Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon Training: Week 4

I am so tired. Perfect time for a cutback week in week 5.

Monday: 5.5 mi, trail (Hartley), 133 bpm
Tuesday: 8.5 mi, road, 136 bpm
Wednesday: 3.6, treadmill (intervals), 146 bpm
Thursday: 6.5 mi, trail (Hartley), 139 bpm
Friday: 4 mi, trail (Bagley), 145 bpm
Saturday: 20 mi, trail (SHT at Becks Rd to Jay Cooke & back), 156 bpm
Sunday: rest
Total: 48.1 mi

A new milestone! 20 miles!

This week I had a minor epiphany, if that’s possible. I was getting really frustrated with the slowness of my actual pace, when I thought I was running much faster. I’m running lazily. I’m sitting back and loping along instead of running in a more dynamic posture, and the result is a slower pace with the same heart rate. I’ve been working this week on being more present when running, and keeping an engaged posture and stride. I still find myself zoning out, but snap myself out of it when I check the pace and see it’s slow. This might mean I can’t start my watch and then ignore it, at least for awhile, until I stop lapsing into the lazy posture and stride by default. Seeing slow paces flash across my watch screen is a good wake-up call.

I attempted a speed workout on Wednesday. I was doing half mile intervals at 6.3 mph on the treadmill, and was halfway through my 4th interval when the treadmill quit on me. All I needed to do was re-set the power strip, but I took it as a sign I needed to stop. With my strange rest days this week was hard enough; I’d run 50 miles since my last rest day by Friday, and still had my long run on the docket. That’s a lot of volume, and my body doesn’t actually know it’s a new week; it still knew I did 2 long runs between rest days. Oops.

Saturday was HOT. I mean, for Duluth. It was in the 80s and I started my long run at about 11:30. I didn’t mind starting in the heat because I need to practice running in heat, work on my cooling strategies, and see how I handle it. The trail was fairly shady so it wasn’t as bad as what the marathoners were experiencing, full sun with no shelter or respite for much of the race, especially for slower people (like I’d have been, had I entered). I did feel fairly crummy for the first 6 or 7 miles due to the heat. I ran on the Munger Trail for awhile which helped me speed up a bit, although there were several fairly runable single-track sections on the chosen stretch of the SHT. Unfortunately there were also some miles that weren’t groomed well, and the thigh-high grass made me itch pretty badly. Around mile 9, after I’d crossed over the Thomson Dam, I hit a really frustrating section of grass that left seeds sticking to my legs and arms. The combination of the grass, heat, and salt on my skin left me rubbing my legs during any ascent, just to get the itchiness to subside.

I hit a low point mentally in the last couple of miles. People who aren’t slow can’t really understand what it feels like to say “hey, only 3 miles left!” and then realize that still means an hour. I was really frustrated, itchy, bugs were driving me crazy, there were more climbs than I was expecting (not hard climbs, but still), and time felt like it was standing still. There were also Egyptian plague-levels of toads on the trail; if they had been frogs, I’d have been repenting like mad in preparation for the rapture. I was trying to dodge small toads, and clods of mud that looked like toads, and HUGE toads that startled me. There was a lot going on. I also think I was under-fueling. I resisted eating in the last few miles until I realized there was no way I was going to make it, and started on my second protein bar. I had 4 gels, 1.5 protein bars, and a small bottle of sports drink, which was probably (definitely) not enough. Of course, during the race, I won’t let that happen.

I am glad I did that run, though. I am now pretty darned certain I can complete the marathon next month. It starts early in the morning, so I can avoid some of the heat, I’ll be carrying more gels and eating at aid stations, I’ll have a drop bag along the way, and there will be access to cool water and ice for more active cooling.

My rest day was hardly a rest day. It remained hot overnight, at least in my house (I do not have air conditioning or even cross-ventilation), and I had a terrible time falling asleep. I slept maybe 4 non-consecutive hours, before deciding we weren’t going to be leaving at 9 a.m. for a drive down to the Twin Cities, where my mom had planned a lovely day of an outdoor picnic… in 90 degree weather. No. We did end up driving down in the afternoon, with the AC on, and had a short visit. I hate to drive down just for a few hours (we were traveling longer than the visit), but I had out of town family visiting, so it was worth the environmental irresponsibility.  I’m annoyed that I didn’t get to catch up on my sleep, but I still benefited from the rest day.

Step-back week this week, as I need to give myself more rest, especially with the crappy sleep I’ve been getting. I’m hoping to have a good showing in my 5K Friday night!

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3 thoughts on “Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon Training: Week 4

  1. I feel your “slow runner” pain. It’s hard when some people run faster effortlessly. I try to focus on my own goals and crush my pace little by little. Good to hear I’m not the only one who struggles with a fast pace! Good luck in your training!

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