Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 8

Oh my god what a week.

Monday: 5.6 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 7.4 mi, treadmill
Friday: 9.4 mi, trail (Lebanon Hills)
Saturday: 5.9 mi, trail (Murphy-Hanrehan)
Sunday: 3.3 mi, treadmill
Total: 31.6 mi

I didn’t intend for this week to be so low mileage, but here we are. Monday I had to go to North Dakota for work. I drove, because my last minute plane ticket was so expensive and it seemed like a waste, plus I hate flying. I wish I’d flown, because I was wiped out by the drive. Probably because I actually got lightly sunburned during the drive. I need to remember to put on sunscreen! I planned to get there, change into my running clothes, have dinner with my family in Grand Forks, and then get a recommendation for a good place to run from my sister in law. Instead I discovered my suitcase wouldn’t open – the zipper had started to tear away from the body of the suitcase, and so the teeth wouldn’t line up right. I wasted precious time trying to open it and then ended up taking it over to my brother’s, thinking we’d have to cut it open. He managed to get the zipper to open without further damage, hooray. I ended up on the hotel treadmill after our dinner though, since it was getting late.

Tuesday I had a bunch of extra driving from Grand Forks to get to my actual work location, then had a couple hours of meetings, then turned back around and went home. I had planned to run after I got home, thinking I’d be back by 5:30 or so. Instead I got back to my house at 8 PM and was so wiped I couldn’t think of running. Wednesday I didn’t feel well at all, like a cold was coming on, so I decided to rest. I don’t think it was a cold actually, I think it was an air quality issue, because the symptoms came and went the rest of the week but never really blew up into anything.

Thursday I ran inside on the treadmill because I was tired and didn’t want to deal with the heat. Friday, I left work a bit early due to my long days on Monday and Tuesday, and went home to change before heading to Lebanon Hills for some trails. I was planning on doing 12 miles, but I didn’t get out in time, and I ran more than enough, especially in the heat. I wasn’t planning on running Sunday, so I knew I needed to get a long run in on Saturday.

Obviously, no long run materialized on Saturday. I tried. I drove out to Murphy-Hanrehan Park, but I just could not get myself in gear. I had another work trip the next day, and I couldn’t stop thinking about all that I had to do for that, and worrying about how long the run would take. I could not get the anxious feeling in my chest to go away, even after a couple of miles. I just worried and worried and worried. I felt guilty about spending 4+ hours away from my husband (and cats) when I was leaving for a week the next day. I knew I had to do laundry and pack, and go to bed early, etc. The worry, combined with the heat, the bugs, and the grass, slowed me down to the point where I knew I needed to call it a day. I was done before the ice in my pack melted!

Sunday was an absolute disaster of a day. I got up at 4, after about 2 hours of sleep (and 4 hours of worrying in bed before that), drove to the airport, and had a relatively uneventful flight to Boston. Things started to unravel after I waited an impossibly long time to get a coffee after my flight (I hadn’t had coffee before the flight, because I don’t like to get up if I don’t have to – if you know what I mean). Then once I got to the rental car facility and tried to check in online, I realized I didn’t have my driver’s license. (I use my passport as an ID when flying.) I had taken it out of the pencil pouch I use as a wallet/purse when I was filling out my absentee ballot, and I didn’t put it back. So I had no way to rent a car. I ended up taking a taxi to my friend’s house (I had already planned to visit her), and then beat her there, then huddled under the eaves to unsuccessfully avoid the light rain for about 10 minutes before she got back. (It turned out she had a little mudroom/porch I could have waited in, but the door was sticky so I thought it was locked, argh.) She was unbelievably kind and offered to drive me to Portsmouth (her infant son is soothed by car rides), so now I just have to take transport to my training and put off any sight-seeing until after my husband overnights my ID. I took a nap at the hotel, walked to get dinner, and then conjured up enough energy for that treadmill run. Woof.

I’m in Portsmouth, NH this upcoming week and it’ll be another jumbled up week of workouts. I didn’t do a single prescribed run last week (although Thursday’s run was a semi-tempo, I guess), and I don’t know if I’ll be able to do any this week, either. I’ll just get done what I can and not sweat it.


Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 7

Much more of a cutback than I expected.

Monday: 3.5 mi, pavement (Centennial Lakes)
Tuesday: 6.1 mi, pavement (MRT, 40 @ tempo)
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 7.4 mi, road
Friday: 8.5 mi, treadmill
Saturday: rest
Sunday: rest
Total: 25.5 mi

Okay, I guess I needed to take this time off. Oh now, now I won’t win the race, boo hoo.

Monday I ran a short, sweaty run during my lunch hour. It had to be done, because I knew I was taking Wednesday off. Tuesday I did a miserable tempo run on the Mississippi River Trail. It was hot and I didn’t realize I sped up much too quickly, so I was blowing up during the tempo. I actually stopped and walked a bit! Not ideal, and the data got all messed up with some kind of GPS error. I set a world record with my 2:11 mile, which took me across the Mississippi!

Wednesday was much cooler, but of course was my off day. I volunteered at the final Endless Summer Trail Run. It was fun, as always. I won’t see my Rocksteady Running friends again until Superior! Which is less than 5 weeks away, whoops. I made my reservation finally.

Thursday was also relatively cool, and I ran 7.4 happy and relaxed miles down to Sibley High School and back. It felt so good (after the first couple miles, which hurt a bit thanks to some muscle tightness – the magnesium oil isn’t a cure-all) to run effortlessly, and to finally approach a speed resembling what I’d like to run in a marathon.

Friday I ran 8.5 miles on the treadmill before we left for Duluth for the weekend. I didn’t really have a reason to run on the treadmill, because the rain had already passed by and it wasn’t that warm. I couldn’t shake the anxious feeling I get when I’m pressed for time with a run. Where should I go? What will get this done the fastest? It’s paralyzing, and I end up losing time just worrying. I get in my own head a lot about even stupid stuff like individual training runs. I was lazy and took several breaks (once for water, once for a bathroom break, and… maybe one other time just because?), but I got it done. Then once we were up in Duluth, I stopped in at Austin Jarrow to pick up some new road shoes. They’re the ones that’ll carry me through this marathon!

Saturday it rained all day. I spent it inside, playing cribbage with my family and in general having a good time. By the time it cleared up, it was fairly late, so I decided to skip it rather than get caught outside in the twilight without a headlamp or reflective vest. Again.

Sunday I just didn’t give a crap, and that’s the truth. I could have run, but I didn’t. No energy, no enthusiasm. Instead I ate a lot of treats.

This week will be interesting, as I have a very short work trip to North Dakota (I will spend more time driving than working, since it cost like $900 to fly) and then I leave on Sunday for a longer work trip to New Hampshire. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get in a true long run, but I’ll certainly have to find a way to do better than 25 miles. I’m not super worried — I know I needed the extra time to recover this week, and I will have a lot more energy moving forward!

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 6

Not the best week. It’s a sign it’s time for a cutback week, I’d say.

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 7 mi, road
Wednesday: 5.8 mi, road (5x Wabasha St. Bridge)
Thursday: 6 mi, treadmill (40 min tempo)
Friday: 5.1 mi, road
Saturday: 13.2 mi, trail (Murphy-Hanrehan Park)
Sunday: 12.1 mi, pavement (Mississippi River Trail)
Total: 49.2 mi

First off, I hate taking Mondays as rest days. I had to as we had made some dinner plans, which then fell through. I was already tired and had mentally planned on not running, so I didn’t make a last minute change to get miles in. Instead we went to see Ant-Man and the Wasp, which was funny.

Tuesday I had to go over to see about my mom’s cats again, and decided to start my run from her house, rather than drive somewhere else. I ran around my old junior high (now called a middle school, so weird), then into an area of the city I’ve never been (at least, that I was aware of – maybe I went to some friend’s house when I was like 5 and they lived in that neighborhood). St. Louis Park is not that big, so it’s kind of strange I didn’t know anyone living over there well enough to have visited, but I guess there are other pockets of the city I don’t know and need to explore. I turned around and headed back toward my mom’s house once I reached a natural turnaround point (I reached a major road), but realized I wasn’t going to make even 6 miles that way, so I ran past my old elementary school (now housing a Montessori school and a French immersion school) and over the highway, before swinging back around toward home underneath the highway.

Wednesday I did bridge repeats with dead legs. I hated the workout but it had to be done. I felt a little bit crummy and I guess that carried over into Thursday, because I felt like total garbage at work Thursday afternoon (well, also I ate 2 ice cream sandwiches) and left early. I ended up feeling better only a few hours later so I guess I just had indigestion. I ran on the treadmill as a precaution. Friday I had no interest in running but did it anyway. Hooray, I guess? It was a dull 5 miles meandering through my neighborhood, trying to remember which streets went through and which dead-ended. I wasn’t super successful at that, but it helped tacked on the miles.

Saturday I planned to do some recon for Surf the Murph at Murphy-Hanrehan Park. I’m considering running the 50 miler this fall. I’m still undecided, partially because I’m going to use my result at Moose Mountain Marathon to extrapolate whether or not I can make the cutoffs, and partially because I didn’t love my run there on Saturday. There was a lot of grass, which I hate. I despise the feeling of grass on my legs – so itchy! And of course I am paranoid about ticks. (I found none on me. That must mean they are all in places I can’t see.) If they mow the course, I’m still in. If they don’t, I’m out.

I planned to run 15 miles, and through 8 or so I was cruising. I was like “Wow, yeah, I can do this! I can totally race a 50 miler here!” Then I bonked. I guess I didn’t eat my first gel soon enough, although I wasn’t really hungry. But I also was experiencing a non-food-related bonk, if that’s a thing: a bug bonk. Some deer flies were following me, probably only a couple, but they were dive-bombing me over and over again and I was flailing my arms in vain, trying to get rid of them. I think I killed one or two but ugh. So annoying. I hate flies. I got turned around quite a bit on the trails and wasn’t sure how far I would have to go to get back to the parking lot, and I was running out of water. I reached the parking lot at 12.7 miles, and I had been walking for probably 2 miles. Even through the runnable sports. I gave up. I actually started to walk out another 1.2 miles so that I could do an out & back to get the 15 miles I had originally planned for, but after a quarter mile I actually said out loud “This is stupid” and returned to the parking lot. Ugh.

I decided to add the remaining 2 miles to my run on Sunday. Determined not to bonk again, I ate more food before leaving, and I opted not to do any marathon pace miles. I parked at Hidden Falls Park (up above on Mississippi River Blvd, not down near the picnic shelter) and ran 5 miles downriver, turned around, ran back, and then did another mile upriver and back to get to 12. It sounds slick and easy but it wasn’t. It was another miserable run. It rained for about 2 minutes right before I started running, so the sun was back out AND it was extra humid. The air was so hot, even though it was only like 80-82 F, since the humidity was so high. Most of my run was pretty slow once the heat caught up with me, and even after the clouds returned an hour and a half into the run, I was already sapped and couldn’t really recover. I was thirsty even though I had plenty of water (probably because my mouth was getting dry – I should have had a candy or something) and my stomach was a little too full of water so I felt uncomfortable a lot. It wasn’t as miserable a slog as it was on Saturday, but it wasn’t great. If the clouds hadn’t come through and provided shade for most of the run, I am pretty sure I’d have quit early.

So, this upcoming week’s a cutback week! I’ve had 6 weeks of increasing mileage and my body is starting to say nope. I’ll be in Duluth this coming weekend anyway and won’t have time for 4-5 hour runs. I also need to give my poor back a rest – no, not my muscles, my skin. My sports bra has totally shredded the middle of my back since I wore my pack 2 days in a row (and it was pretty bad after the first day, woof), and I need a chance for it to heal!

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 5

It cooled off! Relatively speaking.

Monday: 5.3 mi, road
Tuesday: 5.6 mi, pavement (Battle Creek, 5 x 0.5 mi)
Wednesday: 8 mi, pavement (Lake of the Isles/Bde Maka Ska)
Thursday: rest
Friday: 5.6 mi, treadmill (35 min tempo)
Saturday: 14.2 mi, trail (Afton State Park)
Sunday: 9.2 mi, trail/pavement (Cedar Lake/Kenilworth Trail/Cedar Lake Regional Trail)
Total: 47.9 mi

It’s been a long week, but it has felt really good to run without as much heat and humidity. It’s still hot, especially in the afternoon when it feels like the sun is still directly overhead at 3 PM, but it isn’t as oppressive as it was the past two weeks. Running was much more pleasant this week, and the higher mileage is starting to feel good. I mean, it sucks in the moment sometimes, of course.

Monday I ran around my neighborhood, which was okay. It’s not a ton of fun because I can’t zone out, I’m constantly thinking of how to cobble together enough mileage to make a decent workout. A lot of streets don’t go all the way through, and I’m not familiar enough with the area to remember which ones do, so I spend a lot of time recalculating, like my brain’s an analog version of a GPS unit after a missed turn.

Tuesday I drove over to Battle Creek and did loops around the park to complete my interval workout. I’ve given up on trying to find a track, I guess. The repeats were all pretty fast, which was surprising. Now I want to find a real 5K to see if I can legitimize my PR. There was a group of high schools kids doing either a summer cross-country practice or dryland training for nordic skiing, and I felt a little dorky next to all these young people running fast with such ease, but hey. I’m out there running, too. Who cares if I’m running fast? They barely noticed me, anyway.

Midway through the week, I took over cat-sitting duties at my mom’s, which meant I was driving in the opposite direction from home during rush hour. I decided to run somewhere near there instead of trying to buck traffic on 94E. I parked at Lake of the Isles and unintentionally did an entire loop around, since I missed the turnoff for Bde Maka Ska. I continued past my car, did a loop around Bde Maka Ska (soooo crowded), and then headed back to my car the short way around Lake of the Isles. I love that area for the most part, even if it was crowded, and the scenery was amazing.

Friday I wimped out and did my run on the treadmill, since there was a line of thunderstorms rolling through. The radar made it look like one could hit at any time in the evening, so I played it safe. It’s actually a lot easier to do a true tempo on a treadmill, since it’s easy to control the pace and slowly ramp it up. I am kind of a scaredy-cat about running fast (for me) on the treadmill – I’m afraid of tripping and falling or otherwise hurting myself. But it went well, even if I was miserable and hating life during the 35 minutes of actual tempo running, and I was sweating buckets.

I checked out Afton State Park for the first time on Saturday. I liked it, kind of. It’s about 30 minutes from my home, so it’s sorta like driving to Jay Cooke used to be, but that does add an hour round trip to my run time. The trails themselves are a bit confusing – I couldn’t always read the maps very well, especially when the YOU ARE HERE stickers were missing. There are a lot of trails, though! I was able to put together 14 miles without doubling back too much. I did see a dead raccoon (twice) and a dead bunny (depressing). There was a mix of terrain – pavement, grass, gravel, packed dirt. Lots of hills, plenty of shade, and not a whole lot of people (probably because the swimming beach was under water). The miles were slow to begin with, but I rallied at the end (ok, it was flat terrain and also some pavement) and felt a little better about my pace.

Sunday I decided to go do another chain of lakes run since I was in the area feeding los gatos again. I figured I’d start at Cedar Lake instead, which was dumb. Cedar Lake is the weird misfit lake. There isn’t a nice paved path around it – instead I ended up on some single track and kept coming upon people who seemed like they would prefer to be left alone. I turned around and went the other way, and ended up in a grassy area with a sign that said “end of public trail.” Then I decided to say screw it, got on the Kenilworth Trail, and did the remaining 7 miles on that and the Cedar Lake Regional Trail. I was supposed to be running 7 at marathon pace, but that just was not happening. The first 2 miles were like 15 minute miles, so that blew my average pace and sapped my energy, so I just pushed through with a regular old medium length run. Can I just have one marathon pace workout where I even get close to what I expect to be able to run come October? I don’t think my goal of around 5 hours is that unreasonable!

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 4

Another hot week. Ugh.

Monday: 4.8 mi, pavement (Mississippi River Trail)
Tuesday: 5.4 mi, pavement (Battle Creek, 35 min tempo)
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 8 mi, treadmill
Friday: 4.2 mi, pavement (Battle Creek)
Saturday: 13.4 mi, trail + pavement (Lebanon Hills + Mississippi River Trail/Night Nation Run)
Sunday: 7.8 mi, pavement (Mississippi River Trail)
Total: 43.6 mi

I enjoy the long days, because I can get a run in while it’s still light out but not blazing hot. However, I miss being able to run at 5:30 or 6 in the evening (or on the weekends, at noon or 1) without suffering the beginnings of heat exhaustion.

Monday was a boring run and I don’t even remember it. I guess it was probably hot, though!

Tuesday I ran later in the evening – my partner was going out of town for a few days for work, so I had dinner and then went running after he left. I was able to have a much better tempo run since it was cooler – even though I was kind of miserable because the first mile of the run was uphill and my calves were super tight. I had a couple minor stops for road crossings but otherwise was able to plow through 35 minutes of tempo running and actually kind of enjoy it.

Wednesday I volunteered at the Lebanon Hills 7 mile race, part of the Endless Summer Trail Run Series. It was so freaking hot, and the air was stagnant. I was so thankful to be volunteering instead of running. Thursday we finally got a big thunderstorm, scary enough that I decided to run inside on the treadmill instead of seeing when the storm would pass. I thought that would cool things down but no. I mean, Friday wasn’t so bad, and I managed to do a loop at Battle Creek without melting, but it was still humid and warm.

I liked the surroundings of Lebanon Hills so much that for my “long” run (I didn’t do a true long run since I knew I’d be doing the Night Nation Run that evening) I drove out there again on Saturday. I’d planned on doing my run at around 1:30, but when I went to start getting ready, I realized it was 91 F. No thank you. So I waited to leave until around 3, which ended up being okay but not ideal. It didn’t seem that much cooler, and a lot of the path was shaded, so I could have left earlier. I felt pretty crummy directly after the run, and had only an hour and a half until I’d be walking a bit over a mile to Harriet Island, “running” 5K (in starts and fits, as detailed here), and then walking back home. I recovered quickly thanks to the magic of an iced latte with whole milk.

Sunday the same thing happened: I went to go running around 3 PM and discovered it was 92 F and “felt like” 101 F. I waited until 6 to head out for Minnehaha Falls Park, which I didn’t realize had pay lots. So I paid $3 to do a little recon of the TCM course – obviously on the running path, not the road, but it gave me a hint of what the section along West River Parkway would be like. Nothing I can’t handle.

Supposedly a cool front is coming through, so I expect to see lightning fast times coming across my watch! I did notice Sunday as I was slogging through the heat that from a musculoskeletal perspective, running is feeling a lot easier. As long as I’m in the shade or managing the heat well, my legs are responding well to the increase in mileage. I’m hoping to get up into the 50+ miles per week range soon, time and health permitting.

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 3

Another hot week. I’m trying to trust that I will eventually be able to run faster again.

Monday: 5.3 mi, road (4 x Wabasha St. Bridge repeats)
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 8.6 mi, road
Friday: 5.5 mi, pavement (Mississippi River Trail, 35 min tempo)
Saturday: 14 mi, pavement (Mississippi River Trail)
Sunday: 7.5 mi, pavement (Mississippi River Trail, 6 mi @ marathon effort)
Total: 40.9 mi

This week didn’t quite go as planned, but since it was a holiday week, that’s to be expected. Monday I suffered through heat and some minor nausea to do bridge repeats. The Wabasha St. Bridge is about a quarter mile long, so it’s perfect for hill repeats. Run up, jog back down to recover. I took the recovery very slowly due to the heat and my tummy (which was really fine, I’m just overly sensitive to even the slightest upset).

Tuesday I felt crappy. I was tired all day and again had a mildly upset stomach. We were driving up to Duluth in the evening, and despite having time to run beforehand, I chose not to since I wasn’t feeling so hot. I ended up feeling fine, it was probably some lingering heat/dehydration related issue, but it was good to take a break when I did. What wasn’t good was packing all my running gear Wednesday morning before we left my uncle’s house on Park Point and then discovering when we arrived at Pike Lake that I had forgotten to put my running shoes in my bag or my car. So I didn’t run on Wednesday, either. That was frustrating. I did water-ski, kayak, and participate in a multi-boat water balloon fight, so I wasn’t entirely inactive.

Thursday I ran on Park Point in the late morning/early afternoon. It was cooler than it had been in St. Paul, but still in the high 70s F and in full sun, so I was hot and slow. Every run is slow, it’s very frustrating. I went swimming and kneeboarding in the afternoon (and also got quite the workout trying to haul myself up on a jetski three times after falling off/tipping it), so I got in plenty of all-important cross-training.

Friday we headed home in the afternoon, and I had time for a tempo run in the evening. It was hot and miserable and I was tired from the drive, but I got it done. Right now that’s enough. Saturday’s long run was hot hot hot, but much of it was in the shade, so I was spared the worst of it. I nearly consumed my entire hydration bladder during the run. I ate a gel during the run and it was so melty it was much easier to eat than normal. I ended up on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus for the end of the run and had to circle around a bit to get to 7 miles before turning around, but I didn’t get too badly turned around.

On Sunday, I chose the same shady section of the MRT (up to Franklin Ave) for my marathon effort workout, since it was hot again, and I wore the hydration pack again even though it was only a 7.5 mile run. Better to be safe than sorry. It sucked. I mean, it was faster, maybe, than I had run the day before, but I’m just not anywhere close to where I’d like to be for actual marathon pace. I know that it’s the heat, not my ability, but I’d just like a couple cooler evenings in a row so I can reassure myself that I’m not going to run an 8 hour road marathon, or at least to get a better idea of what my pace might be. And also to get my workouts done more quickly!! The long runs are so darn time-consuming. I guess I need to make “Fall PRs are made in summer heat” my mantra.

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 2

Bleccch. Not a great week, but I got it done.

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 5.5 mi, pavement (River to River Greenway; 4 x 0.5 mi interval workout)
Wednesday: 7.2 mi, road
Thursday: 5.8 mi, pavement (Mississippi River Trail; 20 min tempo)
Friday: 4.8 mi, pavement (Mississippi River Trail)
Saturday: 7.2 mi, pavement (Mississippi River Trail; 6 mi @ marathon effort)
Sunday: 10.1 mi, pavement (Mississippi River Trail)
Total: 40.6 mi

Every workout I had this week sucked. Well, maybe Wednesday’s was okay, I don’t remember anything about it so it can’t have been too bad.

Tuesday I planned to do a track workout. I drove to a nearby high school and discovered that there was some kind of youth sports group using the track, and also the track had no lines and the surface was possibly uneven, so I ended up having to improvise. Unfortunately, improvising involved doing my half mile repeats on varied terrain, including hills, road crossings, and some quick course corrections. I got it done, but it was annoying. Now I need to find a different track option. Every other high school in the area appears to be 5 miles away from me. Hmm.

Thursday I tried to do a 30 minute tempo run and after 20 minutes I just gave up. It was hot and I was hungry, so I basically bonked the stupid run. Friday I ran in 95F weather and deliberately went slowly just to manage the heat. I even brought a water bottle, which I don’t normally do for short runs. Saturday was “cooler” than Friday, but because there was no breeze, it felt just as yucky. I tried to do a marathon pace workout but couldn’t muster any sort of speed. It was still pretty darn hard, which is why I call it a “marathon effort” workout. I think it’s better to focus on hitting an effort level (5K effort, 10K effort, marathon effort) rather than pace, because on any given day, the effort it takes to maintain a pace varies.

Sunday was also pretty miserable. I thought it would be a better run because it was cooler – in the 70s F! However, it was still humid, and I was still feeling the after effects of several hot workouts in a row. I barely kept my pace faster than 14 min/mile, which I could look at as an indicator that perhaps I am going to absolutely suck at this marathon and that my goals are wildly inconsistent with my abilities — but I’m trying not to. It was a hard training week. The heat was tough. I got through it. I’ll be better for running in that hot weather.

Sunday’s run was my first double digit run since FANS. It’s hard to believe that was only a month ago. It feels like a lifetime ago! It’s also hard to believe I ran more in one day than I did this last week. I’m going to have to pat myself on the back — that achievement was pretty cool. And it turns out my foot injury was minor, I haven’t had any pain in a long time! Let’s hope that’s not a jinx.