Twelve weeks down, six to go! This was another great week, but it was a doozy. Each week I learn a little more about what it means to run a marathon and also learn a little more about me as runner. No matter what happens on race day, it’s been a really incredible journey to get there. I really couldn’t have asked for a better training cycle for my first marathon so far!
Overall, I’m still feeling really good, fit, and strong. The workouts are really tough, and I’m often sore and tired from them, but that’s the nature of the beast. I’m in the portion of my training where I have little time or energy for anything other than running and work. Pretty much the only household chores I can manage are grocery shopping and laundry. Most days I wear four outfits a day (one for running, one for taking my dog for his walk, one for work, and one for after work), so it seems like I am constantly washing clothes or folding and putting away clothes.
Before I get to the week’s details, I wanted to let you know I’ll have some Fabletics and Athleta reviews coming up! I have been really slacking on the activewear posts. Part of that is that I have so little time for blogging, but part is that I haven’t been into it as much. Training takes so much of my time and brain space now. Plus, the money that I’d have used for new stuff is going toward my coaching, which is definitely the better investment in my running.
Here’s how last week went down.
Week at a Glance
- Training mode: Training for small, local, rails-to-trails Indiana Veteran’s Marathon near Pittsburgh on November 6 using a version of the Hanson’s Marathon Method beginner plan customized by a Hanson’s coach
- Days running: 6
- Miles this week: 46.5
- Time running: 9:52
- Miles this training cycle: 354.68
- Miles this month: 158.1
- Miles this year: 1,072.72
- Strength training sessions: 3
Easy run: 4 miles (66 degrees)
It was warm and very humid, and my legs were pretty tired. But it got done! (No picture because it was still dark when I was done.)
In the evening I did 48 minutes of strength training.
Strength Workout: 9.5 miles (64 degrees)
This workout was 1.5-mile repeats at slightly faster than marathon pace. I had no problem holding my paces, felt strong the whole workout, and embraced the tiredness at the end and kept pushing.
Tuesday and Thursday are longer workouts that usually take me just under 2 hours, so I thought I’d note how I fit them in on top of working full-time. For these workouts I get up between 4-4:15 a.m. and eat a light breakfast (banana and half a bagel with peanut butter and jelly). I have to eat before going on such a long run, but then I give myself an hour to let the food digest and get out of my system. So I usually start running at 5-5:30. When I get home, I stretch and eat then change out of my sweaty clothes to take my dog for his walk, usually 30-40 minutes. Then I get in the shower and start getting ready for work. When all’s said and done, I’m usually not at my office until 9:30-9:45. I’m lucky that my organization is very flexible, so I can make up the hours in the evening. The downside of that is that I have to come home and log back into work to make up the time. So, lately, I feel like all I do is run and work! Thursdays are easier because I usually work from home, so I don’t have to spend the time getting ready for work or commuting. So I start earlier, and I don’t have to work too much longer to make up the time.
Tuesday was my 14th wedding anniversary! That makes us both feel old, but it’s very nice to have someone to grow old with! We usually take our vacation the week of our anniversary. This was one of three times that we haven’t been on vacation for our anniversary. So while our real celebration was our vacation a few weeks ago, we had a laid-back dinner and drinks at Burgatory, where I had one of my favorite vegan veggie burgers.
Rest day! I did 50 minutes of strength training.
Tempo run: 10 miles (64 degrees)
I was solo for this run since Joanna couldn’t join me. I knew it would be good for me to do this run on my own, though, when it would be tougher without company. Plus, it was still pretty humid, and I said in my last post how I need practice with being uncomfortable. This run was 8 miles at marathon pace plus warm-up and cool-down. It went great! I kept my focus and was able to hold my pace, practiced running the mile I was in instead of thinking of how much more I had to go, and held my pace at the end when my legs got tired. I also wanted to practice not stopping at all for this run, and aside from a quick stop to use the bathroom at the very beginning, I didn’t stop once. I was really proud of this run.
Recovery run: 3 miles (63 degrees)
When I woke up Friday, BAM, it hit me. I was soooo tired. I could barely move. It took me a very long time to get up. But I knew I had only 3 miles, which I can basically run in my sleep, so I did them without giving myself an option of not doing them. My recovery pace is “as easy as I need,” and I just took this nice and slow. But by the time I got home, I had no energy. I didn’t think I could even get ready for work. So because I had no meetings or deadlines and still have a lot of PTO, I took the day off work. Then I went back to bed and slept for two more hours! I think that’s just what I needed because I felt much better after that.
I did 50 minutes of strength training since I had the time for it and then tried to get caught up on a few errands and chores. It was nice to have the day off.
Long run: 16 miles (64 degrees)
This was to be my longest run ever, and is the longest run I’ll do on the Hanson’s plan. While Hanson’s is famous for the 16-mile cap on long runs, the premise actually comes from running coach Jack Daniels. I summarized the approach in a previous post, but the gist is this from that post:
The guidelines for long runs come from renowned running researcher and coach Dr. Jack Daniels, who advises never to exceed 25-30% of weekly mileage in a long run, whether training for a 5K, half marathon, or marathon. So, if you’re running 20 miles a week, 30% of that volume is a 6-mile long run. For a 30-mile week, 30% of volume is a 9-mile long run, and for a 40-mile week, 30% of volume is a 12-mile run. He also enforces a 2:30-3:00 hour time limit on long runs, “suggesting that exceeding those guidelines offers no physiological benefit and may lead to overttraining, injuries, and burnout.”
I was both excited and nervous about this run. I was excited because I planned to run it on the marathon race course–the Ghost Town Trail in Indiana, Pa. I was also excited because I knew it would be good practice for a tough run, and I knew it would be tough because it would be my longest run to date and I’d be doing it by myself. I was nervous, though, about how long it would take me to do it. I didn’t do any calculations, but I assumed I’d be over 3 hours because I’m a slower runner, so I worried about injury. And I was nervous because I just wasn’t sure how tough it would be!
Because I had no idea how long the run would take me, I over-prepared. When Dave saw all the stuff I was bringing, he joked that I was preparing for the apocalypse. I had a bottle of juice for before the run, a bottle of chocolate soymilk and snacks for after the run, four big bottles of water, a bottle of ice, 5 Clif gels, 5 Salt Stick caps, and EnduroPacks electrolyte spray (which I’ll be reviewing). The trail was an hour’s drive east of Pittsburgh, so I packed all the drinks in a cooler. When I got there I filled up the hydration bag in my new Camelbak Dart, which I’d be using for the first time. I was not at all sure how I’d like running with it, but I had no other option for water since there aren’t water fountains on the trail and none of my bottles are big enough for a run that long. All the reviews of the Dart rave about how you can’t feel it at all, but I felt it! The tube felt really heavy on my shoulder, and I just couldn’t get the pack to be very comfortable. But I slathered on tons of Body Glide and hoped for the best, and then off I went.
The weather gods were in my favor. While it was on the humid side, it was very cool, breezy, and overcast the entire time.
I ran on this trail once for the Ghost Town Half Marathon in 2015. It was so hot and humid that day that I must have been running in a fog, because on Saturday I was stunned at how gorgeous this trail was! It runs along Black Lick Creek, which you can see for most of the trail. Also along the trail are large rock outcroppings, rock faces with ferns growing from them, and remnants of old buildings of many ghost towns that were abandoned in the 1900s. I loved running on the trail and am so glad I picked it as my first marathon. There were many times that I wanted to take a picture, but I was trying to run nonstop and didn’t want to futz with my phone.
The first four miles were the toughest. I had hoped that the grade would be so gradual that I wouldn’t feel it until the later miles, like was the case with the Montour Trail Half Marathon. Nope. I pretty much immediately felt the upgrade, and once I felt it, my mind saw the trail in front of me as a big hill. I kept having to chase away doubts about how I was possibly going to run 13.1 miles on it on race day. My goal was just to get to 4 miles, because that would be the halfway point to 8, and then I’d be turning around at 8. Something changed for the better in my mind once I got to 4 miles. Knowing I was halfway through the upgrade, I felt better, got into a groove, started running faster, and just clicked off each mile until I got to 8.
I was so excited to get to 8, and that downgrade felt as good as I thought it would! I ran the second half strong and in great spirits. I was running at a faster pace because of the downgrade but felt like it was the same effort. I was so happy to get to 13 miles because I’d be going into unchartered territory since my longest run up to that point was a half marathon. In the last two miles I started getting tired, but I kept my foot on the gas and made them my fastest miles. I wanted to see if I could finish the last mile at marathon pace, so that’s what I did. Yes!!!
I was proud of this run, and it was good practice finishing strong after a long, tiring run. It took me 3:26, and I ended up taking 4 gels and 4 Salt Sticks and drinking most of the 50 ounces of water in my Camelbak. I did end up with a few bruises/chafe marks from the Camelbak, but nothing terrible. I already have so many chafe marks from running that I’m basically a wreck! I much prefer carrying a bottle, so I’ll only use the Camelbak as a last resort. I stopped very briefly twice to get rocks out of my shoes (need to order those gaiters!) but otherwise ran the whole time. And no aches or pains, either during or after.
I also got a feel for the race course and realize that I will need to run slower than my marathon pace in the first half. So remember in my last post how I was so sure I could meet my time goal? Well… I see now that it will be a bigger challenge than I thought on this course. But I’m okay with that! Because if I can get to the halfway point in good shape and not too tired out, I’ll have the downgrade plus my a friend to run with in the second half, both of which I hope will help me finish strong. And if I can do that, I will be very happy, regardless of my finish time.
Also in this run I understood better about how long a marathon really is. Just getting to 8 miles was a challenge–and on race day I’ll need to run 5 more before the turnaround. I think it’s easy to think of the marathon distance in the abstract, but this run really brought home just how much I’ll be running. While I’m growing more confident as training progresses, I still very much respect the distance. I realize that even if everything goes perfectly on race day–perfect weather, no cramping or pains, no stomach issues–the distance itself will be a huge challenge. So I’d say at this point I’m cautiously optimistic that I can run a race that I’ll feel good about.
After I got home, ate, and showered, I relaxed with my legs up against the wall for a while then took a 2-hour nap. I woke up feeling refreshed and in great shape, so we took the dog on an hour-long walk before spending the night relaxing on our patio.
Recovery run: 4 miles (52 degrees)
This was the first truly cool morning since I’ve been back from vacation–chilly and no humidity. It felt so good! I went at an easy and relaxed pace and felt great. My legs weren’t sore or tired. I think Saturday’s long nap really helped me recover quickly! After my run I spent time foam rolling and stretching, which I try to do most days.
We spent a leisurely afternoon at my greyhound adoption group’s dog bath fundraiser. Django really needed a bath, and he got to spend the afternoon with greyhounds, so it was a win-win. Of course, he had to make his presence known when we first got there by being wild and crazy, running in circles and barking to the amusement of everyone else with the typically docile greyhounds.
The whole weekend was pretty relaxed, so I feel recovered and ready for the next week of training. Every other week in the Hanson’s plan is a step-back week in long run distance, so I’m looking forward to a shorter long run coming up.