Twin Cities Marathon 2019 Training: Week 4

It’s so hot.

Monday: 4 mi, road
Tuesday: 5.5 mi, paved trail (MRT, 5 x 0.5 mi)
Wednesday: rest (volunteered at Endless Summer Trail Run Series)
Thursday: 3.7 mi, trail (Battle Creek ski trails)
Friday: 6.2 mi, pavement (Big Rivers, 33:36 @ tempo)
Saturday: 10.1 mi, trail (Lebanon Hills)
Sunday: 8 mi, paved trail (Battle Creek, 7 @ marathon “effort”)
Total: 37.5 mi

Woof, this last week has been pretty steamy. It wore me down a bit, honestly. I started Monday with a pretty slow run starting at Harriet Island and crossing the Mississippi twice (on the Wabasha St. and Robert St. bridges). I did another set of sweaty half mile repeats on the Mississippi River Trail on Tuesday, starting at Upper Landing Park and heading downriver. I find the best way to get those repeats in without running out of real estate is to go back and forth on the section of the trail that parallels Warner Road – it’s not as busy as some other sections, and it is relatively flat. My paces were all over the place (8:51, 8:20 [how??], 9:02, 9:08, 9:10) and once again, too fast for what the workout calls for. I don’t know if I allow myself too much recovery or what the deal is, but I need to get better at pacing myself for these speed workouts.

Wednesday I volunteered at Lebanon Hills, checking in runners and feeding them pizza. One of these days maybe I should actually run an ESTRS race, but I find that it’s much more relaxing to volunteer and use it as a rest day, plus I am trying not to spend as much money on races these days (especially because I finally registered for TCM and that was a HUGE chunk of change). Perhaps next year?

Thursday I did a short but challenging trail run at Battle Creek on the ski trails. The trails near the school had been recently mowed so it was a much more pleasant experience! I hate running in longer grass, it takes up so much energy. There was a peloton of bikers out on the same trails which was sort of awkward, but the ski trails are wide enough that there was always room for me to squeeze past, as long as the bikers were paying attention. One of these days I need to take some pictures up on those trails because they are really lovely.

Friday’s tempo run was a bit shy of the 35 minutes I was supposed to do. It was tough, because it was so hot, but I also timed it a bit poorly and ended up at the bottom of a large hill with 1:36 to go in my tempo time. I was not about to run up that hill (and make a deal with god), so I ended the tempo a little early. My overall pace was 10:23, not bad.

The weekend was hot again, so I swapped the long run and marathon pace runs in order to get the long run out of the way first. The plan was only 10 miles for the “long” run, so it wasn’t that hard to accomplish. I went to Lebanon Hills on Saturday and managed to eke 10 miles out of just one pass around the park (with only a few sections of backtracking). It was pretty shady there so I didn’t have a lot of issues with the heat, despite it being probably 90F or so and who knows what for a heat index. Sunday I waited until about 6 to start my marathon-ish effort run (on the paved trails at Battle Creek), because it was blazing hot during the day. It was still sultry and miserable to run in the heat and humidity, but at least the sun wasn’t beating down on me. I can’t say I gave a true marathon effort (and certainly did not approach marathon pace), but I was trying to be careful in the heat. I did a half mile warm-up, ran 7 mi at 12:44 average pace, then walked a half mile for a cool-down. I drank an entire handheld bottle of water during the run and probably sweat out twice that much!

One of the biggest challenges for me has been trying to plan my workouts around some rather fluid weather forecasts. I will see thunderstorms in the forecast, try to plan around them, and find they either do not materialize or shift earlier/later and screw with my plans. I don’t mind running in the rain a bit but I prefer not to be caught out in a thunderstorm!

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Twin Cities Marathon 2019 Training: Week 3

Lots of schedule changes this week to accommodate holiday vacation plans.

Monday: 3.3 mi, road
Tuesday: 4.7 mi, road (35 min @ tempo)
Wednesday: 3.3 mi, road
Thursday: 3.8 mi, road (speed workout)
Friday: 6.2 mi, road
Saturday: rest (volunteering at Afton Trail Race)
Sunday: 12.1 mi, trail (Luce Line)
Total: 33.4 mi

Last week already feels 100 years in the past. It’s like I didn’t even have 4 days off, yikes. It’s been really hot, too, so that has made running pretty hard. I was tired early in the week and also had trouble getting motivation to get out and run. Tuesday I didn’t even start running until 8:45, after I had eaten dinner. Yes, I did a tempo run (at 11:07 average pace!!) after eating tacos. It wasn’t that bad. Other than that, the first 3 days of the week were fairly unremarkable.

Thursday my husband and I drove up to Duluth for a quick overnight for the holiday. My sister-in-law came with me for my late afternoon run after we had an early (like, senior citizen early bird special early) pizza dinner. She is also running Twin Cities Marathon! I don’t know how she finds the time to train between her career and her three kids – it kind of puts me to shame. She’s also much faster than me so I was really pushing – that’s why it became kind of a speed workout. Our overall pace was 11:17 and that includes a couple of stints of walking – I had some abdominal cramps from the food and rigorous running. It was fun to run with her although I definitely pushed myself too hard – I was trying to have a conversation and that was making it even harder. The good news was for once I wasn’t monopolizing the conversation.

Friday I ran around Pike Lake by myself (I couldn’t handle 6 miles at my SIL’s pace and I didn’t want to slow her down), which went pretty well. I was only planning on doing 3-4 miles but once I was moving, I decided to do the whole thing. My plan called for 7 miles but 6.2 was good enough! We went swimming about an hour afterward, and my nephews kept asking me to swim with them around the boat (they were wearing life jackets and using noodles, I was not) so I got pretty worn down. I crashed pretty hard on the drive home because I had not had enough to eat. Once I snacked in the car, I managed to come back to life.

Saturday I volunteered for Afton Trail Race. I’ll write a separate race report but I was BEAT at the end of the day. I am so glad I set that aside as a rest day because I had NO energy left to do a run. I slept for 12 hours on Saturday night/Sunday morning, only waking up once.

Sunday I drove out to run a new section of the Luce Line trail, parking at the Lyndale lot and running out to Watertown before turning around. I was worried I would be too hot, but the trail was pretty well shaded. There were a few flies, which was annoying, and I got a couple mosquito bites, but that was the worst of it. I started out really slowly because of course as soon as I got out on the trail I had to pee. After a couple miles, I quickly ducked onto a horse trail and felt a lot better. So the moral of the story is: if you have to pee 2 miles into a long run, don’t try to hold it forever. I ate two gels during the run, reapplied sunscreen once, and overall cruised along. The Luce Line trail is a railbed trail so it doesn’t really have any hills, which makes long runs so much easier! I don’t always seek to make my long runs easy, but when it’s hot, sometimes it’s nice to get done earlier. I was supposed to do 14 miles, but since I had only done 10 miles for my long run the weekend before, I decided that I wouldn’t ramp up quite as much.

I did my 125 pushups Monday-Thursday, but Friday I figure I replaced my strength workout with swimming, Saturday I lifted a bunch of stuff and was too gassed to do pushups when I got home, and Sunday I just kind of forgot/ran out of time since we went to a movie that night. I’m back in the habit again already though!

I was hoping for more miles this past week, and it’s shaping up that my July is going to be way lower mileage than last year, but the important thing is that I get in quality workouts, which I think I have been doing so far.

Twin Cities Marathon 2019 Training: Week 2

Monday: 3.3 mi, paved trail
Tuesday: 5.2 mi, road (4 x Wabasha Street Bridge)
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 3 mi, trail (Battle Creek)
Friday: 5.7 mi, paved trail (MRT, 35 @ tempo)
Saturday: 10.6 mi, trail (4.2 + 6.4 at Battle Creek)
Sunday: 7 mi, paved trail (MRT, 6 @ marathon pace)
Total: 34.8 mi

Wow, that was a tough week.

Monday was a really hard day for me. I was tired, my workday was super frustrating, and I packed a lot of stuff into my evening: a quick run, my weekly violin lesson, and then dinner with my mom. All fun stuff, but stuff I didn’t have the mental bandwidth to handle. On top of that, my hamstring was really bothering me during my run. I felt like I was on the verge of hurting it badly, so I ended up walking quite a bit during what was supposed to be a quick, easy run.

Tuesday I was still having hamstring problems, even sometimes when walking. I was stretching it and using magnesium oil nightly, but it would go from feeling fine to giving me a zap unexpectedly. I decided to still complete my hill workout but not go full throttle. It was hard enough as it was! Plus I was running into the wind! Yikes.

Thursday I found a new section of Battle Creek trails. I did 3 miles of hilly x-c trails, which was fun except for the mosquitoes. I guess it really is summer now. I thought it was going to storm so I tried to stay conservatively close to my car, but then I ended up barely getting 3 miles. I like this section of Battle Creek (near the ballfields), but the grass was a bit long and I dislike running in grass.

Friday was pretty hot, but I had a tempo run to do. I picked a dumb section to run: starting in Mendota and heading downriver on the MRT. The section was too short for a 15 minute warmup plus 35 minute tempo plus whatever minute cooldown. I had to continue to Water Street, which is supposed to be closed to traffic, but people just go around the barriers and drive like idiots. Super safe. Also, it’s downhill to start, which meant it was uphill going back. I felt like I really struggled with the heat and especially with the direct sunlight beating down on me, even though it was already early evening. I did manage an overall pace of 10:52, which wasn’t terrible (especially since I am not even kidding, I walked a little bit during the tempo part), and I did manage to do the appropriate ramp up, peak, and taper off structure that I use for tempo runs. It just… sucked.

Saturday was hot, too. I was supposed to do 6 miles at marathon pace on Saturday, and then 13 miles on Sunday, but since Sunday was supposed to be even hotter, I switched them around so I could get the harder workout done first and coast through Sunday, relatively speaking. My plan was to run the various sections of Battle Creek (ski trails, water park area, etc), but after 4 miles on the ski trails, I wanted to quit. I thought I could go back home, cool off, and run somewhere else later. I changed my mind after a few minutes and decided that I could drive from the ski trails to the dog park area, cool off in the AC for awhile, and get back out there. This worked out pretty well! I could not bring myself to do the full 13 miles, as I was wilting in the heat and was running low on water, but I figure 10 miles in that heat was worth 13 normal miles, even split up. My time on feet was over 3 hours, so that’s definitely comparable to 13 road miles.

Sunday turned out to be cooler than expected! It stormed a bit during the day, so I was glad I’d flip-flopped my work-outs. I would have been interrupted by the thunderstorms if I’d done 13 miles on Sunday. I started running around 3:30, and while it was in the mid 70s F when I started, it was still pretty tough due to tired legs and high humidity. I didn’t worry too much about trying to reach goal marathon pace, just marathon effort. Even that was kind of difficult after the sun came out. I ran the MRT from Upper Landing Park to Elway Street and back, and it’s rather hilly, which made the workout even harder. So, even though I only ran a 12:16 pace for that section (still faster than my pace at TCM!), I’m trying to stay positive.

I did 125 push-ups every day, so strength training is going well, in the sense that I’m doing something rather than nothing. I do notice a difference in my upper body and my core, so this habit is starting to pay dividends.

This upcoming week is going to be a bit of a mess, with Independence Day and Afton Trail Run volunteering. You’d think a four day weekend would mean more opportunities to run, not less, but that isn’t the case. That 4:45 a.m. shift start at Afton is gonna be rough.

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.)

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 12

Where did the time go?

Monday: 6.2 mi, treadmill (50 @ tempo)
Tuesday: 3.5 mi, treadmill
Wednesday: 3.3 mi, road
Thursday: rest
Friday: rest (volunteering)
Saturday: 26.2 mi, trail, Moose Mountain Marathon
Sunday: rest
Total: 39.2 mi

Huh, apparently it’s already Friday. I didn’t even notice, I’ve been fairly busy at work, which is great!

I took it easy last week after that last tempo run, but it wasn’t enough, as I started coming down with cold/allergy symptoms that ended up affecting my race. Massive bummer. I had originally been planning to do a final short run on Thursday, and possibly even a run on Sunday morning, but it wasn’t meant to be.

It seems like from here on out, I’ll be deviating significantly from the training plan I devised, as my next couple of weekends are kind of full, and I’m trying to avoid getting worn down. I’m not sure what my training will entail, but it’s unlikely to include any more long runs due to time constraints. I figure I can do more to harm my race than help it at this point!