Week Six Update

Hey, week 6 went well! I’m pretty pumped to have had two training weeks in a row where I didn’t wuss out on anything. I have very low standards.

I am very glad today is a rest day, although once I started moving around today I felt a lot better than I thought I would. My hips are suffering the most. I need an oil can. My lower back is a little stiff too. My legs and feet feel fine.

Summary:
Monday rest
Tuesday 4.4 miles, road, hill repeats included
Wednesday 5.2 miles, road
Thursday 3.5 miles, road + trail
Friday 4 miles, Lakewalk, medium tempo run
Saturday 4.2 miles, trail
Sunday 9 miles, Lakewalk
Total 30.3 miles!

Thursday I took another stab at Chester Creek, and while it wasn’t entirely runnable, it was passable enough. It was just what I needed since I was getting kind of crabby about running.

The view on the way:

Trees bent over the creek:

I love living here.

Saturday I went to Hartley Nature Center, intending to do my 9 miler. That didn’t happen. There was still snow and ice in spots, and I wasn’t wearing my chains, so I slid around a lot and fell on my butt once. It was not a good feeling, especially since I was already feeling crummy from my “speed” workout from Friday. In places it was so muddy I was slipping as badly as I was on the ice, and half of the trails were closed due to mud. I shudder to think what kind of condition they were in if the sloppy messes I was on were still open. So I conceded I wasn’t going to get the 9 miles done (I was going slow as heck anyway, ended up with a pace under 3 mph!) and got to 4.

Sunday I got out of bed late, took much longer than expected to do homework, and practically had to drag myself out the door thanks to rather depressing-looking weather. It turned out to be much warmer than I thought so I felt a little better about the impending run. I went to the Lakewalk because I knew it was about 4.5 miles round trip and it had easy access to my car and to a bathroom, so I could bail if things sucked horribly halfway through and I could get a quick bathroom break if needed.

The run itself went ok. My hips hurt (mildly) through a lot of it, which caused me to question if I am overdoing this training and need to rethink my marathon plans. Considering I don’t feel like total crap today, I am disregarding those thoughts. It rained a little bit, but only lightly, so it didn’t bother me. At times the wind was demoralizing. Running straight into gust after gust of wind was unpleasant.

I managed to keep my heart rate relatively low (mid 140s) for the first 5 miles, but it crept up during the last 4, probably due to fatigue and to wind. I managed to hold myself back from pushing it for most of the run. At the end I wanted to see if I had another gear (because I was doubting myself and doubting my ability to complete a marathon upright), but after a few strides I slowed down, reminding myself that I wouldn’t be finishing much faster and I would feel worse the next day or even hurt myself.

Here are my splits:
16:02
16:10
16:20
15:31
16:00
15:35
15:38
15:47
15:29

Those last 4 miles were fairly consistent (for me), which is a good sign. I have been having a tough time maintaining a consistent pace. The fifth mile is a bit of an outlier because I was running straight into the wind for about half a mile. (I know I said I don’t like to make excuses, but it’s only an excuse for why my pace was a little off the surrounding miles. It’s not an excuses for slowness. THEY ARE ALL SLOW SPLITS.)

This upcoming week includes a 12 mile long run, which will be a nice test. I hope that I can keep the pace in the mid 15s again. Right now the most important thing for me on long runs is consistency and endurance, and then I can just pray the hills and tempo runs will bring that consistent pace down. A solid plan!

At A Medium Pace

Yesterday I had my first “medium pace” run of this training cycle. My training plan defines a “medium pace” as follows: “You should feel like you’re running faster than your normal training pace but not so fast that you can’t keep it up for a little while. You may not be able to talk very easily and your breathing will be more labored.” Ok. I wasn’t sure how hard to push it, but I knew that I needed to be done in time to watch the Bulldogs’ hockey game. I was supposed to warm up, run at this mystery pace for a mile or more, jog for a bit, repeat.

I went to the Lakewalk for the run because I didn’t want to deal with giant hills. I could gamble because the game before UMD’s was going into overtime, so it pushed our starting time back. I needed 4 miles for the day, so I decided to keep an eye on my watch and then turn around at 2 miles, instead of doing the whole Lakewalk and adding another 0.6 miles. Time was of the essence!! Hockey was occurring!

I crushed that medium pace run. I am pretty pumped about it. I ran three 1-mile intervals, and ran all 3 around 12 minutes. On the last one I got a side stitch and had to slow down to keep it from getting out of hand. I finished 4 miles in less than an hour for the first time in forever, so that was exciting.

Splits:
12:55
13:30
13:25
12:27 (This was the only mile that was entirely at the faster pace)

This doesn’t mean much for the marathon yet, but it does bode well for the Fitger’s 5K in 2 weeks. I was really afraid I wouldn’t be able to run very fast or that I couldn’t keep the pace up long enough. I used to be a big quitter when running. If I felt crummy or frustrated, I would just give up. I need to continue to build mental toughness; it’s really lagging my physical fitness.

I finished up my run and made it home just in time for the hockey game to start, the Bulldogs won, and the Wild won, so it was a great day overall. I still have 14 13 miles to go this weekend (5 only 4! today and 9 on Sunday, or maybe flip-flopped), but I am a little concerned. My hip has been bugging me, just some overall soreness. I might need to back off on the 5 miler.

I’m pleased to have had a good training day after several not-so-pleasant ones. Yesterday was still cold, but the sun was shining, the lake was a gorgeous deep blue, and I enjoyed speeding up instead of plodding along. The next few days should be in the 40s or even 50s, so I hope to have a few more nice workouts.

Decaffeinated

As I suspected in my post on Wednesday, caffeine was affecting my heart rate. I cut down to one cup a day (12 oz) the rest of the work week, and noticed I could run a bit faster on the treadmill at the same heart rate. It’s not an amazing leap forward, but I’m not doing myself any favors by artificially inflating my heart rate even a few beats.

Cutting down my coffee intake has made me feel pretty crappy the past few days. I suppose that’s a sign that I’ve made the right decision to cut back. I held fast even though Friday I was feeling really gross, with a headache and sort of general malaise, and it was a rest day, so it wouldn’t have mattered, and I went to a hockey game after work, so the energy would have been welcomed. Yesterday I let myself sleep as long as I needed to, which helped, and I didn’t have my usual glorious post-run latte, so I’m hoping I’ll level off soon. Just in time to go back to school, where I will have three lattes a day sometimes just to survive. Hooray.

Yesterday I also took advantage of the warmer weather to run outside. I went down to the Lakewalk, my old standby. I wanted to try running on more even terrain so I didn’t have to plod up a hill at a 40 min/mile pace with my heart rate still spiking at 160.

I didn’t wear my shoe chains since it has been warm enough to melt any built-up ice that might have been on the path. There was a bit of snow cover in places but I didn’t slip. Unfortunately, when I started off, I wasn’t able to get my heart rate under control. I really don’t know why, but it was spiking and then dropping and then spiking again for the first few minutes of the run, so I had to go pretty slowly to start off with. My first mile was the slowest.

Splits:
17:00
15:58
16:13
15:53
15:39 (0.46 mi)

See? That makes no sense. After the first mile I had no trouble keeping my heart rate down, other than the little inclines. I don’t know if there was a problem with the monitor at first, or if breathing in cold air was affecting me, or what, but I’m glad everything evened out. I got a little bit of a headache after my ears got cold, which ended up lingering awhile even after I was out of the cold. I also took a shower too soon after coming in from the cold, so my skin got all itchy and blotchy and it still felt cold to the touch in places after the shower.

A latte sounds amazing right now. Ugh, this sucks. But it’s for the best, right?

Trail Review: Lakewalk (Winter)

I’m not sure if this review counts as a “winter review” since it’s not usually 26 degrees with scant snow cover in January here, but it will for now. I’ll probably re-review it or update this review when we’ve gotten more snow. I will not be re-reviewing it when it’s colder because I will not be out there. Tomorrow the high is -5 so I probably won’t be out there anytime soon. I wore my shoe chains today and felt kind of stupid because it wasn’t very slick at all and the trail was almost entirely clear.

The Lakewalk is about 2.3 miles long and is a nice out-and-back. The terrain is predictable and there are only few small hills, so it’s a good trail to use as a benchmark for improvement. It also starts/ends right in Canal Park and winds through the backyard of most of the hotels and Leif Erickson Park, so it is always going to have people on it. It’s multi-use, with a boardwalk for walking along a portion of it, and blacktop for running (and walking past a certain point) or biking.

It’s unbelievably gorgeous on one side. I took this at the finish of my run today. It was snowing when I started and I was hoping to take a lovely picture of snow on the lake, but it stopped before I was done.

CanalPark

It also has some major drawbacks. Even though there’s a lovely view of the lake, it’s not a serene path. The freeway goes right alongside, as does the scenic railroad. The railroad went by me last summer when I was slogging along (the same night I found the cat) and I felt like an idiot. Past the two mile mark there’s some kind of sewage storage building that smells unpleasantly as you pass by. The smell doesn’t last very long and isn’t too terrible, but it detracts from the experience.

Parking in the public lots in Canal Park is free during the winter, and the lot at the far end of Canal Park by the Army Corps of Engineers museum is basically trailside parking. If you time your run right, you can watch a ship go through the canal with 200 of your closest tourist friends. Caribou Coffee and Amazing Grace bakery are nearby to grab a coffee or snack post-run.

Bottom line: the Lakewalk is a nice, predictable, non-technical trail with beautiful views of Lake Superior, but can be a little crowded or noisy.