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.

PP5M Training: Week 4

I need to add another item to my summer gear wish list: insect repellent. Heat + humidity + sweat + trails = bites. I was making myself dizzy whipping my head around every time I even thought I was being bit by a mosquito. I don’t want to cover myself in the hard-core, eye-searing insect repellents that I use when I’m camping or at a bonfire or something. Those repellents have their place, and I’m certainly not crunchy enough to forgo them entirely, but I don’t want them on my arms/neck/face when I’m running, since I’m always wiping my sweat off my face with my arms and hands.

Here’s this week’s training update. I skipped a week in the Higdon program, as it called for a 5K. I will do that week as Week 6, when my next 5K is scheduled.

Monday: 4.9 mi, road
Tuesday: 6.1 mi, trails (Hartley)
Wednesday: 4.7 mi, road, tempo
Thursday: rest
Friday: 4.7 mi, trails (Bagley)
Saturday: 5 mi, trails (SHT)
Sunday: 7.5 mi, road
Total: 32.8 mi

I changed the planned rest day from Friday to Thursday. It makes more sense. It also ensures that I am not doing my long run right after a rest day, as it sometimes works out better to do my long run on Saturday rather than Sunday, and I always want to make sure it’s done on “tired” legs.

Overall it was a fairly decent week for training, and I finally got above 30 miles, so that was good. I felt kind of sick on Friday night, but I was fine and it didn’t affect Saturday’s workout. Just as I was planning on heading out on Sunday, I got a charlie horse in my calf simply from trying to stand up. So, that set me back a few hours. It ended up being a blessing in disguise as it was still fairly warm when I headed out just before 4, and it was sunny most of the way. I would have liked to have a couple shorter runs in warmer temps to acclimate a little better, but that’s the way it goes. Since my goal race is going to be in warmer temps, I’m going to have to trudge along until I get used to it.

Unhappy Trails

Yesterday, for my cross-training workout for the week, I did a trail hike/run. The Higdon Intermediate 10K Plan calls for a 60 minute cross-training workout every Saturday, but I’ve been making that a trail day and trying to choose more technical trails so that it doesn’t end up being a real run.

I picked a new trail this week, a section of the Superior Hiking Trail starting at the Martin Rd parking lot and heading out north along the North Shore State Trail, which is mainly a snowmobiling trail. (I would never run it in winter for fear of getting plowed over.) This isn’t a trail review per se, since I didn’t stop/turn around at a traditional spot along the trail. I think I turned around at Prindle Rd.

This portion of the trail was not fun. It was grassy, but not tamped down at all, so at times I was crashing through a barely-forged trail with grass up past my knees on the sides. I sorely wished I’d worn long pants. I also need to invest in some kind of bug repellent post-haste.

I suffered through most of this run, not because it was hard, but because I couldn’t stand the feeling of grass brushing against my legs. I know that’s silly, grass isn’t poisonous, but it made me itch and I kept thinking ticks were going to jump all over me. It was a bit wet and muddy in some spots, though not terribly so, and there were piles of horse crap along the way to dodge.

If the grass was tamped down enough to forge a nice trail, the run would have been pleasant. It was very run-able once I got past my annoyance with the grass. I passed UMD’s new wind turbine and Sustainable Agriculture Project Farm. After I got past the farm, the more open area turned into deciduous forest, with private lands on either side of the trail and many houses visible through the trees.

Despite a few cars in the Martin Rd. parking lot, I didn’t see anyone on the trail, and I suppose I am not surprised. In the opposite direction, the trail is a lot more traversable and more scenic. However, the Martin Rd. lot is the first spot where thru-hikers can jump on the trail and find campsites (though I’m not sure how one would need a campsite just a few miles in), so I would have expected to find evidence of someone else on the trail. (Someone not equine, I mean. I found plenty of evidence of those folks.) The trail would be a heck of a lot better if more people braved the grass and made more of a true path. Right now it’s not even single-track, more like one-third-of-a-track wide through most of the grass.

Maybe I’ll try it again in a month or so and see if it’s improved a bit, when I’m in need of a long run and can travel the whole distance and back or something.