Twin Cities Marathon Goals

Arrrrrrgh. Still sick. I hate everything. I ran to the race expo and back today, and it was basically a terrifying experience. Not the run, the run was fine. The expo was a nightmare. First, I actually took the long way around the Xcel Energy Center to get to the expo because when I was crossing Kellogg after going over the Wabasha Street Bridge, I saw a group of runners making their way over to the expo, looking official and even being videotaped by a guy. NO THANK YOU, I do not want to run by fast-looking people, I will take the long way around.

To get in to the expo, I had to go through a metal detector. Since I ran there, I had nothing on me but my phone, ID, and a credit card, so I went through easily, but ugh. I was feeling sweaty and a little fatigued thanks to my semi-stuffy head, and was quickly overwhelmed by the crowd. And I also felt like a total loser. Everyone there was thin! I mean, duh, this is a marathon. But I felt like a total outsider. Everyone there was also white, so I can imagine a person of color would feel even more like an outsider. I mean, I felt like I didn’t belong simply because I had curly hair. Also I had cat hair on my running tights and I had wiped my nose on the sleeve of my jacket about 7500 times on the run to the expo, so I was pretty much a complete goober. A water buffalo in a room of gazelles.

I picked up my bib and then I wandered around a little bit. I thought there might be cool stuff to look at but then realized I didn’t want to talk to anyone. It was really crowded and people were exhibiting an astounding lack of awareness of their surroundings, so I was ready to leave. This is NOT a good omen for the race. Sometimes in a trail race over an hour will pass without me seeing another person. I LOVE THAT. But I am here to try something new.

I am glad I picked up my packet today, rather than waiting until tomorrow. While it was a disaster zone already due to the expo AND the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert, tomorrow is the Wild’s home opener and there will be some kind of fan thing going on all afternoon in addition to the expo. The Skynyrd folks seemed a little puzzled about what was going on. I had a chat with one of the guys directing traffic and wished him well through the crazy weekend.

So, goals. I don’t really know what to do here. I have been all over the map with training. I didn’t do any “marathon pace” workouts successfully, thanks to the hot weather. I have cold-like stuff that may or may not be gone by race day. I’m going to Duluth and back on Saturday. I’m not exactly setting myself up for success. And I’ve never done this before. I’ve never run a race this long that is runnable the whole way. What is my body going to think about a marathon with no hiking? It’s gonna be so confused. And maybe it’s gonna be like “no.” I don’t know.

Even with all these unknowns, I’m sticking with my same A goal of sub-5. Now, that doesn’t mean that, come race day, I’m going to hold that pace even if it feels like misery from the get-go. I will do what I’m capable of on Sunday, not shoot for something I want regardless of ability. I decided months ago that I wanted to run a sub-5 marathon, and so I’m not going to back away from saying it out loud. If I don’t make it, I don’t. It’s okay to not make every running goal you set, and it’s okay to publicly fail. Or maybe it isn’t, for the gazelles of the world, what do I know?

A Standard: 4:59:59
B Standard: 5:15
C Standard: 5:30

Non-time related goals: stay out of the med tent, finish the race, walk as little as possible, and don’t become a meme.

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!

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 11

I rebounded!

Monday: 7.3 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: 6.3 mi, road (7xWabasha St Bridge)
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 5.8 mi, paved trail (Lake Nokomis, 42 @ tempo)
Friday: 6.2 mi, road
Saturday: 7.5 mi, road (split into 2 runs)
Sunday: 8.6 mi, trail (Fort Snelling)
Total: 41.6 mi

I was determined to get in a decent week of running this past week, and I succeeded, I think. Obviously I didn’t do any long runs, but that’s fine. Monday I stuck to the treadmill because I was still not totally over my illness (I think I am now, or at least I hope so — the alternative is I have a silent infection slowly taking over my body — shudder). Tuesday I’d had enough and headed out on the roads for bridge repeats, which sucked as they always do. But I always feel so self-satisfied afterward, like I’ve really accomplished something. Which I have.

Wednesday I was planning on running and didn’t. I had a long day at work and didn’t get home til almost 6, so I decided to pack it in. It was worthwhile, my brain was pretty fried and I had a big meeting Thursday morning I wanted to be prepared for. I brought stuff to work on Thursday so I could go directly after work to Lake Nokomis. Well, actually I parked at my cousin’s house, ran from her place to Lake Nokomis, did 2 laps around, and then ran back. I did a tempo run, my first on the road in awhile, and it felt really really really freaking miserable and difficult. Possibly because there was a STRONG wind around the lake, and I was running right into it at times. And also because I hadn’t done one on the road in awhile. I ended the tempo segment at 42 minutes, right when I got to the spot where I turned off the path and onto the street again. I thought my training plan had called for a 50 minute tempo run and I was SO DONE, but it turned out it only called for 45 minutes, and I think I had 3 more minutes in me, had I known.

I thought I needed to rush back to my cousin’s house to meet my mom and my aunt, who were walking her dogs, but it turned out they were late arriving and so I ended up hanging out at the house for awhile, chatting with my mom, my aunt (visiting from Colorado on her way to Norway), my cousin, and her mom (who is my mom’s cousin, but I didn’t feel like writing out “second cousin” and “first cousin once removed” because who cares?) while holding my cousin’s squishy new baby. (I waited until I’d dried off a bit and washed my hands first, because I didn’t want to snuggle with a newborn while drenched in sweat and caked in salt.) So I guess I had time to get those last minutes of tempo in, but whatever.

Friday I ran starting at Indian Mounds Regional Park. I need to remember not to do that, because it starts off as a lot of downhill. That means it ends with a lot of uphill. It was pretty miserable. There’s a great view of the city at sunset from the park, which I was treated to as I cruised in for the last half mile or so. There were some gentlemen enjoying adult beverages when I started my run, and they were still there when I returned, and one of them complimented me for running for so long. I was in a good mood and generally I don’t mind exchanging a few words with a drunk stranger if they are nice and not aggressive, so I thanked him and said it was tough, then wished him a good evening.

Saturday I split my run into 2 runs, because I had a bunch of stuff to do. I ran about 4 miles around lunchtime and got absolutely scorched. It made me feel fairly miserable and faintly nauseated for several hours afterward, even after taking a shower (far too quick) and rehydrating. My husband and I drove over to my mom’s, had a mid-day meal with my family before my aunt left for her trip, and then we drove home to start our project for the weekend: painting the kitchen cupboards. Ugh. What a dumb idea. We took all the cabinets down, removed the hardware, and then I went for another run in the evening (about 3 miles) which was a lot less miserable.

Sunday I got up, went to Fort Snelling, and had an actual enjoyable run around Pike Island and then up the Minnesota River Valley Trail toward Minnehaha Falls (I’ll have to run there another time). It was significantly more enjoyable to run that area without feeling like I had to pee the whole time. It was warm but most of the trail was shaded. I felt pretty strong but also caught myself spacing out and running at a mindless pace. I’d look down and see like 15:45 pace on my watch. I do not understand how I can let myself get so much slower just by zoning out. It’s really annoying, because zoning out helps the miles go by. I need to figure out a better way to run by feel, because I thought I was cruising along at least 2 min/mi faster. Then I went home and finished prepping my kitchen and started painting, which about killed my poor legs.

Superior is this week, I can’t even believe it. Time for my mini-taper (and time to get more done around the house)!

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 10

I guess when I said I wasn’t tapering much for Superior, I was tempting fate.

Monday: 6.6 mi, treadmill (45 @ tempo)
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 7.4 mi, road
Thursday: 7 mi, road
Friday: 2.9 mi, road
Saturday: 7.7 mi, trail (2.5 @ Fort Snelling) + treadmill (5.2)
Sunday: 5.7 mi, trail (Fort Snelling)
Total: 37.3 mi

Okay, let’s talk about Saturday first. Clearly I did not run the Women Rock Half Marathon I was so excited about. Instead, on Friday evening, I discovered I had a mild UTI (oversharing? Maybe. But it’s just an illness!) and I decided the next morning not to run. I felt really stupid about it, because I had very few symptoms. I’m used to having a cold, or an upset stomach, and having symptoms that wear me out. I felt like a quitter, like I should have gutted it out and run the race, but I was worried about putting my excretory system through a half marathon when it has an infection. Well, I felt guilty about it and packed up in the afternoon for a long run at Fort Snelling. Nope. I made it 2.5 miles before I called it quits and went home, because while I mostly felt fine, I spent the entire time I was running (one loop of FANS, basically) feeling like I had to pee, and then I went to the bathroom and still felt like I had to pee. What an annoying symptom. So I went home and managed to get a run in on the treadmill (with like 3 bathroom breaks) so the day wasn’t a total loss.

I’m disappointed I didn’t get to run the half marathon, and annoyed that I wasted $65 on a race I signed up for on a whim, but I don’t feel like I made a bad decision.

Back to Monday —  I can’t remember why I ran on the treadmill. Laziness? Weather? It was so long ago. 8 whole days. A lot is going on at work right now so my brain can’t remember more than a few days prior. I did a tempo run, which I can do more effectively on the treadmill – I can keep my pace under control and slowly ramp it up and down. It just sucks because I hate running on the treadmill, although I use it as a crutch a lot.

Tuesday I planned to run and came home to find every sports bra I had was dirty. And I already wear them more than once because I’m gross and just don’t care if I smell bad, so when I say dirty I really mean it. I had recently thrown two away because the hook and eye closures were coming apart, so I had a shortened rotation. Fortunately REI’s Labor Day Sale started Friday, so I picked up 2 more on sale (along with some gels). I was annoyed because I was all ready to run and wanted to take a rest day before the half marathon, but I dealt with it.

Wednesday and Thursday were both road runs that were nothing special. I did pick up my race bib on Thursday, but that was about as exciting as it got. Friday I ran a short shakeout run around my neighborhood and then discovered the bad news.

Sunday I wanted to give Fort Snelling another try. It’s the closest state park to my house, and I don’t know why I never considered running there before. I only go there for FANS. I guess I assumed there weren’t great trails there, but that was incorrect! Instead of doing the FANS loop, I ran to Pike Island, ran around that, and then ran back to the swimming beach. I was planning to do 8.5 miles but cut it short at 5.6 miles because again, I felt like I had to pee the whole darn time. I tried to ignore it but failed, and it slowed me down quite a bit and made my run a grind. I’m running a difficult trail marathon in less than 2 weeks. I don’t need to be grinding out runs.

I was pretty proud of myself for sticking to the training plan I’d worked out – the first 6 weeks went really well, other than not being able to really do marathon pace workouts due to heat. Then life started to get in the way, and while I am bummed to not be nailing every planned workout, I also don’t mind life getting in the way. My family and my job are always going to come before running, and if that means I run lower mileage than most runners, that’s fine. It still takes me a heckofa long time to get the runs in while maintaining lower mileage, so I make do with my abilities and the amount of time I want to devote to running. It works for me for now, and if it doesn’t, I’ll figure that out when it happens.

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 9

This week felt like nine weeks and five days, as Navin R. Johnson (Steve Martin) says in The Jerk.

Monday: 5.4 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: 5.6 mi, treadmill
Wednesday: 4.3 mi, road
Thursday: 6.3 mi, road
Friday: 5.6 mi, road
Saturday: rest
Sunday: 13.9 mi, trail (Lebanon Hills)
Total: 41.2 mi

I seriously cannot believe I managed to get over 40 miles in this week. As I said in my Week 8 post, I was in Portsmouth, NH for the majority of the week, and I didn’t have a car due to a comedy of errors. That meant that I spent Monday and Tuesday on the hotel treadmill, after a grueling 10 hours of technical lectures and lab work. I ate grocery store food and did homework after my workouts. Monday’s workout was okay, Tuesday’s was not as great since I had to use the crappy treadmill while some guy leisurely walked (with some occasional running) and watched something on his smartphone. I had been planning on doing an interval workout but the crappy treadmill kept cycling through the various display options, so I was only able to see the time or distance every 43 seconds or something. Oh he also didn’t wipe down the treadmill after using it, which is how I know this guy was actually the devil and not just someone who was looking for a lower-intensity workout.

Wednesday I got a car and I looked up some possible running routes. I thought I’d drive to this place, Prescott Park, and then run a loop as suggested on Map My Run. I headed that way, mistakenly driving through downtown Portsmouth in a very pedestrian-heavy area, and discovered this Prescott Park place was having a huge event. So I had to find something else to do, and drove around for awhile before parking on Goat Island and running onto New Castle Island and then along the beach at Great Island Common.

Yeah, wow. It was unbelievably gorgeous. I didn’t realize the sun sets a bit earlier in NH than it does in St. Paul, so I ended up running the last half mile or so in near darkness, wearing a black t-shirt and black shorts. Whoops.

Thursday I headed back to the same area, parking near Fort Constitution, running a circle around the islands near the mouth of the Piscataqua River. It was so blissful, a welcome relief after incredibly long and at times frustrating days in class. I started earlier so I was able to get in a longer run and then had a lobster roll and giant cone of ice cream at a place called the Ice House.

Friday I finished up my course with a practical exam in the morning, then took a self-guided walking tour of Portsmouth. It was mostly just me wandering off in whatever direction looked to have the most interesting old houses/buildings. I did see a few specific sites (I finally figured out what Strawberry Banke was), but I mostly stumbled upon cool things. I even walked across the Memorial Bridge into Maine, then turned around and went back again. I got to brag to my aunt later that I already had my 10,000 steps in.

After my walking tour, I drove up to Maine to my family’s camp near Kennebunk. I chose to take my training in Portsmouth because it was relatively near the camp, and fortuitously, it happened to be the same weekend that a lot of extra family was up there. So I got to have an amazing (but short) time with around 20 members of my extended family. After water-skiing, I headed out for a run around the lake between rain showers. (It was very humid.) After a late dinner, we had two sauna sessions and two jumps in the lake before I drove back to Portsmouth to take advantage of the opportunity to sleep in.

Saturday, I headed back to Maine for a few hours, getting in another water-skiing session plus some wiffle ball. We can call that cross training. I made Saturday my rest day so I didn’t have to throw stinky, sweaty running clothes in my suitcase. (I did throw my swimsuit into my carry-on, but it was dry.) I was flying out Saturday evening and drove back to Boston after the wiffle ball game. I made it home at about 10 PM and crashed at about midnight, without bothering to set an alarm. I was going to sleep as late as I wanted to.

Sunday I still got in almost 14 miles! I didn’t put any pressure on myself to get started by a certain time. I got up late, I ate my breakfast fairly slowly, and I watched a couple TV shows before I finally headed out. I probably could have cranked out a few more miles, but I was hungry and out of gels, and I was low on water. I really wouldn’t mind a few long runs on days in the low 70s F, if for no reason other than water conservation.

I am really amazed I managed to run 41 miles this week, with all the travel, work, studying, and even fun I crammed into my trip. I was pretty tired – traveling wears me down a bit no matter what the situation, and in this case I was up early every day and then up late studying due to semi-poor time management. Working out did help me decompress from the day and also allowed me to see some beautiful places. And yes, I did enrich myself professionally as well.

Half marathon coming up this weekend – I just signed up for it today, since I realized I haven’t raced in two months. And I’ll get to be home every day this week!!! So that will be great.