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.)

Speeding Up

It turns out this is the first week of Twin Cities Marathon training! I only discovered that today. I whipped up a training plan really quickly, and by that I mean I printed out calendar pages for June – October and wrote down weeks 3-18 (because whoops, I’ve only got 16 weeks left) of Hal Higdon’s Advanced 2 marathon plan, with some modifications. I don’t take rest days on Fridays, and I moved around a few other workouts to accommodate a couple 5Ks I’ve entered, as well as some travel I have in August.

The good news was the first two days of workouts were just 3 mile runs, and I did 3 mile runs (approximately) on Monday and Tuesday! So I was right on schedule. This evening, the plan called for 4×800 repeats. I don’t have a track nearby, so I just did half mile repeats with quarter mile walking breaks. I have not run fast in a long time, and wow it was tough. I ran by effort/feel, rather than by pace, because I really have a hard time targeting a specific pace. I was hurting at the end of each repeat, though I was still in control of my breathing, and I was able to recover fully during the walking intervals, so whatever pace I was running wasn’t terrible. I looked at the data on MovesCount afterward and my pace was also fairly even.

I was worried that this hard effort would result in slower than 5K pace or something else depressing. I didn’t look at the pace on my watch while running, so I had no idea if I was sucking wind or if I still had a little speed left in me, and I had no idea if I was being consistent between reps. Upon investigation, it appears I nailed it:

Lap 1: 9:04
Lap 2: 8:56
Lap 3: 8:57
Lap 4: 8:56

I rule! Kind of. This sounds super humblebraggy of course, but I was definitely running too hard. I want to run TCM in 5 hours, so my half mile repeats should take 5 minutes, at a 10:00 pace. I need to rein it in and do the workout as prescribed next time; I need to run a pace I can sustain for more than 4 reps, and tighten up the recovery pace (anywhere from 17:45 to 20:25 pace, although I was talking to a passerby during the slowest lap).

I’m excited to have a training plan again! It is nice to have some focus and some built-in variety to my workouts. I’m still looking for another race or two for the summer (a 10K and a half marathon, I’d say) to give me some chances to measure my progress and to stoke my competitive fires.