Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 8

Oh my god what a week.

Monday: 5.6 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 7.4 mi, treadmill
Friday: 9.4 mi, trail (Lebanon Hills)
Saturday: 5.9 mi, trail (Murphy-Hanrehan)
Sunday: 3.3 mi, treadmill
Total: 31.6 mi

I didn’t intend for this week to be so low mileage, but here we are. Monday I had to go to North Dakota for work. I drove, because my last minute plane ticket was so expensive and it seemed like a waste, plus I hate flying. I wish I’d flown, because I was wiped out by the drive. Probably because I actually got lightly sunburned during the drive. I need to remember to put on sunscreen! I planned to get there, change into my running clothes, have dinner with my family in Grand Forks, and then get a recommendation for a good place to run from my sister in law. Instead I discovered my suitcase wouldn’t open – the zipper had started to tear away from the body of the suitcase, and so the teeth wouldn’t line up right. I wasted precious time trying to open it and then ended up taking it over to my brother’s, thinking we’d have to cut it open. He managed to get the zipper to open without further damage, hooray. I ended up on the hotel treadmill after our dinner though, since it was getting late.

Tuesday I had a bunch of extra driving from Grand Forks to get to my actual work location, then had a couple hours of meetings, then turned back around and went home. I had planned to run after I got home, thinking I’d be back by 5:30 or so. Instead I got back to my house at 8 PM and was so wiped I couldn’t think of running. Wednesday I didn’t feel well at all, like a cold was coming on, so I decided to rest. I don’t think it was a cold actually, I think it was an air quality issue, because the symptoms came and went the rest of the week but never really blew up into anything.

Thursday I ran inside on the treadmill because I was tired and didn’t want to deal with the heat. Friday, I left work a bit early due to my long days on Monday and Tuesday, and went home to change before heading to Lebanon Hills for some trails. I was planning on doing 12 miles, but I didn’t get out in time, and I ran more than enough, especially in the heat. I wasn’t planning on running Sunday, so I knew I needed to get a long run in on Saturday.

Obviously, no long run materialized on Saturday. I tried. I drove out to Murphy-Hanrehan Park, but I just could not get myself in gear. I had another work trip the next day, and I couldn’t stop thinking about all that I had to do for that, and worrying about how long the run would take. I could not get the anxious feeling in my chest to go away, even after a couple of miles. I just worried and worried and worried. I felt guilty about spending 4+ hours away from my husband (and cats) when I was leaving for a week the next day. I knew I had to do laundry and pack, and go to bed early, etc. The worry, combined with the heat, the bugs, and the grass, slowed me down to the point where I knew I needed to call it a day. I was done before the ice in my pack melted!

Sunday was an absolute disaster of a day. I got up at 4, after about 2 hours of sleep (and 4 hours of worrying in bed before that), drove to the airport, and had a relatively uneventful flight to Boston. Things started to unravel after I waited an impossibly long time to get a coffee after my flight (I hadn’t had coffee before the flight, because I don’t like to get up if I don’t have to – if you know what I mean). Then once I got to the rental car facility and tried to check in online, I realized I didn’t have my driver’s license. (I use my passport as an ID when flying.) I had taken it out of the pencil pouch I use as a wallet/purse when I was filling out my absentee ballot, and I didn’t put it back. So I had no way to rent a car. I ended up taking a taxi to my friend’s house (I had already planned to visit her), and then beat her there, then huddled under the eaves to unsuccessfully avoid the light rain for about 10 minutes before she got back. (It turned out she had a little mudroom/porch I could have waited in, but the door was sticky so I thought it was locked, argh.) She was unbelievably kind and offered to drive me to Portsmouth (her infant son is soothed by car rides), so now I just have to take transport to my training and put off any sight-seeing until after my husband overnights my ID. I took a nap at the hotel, walked to get dinner, and then conjured up enough energy for that treadmill run. Woof.

I’m in Portsmouth, NH this upcoming week and it’ll be another jumbled up week of workouts. I didn’t do a single prescribed run last week (although Thursday’s run was a semi-tempo, I guess), and I don’t know if I’ll be able to do any this week, either. I’ll just get done what I can and not sweat it.


Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 7

Much more of a cutback than I expected.

Monday: 3.5 mi, pavement (Centennial Lakes)
Tuesday: 6.1 mi, pavement (MRT, 40 @ tempo)
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 7.4 mi, road
Friday: 8.5 mi, treadmill
Saturday: rest
Sunday: rest
Total: 25.5 mi

Okay, I guess I needed to take this time off. Oh now, now I won’t win the race, boo hoo.

Monday I ran a short, sweaty run during my lunch hour. It had to be done, because I knew I was taking Wednesday off. Tuesday I did a miserable tempo run on the Mississippi River Trail. It was hot and I didn’t realize I sped up much too quickly, so I was blowing up during the tempo. I actually stopped and walked a bit! Not ideal, and the data got all messed up with some kind of GPS error. I set a world record with my 2:11 mile, which took me across the Mississippi!

Wednesday was much cooler, but of course was my off day. I volunteered at the final Endless Summer Trail Run. It was fun, as always. I won’t see my Rocksteady Running friends again until Superior! Which is less than 5 weeks away, whoops. I made my reservation finally.

Thursday was also relatively cool, and I ran 7.4 happy and relaxed miles down to Sibley High School and back. It felt so good (after the first couple miles, which hurt a bit thanks to some muscle tightness – the magnesium oil isn’t a cure-all) to run effortlessly, and to finally approach a speed resembling what I’d like to run in a marathon.

Friday I ran 8.5 miles on the treadmill before we left for Duluth for the weekend. I didn’t really have a reason to run on the treadmill, because the rain had already passed by and it wasn’t that warm. I couldn’t shake the anxious feeling I get when I’m pressed for time with a run. Where should I go? What will get this done the fastest? It’s paralyzing, and I end up losing time just worrying. I get in my own head a lot about even stupid stuff like individual training runs. I was lazy and took several breaks (once for water, once for a bathroom break, and… maybe one other time just because?), but I got it done. Then once we were up in Duluth, I stopped in at Austin Jarrow to pick up some new road shoes. They’re the ones that’ll carry me through this marathon!

Saturday it rained all day. I spent it inside, playing cribbage with my family and in general having a good time. By the time it cleared up, it was fairly late, so I decided to skip it rather than get caught outside in the twilight without a headlamp or reflective vest. Again.

Sunday I just didn’t give a crap, and that’s the truth. I could have run, but I didn’t. No energy, no enthusiasm. Instead I ate a lot of treats.

This week will be interesting, as I have a very short work trip to North Dakota (I will spend more time driving than working, since it cost like $900 to fly) and then I leave on Sunday for a longer work trip to New Hampshire. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get in a true long run, but I’ll certainly have to find a way to do better than 25 miles. I’m not super worried — I know I needed the extra time to recover this week, and I will have a lot more energy moving forward!

Lunch Rush

Occasionally, I’m stuck running on my lunch hour out of necessity. I don’t like it, and it kind of feels like a huge waste of time because I can only grind out like 3 miles, and that’s only because I’m salaried and work in an environment that gives me a lot of autonomy.

My most recent run netted me 3.5 hot, sweaty miles around the Centennial Lakes Park trails, which are usually overrun with children, strollers, lunchtime walkers (sometimes that’s me!), and maintenance carts. It’s a busy place, with not a lot of room for running. I also ended up with a horribly sweaty back once I put my dress back on. I felt pretty disgusting. I’m an engineer, so I’m not client-facing, but it was fairly unpleasant to sit at my desk feeling my dress sticking to my back.

I’ve had some time to figure out what works for me and what doesn’t. The biggest problem is something I can’t really change: there are locker rooms in two of the buildings in the office park, but neither are in my building. That means about 5 minutes of my break are taken up getting to the locker room (and 5 more are taken up walking back — although, more on that later).

I bring a bag with clothes, shoes, a hat, sunglasses, my running watch, and Body Glide. I should probably just get a stick for my office as well. Bringing a bag of clothes is nothing revolutionary, but that’s what I do. I try to pack it the night before but sometimes I’m lazy or forget, so I set a reminder on my phone. At work, I have some moisturizer, sunscreen, dry shampoo, deodorant, wipes, and petroleum jelly, so I don’t have to lug that around with me all the time. I don’t wear a lot of makeup on days when I run, so I don’t worry about reapplying.

The dry shampoo seems to work. It’s an aerosol spray, so I don’t have to worry about prematurely graying if it doesn’t blend enough. My colleague told me it actually works better if applied before a workout. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I do it before and after now as a result of that advice. I can’t tell if my head is less sweaty or not.

What doesn’t work? The wipes. I mean, they do, in a limited way, but they don’t work for dealing with sweat. I don’t have time to, like, chill in the locker room naked while air drying, so I ordered a quick dry towel and I guess I’ll just take the world’s quickest shower, towel off, and hope the thing actually does dry quickly.  I haven’t tried it out yet.

I’m still trying to figure out what to do about food. I don’t pack a lunch, so you might say that might be a good place to start, and I agree. I usually eat cereal at my desk for breakfast, and then by the time I’m running, I’m hungry and even a few more bites of cereal isn’t enough for me to avoid feeling like garbage post-run. I’m thinking the solution is to 1. bring a lunch (or otherwise procure my lunch in advance) and 2. eat part of my lunch before running, and part of it after. I have been meaning to bring lunches for… my entire working life, basically, without much success, so don’t hold your breath on this.

I don’t have an office, but I do have a semi-fancy cubicle that has a dinky “coat closet” built in. I hang up my sweaty clothes in there (including my underwear, because I have discovered bringing a change of underwear is A VERY GOOD IDEA), which is probably something that my coworkers find abhorrent, but I am also an unabashed office nail clipper and have even clipped my toenails at work, so my threshold of shame is very high. This works okay but I think I need to bring in some kind of fabric refresher to mitigate the stink.

Beyond what I’ve already laid out, I think the only think that would make my lunch running more appealing and more useful would be for me to get significantly faster so that I could actually get in a substantial workout at lunch. Sigh.

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 6

Not the best week. It’s a sign it’s time for a cutback week, I’d say.

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 7 mi, road
Wednesday: 5.8 mi, road (5x Wabasha St. Bridge)
Thursday: 6 mi, treadmill (40 min tempo)
Friday: 5.1 mi, road
Saturday: 13.2 mi, trail (Murphy-Hanrehan Park)
Sunday: 12.1 mi, pavement (Mississippi River Trail)
Total: 49.2 mi

First off, I hate taking Mondays as rest days. I had to as we had made some dinner plans, which then fell through. I was already tired and had mentally planned on not running, so I didn’t make a last minute change to get miles in. Instead we went to see Ant-Man and the Wasp, which was funny.

Tuesday I had to go over to see about my mom’s cats again, and decided to start my run from her house, rather than drive somewhere else. I ran around my old junior high (now called a middle school, so weird), then into an area of the city I’ve never been (at least, that I was aware of – maybe I went to some friend’s house when I was like 5 and they lived in that neighborhood). St. Louis Park is not that big, so it’s kind of strange I didn’t know anyone living over there well enough to have visited, but I guess there are other pockets of the city I don’t know and need to explore. I turned around and headed back toward my mom’s house once I reached a natural turnaround point (I reached a major road), but realized I wasn’t going to make even 6 miles that way, so I ran past my old elementary school (now housing a Montessori school and a French immersion school) and over the highway, before swinging back around toward home underneath the highway.

Wednesday I did bridge repeats with dead legs. I hated the workout but it had to be done. I felt a little bit crummy and I guess that carried over into Thursday, because I felt like total garbage at work Thursday afternoon (well, also I ate 2 ice cream sandwiches) and left early. I ended up feeling better only a few hours later so I guess I just had indigestion. I ran on the treadmill as a precaution. Friday I had no interest in running but did it anyway. Hooray, I guess? It was a dull 5 miles meandering through my neighborhood, trying to remember which streets went through and which dead-ended. I wasn’t super successful at that, but it helped tacked on the miles.

Saturday I planned to do some recon for Surf the Murph at Murphy-Hanrehan Park. I’m considering running the 50 miler this fall. I’m still undecided, partially because I’m going to use my result at Moose Mountain Marathon to extrapolate whether or not I can make the cutoffs, and partially because I didn’t love my run there on Saturday. There was a lot of grass, which I hate. I despise the feeling of grass on my legs – so itchy! And of course I am paranoid about ticks. (I found none on me. That must mean they are all in places I can’t see.) If they mow the course, I’m still in. If they don’t, I’m out.

I planned to run 15 miles, and through 8 or so I was cruising. I was like “Wow, yeah, I can do this! I can totally race a 50 miler here!” Then I bonked. I guess I didn’t eat my first gel soon enough, although I wasn’t really hungry. But I also was experiencing a non-food-related bonk, if that’s a thing: a bug bonk. Some deer flies were following me, probably only a couple, but they were dive-bombing me over and over again and I was flailing my arms in vain, trying to get rid of them. I think I killed one or two but ugh. So annoying. I hate flies. I got turned around quite a bit on the trails and wasn’t sure how far I would have to go to get back to the parking lot, and I was running out of water. I reached the parking lot at 12.7 miles, and I had been walking for probably 2 miles. Even through the runnable sports. I gave up. I actually started to walk out another 1.2 miles so that I could do an out & back to get the 15 miles I had originally planned for, but after a quarter mile I actually said out loud “This is stupid” and returned to the parking lot. Ugh.

I decided to add the remaining 2 miles to my run on Sunday. Determined not to bonk again, I ate more food before leaving, and I opted not to do any marathon pace miles. I parked at Hidden Falls Park (up above on Mississippi River Blvd, not down near the picnic shelter) and ran 5 miles downriver, turned around, ran back, and then did another mile upriver and back to get to 12. It sounds slick and easy but it wasn’t. It was another miserable run. It rained for about 2 minutes right before I started running, so the sun was back out AND it was extra humid. The air was so hot, even though it was only like 80-82 F, since the humidity was so high. Most of my run was pretty slow once the heat caught up with me, and even after the clouds returned an hour and a half into the run, I was already sapped and couldn’t really recover. I was thirsty even though I had plenty of water (probably because my mouth was getting dry – I should have had a candy or something) and my stomach was a little too full of water so I felt uncomfortable a lot. It wasn’t as miserable a slog as it was on Saturday, but it wasn’t great. If the clouds hadn’t come through and provided shade for most of the run, I am pretty sure I’d have quit early.

So, this upcoming week’s a cutback week! I’ve had 6 weeks of increasing mileage and my body is starting to say nope. I’ll be in Duluth this coming weekend anyway and won’t have time for 4-5 hour runs. I also need to give my poor back a rest – no, not my muscles, my skin. My sports bra has totally shredded the middle of my back since I wore my pack 2 days in a row (and it was pretty bad after the first day, woof), and I need a chance for it to heal!

Metal Health

I am pretty fortunate that running comes fairly easily to me, physically speaking. I don’t have any physical impairments that hinder my ability to run, nor do I have any recurring injuries (knock wood). I’m slow, yes, and my mental game is kind of weak, but these are relatively mild issues.

I have some minor aches and pains from time to time, usually in my hips, and of course at FANS I had that weird foot issue that I self-diagnosed as peroneal tendonitis. But the one persistent issue I have that never seems to go away is extremely tight calf muscles. Absurdly tight. Like at massages sometimes I have been concerned about having a charlie horse. And I often do get charlie horses in my calves (specifically the gastrocnemius, according to Dr. Google) from simply stretching. They feel as taut as the E string on a violin, like I could play pizzicato on them they’re also one quarter turn of a fine tuner away from rupturing. I do feel like it hinders my running sometimes when they’re extra tight, and like I’m putting myself at risk for injury.

A year or so ago, a massage therapist recommended that I use magnesium oil applied directly to my legs. I had never heard of that before and was intrigued, but then never followed up, because I am lazy about things. I guess I could also take epsom salt baths to get the same effect, and while epsom salts would have required even less effort to acquire, I am not a giant fan of baths and also the faucet valve in my bathroom is broken so I can’t take a bath. (I have another shower, and while it is sort of scary and has spiders on occasion, it works and I am not walking around filthy.) Apparently there are magnesium supplements as well, but they can have a laxative effect and I am not interested in having blowouts on runs.

I finally went out today and bought some magnesium oil to give this a try. I sprayed it on my calves after a treadmill tempo workout, and now I’m going to see if it works some magic. I’m very hopeful! It certainly beats buying a foam roller, which I understand is actually a medieval torture device!

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 5

It cooled off! Relatively speaking.

Monday: 5.3 mi, road
Tuesday: 5.6 mi, pavement (Battle Creek, 5 x 0.5 mi)
Wednesday: 8 mi, pavement (Lake of the Isles/Bde Maka Ska)
Thursday: rest
Friday: 5.6 mi, treadmill (35 min tempo)
Saturday: 14.2 mi, trail (Afton State Park)
Sunday: 9.2 mi, trail/pavement (Cedar Lake/Kenilworth Trail/Cedar Lake Regional Trail)
Total: 47.9 mi

It’s been a long week, but it has felt really good to run without as much heat and humidity. It’s still hot, especially in the afternoon when it feels like the sun is still directly overhead at 3 PM, but it isn’t as oppressive as it was the past two weeks. Running was much more pleasant this week, and the higher mileage is starting to feel good. I mean, it sucks in the moment sometimes, of course.

Monday I ran around my neighborhood, which was okay. It’s not a ton of fun because I can’t zone out, I’m constantly thinking of how to cobble together enough mileage to make a decent workout. A lot of streets don’t go all the way through, and I’m not familiar enough with the area to remember which ones do, so I spend a lot of time recalculating, like my brain’s an analog version of a GPS unit after a missed turn.

Tuesday I drove over to Battle Creek and did loops around the park to complete my interval workout. I’ve given up on trying to find a track, I guess. The repeats were all pretty fast, which was surprising. Now I want to find a real 5K to see if I can legitimize my PR. There was a group of high schools kids doing either a summer cross-country practice or dryland training for nordic skiing, and I felt a little dorky next to all these young people running fast with such ease, but hey. I’m out there running, too. Who cares if I’m running fast? They barely noticed me, anyway.

Midway through the week, I took over cat-sitting duties at my mom’s, which meant I was driving in the opposite direction from home during rush hour. I decided to run somewhere near there instead of trying to buck traffic on 94E. I parked at Lake of the Isles and unintentionally did an entire loop around, since I missed the turnoff for Bde Maka Ska. I continued past my car, did a loop around Bde Maka Ska (soooo crowded), and then headed back to my car the short way around Lake of the Isles. I love that area for the most part, even if it was crowded, and the scenery was amazing.

Friday I wimped out and did my run on the treadmill, since there was a line of thunderstorms rolling through. The radar made it look like one could hit at any time in the evening, so I played it safe. It’s actually a lot easier to do a true tempo on a treadmill, since it’s easy to control the pace and slowly ramp it up. I am kind of a scaredy-cat about running fast (for me) on the treadmill – I’m afraid of tripping and falling or otherwise hurting myself. But it went well, even if I was miserable and hating life during the 35 minutes of actual tempo running, and I was sweating buckets.

I checked out Afton State Park for the first time on Saturday. I liked it, kind of. It’s about 30 minutes from my home, so it’s sorta like driving to Jay Cooke used to be, but that does add an hour round trip to my run time. The trails themselves are a bit confusing – I couldn’t always read the maps very well, especially when the YOU ARE HERE stickers were missing. There are a lot of trails, though! I was able to put together 14 miles without doubling back too much. I did see a dead raccoon (twice) and a dead bunny (depressing). There was a mix of terrain – pavement, grass, gravel, packed dirt. Lots of hills, plenty of shade, and not a whole lot of people (probably because the swimming beach was under water). The miles were slow to begin with, but I rallied at the end (ok, it was flat terrain and also some pavement) and felt a little better about my pace.

Sunday I decided to go do another chain of lakes run since I was in the area feeding los gatos again. I figured I’d start at Cedar Lake instead, which was dumb. Cedar Lake is the weird misfit lake. There isn’t a nice paved path around it – instead I ended up on some single track and kept coming upon people who seemed like they would prefer to be left alone. I turned around and went the other way, and ended up in a grassy area with a sign that said “end of public trail.” Then I decided to say screw it, got on the Kenilworth Trail, and did the remaining 7 miles on that and the Cedar Lake Regional Trail. I was supposed to be running 7 at marathon pace, but that just was not happening. The first 2 miles were like 15 minute miles, so that blew my average pace and sapped my energy, so I just pushed through with a regular old medium length run. Can I just have one marathon pace workout where I even get close to what I expect to be able to run come October? I don’t think my goal of around 5 hours is that unreasonable!

One Thousand Miles

About 20 minutes into my treadmill run yesterday evening, I crossed the 1000 mile threshold for 2018. I knew this was going to happen since I keep an Excel spreadsheet with my yearly mileage, which I update several times a week. (Why do I use an Excel spreadsheet when I use three different apps to track my running? Short answer: GPS issues and the inability of apps to provide me certain pieces of information that I want to know. Long answer: forthcoming since it just came to me that would be a good topic for a post.) It’s not really that exciting or monumental, although I achieved this milestone 11 days earlier than I did last year.

My colleague asked me if this meant I was going to try for 2000 miles. My actual goal is to run more miles than I did in 2017 (1706 mi), and while I’m clearly on track to beat that, I’m also almost 55% of the way through the year, it would take quite a heroic effort to catch up. I’m on pace for about 1840 miles right now.

Could I run 2000 miles this year? Possibly. I’d have to average about 6 miles a day, or 42 miles a week (since I don’t run daily). I don’t know if I want to do that, even if I could. I travel for work. I get sick often. I like taking breaks. So no, I don’t think 2000 miles is a possibility or even something I want to strive for. I have to leave something for next year!

I feel pretty good about checking off one of my goals for the year, even if I was stuck on the treadmill thanks to the threat of thunderstorms (which never materialized, ugh).