Twin Cities Marathon 2019 Training: Week 1

Monday: 3.2 mi, road
Tuesday: 2.9 mi, trail (Battle Creek)
Wednesday: 5.1 mi, paved trail (MRT, 4 x 0.5 mi)
Thursday: rest
Friday: 5.6 mi, road/paved trail (MRT/Water St, 30 @ tempo)
Saturday: 6.9 mi, road (6 @ marathon pace)
Sunday: 7.1 mi, paved trail (Battle Creek)
Total: 30.7 mi

Wednesday I was calculating how many weeks I had until TCM. Whoops, it was 16 weeks, so I retroactively started my training. Fortunately the first 2 days were 3 mile runs, which I had done!

Monday I did a short run around my neighborhood. There’s a new section of sidewalk that was just installed that makes running my typical neighborhood loop significantly safer. I decided it was time to check it out.

Tuesday I did a cross-country style run at Battle Creek up on the bluffs. I don’t love running in grass, so it wasn’t that much fun, but I barely got a run in as it was. I’ve never been up in that area (and had to use a mountain bike trail to get there, which made me feel like a jerk), so it was fun to find somewhere new, but I just haaaaaaaaate how slow grass is.

Wednesday’s half mile repeats I already discussed here. I planned Thursday as my rest day because I was going to go to a local concert, but we ended up not going. It sounds like it was a good idea, because the only band I was going to see ended up playing last, so it would have been like midnight. On a work night, ew!

Friday I did a tempo run. It was okay, I guess. I didn’t think my route through very well. I ran the Mississippi River Trail starting at Harriet Island and heading back toward Lilydale. It was okay until I ran under the railroad tracks, got back on the trail, and remembered it was covered in sediment. And there were two downed trees. I had to veer over to the roads for the rest of the workout. It went all right, although I should have had a snack or something beforehand because I could feel myself running out of energy. I ran an average of 10:34 pace for the 30 minutes, peaking at the 20 minute mark as planned.

Saturday I did a marathon pace workout on Summit. That was a stupid idea, since I hit a bunch of stoplights. I think I hit eight of them in total. I had a really hard time getting into the right rhythm. At first, I was running too fast. I want to run a 5 hour marathon, so I’m looking at an 11:26 marathon pace. I’d look down at my watch and see 11:10 or 10:40, so I’d back off and then I’d see 12:40 or something. And then when I finally settled into a groove, I’d hit a stoplight and have to recalibrate. The first few miles went all right, but then I started getting some abdominal cramps that wouldn’t go away. I guess my morning latte wasn’t sitting that well. This really messed with my head and I was having a hard time staying motivating myself to hold the harder pace. The “marathon pace” section of my workout ended up being a 12:13 average pace, stoplights included.

There are two ways of looking at this result: I need to be more realistic about this marathon, or I’m in okay shape but need to keep working. 12:13 is much faster than my previous TCM pace, so that part is good, and of course I will not have stoplights or other traffic to deal with during the race, but those stoplights also gave me little rest/recovery breaks. I wanted to give up so many times, too, because my stomach hurt and it was hot and I think I probably should have eaten a little snack just before running. So my mental game is weak. The next marathon pace workout will need to be on a paved trail with fewer road crossings, in order to get a better sense of my abilities, but it was disheartening to have such a hard time holding it for even six miles. Of course, I have run longer distances at faster paces, so I shouldn’t be too worried about it, and even if I do run a marathon with a 12:13 average pace, I’ll have a huge time improvement over last year, so that’s a bonus.

Sunday I had to drag myself out to run, and I don’t know why. The weather was sort of iffy – I wasn’t sure if it was going to rain or not while I was running. And I just wanted to do nothing and be lazy. We had a barbecue to attend in the afternoon, and for some reason if I have a deadline I need to finish my run by, then I get all squirrelly and don’t want to run at all, or take forever to get started. Why must I be such a self-saboteur? I got out there and did 7 miles, though my plan called for 8. It didn’t rain more than a little sprinkle, but the air was so thick and heavy that the whole run was fairly unpleasant. I got it done, so hooray, but I didn’t feel very accomplished about it.

In addition to the running, I did 120 push-ups every day, including the rest day. I have been doing push-ups daily for awhile now, but I’m often doing them at bedtime because I space out about getting them done during the day and then realize oh crap, it’s 11:00 and I’ve only done 80 (I do reps of 20-30 periodically, I don’t usually knock out all the push-ups at once. This probably isn’t the best way to do them but it is better than doing zero.)

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.

Post-Mortem: Twin Cities Marathon

Hey! That race was really fun! And I’m already recruiting colleagues to be on a corporate team next year!

tcmfinish

Look how freaking happy I am here! The finish of this race is actually amazing. Round the corner, see the cathedral, and see the gentle downhill to the finish. Maybe it’s too small to see how much I’m enjoying myself but I am! Thank you, magical endocannabinoids! I sure know how to pull it together for the finish of a race.

Thoughts/lessons learned/etc:

Road marathons are so easy! Hahahahah, not really true. They’re hard in a different way. But there’s something to be said for not being on my feet as long, even if I am putting in a faster effort. I didn’t have to plan ahead for something like Moose Mountain. I could mostly get into a rhythm. I never had to worry that I was out in the middle of nowhere and if I did try to push through something, that I would be in an unsafe situation if I got more injured/sick/whatever.

There’s a huge advantage to running on familiar terrain. I’m glad this was my first road marathon, because I’d run or driven on probably 90% of the course. I knew what was coming, or at least had a good general idea where I was. It was also an emotional boost to run through the chain of lakes and think of other fun times I’ve had with my friends, or to cross from Minneapolis into St. Paul, my city of residence. I got chills and thrills when I ran by the Basilica and the church bells were pealing.

It would have totally sucked if it had been sunny. I tried to pare down what I carried, so I didn’t carry any sunscreen. I brought some in my drop bag and applied it while on the light rail, but that didn’t last 7 hours. I was very fortunate I didn’t get sunburned.

Speaking of carrying stuff, my problems started once I tossed my water bottle. I know snobby runners like to make fun of marathoners who wear hydration vests or carry water bottles, but those people can go to hell. When I was able to sip water, I was in much better shape. Once I had to drink at aid stations, I was overdoing it. I should have either refilled that bottle, or I should have brought the small flask that came with my vest. Then I wouldn’t have gotten that stupid side stitch issue.

Maybe next time, I’ll try to pace it more evenly. I mean, duh. I had a 30 minute positive split. But I also didn’t have much of a race plan, and I sort of enjoyed going out too hard, even though I knew that I was screwing over my second half self. I wanted to see what I could do. I wonder how things would have gone if I hadn’t consumed too much water. I’d probably have shaved maybe 5 minutes off my time. Nothing drastic – I’m sure I’d still have been reduced to a walk.

I am terrible at following a training plan, but I still liked having one. The first month or so, I was kicking butt. However, the heat made the marathon pace workouts hard to do — I had to resort to marathon “effort.” And even then I was just guessing at what pace should be marathon pace, anyway. Then work, travel, and illness started to chip away at the training plan, and I was running whatever I could muster the strength and mental energy to run. Still, I liked having various planned workouts, like hill repeats or tempos.

I’m used to being self-sufficient at races, but it was nice to have the logistics taken care of. Free light rail right to the start! Extremely efficient drop bag check-in! Never a doubt whether I was on course. Water and Gatorade every mile (or so). EMTs everywhere. Entertainment and crowd support through almost every yard of the course. Someone to literally wrap me in the space blanket at the end! Immediate results, and a quick turnaround on videos and pictures. It was all very luxurious, and I was glad I was able to relinquish control and take advantage of some of the services and logistics support the race offers. I still threw my cups in the garbage, even if there were plenty of volunteers raking them up.

It was too crowded for my taste. I run alone almost all the time. I run alone at trail races, too. I went through periods where I was tired of seeing people, and hearing them. The expo and the start were both overwhelmingly crowded to me. I’m not agoraphobic by any means, but when I’m running, I feel uncomfortable around so many people, especially if I’m standing around alone. I hate accidentally being in the background of people’s selfies. And I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate hearing people chatter on in conversation during races.

Trail running is better, but I’m absolutely going to run more road marathons! I want to chase down a sub-5 marathon. I want to keep participating in this race, since it’s so convenient. I’m hoping to incorporate road marathons (and half marathons) into ultra training blocks as supported long runs. And maybe… maybe someday I’ll do Grandma’s.

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Weeks 14 and 15

Two weeks of incredibly dull training, comin’ atcha!

Monday (9/17): 5.6 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: 6.2 mi, treadmill
Wednesday: 5.5 mi, treadmill (hill workout)
Thursday: 6 mi, treadmill
Friday: 5.3 mi, treadmill
Saturday: rest
Sunday: rest
Total: 28.6 mi

Monday (9/24): 5 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: 6.1 mi, paved trail (MRT)
Wednesday: 6 mi, paved trail (MRT)
Thursday: rest
Friday: 5.3 mi, paved trail (Battle Creek)
Saturday: 5.5 mi, treadmill
Sunday: 6.1 mi, paved trail (Fort Snelling to Minnehaha Park & back)
Total: 34 mi

I’m officially in the “marking time” phase of training, which is probably not a normal marathon training phase, but I always seem to end up here. Probably because I’m always catching colds and entering survival mode.

Week 14 revolved around prep for our party on Saturday. I ran on the treadmill because it was the easiest way for me to control the amount of time my workout would take. I would run on the treadmill and then spend the next several hours of each night running around frantically trying to clean the house, decorate it, shove stuff in closets, and prep food. I think we took six or seven separate trips to the grocery store between Wednesday and Saturday.

I’d planned to take Saturday off from running, of course. I spent all day giving tours of my house and flitting from room to room worrying my guests were not getting enough of my time and attention. My friends and family are pretty great and could fend for themselves, but I still fretted about entertaining them, especially the ones who didn’t know anyone else. (My high school friends, meanwhile, were out back playing an extremely aggressive soccer game with a sad looking basketball found under my back deck by the sons of two of my friends. They were good to go.) It turned out all the fun and frenzy wore me out and I was in bed by 10 PM.

My plan for Sunday was to work out, go to a welcome party for my cousin’s darling new baby, go to a birthday/PhD celebration for one of the aggressive soccer players from the previous day, and then have a dinner with two other friends who could not make the party. I was tired, my back hurt from standing so much the day before, and I was mentally drained (but happily so!) – so I hit the snooze button and focused on spending time with friends and family. It’s not like I’m winning this damn marathon or something.

Then, week 15, I came down with another cold-like illness. And here I am, Wednesday night, over a week later, still not totally over it, despite going through an entire bottle of Zicam QuickMelts. Of course, I did keep running – I really wanted to beat my Sept 2017 mileage. (Narrator: She did, by 0.88 mi.) I also didn’t feel so sick that I needed to stop. While I was tired, had a bit of a stuffy head/runny nose, and sneezed a bit, I never got that horrible, sick, sweaty feeling like I did when walking to meet the bus for the Moose Mountain Marathon. I never felt dizzy or light-headed, so I kept on. I even did a tempo run on Tuesday, and though I felt like total crap and like my legs were encased in concrete, I ended up running about the same pace I would have wanted to run. So hey, a good sign?

I did a lot of runs on the Mississippi River Trail, just to get out of the house and off the treadmill. It would have been perfect weather for running almost every day last week, had I not been ill. I ended up overdressing for most of my runs in order to avoid getting chilled.

Race week is upon me now, and I’m using it to rest, get healthy, and run teeny tiny distances. I even have Friday off from work to relax! (Ha ha, work got insane so I’ll prb be working anyway.) At this point, my main goal is to get to the starting line with clear lungs and clear sinuses. I dream big!

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 13

Accidentally a lighter week.

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 4.4 mi, paved trail (MRT)
Wednesday: 4.2 mi, paved trail (MRT)
Thursday: 3.3 mi, trail (Centennial Lakes)
Friday: 4.3 mi, paved trail (Battle Creek)
Saturday: 6.3 mi, treadmill (50 @ tempo)
Sunday: rest
Total: 22.4 mi

So I’ve been living in my new house for 6 months now, and only a handful of friends and family have ever seen it. We lost a lot of time and energy due to dealing with bed bugs, and didn’t realize how much that set us back in our plans for the house. I decided we were just going to have to pick a date, do what we could to set up the house, and if we didn’t have all the little projects completed, so be it. We’re not having a photo shoot for a fancy home decor publication, we’re just having a little party with people who already know what a slob I am.

I did want to get the kitchen cabinets repainted, and unfortunately that took up more time than I expected – so we’ve spent the past week or so finishing that up, cleaning, organizing, and putting things away (or just out of sight) in preparation for the party this upcoming weekend. I still got my workouts in, but the quality and quantity of the workouts were less than what I’d have liked. I suppose it’s not really that big of a deal considering I’d run a marathon the weekend prior… somehow Superior feels like it was months ago.

Monday I rested, giving myself another day to recover from the marathon. I felt pretty good, which is unsurprising since I hiked so much of the run. Tuesday and Wednesday I returned to my old haunts on the Mississippi River Trail – Tuesday I ran starting at Upper Landing Park, and Wednesday I ran starting at Harriet Island Park. My legs were pretty heavy both days, so I was glad I’d taken Monday off. I didn’t push myself, just tried to keep from dragging.

Thursday I had plans for my mom and aunt to come over (my aunt had just returned from her trip to Norway and was heading back to Colorado, so we wanted to see her again before she left), so I ran at lunch around Centennial Lakes. I discovered that I could add a larger loop by turning off the trail and going under York Ave, so now I have a nice way to lengthen my lunch runs and add variety.

Friday I planned to run more miles, but I forgot that Battle Creek’s trails are pretty short, and I also started really late, so I ended up finishing nearly in the dark. I’m not used to these shorter days! Ugh.

Saturday we were heading up to Duluth for a wedding, so I got up early and pounded out a tempo run on the treadmill before we left. (I showered, too, don’t worry.) The wedding was a blast, and I got in some nice cross training on the dance floor. I like the Backstreet Boys about 1000000000x more now than I did in high school, it appears.

Sunday my dad and I had plans to go kayaking on Lake Superior, but we were foiled by fog. Once I was back in the Twin Cities, I just… didn’t feel like running. It was hot out, I had a lot to do around the house, and I didn’t have any energy. (No, I wasn’t hung over!) So, whoops, I didn’t run.

I really wanted to get in a lot more mileage this last week, but in the grand scheme of things, it was probably better for me to take it easy. I can’t believe I have fewer than 3 weeks to go til TCM! Eek.

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 11

I rebounded!

Monday: 7.3 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: 6.3 mi, road (7xWabasha St Bridge)
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 5.8 mi, paved trail (Lake Nokomis, 42 @ tempo)
Friday: 6.2 mi, road
Saturday: 7.5 mi, road (split into 2 runs)
Sunday: 8.6 mi, trail (Fort Snelling)
Total: 41.6 mi

I was determined to get in a decent week of running this past week, and I succeeded, I think. Obviously I didn’t do any long runs, but that’s fine. Monday I stuck to the treadmill because I was still not totally over my illness (I think I am now, or at least I hope so — the alternative is I have a silent infection slowly taking over my body — shudder). Tuesday I’d had enough and headed out on the roads for bridge repeats, which sucked as they always do. But I always feel so self-satisfied afterward, like I’ve really accomplished something. Which I have.

Wednesday I was planning on running and didn’t. I had a long day at work and didn’t get home til almost 6, so I decided to pack it in. It was worthwhile, my brain was pretty fried and I had a big meeting Thursday morning I wanted to be prepared for. I brought stuff to work on Thursday so I could go directly after work to Lake Nokomis. Well, actually I parked at my cousin’s house, ran from her place to Lake Nokomis, did 2 laps around, and then ran back. I did a tempo run, my first on the road in awhile, and it felt really really really freaking miserable and difficult. Possibly because there was a STRONG wind around the lake, and I was running right into it at times. And also because I hadn’t done one on the road in awhile. I ended the tempo segment at 42 minutes, right when I got to the spot where I turned off the path and onto the street again. I thought my training plan had called for a 50 minute tempo run and I was SO DONE, but it turned out it only called for 45 minutes, and I think I had 3 more minutes in me, had I known.

I thought I needed to rush back to my cousin’s house to meet my mom and my aunt, who were walking her dogs, but it turned out they were late arriving and so I ended up hanging out at the house for awhile, chatting with my mom, my aunt (visiting from Colorado on her way to Norway), my cousin, and her mom (who is my mom’s cousin, but I didn’t feel like writing out “second cousin” and “first cousin once removed” because who cares?) while holding my cousin’s squishy new baby. (I waited until I’d dried off a bit and washed my hands first, because I didn’t want to snuggle with a newborn while drenched in sweat and caked in salt.) So I guess I had time to get those last minutes of tempo in, but whatever.

Friday I ran starting at Indian Mounds Regional Park. I need to remember not to do that, because it starts off as a lot of downhill. That means it ends with a lot of uphill. It was pretty miserable. There’s a great view of the city at sunset from the park, which I was treated to as I cruised in for the last half mile or so. There were some gentlemen enjoying adult beverages when I started my run, and they were still there when I returned, and one of them complimented me for running for so long. I was in a good mood and generally I don’t mind exchanging a few words with a drunk stranger if they are nice and not aggressive, so I thanked him and said it was tough, then wished him a good evening.

Saturday I split my run into 2 runs, because I had a bunch of stuff to do. I ran about 4 miles around lunchtime and got absolutely scorched. It made me feel fairly miserable and faintly nauseated for several hours afterward, even after taking a shower (far too quick) and rehydrating. My husband and I drove over to my mom’s, had a mid-day meal with my family before my aunt left for her trip, and then we drove home to start our project for the weekend: painting the kitchen cupboards. Ugh. What a dumb idea. We took all the cabinets down, removed the hardware, and then I went for another run in the evening (about 3 miles) which was a lot less miserable.

Sunday I got up, went to Fort Snelling, and had an actual enjoyable run around Pike Island and then up the Minnesota River Valley Trail toward Minnehaha Falls (I’ll have to run there another time). It was significantly more enjoyable to run that area without feeling like I had to pee the whole time. It was warm but most of the trail was shaded. I felt pretty strong but also caught myself spacing out and running at a mindless pace. I’d look down and see like 15:45 pace on my watch. I do not understand how I can let myself get so much slower just by zoning out. It’s really annoying, because zoning out helps the miles go by. I need to figure out a better way to run by feel, because I thought I was cruising along at least 2 min/mi faster. Then I went home and finished prepping my kitchen and started painting, which about killed my poor legs.

Superior is this week, I can’t even believe it. Time for my mini-taper (and time to get more done around the house)!

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 10

I guess when I said I wasn’t tapering much for Superior, I was tempting fate.

Monday: 6.6 mi, treadmill (45 @ tempo)
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 7.4 mi, road
Thursday: 7 mi, road
Friday: 2.9 mi, road
Saturday: 7.7 mi, trail (2.5 @ Fort Snelling) + treadmill (5.2)
Sunday: 5.7 mi, trail (Fort Snelling)
Total: 37.3 mi

Okay, let’s talk about Saturday first. Clearly I did not run the Women Rock Half Marathon I was so excited about. Instead, on Friday evening, I discovered I had a mild UTI (oversharing? Maybe. But it’s just an illness!) and I decided the next morning not to run. I felt really stupid about it, because I had very few symptoms. I’m used to having a cold, or an upset stomach, and having symptoms that wear me out. I felt like a quitter, like I should have gutted it out and run the race, but I was worried about putting my excretory system through a half marathon when it has an infection. Well, I felt guilty about it and packed up in the afternoon for a long run at Fort Snelling. Nope. I made it 2.5 miles before I called it quits and went home, because while I mostly felt fine, I spent the entire time I was running (one loop of FANS, basically) feeling like I had to pee, and then I went to the bathroom and still felt like I had to pee. What an annoying symptom. So I went home and managed to get a run in on the treadmill (with like 3 bathroom breaks) so the day wasn’t a total loss.

I’m disappointed I didn’t get to run the half marathon, and annoyed that I wasted $65 on a race I signed up for on a whim, but I don’t feel like I made a bad decision.

Back to Monday —  I can’t remember why I ran on the treadmill. Laziness? Weather? It was so long ago. 8 whole days. A lot is going on at work right now so my brain can’t remember more than a few days prior. I did a tempo run, which I can do more effectively on the treadmill – I can keep my pace under control and slowly ramp it up and down. It just sucks because I hate running on the treadmill, although I use it as a crutch a lot.

Tuesday I planned to run and came home to find every sports bra I had was dirty. And I already wear them more than once because I’m gross and just don’t care if I smell bad, so when I say dirty I really mean it. I had recently thrown two away because the hook and eye closures were coming apart, so I had a shortened rotation. Fortunately REI’s Labor Day Sale started Friday, so I picked up 2 more on sale (along with some gels). I was annoyed because I was all ready to run and wanted to take a rest day before the half marathon, but I dealt with it.

Wednesday and Thursday were both road runs that were nothing special. I did pick up my race bib on Thursday, but that was about as exciting as it got. Friday I ran a short shakeout run around my neighborhood and then discovered the bad news.

Sunday I wanted to give Fort Snelling another try. It’s the closest state park to my house, and I don’t know why I never considered running there before. I only go there for FANS. I guess I assumed there weren’t great trails there, but that was incorrect! Instead of doing the FANS loop, I ran to Pike Island, ran around that, and then ran back to the swimming beach. I was planning to do 8.5 miles but cut it short at 5.6 miles because again, I felt like I had to pee the whole darn time. I tried to ignore it but failed, and it slowed me down quite a bit and made my run a grind. I’m running a difficult trail marathon in less than 2 weeks. I don’t need to be grinding out runs.

I was pretty proud of myself for sticking to the training plan I’d worked out – the first 6 weeks went really well, other than not being able to really do marathon pace workouts due to heat. Then life started to get in the way, and while I am bummed to not be nailing every planned workout, I also don’t mind life getting in the way. My family and my job are always going to come before running, and if that means I run lower mileage than most runners, that’s fine. It still takes me a heckofa long time to get the runs in while maintaining lower mileage, so I make do with my abilities and the amount of time I want to devote to running. It works for me for now, and if it doesn’t, I’ll figure that out when it happens.