worried about it seizing up on me totally.
  • Once the quad felt off I backed off my pace and lost contact with the few guys I’d been running with. This was hard mentally.
  • I don’t know if the taper was 100% right. I felt okay the week of, but I kept waiting for that magical *pop* feeling to happen and come race morning, I just felt mediocre. Not flat, and not tired, but certainly not as sprightly as I expected.
  • I didn’t hit my main goal of breaking 3:10.
I love finishing inside the Fluor Field baseball stadium...actually, I just love finishing at all! Photo Credit: Pace Running Magazine
I love finishing inside the Fluor Field baseball stadium…actually, I just love finishing at all!
Photo Credit: Pace Running Magazine

That’s about it. Honestly, it’s difficult to think of too many bad things about my race execution, but there are plenty of things that went well:

  • We had nearly perfect weather with slightly overcast skies, next to no wind, and 50ish degree temps. Some people prefer cooler for a marathon, but I’m so cold natured that I was happy!
  • My guts cooperated. I was able to go to the bathroom before and I used the same Salted Watermelon Gus and water strategy I’d practiced with throughout the whole training cycle.
  • I had company for a large chunk of the race with the other sub-3:10 chasers.
  • I FREAKING WON.
  • Hands down the coolest part about leading a marathon is that I got my very own bike escorts! One of the guys, John, would drop back and get splits back to the second, third, and fourth women and then ride back up to let me know. Eventually he stopped because the gap was big enough that he was having a hard time catching back up to me! The other guy, Steve, diligently stayed 50-100 meters in front of me and made sure I knew where to turn as well as warned the aid stations I was coming through. Plus, he sent updates to the finish line so the announcer could tell the people waiting in the stadium where I was on the course. Sure, Spinx is a fairly small marathon (about 400 finishers in the full, and about 3000 combined in the 4 races), but I’m a narcissist sucker for the limelight, so it was pretty awesome.
  • Even though I missed my sub-3:10 goal, it was close with 3:11:27! I went through the halfway mark in 1:34:44 (second half was 1:36:43). I’ve negative split my last two marathons, I’d done fast finish long runs, but I couldn’t quite pull it off that day. However, I know that I could have really blown up over the second half so I’m happy with a less than 2 minute positive split on a not-great-feeling day.
  • In addition to the win, I also ran a big PR. My previous PR was 3:18:31 (at Spinx last year) and I dropped over 7 minutes off of that. Can’t be sad about any of that!
Winner!
Winner!

So, what’s next?

  • Recover. I’m feeling pretty good overall, but I know that coming back too aggressively is a recipe for disaster. I want to take advantage of the post-marathon fitness and I want to do it a smartly as I can.
  • Get faster. I have gotten fast enough that my pipe dream goal of sub-3:00 someday is a little closer. However, that’s never ever gonna happen until I’m running much faster at the shorter stuff.
  • Get stronger. Let’s face it: I’m scrawny. And while it’s a definite plus to be fairly thin as a distance runner, it will be hugely helpful to have some functional strength to draw on. Not to mention, being stronger overall will help prevent injuries as I must push harder and harder to reach my goals.
  • Stick to the short stuff for awhile. My coach and I both agree that I should have a true track/road race season made up mostly of 5ks and 10ks.
  • Choose my next marathon…eventually. I love my hometown marathon, and I’ll be involved in it in some capacity for years to come, but realistically it’s not a super fast course. I know I know, I just ran a big PR on it, but that was down to my fitness and training. Chasing times at this point means I need to chase flatter courses with a slightly bigger field. I don’t care for really big races, but also I don’t want to find myself running alone again at mile 23.

So there you have it! I’m super pleased with how the race went and my progress over this year. But, it’s over and I’m ready to get after my next running goals.

Spinx Marathon Training 9/28-10/11

This week y’all get a twofer! I completely spaced on writing my training update last week (some sort of marathon training induced brain fog?) so I have a lot of miles to catch up on. This situation does remind me of something important that is easily forgotten in training: no one run happens in a vacuum. I tend to look at each week as these little independent islands and often don’t take into account just how much of an impact the accumulation of miles and workouts can have. As the marathon nears I’ve taken to going back through my log and reading everything over again…and again…and again to not only see how much I’ve changed as a runner this year, but also to remind myself that is has been a hard last few months! Since the beginning of August I’ve only had three weeks under 70 miles, and I’ve been putting in 2-3 hard workouts each and every week. Sure, those one or two amazing workouts are great for the ego (and likewise those failed workouts are a kick in the gut), but it’s the sheer consistency of building on the day in and day out grind that makes the difference. Anyway, here’s what the last two weeks of consistency has looked like:

Monday 9/28: 8 miles easy.

Tuesday 9/29: 8 miles easy, again.

Wednesday 9/30: 3×3200 with ~6 minute recovery. 12:53, 12:47, 12:55. Not the best progression but I went for it on the last one and kind of died. Still a 12 second average improvement over last time we did these.

Thursday 10/1: 8 miles. The weather is getting super sketchy.

Friday 10/2: Fartlek. This was supposed to be sustained tempo efforts but the weather put the brakes on any kind of real quality work. It’s getting scary out there.

Saturday 10/3: 10 miles in the morning before the brunt of the hurricane/low pressure whatever hits. You win this round, weather.

Sunday 10/4: Only 10 miles. It’s just generally gross and annoying out, so I’m making the executive decision to move my long run.

Total: 60 miles. This was totally an unplanned down week, but Mother Nature was on a rampage. And, I know how insignificant my complaints about having to slightly rearrange my running schedule are when the majority of South Carolina is dealing with major flood damage. We got off lucky in the Upstate.

Monday 10/5: 22 miles at 7:36 average pace. Tried to put the hammer down a few times and got in several miles under 7:20 and a few under 7:10 but it wasn’t anything too sustained. I felt good though, and strong at the end even though it was my longest run in awhile.

Tuesday 10/6: 8 easy miles. I was surprised not to be sore from yesterday, but I was only a little tired. That’s what recovery miles are for, I guess.

Wednesday 10/7: To the track for 7xmile with ~3:45 recovery. 6:13, 6:14, 6:14, 6:15, 6:13, 6:18, 6:09. I got into my metronome state of mind for the most part and just got the job done on somewhat tired legs.

Thursday 10/8: 6 easy miles after getting some ART work done. I hate when I don’t run before getting worked on, but I brought that on myself.

Friday 10/9: 7 easy miles with some strides. Let myself loose a little bit on the pick ups and it felt awesome.

Saturday 10/10: Bethel Half Marathon in 1:32:20 for third woman. That’s actually only 24 seconds off my PR, and this course was not even a little bit flat (my PR was run at the pancake flat Myrtle Beach half). I mean, it wasn’t straight up the side of a mountain like most races in the Asheville area, but I was either climbing or bombing down the entire time. And it was pouring rain. All of those excuses aside, I felt very controlled for 12.6 miles of it– the last half mile I had to hammer it so I could pass and drop the woman who finished just behind me. It wasn’t the flat/fast time trial I was hoping for at Georgetown, but that race got postponed due to the flooding. I still very much feel like this race puts me in a good place for Spinx, especially considering I ran 22 miles just 5 days prior and a hard interval workout only 3 days before.

Sunday 10/11: 6 miles. Holy tired legs, Batman.

Total: 75 miles. I was very tempted to “make up” for my unintended down week last week. It would have been easy to do with essentially two long runs this week, but it was such a high quality week that I managed to (just barely) hold myself back from running some arbitrary number that wouldn’t have helped at this point– and possibly could have hurt.

Spinx Marathon Training: 9/21-9/27

I’m supposed to be grading papers, so of course updating my training is a much better idea instead. This week the mileage ramped back up and everything went almost to plan. My long run was not the magical occasion I planned for, but I still had a reasonable run and there is plenty of time in the schedule for me to try it again this coming weekend. I’m not going to bump the mileage anymore moving forward; I think mid/low-70s is plenty to sustain and at this point we need to squeeze out the last bit of intensity that I can handle to “polish the apple” as my coach said yesterday. I’m getting antsy to take that first bite…

Mon 9/21: 10 miles

I was still a little mopey from last week’s grumpy running, but I started to feel more like myself as this run wore on.

Tue 9/22: 10 miles

Okay, I’m back! My little flame of optimism burns brightly once more!

Wed 9/23: 8 miles (10×800 w/ 2:00 recovery)

Um. I KILLED it. But, I also didn’t feel that great? My legs are just perma-tired but my fitness is such that I can kind of grind it out if I need to. And I needed this…2:59.7 average for the 800s! I can’t believe that this time last year I was struggling to crack 3:00 for ONE 800 and I just did ten of them at sub-3 average. So satisfying to see such improvement.

Thu 9/24: 8 miles

Not overly beat down from the track yesterday, but I kept it shorter and easier today just to be sure.

Fri 9/25: 12 miles (with 20×30 sec pickups)

The real test for this run was the weather. There’s been some crazy wind and rain mess so I just tried to take advantage of the occasional tail wind for my fartlek sprints and pretend like I wasn’t getting torrentially downpoured on.

Sat 9/26: 10 miles

I actually felt decent this morning and almost wished I’d prepared to make today my long run. But, I was without Gu and wearing old shoes so I reigned myself in and just cruised.

Sun 9/27: 18 miles (7:48/mi average)

I planned so well for this run. It was supposed to be my big 22 miler with the last half at sub 7 pace. I was hydrated with water–not beer!, I slept well, I had my Garmin charged up and everything was set to go…except me, apparently. I hit the first mile in 8:20 but that’s not unusual as I always need a bit to warm up. But the next few miles were a struggle to hit 7:45s and that’s weird. Oh, and also I was about to explode, so I had to beeline for the bathrooms at Furman around mile 7. I hoped with that out of my system I’d be able pick it up, but nope! I was dealing with a headwind on the way north, so then I hoped once I turned around at mile 10 I could start hammering…but again, nope! I didn’t want to “waste” my 22 miler on a bad run, so when my GPS beeped 18 miles I shut it off and walked the ~mile home. I don’t know why or how this day went off-plan so much; I thought I did everything right and was in a good place mentally. The one thing I may have messed up was my eating (yes, again; this furnace is burning way hotter than I realized). I weighed myself post-run and after I’d already eaten and drank some more and I was still several pounds down from where I have been lately. I dunno if that’s it but I do know I went and had a basket of sweet potato fries, beef enchiladas, and a couple of beers from Chicora Alley for dinner just to be safe.

Total: 76 miles (and I finally cracked 2000+ miles for the year this week!)