Hello. My name’s Jennifer, and I’m indecisive. Last week I announced I was going to run the Philly Marathon instead of the rail-trail NCR Marathon near Baltimore. Now I’m back to doing NCR!
After my last post, Courtney, who has run NCR, mentioned that the trail is actually pretty flat and doesn’t have as much of an elevation grade. That made me look more closely at the elevation maps for NCR and the marathon I ran last year. That’s when I realized the marathon I ran last year is described as “hilly” and has 400 feet of elevation gain–more than most rail trails. NCR looks to have less than 200 feet of elevation gain.
Then I thought about logistics. Philly would be a pain in the butt from a logistics standpoint. I’d be going by myself and have to take the bus, everything is really expensive (between bus, hotel, and registration it would be $500), I’d have to find somewhere to change/clean-up after the race, I’d have to find somewhere to wait after the race for the bus, and I’d be getting home late at night and have to take the next day off work. Basically, the whole weekend doesn’t sound pleasant. With NCR, logistics are much easier with it being on the Saturday following Thanksgiving and with my husband going with me and us driving.
The main reason I wanted to switch to Philly is because I thought I’d have a better race experience. I just don’t want to struggle like I did last year and have another disaster. But I realized there’s no guarantee any race, no matter the time of year or course or size, won’t be a disaster. So assuming that I have as good a chance at a good race on either course, I’d rather do NCR. I spent a lot of time thinking about it this past week, so this should be my final decision!
Last week was one of my peak weeks of 50 miles. I was able to hit the mileage because a work trip got postponed. That trip is now happening in two weeks, which is supposed to be my other 50-mile week, so I’m not sure that second 50 MPW will happen; I’ll have to see.
Last year my peak 50-mile week was when I got really burnt out and wanted to quit training. I’m happy to report I didn’t fall apart this time like I did last year. I feel surprisingly still in good shape for being 12 weeks into training, which I have to believe is because I followed the 80/20 method the first half of training. My definition of “in good shape” includes being pretty tired, though. No getting around that. But I don’t want to quit training, I’m not dreading my runs, I’m still motivated to keep working at training, and I have no aches or pains. And get this–I ran 11 hours and 11 minutes last week! It seems crazy to think of it in those terms!
This is the time in the Hansons’ training method that I start to feel like Wonder Woman. I’m able to handle the miles and workouts well and, a huge plus, my legs are getting very muscular and lean. I’ve been slacking on strength training, so that’s definitely due to all the running. Also, I reached more than 900 miles for the year this week!
Here’s how the week shook out.
Week at a Glance
- Training mode: Training for the NCR Marathon November 25, 2017 using the Hansons’ Marathon Method
- Days running: 6
- Miles this week: 50
- Time running: 11:11
- Miles this training cycle: 374.24
- Miles this month: 102
- Miles this year: 907.48
- Strength training: Nothing
Easy run: 6 miles
This is the first year I’ve ever had off work for Columbus Day. I was so grateful. The weekend before was so humid, and I really struggled through the weekend runs. On Monday I was able to sleep in, which at this point in training is worth its weight in gold. It was still super humid and I basically slogged through the miles, but I got them done.
I had a hair appointment after work so couldn’t do strength training. I got 8 inches cut off my hair. I love it. I don’t think my hair was meant to be really long, and it’s been bothering me for a while.
Workout: 11 miles
I was really nervous about this workout, which was supposed to be 4 x 1.5-mile repeats at 10 seconds faster than marathon pace. I still felt wiped out from running 28 miles in major humidity over the long weekend. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to hit my paces, especially because it was humid. I lucked out with rain, though. This is the only rainy run that I’ve ever been grateful for. It was raining hard enough to keep me cool but not hard enough to annoy me. I should knock on wood here, but the first two repeats actually felt easy. The third took a bit of effort, and the last took a lot of effort. But my first split was faster than the target and the other three were exactly on target. I finished the run in 2:15. With these long, tough workouts in the Hansons’ plans, it always amazes me that I can run 11 miles and then work a full day. It’s definitely a confidence booster, especially when you go into it not knowing if it will go well.
Easy run: 3 miles
I had to get into work a bit early so shortened this run by a mile. I was so grateful that it was so short because it was still so humid. When will the humidity go away???
Easy run: 4 miles
It was low 60s, cool, and no humidity! I was thrilled and really enjoyed the weather.
Easy run: 10 miles
I headed to North Park for this run. It was very chilly in the morning–chilly enough that I started with arm warmers–and even when the sun came out it never got hot. It really felt wonderful, and I just enjoyed the pretty views of the lake with fog rising from it. I felt really good and strong for this workout, with the last mile my fastest. It always amazes me when I get to the point in training where a 10-mile run isn’t a big deal.
Long run: 16 miles
The Hansons’ method is most famous for its long run limit of 16 miles. The reason for a shorter long run than most plans is because the mileage is spread out during the week, so you have a lot of miles and fatigue going into your long run. The idea is to not have you go into the long run on fresh legs so that the run mimics the last 16 miles of the race. The 16-mile limit really benefits slower runners like me. Running research shows there’s no physical benefit by running more than 3 hours, and the longer you run over 3 hours, the more susceptible you are to getting injured. Running 16 miles takes me more than 3 hours, so running any longer would surely put me in a risky place with injuries, where I don’t want to go. I know that some runners say the benefit of longer long runs is mental, and that it gives them a mental boost to know they did a 20-miler prior to the race. But I get a huge dose of mental grit and confidence just by doing the tough Hansons’ training; I really can’t imagine feeling as confident going into a marathon with another plan.
All that to say that my first 16-miler was today. I met Joanna at 6:30 to start this run. Thank goodness we got some miles in the relative cool darkness, because once the sun came up it got very warm. While it had been cool Friday and Saturday mornings, it was back to being warm this morning. We parked in a spot where we could come back to our cars for water, and we needed that several times during the run. In the last few miles, when it got really warm, we started talking about all the drinks we liked–for example, the Cranberry Apple Margarita I’d had at Mad Mex–and I just got thirstier and thirstier. I’d brought my blue raspberry recovery drink for after the run, and it’s all I thought about in those last few miles. I don’t think anything has ever tasted better! Save for that last tough mile or so, this was a pretty good run, made so much better because I had a friend to share the miles.
This upcoming week will be a cutback week, at the end of which I’ll run the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon as a training run. I know a lot of friends doing this race. If you’re doing the race and I haven’t met you, please say hi! That’s actually how Joanna and I met, from meeting before a race (which we ran together and have been running together ever since!)
I’m linking up with Holly from HoHo Runs and Tricia from MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap, Steff, for the Pittsburgh Run Bloggers Weekly Recap, and Courtney for her Training Recap. Have a great week!