Twin Cities Marathon Training: Weeks 14 and 15

It’s the final countdown…

Monday (9/16): 4.8 mi, trail (Battle Creek)
Tuesday: 5.8 mi, road (6 x Wabasha St. Bridge)
Wednesday: 5.2 mi, road
Thursday: rest
Friday: 5.3 mi, paved trail (MRT, 30 @ tempo)
Saturday: 5.2 mi, trail (Frontenac State Park)
Sunday: 11.1 mi, trail (Fort Snelling State Park)
Total: 37.4 mi

Monday (9/23): 6.7 mi, paved trail (MRT and Crosby Farms)
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 5.2 mi, paved trail (Hyland)
Thursday: 5.2 mi, paved trail (30 @ tempo, MRT)
Friday: rest
Saturday: 6 mi, road
Sunday: 6.1 mi, paved trail (Fort Snelling to Minnehaha Falls)
Total: 29.3 mi

I’m in the home stretch now of marathon training! I can’t even believe it. Of course now I’m also terrified.

I’ve slowed down my training somewhat, but Week 14 was my last “push” of sorts. I had some relatively unremarkable runs, although my tempo was pretty miserable as I felt oddly nauseated.

Saturday morning I volunteered at the In Yan Teopa 10 miler at Frontenac State Park. That place is gorgeous! It is right along the Mississippi River and there are some amazing views. Oh, and also some STEEP climbs. According to my friend John, this park hosts one of the steepest climbs in the whole state. I believe it since I thought my legs were going to fall off at one point. And also I thought I was going to slip on the stairs and fall to my death during the descent.

Sunday I did my final long run around Fort Snelling. I am so happy the park is open again! There’s still some sections of closed trail, and the impacts of the flooding are visible throughout the park, especially on Pike Island. I did the FANS loop and the Pike Island loop, plus just about every other trail out there, until I cobbled together enough mileage to call it a day.

Week 15, I didn’t do much in the way of quality workouts. I did do a tempo run on Wednesday which went remarkably well, but the rest of the week was easy miles for the sake of miles. And also to get steps in for the heated steps challenge I’m in at work. It’s rather aggressive. I took an unplanned rest day on Friday because I was exhausted and coming down with a bit of a cold/allergies situation. I probably could have run a few miles, but for what purpose? Oh yeah, steps. But I managed to resist the competitive spirit.

Saturday, even though I still wasn’t feeling great, I wasn’t feeling any worse, so I went out for a run on Summit. The next time I run Summit, I’ll be finishing the marathon! I was pretty excited about that. I felt better as the run progressed, although after I got home, I started to deteriorate a bit. Sunday, I wasn’t feeling any better but also not any worse, so I got back out there despite the misty weather. I started at Fort Snelling and ran to Minnehaha Falls and back, and again felt better as the run progressed. When I got home, after I showered, I felt really terrible (achy and chilled), but I rallied to go to a movie that evening.

I’m looking forward to taking it “easy” and getting over whatever this illness is during the upcoming week, and then crushing the marathon! I managed to match my September mileage from last year despite not running a marathon like I did in 2018, so I’m in a good spot to finish ahead of last year’s mileage with three months to go, despite a rather large deficit that’s built up.

And I’m really, really glad I won’t have any more bridge repeats for awhile! Although now it will be cool enough that they won’t be torture, so maybe…

Fall 2019 Running Goals

We’re already a couple weeks into the fall season! I can’t believe how time is flying by. I’m not quite ready for it to be cold yet, I’ve got a lot to do.

  1. Marathon PR
    This is the big one, the one I’ve been working for all year. I would like to get under 5 hours at the Twin Cities Marathon, but I don’t know if that’s going to be possible or not. I don’t want to count myself out just yet, but I also know that even a 5:15 or 5:10 would be a huge gain for me.
  2. Half marathon PR (official or unofficial)
    It would probably be bad for me to PR in the half marathon during the full marathon, but of course that’s a possibility. I also plan on running the Moustache Run again and could go for it there. Just typing this out makes me waffle on whether or not I want to focus on this but why the heck not put it out there?
  3. 50K PR
    I know, I know, slow down there with the PRs lady! But I added the Icebox 480 to my race calendar in early November, and I want to get to 50K in the 8 hours of allotted time. It seems possible. I hope. I guess I don’t know the trail so I don’t know how hard it might be.
  4. Visit a state park with my friend Laura.
    One of my long time friends also has a goal of working her way through the entire list of Minnesota State Parks. She has a much better record-keeping system: she has a parks passport from her childhood that has evidence of where she’s visited. We’ve been planning to visit one together for a few months now, and I’m going to make it happen!
  5. Catch up to last year’s mileage.
    I’m still behind where I was year to date last year, but I’m slowly catching up, and my mileage was WAY down in Q4 of last year, so I think I can get caught up by Nov 30th, provided I stay healthy and motivated.

These are some pretty ambitious goals for me, especially that 50K PR. The most important one is the marathon, since I’ve been training for it for months and have put off other fun racing opportunities to stay fresh for the marathon. I’m pretty excited, but also nervous since the marathon’s only a few weeks away!

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 13

Friday the 13th on week 13? Spooky!

Monday: 5 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: 6.3 mi, paved trail (7 x 0.5 mi, MRT)
Wednesday: 5.4 mi,
Thursday: rest
Friday: 6.1 mi, paved trail (40 @ tempo, Bruce Vento Regional Trail)
Saturday: 6.1 mi, paved trail (3 @ marathon pace, Battle Creek)
Sunday: 12.1 mi, trail (Afton State Park)
Total: 41 mi

I took Monday off after Superior, knowing I’d need a day to recover from the hectic pace. I thought I’d be able to run somewhere fun since I had all day, but it rained and was cold so I ended up on the treadmill again. That was disappointing, but I did manage to get in a nice groove and only had to pause twice in the beginning (once because getting on the treadmill always makes me have to pee, and once because something fell off the table behind me and I wanted to make sure nothing was broken or in danger of getting stuck behind the treadmill).

Tuesday I meant to do 8 x 0.5 mi repeats, but after 2 repeats I didn’t want to do them anymore, after the third repeat I realized I needed to do them in control rather than as fast as possible (especially since I’d eaten an excess of goldfish crackers prior to the workout), and after the fourth repeat realized I wouldn’t have time to get home by 8 PM if I didn’t skip the last repeat as well as the usual mile cooldown I do afterward. Whoops. So I did seven repeats and a wimpy cooldown and went home to play HQ trivia.

Wednesday’s workout was great! I had thought I was going to be stuck on the treadmill again due to rain, but the rain passed through earlier than anticipated and I was able to get out and run around Crosby Farm and the Mississippi River Trail. It was cool and the last few miles felt effortless in a way running hasn’t felt in a long time for me. I took Thursday off due to the weather, and then did a tempo run on the Bruce Vento trail along Swede Hollow and Phalen Blvd on Friday. There were several, um, events occurring in Swede Hollow Park (especially around Swedehenge); one of which appeared to be something staged by the Life and Death Brigade from Gilmore Girls. I felt like crap during the run and my legs felt like they weight a ton each (do I write this every week? I think I do), but I did manage a decent overall pace and was happy with the results of the run even if it was miserable to do.

Saturday I had a couple things to do in the afternoon (a housewarming party for friends and a visit to see my mom’s new tiny kitten), so I needed to get my run done quickly. I went to Battle Creek because it was easy and did a loop around the dog park area, then a loop around the water park/playground area, and then another dog park loop. I tried to run 3 of those miles at marathon pace, but dialing that in wasn’t easy. It was either too hard of an effort or too easy, I couldn’t ever really settle in to 11:29. So that’s going to be my battle the next few weeks; understanding what marathon pace feels like. I’m paying for the “marathon effort” workouts done in the heat this summer!

Sunday I wanted to do a longish run, but also needed to pick up a state park pass so I can be ready for my volunteering stint next weekend at In Yan Teopa. I decided to go to Afton and did 12 miles, which was fun but also slower than I wanted to be. Afton is hilly and it was hot! I need to go back there once the weather is slightly cooler and see what it’s like to run there when I’m not baking in the sun on the prairie loop. I do love running there, although I hate running along the river when there are so many power boats roaring up and down it. It’s not very peaceful.

I was glad to get over the 40 mile threshold this week, not just because I’m in a hyper-competitive steps challenge at work, but also because I’ve been slacking on my mileage lately. For good reason, of course – spending time with my family over Labor Day weekend and spending time with my friends at Superior was far more important than an extra 5-10 miles of training.

Summer 2019 Running Goals Revisited

The windy, cooler weather this past week has made it clear that summer is over, so it’s time to take stock of what I’ve accomplished this summer.

  1. Distance PR. I ran 45.4 miles at FANS, which was 3.1 miles farther than I’ve run before. It wasn’t what I hoped for, but it’s still an accomplishment!
  2. Unofficial 50K PR. I didn’t get this – I ran 50K in about 8:44, which isn’t my worst time but is well off my best.
  3. Run a 10K. I ran the Run Baby Run 10K on August 3rd. It wasn’t pretty, but it meets the requirements. I can’t wait to get after that PR!
  4. Run 5 new counties. I took advantage of two work trips to accomplish this goal. In late July, I ran Douglas, Clay, Kittson, and Morrison Counties. In mid-August, I ran Winona County. I also visited six new state parks as a result of this trip!
  5. Volunteer for trail work. I reached out to someone coordinating volunteer work at Fort Snelling State Park, but I haven’t heard back yet. I don’t think that’s a good sign for the condition of the park.

So, 60% is a barely passing grade, and I’m really disappointed that I didn’t get any trail work in (partially because I miss running at Fort Snelling!), but I had a lot of fun getting in new counties and doing lots of exploring around the state.

I also have updates for my annual goals 2/3 of the way through 2019:

  1. 2019 mileage > 2018 mileage
    I’m still behind on this goal, but my mileage significantly declined in the last few months of 2018, so there’s still a lot of opportunity for me to make up ground.
  2. Do 100 pushups/day
    I’m off track on this. I was really doing well, up to 150 pushups/day at one point, but during my trip to North Dakota, I got off track, and it turns out new habits die easily.
  3. Run more new races/courses than old ones.
    I’ve barely raced at all this year, and I haven’t done any repeat race courses!
  4. My highest category of training mileage will not be treadmill mileage.
    I started off with a lot of treadmill running this winter, so it wasn’t until a week or so ago that I pushed treadmill mileage out of the top category for both mileage and quantity of workouts. I’ve now run more workouts and more total miles on paved trails than any other terrain. I haven’t been on a treadmill in a long time!
  5. Start taking a multivitamin.
    Still going strong.
  6. Volunteer at a race that isn’t put on by Rocksteady Running.
    Already completed in the spring.
  7. Go for a run in every county in MN.
    This is of course a multi-season goal, but I am plugging along! I’m trying to make sure I get quality, interesting runs in each county and I’m also trying to do this in a way that is less wasteful by planning ahead and getting a few counties in one trip, and piggybacking on already planned trips.

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Weeks 8, 9, and 10

It’s been awhile.

Monday (8/5): rest
Tuesday: 5.8 mi, road (6 x Wabasha Street Bridge)
Wednesday: 3.3 mi, paved trail (Hyland)
Thursday: 6.4 mi, paved trail (MRT, 45 @ tempo)
Friday: rest
Saturday: 15 mi, paved trail (Crosby Farm + MRT)
Sunday: 5 mi, trail (Battle Creek)
Total: 35.6 mi

Monday (8/12): rest
Tuesday: 6.1 mi, paved trail (MRT, 45 @ tempo)
Wednesday: 5.2 mi, paved trail (Crosby Farms to Hidden Falls & back)
Thursday: 4.4 mi, paved trail (Vento Regional Trail)
Friday: 12.1 mi, paved trail (Wirth Park – Brownie Lake – Cedar Lake – Lake of the Isles)
Saturday: 6.7 mi, trail (2.8 @ Whitewater State Park, 3.9 @ Great River Bluffs State Park)
Sunday: 5.4 mi, paved trail (Fox River Trail)
Total: 39.9 mi

Monday (8/19): 4.5 mi, paved trail (Fox River Trail)
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 5.6 mi, paved trail (Fox River Trail)
Thursday: 6 mi, paved trail (Fox River Trail)
Friday: 7, trail (Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve)
Saturday: rest
Sunday: 12.2 mi, road (home to Summit and back)
Total: 35.3 mi

Sheesh, I guess I went 3 weeks without recapping my training. How will I remember what happened? It doesn’t matter that much.

In Week 8, I plowed through some hill repeats despite hot, windy weather. The next day, I headed out to Hyland on my lunch hour (big mistake, it was way too far of a drive!) to get in a quick run since I was volunteering at the final installment of the Endless Summer Trail Run Series. That race was held at Spring Lake Park Reserve in Hastings, and I need to go back there to run, it was gorgeous! After pounding out a decent tempo run on Thursday, I took a break on Friday because I was planning on running a (free to me) 5K Saturday morning. Instead, I said screw it, slept in, and ran 15 miles, much of it in the pouring rain, in the afternoon. It was a nice change from the heat! I finished up on Sunday with a short run at Battle Creek.

In Week 9, I moved quite a few workouts around to accommodate my weekend travel. I had another fairly decent tempo run on Monday, tested out a new section of trail between Crosby Farms and Hidden Falls (it had been closed for awhile since it was under water and then under river sludge) on Wednesday, barely beat out a storm during a short run on Thursday, and completed my long run on Friday around some of the chain of lakes. I did take a short detour around the quaking bog before heading across the freeway and around Brownie Lake, part of Cedar Lake (light rail construction prevented me from going all the way around), and Lake of the Isles before returning. I did see a woman get into a minor scooter accident and made sure she was okay before continuing. Dramatic! Saturday I drove down to the Chicago burbs for a work training, so I stopped twice to run along the way (checking off Winona county and two more state parks, yay!). That kind of sucked because it made my trip really long and I had to drive 4 more hours in sweaty, stinky clothes… but I suppose I could have also changed clothes if I’d been smart. Thanks to my friend Chris from Running Ahead, I got great advice on a place to run, the Fox River Trail, and ran my first segment after class on Sunday. (Yes, my training started Sunday. Yes, it was a miserable week.)

Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I ran various other segments of the Fox River Trail. It was pretty nice – mostly flat, not too busy, with some decent scenery for the most part. The final day, the route was soured a bit by detours and some grubby areas, but it was fun to try a new section each night without needing to drive too far (or pay any tolls!) before I had dinner and studied for the next day of class. Friday, I had a test in the morning and then went for a run in the late afternoon. It took me over an hour to get to Waterfall Glen Park Reserve due to traffic and due to taking a super long route to avoid tolls (yay!), but it was worth it! Crushed gravel is the best surface ever! (Besides hard-packed dirt singletrack without roots or rocks.) Plus the trail goes around Argonne National Laboratory, which made me feel right at home as an engineer. I drove home Saturday, planning to run when I got home, but there was a mixup with my husband (who was visiting his parents) and I didn’t get my rental car returned until it was much later in the day than I’d planned. I made up for it on Sunday by running from home to Summit Ave (up Ramsey Hill, woof), running down to the start of the St. Thomas campus, and then back home. It rained a bit, but wasn’t too bad.

I’m trying to get back into a normal schedule and into my normal training structure, but I’ve got more disruptions coming the next two weekends, so I’ll just take training as it comes. The weather has started to cool off, so it looks like I might actually have to start, like running marathon pace workouts at marathon pace. Uh oh!

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 7

Wasn’t it just Week 6?

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 5.8 mi, paved trail (MRT, 6 x 0.5 mi)
Wednesday: 2.8 mi, trail (Murphy-Hanrehan)
Thursday: 6 mi, paved trail (Big Rivers, 40 @ tempo)
Friday: 4.3 mi, trail (Battle Creek)
Saturday: 14.6 mi, road (warm-up, Run Baby Run 10K, evening run)
Sunday: 5.1 mi, trail (Battle Creek)
Total: 38.6 mi

I hate Monday rest days. They’re the worst! They set the tone for the rest of the week and remove all flexibility. I had my violin lesson and got home later in the day and didn’t have the time to get a run in. It’s a shame, because the weather was PERFECT.

Tuesday I did half mile repeats on the Mississippi River Trail. I still haven’t mastered the proper pace, which probably contributed to the inflated sense of ability I brought to my 10K. It wasn’t exceptionally hot, so I wasn’t entirely miserable, but yuck do I hate these workouts while also loving them and feeling bada$$ once they’re over.

I volunteered for another installment of the Endless Summer Trail Run Series on Wednesday, and got to the park early to run most of the course. The run was awful. I dislike running at Murphy due to the flies — even one or two buzzing around me drives me bonkers. I wasn’t in a great frame of mind and didn’t have a lot of energy, so I couldn’t even muster 3 miles. I spent the rest of the night volunteering. One of the volunteer photographers posted a rather unfortunate picture of me in the photoset for the evening, so that was kind of a downer.

For Thursday’s tempo run, I “cheated” a bit. Well, not really. I started the run heading mostly uphill at one end of the Big Rivers Regional Trail (the Lilydale end), and the peak pace for the tempo run happened to hit just as I was turning around to run back downhill. So it’s not cheating in the sense that I ran the first 20 minutes of the tempo going uphill, but I did hit my peak effort while running downhill. It was tough! But it felt pretty good. I averaged a 10:55 for the whole tempo effort.

Friday’s run was a regular old boring run at Battle Creek (near the dog park). Not much to report. I recapped Saturday morning’s 10K already, but I did top up my mileage with another 7-ish mile run in the evening (with new shoes! I hit 500 miles on my road shoes so I had to spring for a new pair). That run was a bit of a disaster. It was hot during the day, so I didn’t start until 8:30 PM. I ran across the High Bridge and was tooling around St. Paul, planning to cross Shepard Road near the Science Museum. There was a train going through so I did a short loop through Upper Landing Park and then planned to wait out the train, which was almost through. But with the end of the train in sight, it stopped. And didn’t move. And I was stuck. There are only a couple other ways across Shepard Road along the river, and both were quite a distance away. It was late, probably 9:30 at this point, and I had a choice to either turn around and cross at Randolph (which turned out to be over a mile away) or continue and cross at Jackson (which was about 3/4 mile away). I made the (correct) choice to continue downriver and cross the street and the railroad tracks at Jackson, then come up along Kellogg and cross the Mississippi on the Wabasha St. Bridge. This added a bunch of time and distance to my night, as well as the potential to encounter some sketchy people, which I fortunately did not. It was a giant pain in the butt and a little bit disconcerting. I am lucky to live in a fairly safe city, but I did put myself in a not-so-great situation without a great option for extrication. I also did not have my cell phone with me, which I usually don’t for runs in my neighborhood. Safety moment!

Sunday I did a run in the middle of the day at the Battle Creek ski trails. One day, I will have a nice, pleasant, fast-ish run along those trails (and get some nice pics!), but Sunday was not that day. It was hot and sunny, and I actually ran out of water! I filled my soft flasks with only ice, and while the water was deliciously cold, there wasn’t enough of it. So yes, ice does melt slower in an air solution vs. a water solution (heat transfer, baby!), but I sacrificed volume for temperature. Yuck. Oh, also, it was hard to get water out of the soft flasks when it was still mostly ice – I kept sucking air instead.

I have another 5K coming up this weekend, and I think I’ll take the lessons of this last week and do a LOT of things differently, including a second rest day the day before the race, so I can build up my confidence again.

Twin Cities Marathon 2019 Training: Week 6

I’ve already forgotten what happened last week.

Monday: 3 mi, trail
Tuesday: 3.9 mi, trail
Wednesday: 5.8 mi, paved trail (Mississippi River Trail, 32 @ tempo)
Thursday: rest
Friday: 5.2 mi, paved trail (Mississippi River Trail, 3 @ marathon pace)
Saturday: 13.2 mi, paved trail (Mississippi River Trail)
Sunday: 6.4 mi, trail (Battle Creek)
Total: 37.5 mi

I started out the week with a drive to North Dakota for a site visit for work. I really dislike flying and when I visit remote sites, it often doesn’t save much travel time to fly. It also gives me the freedom to plan my trip how I want it to go. I was able to combine this trip with some state park visits and check off some more counties from my goal of running a mile in every county in Minnesota.

I stopped first at Lake Carlos State Park in Douglas County, and ran about 1.8 miles around Hidden Lake. I forgot my bug spray so the run wasn’t super pleasant, there were flies and mosquitoes buzzing around me.

I drove for a few more hours and then stopped at Buffalo River State Park, in Clay County, before I crossed over into North Dakota. I was running a bit behind schedule and kind of hungry so I didn’t get a very good run in, only 1.3 miles. I was planning on having dinner at my brother’s in Grand Forks (and to meet my new baby nephew!), so I didn’t want to get set delayed too much by my runs.

It does take a lot of extra time to drive to the parks and run. I’m slow so even a mile is going to take somewhere between 12-15 minutes, depending on the terrain and my energy level. The parks are often several miles off the route, so driving there and then getting back on the freeway can take another half hour or so. So each run probably added at least an hour to the trip, something I need to account for better in the future.

Tuesday, I got up and drove to meet my colleague at our work site, which was about an hour’s drive north of Grand Forks, up near the border. We conducted our (fruitless, but that’s another story) site visit, and then I hopped in the car to drive home. Since I was nearly in Canada, I was able to head east across the border and visit Lake Bronson State Park, knocking off one of the most remote counties, Kittson.

That’s probably the first and last time I’ll ever be in Kittson County, but the state park was really pretty! I got back on the road and drove through a lot of other counties that I’d have loved to have checked off the list, but I didn’t want to spend all freaking day driving, and while I looked for some options for a spontaneous stop in a county park or recreation area, they were all like 20 miles off the road, or just a tiny park on the side in one of the itty bitty towns along the way. I made a second stop in Little Falls (Morrison County) at Charles Lindbergh State Park, which was nearly impossible to get to due to construction.

It was SO BUGGY. I probably got like 15 mosquito bites during a 2 mile run. I was pretty grumpy when I got back in the car, and still had over an hour and a half of driving to go, ugh. Overall it was a fun trip and I liked breaking up the drive (we are encouraged to do this for our own health and safety, so it’s not like I was screwing around on the company dime), but I need to do a little better job of planning, especially when I have time constraints.

Wednesday I did a tempo run. It was supposed to be 40 minutes at tempo, but I could only manage 32 before I hit the lap button. I was having terrible abdominal cramps, in my stomach and my lower GI system, and was even reduced to walking a few times. It was pretty miserable. I took Thursday off to make sure I was recovered.

Friday called for 3 miles at marathon pace. I ended up running a bit faster than marathon pace (11:06/mi vs. 11:29/mi) because I was ignoring my watch and kind of going by feel. My current marathon pace is somewhere between trying somewhat hard and running sort of relaxed — it’s in this weird spot where the pace doesn’t come naturally to me. I try to run “comfortably hard” and it ends up being either too hard or too chill. Probably need to start nailing that down once the weather is more consistently comfortable to run in. I’m not super worried about it because it was only a 3 mile effort, so I guess I can write it off as another tempo.

Saturday I chose to do my long run. I started at Hidden Falls and ran the Mississippi River Trail, crossing the river at Franklin and running back on the other side. Once I crossed the river, things started to fall apart. It was hot out, but on the east side I was shaded. On the west side of the river, I was exposed to full sun for long stretches at a time, and after awhile I started taking short walking breaks to survive. I ran down to Minnehaha Falls (HUGE mistake, it was crowded, duh, and I was internally cranky at the people in my way), then looped around the Wabun Park area, then headed back across the river to finish the run. I was planning to run 14 miles (the plan called for 17), but only managed to get 13.2 because I couldn’t stand it anymore.

Sunday I ended up trying and failing to dodge the weather. I ended up running a few miles in the light rain, but when it wasn’t raining, the humidity was suffocating. I was glad I didn’t have to run in direct sunlight, but I was hoping for a more enjoyable run around Battle Creek. Once it’s cooler, I’m really going to enjoy running those ski trails. I’m not wishing summer away by any means, but it does get frustrating to boil in the sun or feel like a fish out of water in the humid air.

I have completely fallen out of the habit of doing push-ups, and need to get back on track. I was doing so well, and then fatigue and travel got me out of my routine. On the bright side, while I’m not performing very well to my push-up goal for the year, I’ve only got one more county to pick up this summer to meet my goal of 5 for the season!