352. Marathon Monday: Week 8

This week’s lesson in marathon training: check, double check, and triple check your route and mileage before embarking on your longest run ever; failure to do so may result in an even longer longest run ever.

If you follow me on DailyMile then you already saw how my 14 mile training run turn into a 16 mile training run as a result of my inability to properly map a route and do basic arithmetic.  There’s a really nice set of trails near the boyfriend’s house that I run on pretty regularly.  To date, I’ve only ever run the red trail which is a 9.4 mile loop.  However, since this loop connects to other trails, I decided to run these rather than doubling back on my usual loop.  I thought it might be fun to see some new sights.

So Saturday night I mapped out my route, and set my plan using the handy dandy Forest Preserve District map which I’ve included for your reference below along with some fun notes.  Anyway, my plan was to start at the bottom at the beginning/ end of the 3.1 mile purple loop.  I’d run the purple loop north until I hit the green trail.  The green trail is a 1.7 mile trail which connects the purple loop to my usual red trail.  I’d run the 9.4 mile red loop and then run back, finish the purple loop and get back in my car so I could stuff my face with homemade bagels (more on that tomorrow).

So if I add it all up…9.4 + 1.7 + 3.1 = 14.2.  Perfect, right?  Wrong.  Does anyone else see my failure there?  I certainly didn’t…

16 Mile Run Map Girl Can Do

Somewhere around mile too late to actually matter I realized that I forgot to consider the 1.7 I would have to run to get back to the purple loop from the red loop.  Oops.  I probably would have been more upset about this fact except for the fact that about the time I realized my mistake, a coyote ran across the trail 30 feet ahead of me.  I was pretty sure I was going to be eaten so I wasn’t going to see that extra 1.7 miles away.  Luckily (or maybe unfortunately?) I was not eaten so I did have to run that extra 1.7 miles.

So that’s how my 14 mile run turned into my 16 mile run.  Honestly, I’m kind of glad it did.  I’ve been feeling pretty confident about my training and tackling these longer mileage runs, but I would be flat out lying if I said I wasn’t scared shitless by the idea of running 16, 18, and 20 miles…I mean, 14 miles is less than a mile more than the half marathon distance which I love so that wasn’t a big deal to me.  16 miles or 18 or 20 is a different story.  I could see myself freaking out the night before one of these runs.  My surprise 16 miler didn’t give me a chance to freak out.  And you know what, 16 miles really wasn’t that terrible.  Don’t get me wrong; it was no walk in the park, and I don’t think I’ll be heading out for 16 mile runs on the regular once this marathon is over and done with.  But it wasn’t nearly as terrible as I probably would have built it up to be.

Overall, I had a good run.  I felt pretty good until around mile 10 when I started to get tired.  (This also about the point that I started having to run into the wind which certainly didn’t help.)  Around mile 13 I was starting to hurt.  It wasn’t a “oh my god, I need to stop running now” kind of hurt but more of a “okay, this isn’t fun anymore am I done yet” kind of hurt.  Afterward I felt like I had run 16 miles, but I wasn’t dying.  My knees, ankles, and the sole/ arch of my left foot were particularly sore last night, but otherwise I felt pretty okay.  I made sure to ice my knees before bed last night which helped a great deal.  My quads are quite sore today, but I’m fairly sure that’s because I completely forgot to stretch them yesterday.

Also, rather than limiting (or forcing) myself to posting on Mondays, I’m going to be poating Marathon Musings whenever I damn well please.

349. Marathon Monday: Week 6

Before we get to my marathon Monday post, I wante to let you all know about the raffle Cassie at Back to Her Roots (one of my favorite blogs at the moment) is hosting to raise money for the Avon Breast Cancer walk she’ll be completing with her sister’s in June. Go check it out, make a donation to an awesome cause, and get chances to win awesome prizes.

Cook for the Cure Raffle

Now, on to my post…

I don’t have much to say about this week’s training since I’m still in “familiar” territory so I thought today it would be fun to take a look back on how the hell I got to this point. I mean really, if 10 years ago you told me I’d be training for a marathon I would have laughed in your face.  Heck, if you’d told me a year ago I would be training for a marathon, I would have laughed in your face.

I was not a runner at.all. I was a swimmer through most of grade school and high school, and I absolutely hated running. My chief complaint during land work-outs was that if I wanted to run, I would have joined the track team. Sometime in college, or maybe it was shortly after college, I found myself a little bit envious of those people who would just get up and go for a jog. I still subscribed to the “run only when being chased (by something life threatening)” theory, but a tiny part of me secretly longed to be one of those runners. I’d try to go out running every now and then, but I would always end up going too hard, too fast, or too far. I’d be sore and miserable the next day and decide I just wasn’t cut out to be a runner.

I tried to find the exact date I decided to start the Couch to 5K program, but I couldn’t.  Truth is, as I’m trying to look back at it, I actually haven’t kept a very thorough record of my running history.  Maybe I should change that….

Anyway, I know it was sometime in early 2009.  It might’ve even been January or February when I decided running was going to be the drug of choice for my new healthy lifestyle and weight loss journey.  I started the Couch to 5K program on the treadmill at the gym, and I don’t even remember if I finished the whole program, but I remember bits and pieces and celebrating small victories along the way.  I remember how frustrating and difficult transitioning from treadmill to street was.   (Hard to believe how much I loved the treadmill back then considering how much I absolutely loathe it now!)  I remember celebrating every mile further I was able to run on the street.  I remember the indoor track at the Oak Lawn Pavilion being my summer in Chicago running “safe-haven.”  I was so excited the first time I ran 4 miles on the indoor track that August, and after my longest outdoor run that September.

I ran my first 5K in October 2009.  I was so terrified to even sign up for a race that my friend Sarah, who was my racing buddy until she up and moved to Austin on me, basically told me ‘Sign up, or I’m signing you up.’  Even after I was signed up, I was terrified of not being able to finish.  I buckled down and trained hard.  By the time race day rolled around, I was probably well enough trained to have run a 10K.  I had already run 5 miles.  I ended up having an amazing race that day and actually set a 5K PR that I didn’t touch for nearly 2 years.

That was also the day I spent an obscene amount of money on my first pair of “real” running shoes forever sealing my fate as a runner which is good because I also became addicted to races that day.  I ran the Girls on the Run 5K a few weeks later and the Santa Shuffle a couple weeks after that.

Less than 6 months later I was registered for my first half marathon.  As you may remember, that race wasn’t my finest moment.  My training was derailed by my personal life.  However, despite a less than stellar first half marathon, I was officially obsessed.  I quickly signed up for the Dallas 13.1 half marathon when Laura suggested it in November 2010, and since October 2011 wasn’t nearly soon enough, I went ahead and signed up for the Wisconsin Half Marathon as well.

Sure there are times when I’m totally disinterested in running, but ultimately, I love it.  To date I’ve run (at least) 15 races including 4 half marathons.  When I started running in 2009, I had no idea where it would take me and what it would teach me along the way. But in the last three years I’ve learned so much.  With a dedication and focus, and maybe a moment or two of temporary insanity, you can accomplish things you never thought possible.  I’ve got a long way to go to cross that finish line after 26.2, but I’ve come this far so why stop now?

Total Weekly Milage: 16.0
Total Monthly Milage: 30.55
Total Training Milage: 46.55

344. Marathon Monday: Week 4

As I mentioned on Friday I decided, after much deliberation, I was going to go ahead and run the F^3 Half this past Saturday.  Let me tell you, I could not be happier that I went through with this race.  It was and absolutely awesome experience all around.

I had little to no expectations for myself other than to not hurt myself or relapse into sickness.  I’m happy to report I was extremely successful on both fronts.  In addition to not hurting myself, I actually had a REALLY great race, and I made a new friend!  I ended running with a girl who I happened to meet while standing in the starting corral.  We ran together and chatted for the entire 13.1 miles, and she was an awesome running buddy.  We even exchanged info so we can meet for lunch or coffee or runs in the future.  Running with someone > Running alone.  Always.  My official finish time was 2:43 which is not only better than I was hoping for (I expected to be right around the 3:00 mark.) but also just about the pace I hope to average for the marathon.

More important than my better than expected time though was the huge confidence boost I got when it comes to training for my marathon.  After Saturday’s race, I really feel physically and mentally ready to start training for 26.2.  I was definitely tired when I finished the race on Saturday, but I didn’t want to die.  I was starting to get sore, but I could have run another mile or two if I absolutely had to.  My new running friend was a great help too.  She was incredibly encouraging and helped instill more confidence in myself.

I honestly haven’t thought of the last two or three weeks as marathon training.  I also didn’t spend much time running the last two or three weeks.  Yes, I was sick for a good chunk of time this past month, but deep down I know I also milked that for all it was worth.  In my mind, the F^3 race was really the starting point of my marathon training.  I’d been training (if you could even call it that) for this half, and I had to get through that before I really started marathon training.  It was a way of letting fear, or lack of confidence, or whatever, take hold and mentally tricking myself.  I was delaying accepting the inevitable.

That feeling is gone now though, and for the first time since I signed up for the Wisconsin Marathon, I feel ready to take it on.  I feel like this is something that is actually doable, and I actually want to do it.  I’m excited for training rather than dreading it.  Someone remind me of this post in 5 weeks when I hate myself for thinking 26.2 was a good idea. 😉

Total Weekly Milage: 16.06
Total Monthly Milage: 24.06
Total Training Milage: 24.06

339. Marathon Monday: Week 1

Welcome to Marathon Monday!  Monday is the beginning of my week for training so it’s the perfect day to reflect on previous week’s training and prep myself for the coming week.  Plus when it comes to alliteration, you all know I.just.can’t.help.myself. 

At this point, my training plan is basically complete.  I have my mileage and long runs planned out for the next 18 weeks.  I intend to schedule my cross training and strength training month to month or even week to week, and I’m sure even the days I’m running will change from time to time.  I set up my 26.2 training page which has my marathon Google calendar embedded in it.  The calendar on this page should, in theory, update every time I update my Google calendar to schedule my workouts.  I will also be archiving my Marathon Monday posts on this page.

Moving right along… Since I’m not really into marathon training yet – technically it has started, but I’m actually still in half marathon training for the F^3 Half on January 28th – I thought this would be a good time to put some of my thoughts, goals, and expectations down on paper…or the internet.

I’m happy to report that for the most part my “oh my god, what have I done” anxiety has settled.  I’m sure it’ll be back in a month or two when I’m facing new personal distance record runs, but for now I’m feeling good.  I’ve received tremendous amounts of support from everyone which has really helped bolster my confidence.  I was super nervous to tell Laura I had signed up because, in my mind, telling Laura made it really real.  However, she was so supportive and excited for me that I actually felt less anxious over all.  My training and racing buddy and I have been emailing back and forth.  We’ve found a good location for us to meet up for long runs.  I feel like there is plan for success in place, and now all I need to do is stick to the plan.

I don’t have a lot of expectations for myself in this race which is kind of nice.  I’m sure it will also be a great source of anxiety at some point.  I know training will be a challenge.  I know it will require a level of self-discipline that I know is there but doesn’t always show itself.  I know sticking out this training and finishing the race will be something I’ll never forget and be proud of forever.  I know training and the race itself will have its share of twists and turns and emotional ups and downs.  I’m sure there will be Friday night’s that I am terrified of the next day’s long run.  I’m sure there will be long runs where I feel great and long runs where I just want to give up and die.  I’m sure of a lot of things, but I’m also sure that I’m not really sure of anything at all.

As I mentioned in my post on Saturday, my only real goal for this race is to finish all 26.2 miles without dying or seriously injuring myself along the way.  There are definitely two major sub-goals that go along with just getting my ass across that finish line.  The biggest of these sub-goals is consistent training.  During my Dallas 13.1 training I definitively learned that consistency is key with training.  I’ve never seen such improvements in my running as I did during that training.  I’ve been running long enough to know that good, consistent training is enough to get you across the finish line of any race.  The other big sub-goal is incorporating cross training and strength training.  Consistent training will get my across the finish line, but cross training and strength training should help me get there injury free.  My goal is, time permitting, 2 – 3 days of cross training/ strength training.  I can already tell it’s going to be a bit of a challenge learning to balance this with my running so I’m not making myself too tired or sore to tackle my running.

One challenge I do expect to face, at least initially, is slowing down.  I’m by no means a Kenyan and I won’t be winning awards anytime soon, but I definitely picked up my pace in the last half of 2011.  I can pretty easily maintain a 10:00 minute/mile pace for 5 – 6 miles.  It takes effort, but I can do it with confidence.  I finished Dallas at just under a 10:30 minute/ mile pace.  However, I have absolutely no intention or desire to run this marathon that quickly.  I believe the goal pace is somewhere around 12:30 minute/ mile.  Again, my goal is to finish, and I feel like in order for that to be realistic, I need to slow it down.  I can worry about speed and PRs and time should I decide to do a second marathon.  However, sometimes slowing it down can be just as hard as trying to speed it up.  I’m definitely going to need to pay attention to my pacing.

Those are just some of my initial thoughts: things that have been floating around in my mind for the last week and a half.  I’m sure there will be much more marathon related word vomit to come.  I don’t know much about being a marathon runner, but one thing I know for sure is it’s going to be one hell of a ride to 26.2.