Week Eleven Update

I’m not running Grandma’s Marathon this year.

Now for a recap of my mileage for last week:
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 4.6, road, speedwork/pickups
Wednesday: 7.1, road
Thursday: 4, road
Friday: 4.6, 2 miles medium effort, road for speedwork, trail for recovery
Saturday: 7.9, road
Sunday: rest/homework
Total: 28.3

I decided about 4 miles into my run on Saturday (a run that was supposed to be 16 miles) that I was not going to continue to pursue an entry into Grandma’s Marathon this year. It made the rest of the run suck really badly, as I was really down on myself about the decision.

I haven’t run since Saturday, and it’s now Wednesday. I planned on running today but I feel sort of gross. I mostly haven’t run because I have had a bunch of homework to do. That was part of the reason why I cut my run in half on Saturday. The guilt of taking over four hours of my Saturday to run, when I knew I had a ton of work to do, was the final criterion I needed to pull the plug on marathon training for now.

I know I said at the beginning that I was going to do a full training cycle whether or not I ran Grandma’s. I am not, I’ll save the full training cycle for the Mankato Marathon.

My plan right now is somewhat haphazard, but I am going to:
1. Finish up my last few days of school and my finals.
2. Do some speed work and medium runs in preparation for my race on May 16th.
3. Start an 8-week 10K training plan in preparation for the Park Point 5 Miler.

I think focusing on speed for awhile might do me some good. The single biggest issue with marathon training was the time commitment. It will always be a time commitment, of course, but if I can shave some seconds off my comfortable training paces, I can make the time commitment more manageable.

Thus ends the Week XX updates for now.

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Pickups

So today was a nice hard workout. By nice I mean now that it’s over I can look back and be like “Nice job.” It kind of sucked a lot while I was doing it.

In my quest to find new routes to stave off boredom and also avoid hills, I decided to park at school, head off in a new direction, and then get some work done in the computer lab while stinking with sweat. Because I live in East Hillside (please don’t stalk me), I’m kind of stuck with the same old routes because Central Entrance cuts me off to the “west” (Duluth west isn’t exactly west) and I do not want to run down the hill because that means I have to go back up the hill. It’s pretty friggin’ steep. So I must go east. Or “east,” rather.

From school, I headed “east” on Woodland and then down the hill on Arrowhead. That was a dumb choice because the streets are all cut off by Snively, the road I actually wanted to go on. I ended up at a dead end but that led me to Snively anyway. I thought that was going to be great for starting my pickup intervals, but the sidewalks ended when I was less than 2 miles into the run. So, that was annoying. I also left the house when it was cloudy and somehow the sun came out in the 5 minutes it took me to get to school. I didn’t have my hat so I was squinting and miserable for half the run.

I might be running my pickups too fast. Which is hilarious, because it’s not like I am zipping along at a cool 5:00/mile pace, but I mean too fast over my slow run pace. I was running at a “hard effort” as the training plan suggested, but I don’t know, maybe I should have been running at my 5K pace instead of hitting some single-digit paces for the beginning of the interval and then fading. Next Tuesday I am going to try to focus on hitting a consistent faster pace rather than trying to run as fast as I can.

I finished the 4.7 mile run at a 13:49 average pace and 164 bpm average heart rate. With those kinds of results, I am definitely going to give the walk/run strategy a try.

Week 10 Update

I’m pretty sure I’m actually better off as a 5 day a week runner. Right now I have no time to do any cross-training, because I don’t have time to run AND do some other kind of workout, and I believe a rest day is a rest day, not a day off from running where I do some other kind of physical activity. I also wouldn’t mind an extra day to get homework and work done.

A quick recap:
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 4.3 miles, 8x hill repeats
Wednesday: 6.9 miles, road + a little bit of trail
Thursday: 4.1 miles, Lakewalk, slightly pushing the pace (14:08 average)
Friday: rest, dead tired and concerned about a cold
Saturday: 3.9 miles, trails at Bagley
Sunday: 13.8 miles, road, Park Point and the Lakewalk
Total: 33 miles

This upcoming week I don’t have hill repeats anymore, I have pickups. I’m supposed to do 6-8 repeats of either 0.25 mile or 2 minute hard effort intervals within a 5 mile workout. This is fine, although I don’t know which to pick: 0.25 miles or 2 minutes. For someone like me, those are vastly different things. I’ll probably go with 0.25 miles because I have a need for speed (meaning I am slow, not meaning I crave it). We’ll see. I also have a 16 mile long run which I now MUST do on Saturday because I need to spend ALL DAY on Sunday working on this dumb report for a rocketry competition I’ve entered. Sunday’s 4 mile workout will probably kill me.

It’s supposed to be in the high 50s or the 60s all this upcoming week, which is great, because I am sick of wearing the same yellow hoodie every freaking day. I need a couple more cold/cool weather jackets/hoodies/whatever so that I am not wearing the same stinky thing every day. I am hoping to get by with just light long-sleeved t-shirts (at worst) from now until… like, October. I did get that green long-sleeved t-shirt for running Fitger’s 5K, but the one time I considered wearing it was Thursday when I ran on the Lakewalk, and I’m glad I didn’t, because there were like 3 other people wearing it.

Lessons from the Long Run

14 miles in the books today. Well, 13.8. Ugh. It wasn’t good. Although I plugged in my watch and looked at my overall time and splits and apparently it didn’t suck as much as I thought.

Let’s look at the splits:
Park Point out and back
16:02 – warmup/I got bridged right at the beginning and had to wait around a bit.
15:10
14:47
14:18 – I wanted to finish the first four miles in under an hour and came close, but this is faster than it should have been, if I was running smartly. It felt fine though.
15:16 – I walked a little bit here and had a Starburst.
14:43 – Another Starburst here I think.
14:40
16:17 – Walked a bit and had another Starburst, felt nauseated.
15:11
Lakewalk
22:06 – Stopped at my car right at the beginning of this mile
15:37
16:44
15:44
14:48 pace for the last 0.8 miles
Overall pace: 15:49

I kind of thought the overall pace would be slower but it wasn’t. It’s not great and I was clearly fading at the end. I was fading mentally more than anything else, because if I pulled myself together, I could get my pace back up. So I have to figure that out.

A couple of other things I need to correct before next weekend’s 16 mile run:

1. I need a hand-held water bottle. I was never in danger of getting dehydrated or anything, but a few sips of water would have made a huge difference mentally.

2. Starbursts are tasty but are not a good candy for eating on the run. It might have been better if I had been able to take a few sips of water after eating pieces of candy but probably not. They’re too sticky and the wrappers are annoying to deal with, and they triggered my gag reflex a little as their taste was too intense. I probably need some mints or something instead.

3. I need to try out a different strategy. Maybe a Galloway-style run-walk? I don’t know. I also need to not stop for 6 minutes.

Next weekend is make-or-break time. If I have another crappy and disappointing long run, I’m not ready for a marathon, and I’ll focus on speed for the 5-Miler and then work on training for Mankato. I wish I could trust that I will run faster in the marathon than I am now in training, but I don’t.

Week 9 Update

Week 9 was a sad, sad training week.

A quick recap:
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 5.25, 8x hills
Wednesday: 6, trail
Thursday: 5.3, road
Friday: 4.8, road, 2 miles @ medium pace
Saturday: 4.9, road, ugh
Sunday: 3.4, road, even more ugh
Total: 29.6 (planned: 38)

Well, ew. What started off as a great training week crashed and burned on the weekend.

Saturday started out fine and then my GI system revolted and I ended up walking quite a bit and making an emergency stop at a gas station. I still got the mileage I needed done, and was on track to have a great week. All I had left was the long run.

Sunday I was supposed to do 14 miles. I got up, did a little homework, ate a plain bagel with no cream cheese (wary of stomach issues, since Saturday I’d eaten a bagel & cream cheese and then had a latte a couple hours before running… apparently my coffee worked too well and for longer than I thought), and walked to the convenience store by my house to get some sports drinks and some candy for the long run. I planned on using my house as an aid station of sorts and run some shorter loops, since I was so concerned about my GI system. I figured I’d do a 4-mile or so loop, drink some water/Powerade, refill my candy supplies, and head out for a 6 mile loop, then another stop, and then a 4 mile loop.

After 1 mile I knew I couldn’t do it. My stomach was fine (I know this after the fact), although I was still nervous about it, but I had absolutely no drive to put one foot in front of the other. It was raining/misting and only in the high 30s. I was feeling horribly guilty about the homework (actually a take-home test) I still had to complete (due today!) I mentally did not have it, and after a mile I turned around, intending to go home. I decided to push myself a little bit more, because I couldn’t have a 2-mile run on the books for the day. It might as well have been a rest day at that point. I was right at the bridge over Chester Creek on 9th/8th street, so I went down to the trail and hiked up to the Skyline bridge, then jogged back down to 9th/8th on the road. I’d already mentally quit, so I headed back home at that point.

From my splits, it’s clear I was dragging and nothing was working: 15:51, 20:08 (uphill on the trail), 16:06, and a 16:52 pace for the last 0.4 miles, with an overall heart rate of 142 bpm. Even last Tuesday, when I quit after 2.6 miles because of cramps and terrible weather, I still managed a 14:41 pace and 147 bpm (yes I realize I was zipping up the hills, but I was practically walking at other points, and I was still only 5 bpm above Sunday’s heart rate.) I made the right choice to throw in the towel, come home, and work on my homework instead. (Or, write this blog post, do my core work, and then work on homework.)

Just because it was the right choice doesn’t mean I was happy about it. The long run to me is the highest priority workout. I rank them as follows:
1. Sat/Sun long run
2. Tuesday hills
3. Friday “speed” workout
4. Wednesday medium run
5. Thursday and Sun/Sat short runs

14 miles was a huge deal for me. I was really looking forward to seeing where I was at with this run, and I guess I’m… totally not ready to run a marathon. Depressing. I can think of a couple contributing factors to my poor performance. Running in my old shoes has worn my legs out; I’m more sore after workouts than I have been in awhile. Last week’s cutback from a cutback is also a problem. I ramped back up too quickly, although if I hadn’t cut back so much, it wouldn’t have been a problem.

I’m going to try to repeat Week 9’s training plan instead of doing Week 10’s plan. Both call for 38 miles, but week 10 has a couple miles added to the weekday runs and then a 5-10K on Sunday instead of a long run. Since I raced a 5K last weekend, I would rather put in the 14 miles than another speed workout. The weather forecast is crummy all week, but the highs are all still in the 40s so it should be manageable.

Tired Legs

Well, 11 miles into the week and I’m already dragging. Of course, I don’t think I’ve done 11 miles to start a week this training cycle, other than maybe when I was on spring break. (Well, then I went and looked it up while that’s true, I’ve started the week with 10 miles twice, so my whining is kind of ridiculous.)

Tuesday I did 8 hill repeats. I suffered a bit. My legs were really tight, so when I got to my usual hill, I wanted to stretch, but I had to stretch cautiously. My muscles felt like overly tightened violin strings; one more turn of the peg and they’d snap. Then when I tried to stretch my quads by doing the flamingo-type stretch which I’m sure has a real name, I actually tweaked something in my arm and side. It didn’t last but I was worried for a minute. The repeats didn’t feel that great, but I reminded myself how thrilled I was I’d done all this hill running when I was charging like a rhino up Lake Avenue on the home stretch of the 5K last weekend. I reminded myself of that feeling probably 16 times during the exercise. I had half the run in by the time I was done with the hill workout. I was feeling ok for awhile as I started the rest of the run, but my legs started to feel heavy after awhile, and then I had some lower abdominal cramping that slowed me to a walk a couple times. I spent the whole night working on homework, got home at about quarter to midnight, did more homework, and then couldn’t get to sleep because my neighbors had their windows open and music playing til after 3. I finally shut my window at 3 because I couldn’t stand it anymore.

Wednesday I woke up before my alarm (ugh), was too hot, and opened the window. Then the garbage truck came by, so I couldn’t fall back asleep. I was late to class and just dragging. I finished the homework I hadn’t done Tuesday night, and tried to convince myself I didn’t need to run, or maybe I should swap days and just run the 4 miles slotted for today. I still had a bunch of homework to do that evening, and I had a meeting, and I had been late to my group meeting on Tuesday night because I’d run so slowly, so it wasn’t looking good for getting in my scheduled mileage.

Well, my meeting was canceled, and I managed to wake up enough that I got out and did 6 mucky miles at Hartley. 6 very tired miles. My legs didn’t want to go fast. They didn’t even want to go slow. I shuffled along, getting passed by other runners, and also getting zoomed past by a dog repeatedly. I swear the dog was just showing off. Also I find it odd how many people around here do not leash their dogs. Hartley is still in the city limits! It’s not like we’re on some remote trail. I like dogs, but they really need to be on a leash, for their own safety and for the safety of other people and animals.

I wasn’t in any pain while I was running, so I was just suffering dead legs from the run the day before and from my general fatigue. I got back to the parking lot with 5.5 miles down and thought about calling it quits because I was dragging so badly. Then I reminded myself that I’ll be running on tired legs during marathons (and ultras if I ever get there), so I had better learn to suck it up for one half of a mile. So, I did, and finished at 5.98 miles, somehow still at a similar pace to most of my trail runs and a 146 bpm average heart rate. I do not know how that happened, but I’ll take it. I guess it just seemed like I was running in slow motion.

The Race Calendar

Well, I guess I have a race calendar, because I signed up for another race: the Be The Match Walk+Run, May 16th, in Minneapolis. (The link is to my fundraising site, for anyone compelled and able to donate. I am extremely uncomfortable asking for money, even when it isn’t for myself.)

My mom asked me to do this race awhile ago and I said no, because it is the day after finals end. Now I have to be down in the Twin Cities anyway for a rocketry competition the following week (I am cool), so I decided why the heck not. My sister-in-law used to work for the Be The Match Foundation, two members of my family have had successful bone marrow transplants, and I have lost a family member and friend to blood cancer. One might say that the Be The Match Foundation is close to my heart.

I am getting closer to pulling the trigger on the Grandma’s Marathon entry. Right now most marathon predictors say I would run just under 6 hours, which is a good sign, but that’s based on one 5K, so I’m not going to trust it. I’m going to go off my next few long runs. I will probably sign up for the Park Point 5 Miler in July, too, but I don’t want to pay for it yet.

I got an ad in my race packet for a 5K at the end of May. It’s called the Insane Inflatable 5K, and is some kind of obstacle course, but without mud, and involves lots of slides and climbing and things. Look, I am an adult. I do not need to run a race through a glorified ball pit, or through mud, or through blasts of colored powder. I can just run a race. It’s fine. The race is also obscenely expensive. It was $49 for early registration and goes all the way up to $75 on race day. So it’s $50-$75 to climb a bunch of blow-up obstacles covered in the sweat, spit, and snot (or worse) of fellow overgrown children? No, thank you.

I know that’s mean, and there are plenty of people out there who enjoy the novelty races, but I don’t see the point. Are these races motivating a significant number of people to exercise? If so, bring ’em on! I would hope my impression that novelty runs encourage undertrained people to go out and hurt themselves or get in my way is an erroneous impression.

It’s pretty easy to see how signing up for races can be addicting, and expensive. I am able to keep my excitement at bay simply by looking at some of the previous race results to see I’m not fast enough to run smaller races yet, and also by reminding myself I’m a student who works part time.