Twin Cities Marathon 2019 Training: Week 4

It’s so hot.

Monday: 4 mi, road
Tuesday: 5.5 mi, paved trail (MRT, 5 x 0.5 mi)
Wednesday: rest (volunteered at Endless Summer Trail Run Series)
Thursday: 3.7 mi, trail (Battle Creek ski trails)
Friday: 6.2 mi, pavement (Big Rivers, 33:36 @ tempo)
Saturday: 10.1 mi, trail (Lebanon Hills)
Sunday: 8 mi, paved trail (Battle Creek, 7 @ marathon “effort”)
Total: 37.5 mi

Woof, this last week has been pretty steamy. It wore me down a bit, honestly. I started Monday with a pretty slow run starting at Harriet Island and crossing the Mississippi twice (on the Wabasha St. and Robert St. bridges). I did another set of sweaty half mile repeats on the Mississippi River Trail on Tuesday, starting at Upper Landing Park and heading downriver. I find the best way to get those repeats in without running out of real estate is to go back and forth on the section of the trail that parallels Warner Road – it’s not as busy as some other sections, and it is relatively flat. My paces were all over the place (8:51, 8:20 [how??], 9:02, 9:08, 9:10) and once again, too fast for what the workout calls for. I don’t know if I allow myself too much recovery or what the deal is, but I need to get better at pacing myself for these speed workouts.

Wednesday I volunteered at Lebanon Hills, checking in runners and feeding them pizza. One of these days maybe I should actually run an ESTRS race, but I find that it’s much more relaxing to volunteer and use it as a rest day, plus I am trying not to spend as much money on races these days (especially because I finally registered for TCM and that was a HUGE chunk of change). Perhaps next year?

Thursday I did a short but challenging trail run at Battle Creek on the ski trails. The trails near the school had been recently mowed so it was a much more pleasant experience! I hate running in longer grass, it takes up so much energy. There was a peloton of bikers out on the same trails which was sort of awkward, but the ski trails are wide enough that there was always room for me to squeeze past, as long as the bikers were paying attention. One of these days I need to take some pictures up on those trails because they are really lovely.

Friday’s tempo run was a bit shy of the 35 minutes I was supposed to do. It was tough, because it was so hot, but I also timed it a bit poorly and ended up at the bottom of a large hill with 1:36 to go in my tempo time. I was not about to run up that hill (and make a deal with god), so I ended the tempo a little early. My overall pace was 10:23, not bad.

The weekend was hot again, so I swapped the long run and marathon pace runs in order to get the long run out of the way first. The plan was only 10 miles for the “long” run, so it wasn’t that hard to accomplish. I went to Lebanon Hills on Saturday and managed to eke 10 miles out of just one pass around the park (with only a few sections of backtracking). It was pretty shady there so I didn’t have a lot of issues with the heat, despite it being probably 90F or so and who knows what for a heat index. Sunday I waited until about 6 to start my marathon-ish effort run (on the paved trails at Battle Creek), because it was blazing hot during the day. It was still sultry and miserable to run in the heat and humidity, but at least the sun wasn’t beating down on me. I can’t say I gave a true marathon effort (and certainly did not approach marathon pace), but I was trying to be careful in the heat. I did a half mile warm-up, ran 7 mi at 12:44 average pace, then walked a half mile for a cool-down. I drank an entire handheld bottle of water during the run and probably sweat out twice that much!

One of the biggest challenges for me has been trying to plan my workouts around some rather fluid weather forecasts. I will see thunderstorms in the forecast, try to plan around them, and find they either do not materialize or shift earlier/later and screw with my plans. I don’t mind running in the rain a bit but I prefer not to be caught out in a thunderstorm!

Advertisements

Speeding Up

It turns out this is the first week of Twin Cities Marathon training! I only discovered that today. I whipped up a training plan really quickly, and by that I mean I printed out calendar pages for June – October and wrote down weeks 3-18 (because whoops, I’ve only got 16 weeks left) of Hal Higdon’s Advanced 2 marathon plan, with some modifications. I don’t take rest days on Fridays, and I moved around a few other workouts to accommodate a couple 5Ks I’ve entered, as well as some travel I have in August.

The good news was the first two days of workouts were just 3 mile runs, and I did 3 mile runs (approximately) on Monday and Tuesday! So I was right on schedule. This evening, the plan called for 4×800 repeats. I don’t have a track nearby, so I just did half mile repeats with quarter mile walking breaks. I have not run fast in a long time, and wow it was tough. I ran by effort/feel, rather than by pace, because I really have a hard time targeting a specific pace. I was hurting at the end of each repeat, though I was still in control of my breathing, and I was able to recover fully during the walking intervals, so whatever pace I was running wasn’t terrible. I looked at the data on MovesCount afterward and my pace was also fairly even.

I was worried that this hard effort would result in slower than 5K pace or something else depressing. I didn’t look at the pace on my watch while running, so I had no idea if I was sucking wind or if I still had a little speed left in me, and I had no idea if I was being consistent between reps. Upon investigation, it appears I nailed it:

Lap 1: 9:04
Lap 2: 8:56
Lap 3: 8:57
Lap 4: 8:56

I rule! Kind of. This sounds super humblebraggy of course, but I was definitely running too hard. I want to run TCM in 5 hours, so my half mile repeats should take 5 minutes, at a 10:00 pace. I need to rein it in and do the workout as prescribed next time; I need to run a pace I can sustain for more than 4 reps, and tighten up the recovery pace (anywhere from 17:45 to 20:25 pace, although I was talking to a passerby during the slowest lap).

I’m excited to have a training plan again! It is nice to have some focus and some built-in variety to my workouts. I’m still looking for another race or two for the summer (a 10K and a half marathon, I’d say) to give me some chances to measure my progress and to stoke my competitive fires.

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 3

Another hot week. I’m trying to trust that I will eventually be able to run faster again.

Monday: 5.3 mi, road (4 x Wabasha St. Bridge repeats)
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 8.6 mi, road
Friday: 5.5 mi, pavement (Mississippi River Trail, 35 min tempo)
Saturday: 14 mi, pavement (Mississippi River Trail)
Sunday: 7.5 mi, pavement (Mississippi River Trail, 6 mi @ marathon effort)
Total: 40.9 mi

This week didn’t quite go as planned, but since it was a holiday week, that’s to be expected. Monday I suffered through heat and some minor nausea to do bridge repeats. The Wabasha St. Bridge is about a quarter mile long, so it’s perfect for hill repeats. Run up, jog back down to recover. I took the recovery very slowly due to the heat and my tummy (which was really fine, I’m just overly sensitive to even the slightest upset).

Tuesday I felt crappy. I was tired all day and again had a mildly upset stomach. We were driving up to Duluth in the evening, and despite having time to run beforehand, I chose not to since I wasn’t feeling so hot. I ended up feeling fine, it was probably some lingering heat/dehydration related issue, but it was good to take a break when I did. What wasn’t good was packing all my running gear Wednesday morning before we left my uncle’s house on Park Point and then discovering when we arrived at Pike Lake that I had forgotten to put my running shoes in my bag or my car. So I didn’t run on Wednesday, either. That was frustrating. I did water-ski, kayak, and participate in a multi-boat water balloon fight, so I wasn’t entirely inactive.

Thursday I ran on Park Point in the late morning/early afternoon. It was cooler than it had been in St. Paul, but still in the high 70s F and in full sun, so I was hot and slow. Every run is slow, it’s very frustrating. I went swimming and kneeboarding in the afternoon (and also got quite the workout trying to haul myself up on a jetski three times after falling off/tipping it), so I got in plenty of all-important cross-training.

Friday we headed home in the afternoon, and I had time for a tempo run in the evening. It was hot and miserable and I was tired from the drive, but I got it done. Right now that’s enough. Saturday’s long run was hot hot hot, but much of it was in the shade, so I was spared the worst of it. I nearly consumed my entire hydration bladder during the run. I ate a gel during the run and it was so melty it was much easier to eat than normal. I ended up on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus for the end of the run and had to circle around a bit to get to 7 miles before turning around, but I didn’t get too badly turned around.

On Sunday, I chose the same shady section of the MRT (up to Franklin Ave) for my marathon effort workout, since it was hot again, and I wore the hydration pack again even though it was only a 7.5 mile run. Better to be safe than sorry. It sucked. I mean, it was faster, maybe, than I had run the day before, but I’m just not anywhere close to where I’d like to be for actual marathon pace. I know that it’s the heat, not my ability, but I’d just like a couple cooler evenings in a row so I can reassure myself that I’m not going to run an 8 hour road marathon, or at least to get a better idea of what my pace might be. And also to get my workouts done more quickly!! The long runs are so darn time-consuming. I guess I need to make “Fall PRs are made in summer heat” my mantra.

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 1

That’s right – I’m finally running a road marathon.

Monday: 5.4 mi, road
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 5.3 mi, pavement (15 min warmup, 30 min tempo, 15 min cooldown)
Thursday: 5.7 mi, road/pavement (2.8 mi at lunch, 2.9 mi after work)
Friday: 3.1 mi, pavement (Midnight Sun Midnight Run 5K)
Saturday: 6.3 mi, road
Sunday: 7.4 mi, road
Total: 33.2 mi

This was a weird week to start, because I was out of town for the weekend, but that’s how things go for someone like me, who fits training around life rather than life around training. I’m kind of using a training plan this time around, instead of just winging it – I started off with Hal Higdon’s Advanced 2 Marathon Plan. I guess if I’ve run 8 (I think?) marathon (or longer) distance races, I can handle an advanced plan. Or maybe I can’t and I’ll burn out, but whatever.

Of course, I’ve taken this plan and made some tweaks to it, for a few reasons. First of all, I can’t always follow a plan exactly. I switch around rest days, I travel, I have weather delays, etc. Of course, it’s rare for someone to complete an entire months-long training plan exactly as prescribed, but I find building in some flexibility from the start is more helpful. Additionally, I am running another marathon (Moose Mountain Marathon) during the training, so I’ll have a bigger long run than prescribed, and moved around some cutback weeks and speed work. I’m also hoping to run Surf the Murph a few weeks later, possibly even the 50 miler, so I’m looking at some increased mileage over what is prescribed.

The other tweaks I’ve made to the plan are pretty simple: any run that isn’t a prescribed strength or speed workout, I’ve labeled “run,” “medium length run,” or “long run.” I can play around with the mileage on those days. I am not increasing the mileage or duration of any prescribed runs, like repeats, tempos, or marathon pace runs. I don’t feel like those are places I can safely and sustainably add mileage, since I have less experience with speedwork.

Monday’s run was dull and uneventful. I was planning to run Tuesday, but ended up going to the Twins game! It was fun, but I had to scramble around to figure out how to fit in another workout on Thursday.

Wednesday’s tempo run was okay. I had a hard time ramping up – I’m not very good at incremental increases in pace. I also had a couple little hills to push through, but overall it was fine. It worked out to be a nice hour-long workout. I guess that’s an upside to speedwork – the workout gets over more quickly!

Thursday I had planned to walk my cousin’s dogs with my mom, so I ran during my lunch hour, then went over to my cousin’s house early and ran to Lake Nokomis, ran partway around the lake, then returned in time to meet my mom and take the dogs out for a 45 minute stroll. They seemed to like it.

Friday I headed up to Duluth in the afternoon. My uncle, aunt, and cousins were coming in from both coasts, and my brother, sister in law, and nephew came over from North Dakota. We all went for a long swim in Pike Lake and were of course exhausted by race time. I had also eaten some ice cream that was making me feel really full, so I wasn’t sure the race would go well. After a slow start thanks to the crowd, I was able to take off and push through for a course-best 29:29. While my sister in law and I were waiting for my brother and my husband to finish, a woman came through the finisher’s chute and threw up like 4 times, which was… not what I wanted to see after finishing a race. Ew.

Saturday I went for a late run after a day of swimming, tubing, and water-skiing. I was pretty tired, but still managed to unintentionally run 10K by “circumnavigating” Pike Lake. I barely saw the lake during the run, so it wasn’t very scenic. It was also nearly dark before I finished, so that was stupid. Sunday I did another run near Pike Lake, this time along Caribou Lake Road, and I guess I’ll consider 7.4 miles to be my medium length run for the week. I didn’t have a long run planned, since this is my first full week of marathon training and also my first full week back after FANS.

Finding Speed

I’m trying to remember how to run fast. (Do I have to keep saying “fast for me” every time? It’s implied.) My muscles seem to have forgotten, considering how the backs of my legs feel three days after my 5K. So I came up with a mini-plan for the next 3.5 weeks leading up to the Turkey Day Minneapolis 5K, based on one of Hal Higdon’s 8 week 5K plans. I started it Monday night with a 1.9 mile treadmill run. My treadmill crapped out at 1.9 miles so that was an inauspicious start.

Last night, I had 6 x 400 on my schedule. I did 6 x 0.25 miles, which is basically the same thing, but my watch is in imperial units, so that’s what I go by. I walked/jogged 0.1 miles between reps, which worked out to about 1:30-1:40 of active recovery between reps.

Here’s how things went: 8:43 (included a hill), 8:43 (included a hill), 8:17, 8:32, 8:20, 8:55.

So, that was probably not very smart running. I need to try a couple other things next week.

  1. Run a flatter route (I ran the Lakewalk and hit both hills at Leif Erikson Park).
  2. Slow down. I think aiming for a nice, even 8:45 pace would be smarter than just kind of going balls-out and seeing what happens. The reps are supposed to be run at a mile pace, and I think 8:45 is a reasonable mile pace for me.
  3. Reduce recovery time. With an overall slower and more sustainable pace, I can reduce the recovery distance to 0.05 miles.

Next Tuesday I’ll be doing another set of repeats, unfortunately mostly in the dark just like yesterday (I started late due to a work function), thanks to the end of daylight saving time. Ugh.

PP5M Training: Week 8

Since I counted the weeks wrong and started my 8 week training program a week too soon, this week was kind of… strange.

Monday: 5.2 mi, road
Tuesday: 6.7 mi, trails, Hartley Nature Center
Wednesday: 4.5 mi, tempo, 3.5 @ 12:30 avg pace
Thursday: rest
Friday: 6 mi, road
Saturday: 6.7 mi, training, Superior Hiking Trail
Sunday: 5.2 mi, road
Total: 33.4 mi

That’s my highest mileage week for this training cycle. I realized that on Sunday and decided not to run the 8 miles I’d planned. I want my legs to be fresh on Friday.

My running watch, a Suunto Ambit 2R, is really sucking. I haven’t been able to use the heart rate monitor for a few weeks because it connects but does not display or record a heart rate, no matter how good of a connection I get. I wonder if the battery is dead, or if there’s some other problem. I’ve been too lazy to check.

But now I do need to contact the company because the watch still charges (thank goodness) but the computer doesn’t recognize the device, or if it does, the download fails. This happens in all my USB ports on my home and work computers so it is clearly an issue with either the watch or the cord. I have only had this watch for 6 months, so it’s still under warranty, and there’s no reason it should be failing. It doesn’t charge with a micro USB cord, so I can’t just swap in a different charger.

This week of training was kind of weird, since I was just winging it. I didn’t do a long run, but I did 3 runs of six or so miles, so I don’t think I needed a long run. I got speedwork and trails in, and all the runs felt decent-to-good. I am pumped for the race (except I think it’ll be hot), and plan to take it easy in the days leading up to it.

PP5M Training: Week 5

Last week’s training was a bit messed up. Here’s the log:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 6.2 mi (trail)
Thursday: 5.5 mi (10×400 intervals)
Friday: 4.4 mi, road
Saturday: 1.6 mi trail + 3.5 road
Sunday: 1.6 mi trail + 7.9 road
Total: 30.7 mi

I started the week with 2 unscheduled rest days in a row. Not the best way to start a week, but necessary. Both Sunday night and Monday night I slept horribly (Sunday because I wasn’t feeling well, Monday I don’t know what the problem was), and I even went home from work early on Tuesday and took a 2 hour nap, which I never do. Generally when I nap I feel really sick and horrible, so I avoid them unless I just can’t function. I did yoga both days (after the nap on Tuesday, which helped me feel better) and I walked a couple of miles on Monday, so I wasn’t a complete deadbeat.

I don’t feel guilty about “unscheduled rest days,” to use the parlance of our time, because if they’re needed, they’re needed. Knowing when to give my body or my mind a break from running is important, and not listening to that impulse is going to be detrimental to my training. I just moved everything up by a day and skipped the rest day, and tried to make up the mileage. I made it to 30!

Wednesday I tried out my handheld on a trail run. Thursday I gave intervals another try and kind of sucked at them. I did that run on Park Point (a stupid idea, because while the flat surface was nice, dodging tourists who don’t look when they cross the street and who ride tandem bikes as if the whole street is theirs was unpleasant, and then I got bridged) and I think I’ll do that for the next set of intervals (fewer tourists). My splits were unknown, 10:50, 10:39, 10:49, unknown, 10:45, 10:46, 10:53, 10:34, 10:20. I forgot to hit the lap button for the two unknowns. While those are fairly consistent (with the last one an outlier), they are too fast. Either that or I’m going to slaughter my race on Friday.

Saturday and Sunday I did “doubles” as I did a short hike each day (a dry run and then the solstice hike) and a run. My long run on Sunday went ok. I brought along my handheld and started at 6 PM, trying to avoid the heat. Instead I got full-on sun in my face for a few miles and ended up salty as hell. I used my fantastic water bottle to douse my head and get the salt off my face. I felt really gross after the run, despite sipping water the whole way and despite feeling strong during the run. It was really stuffy in my house and was making me nauseated. I’m not sure if it was the heat, or if it was because I hadn’t eaten enough before my run. I think it was the latter, because after I laid down for a little while (in the grass outside, because I was feeling a little panicky) and ate a granola bar, I was fine and ate my dinner. I also didn’t show any other signs of dehydration or heat illness. Still, that handheld is coming with on all long runs or runs where I’m exposed to a lot of sun, just to be safe.

This coming week, I’m hoping to get back on the training schedule, with a few minor, but planned tweaks. With the race on Friday/Saturday (it starts at 11:59 PM on Friday) rather than Sunday as the schedule says (why do these stupid plans always have the races on Sundays? Saturday’s probably more common!), I’ll have Sunday as an open day and do a long run, and I probably will still only have one rest day (Thursday) even though the plan calls for two rest days in a row leading up to the race. It’s a 5K, I’ll survive on just one rest day.

Even though the training plan went pear-shaped for the week, I still got the important workouts in (long run and speedwork), got the mileage I wanted, and had some fun along the way. I’ll just be over here self-congratulating for this accomplishment.