Week 10 of marathon training

Week 10 is done! Now it’s just 2 months until the Grand Rapids Marathon. So far, so good. I’m still getting my runs in and feeling pretty good about how things are going. Here’s what training involved this week:

Monday: 40 minutes of strength at the gym followed by a 9-mile run. After I got home from the gym, Matt and I headed out for 9 miles. His birthday was on Tuesday, when I had 9 miles on the schedule. I didn’t want to be off running half that night. Instead, I swapped the days of some of my runs. I’d usually do 3 on Monday following my weekend long run. I ran a hard 13 miles last Saturday and took Sunday off. One day was not enough time off for me to turn around and run 9 miles after that kind of effort. This was the ugliest run I’ve had in a long time. I thought I was actually feeling pretty good after the 13 miles, and my legs were fine during the day. Once I started to run, it was a different story. A recovery run of 3 miles would have been ideal, but I was determined to get in 9. By the end, it felt like I was crawling and nearly every muscle in my legs hurt. Somehow I survived, and it definitely helped that Matt was there.

Tuesday: Ran 4 miles. I’d normally run 4 miles on Wednesday, but chose to do it today. I was able to get these miles in pretty quickly so we could have fun for Matt’s birthday afterwards. After the previous day’s brutal run, I didn’t know what to expect. I started really slow, but must have loosened up, gotten faster throughout and finished strong.

Wednesday: Rest. I did not plan on taking this day off. I was going to get up and run 3 miles (Monday’s usual amount) in the morning. I decided it would be better for me to get more sleep since we’d be out late at a Tigers game that night. However, I couldn’t fall back asleep anyway. It figures. That meant I’d not only be tired from getting up way too early, but I didn’t get the run in either. There was no time before the game, so this run would just have to be skipped. I decided missing 3 miles would not really be a big deal and that I should quit worrying about it.

Thursday: Ran 8 miles with hills. I had 6 hill repeats on the schedule. The idea of running hill repeats was not appealing to me at all, especially since it was pretty warm outside. I opted to come up with a hilly route and consider that good enough. I ended up climbing about 200 feet over 3-4 miles, so it was a good challenge. Part of my route took me on some dirt roads in Oakland Township that I don’t usually hit. It made for some good scenery because there are some really amazing houses out there. I didn’t stop to take pictures of the houses, so I grabbed these from Google Maps (which explains the nice fall colors, haha.)

This picture does not do the house any justice. It is HUGE.

This picture does not do the house any justice. It is HUGE.

 

Another sweet house that is bigger than it looks here. Pretty nice neighborhood!

Another sweet house that is bigger than it looks here. Pretty nice neighborhood!

 

I also found a really nice boardwalk in that area. I had no idea any of this stuff was there! I’ll have to run out there more often.

This boardwalk was really pretty.

This boardwalk was really pretty.

 

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Ran 9 miles at marathon pace. To make sure I could maintain the pace, I wanted to stick to a flat route. I opted to run on the Paint Creek and Clinton River Trails, and was lucky that Matt was willing to go along. He told me to follow him and not worry about the pace – he’d handle it. I’m pretty lucky! The goal was an 8:13 pace, and we finished with an average just under that. It was challenging at times, and not so bad at other times.

Sunday: Ran 19 miles. This training is getting really serious now. Yesterday’s run left my shins feeling a bit sore, but I was pretty much okay otherwise. I ran all over Rochester Hills for this long run, with about 7+ miles on trails and a dirt road, and the rest on sidewalks. Aside from running the trails around here, it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’ll hit hills somewhere. I sure didn’t make this route an easy one – it climbed from about the 3-mile mark to 14.

A pretty good climb for this run.

A pretty good climb for this run.

 

I took it easy and ended up averaging about 30 seconds over marathon pace. Matt found me when I had about 5 miles to go and finished the run with me. It was really nice to have his company, especially at the end. I held up pretty good until around 17 miles. At that point, I started to feel a bit of a stomach cramp. A half mile after that, it turned into a cramp in my upper left side. I slowed down a little and luckily I was able to run through it.

In 2012, I had a bad side stitch during the Bayshore half marathon. That hit about halfway through the race, and it got so bad that I had to walk the last 3 miles. Since then, I always worry about a repeat of that experience when I develop a side cramp. I’m glad I was able to finish today, but sure hope it doesn’t happen on marathon day.

 

Totals for the week: Ran 49 miles, did strength training once.

 

For my really long runs, I’ve been using a Camelbak hydration belt that holds two 21 oz. bottles. I have water in one and GU Brew in the other. I’ve also been using Honey Stinger chews. I’d never eaten anything during races before, but figured I’d better change that for the marathon. I’ve been taking 3-4 chews every 6 or 7 miles during my long Sunday runs and it seems to be going okay. By the end of today’s run, I was nearly out of stuff to drink. I think I might end up racing with the hydration belt, as annoying as it may be to have the extra weight at the start. I’ve gotten used to it and like knowing that I can drink whenever I want to. I really like having my specific kind of GU Brew as well, and I know the race won’t have that. I got a shipment of stuff from Running Warehouse this week, including more GU Brew and Honey Stinger chews. Before most of my runs, I usually have a Honey Stinger waffle, meaning I eat at least 6 a week. I am obsessed with these waffles and like to have plenty of them in stock.

Stocking up thanks to Running Warehouse.

Stocking up thanks to Running Warehouse.

 

I figured when I bought a new pair of Brooks Launch shoes 3 weeks ago they’d be the pair I’d use for the marathon. I didn’t realize how quickly the miles would rack up. I already have 93 miles on them! I rotate through several different kinds of shoes for various runs, but tend to go back to the Launch most of the time when I have 8+ miles to run. That means I’ve been using them for probably 3 runs per week. At this rate I might need another new pair before the race! I got around 350 miles out of my last pair before I realized the wear was pretty significant.

Looking at next week, I’m supposed to run back-to-back runs of 10 and 20 miles. This will be the first of 3 20-mile runs in my plan. I’m feeling pretty good about it after running 19 successfully, aside from the darn side stitch. I have been debating if I want to sign up for the Milford 30K next Saturday to help me get through my first 20-miler. With the race on Saturday, that means I’d run 20 first, followed by 10 on Sunday – the opposite of what I’ve gotten used to with my plan. Hopefully that would work out okay. I think the race environment and course support would be good, and it would be nice to have a course already mapped out for me. I’m not sure about it yet because I know it may be pretty warm that day, and I’ve heard it’s a hilly and challenging course. I know that could make it tough, but based on the hilly course I ran today, I’m pretty sure I could manage. It’s the heat I’m most worried about because the race doesn’t start until 8am. I may wait a couple days and finally decide.

Onto the next week of training, with a 50+ mile week!

– Janet

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Week 9 of marathon training

I’m halfway there! I’m now through 9 weeks of my 18-week training plan. I’m happy to say I’ve had another really solid week of training. Here’s how things went:

Monday: Ran 3 miles in the morning, then did 40 minutes of strength and 9 miles on the bike in the afternoon. I had a nice early morning run with Matt. When I’ve looked at information about training paces, I’ve always thought recovery runs were supposed to be run much slower than I feel comfortable running. I ran 17 miles the day before, so I took this one really easy and ran by feel. Finally, my body must have slowed me down enough that I hit that suggested recovery pace. As my mileage increases, I’m getting more comfortable with the slower paces for some of these easy runs.

Tuesday: Ran 9 miles. My schedule was busy on Tuesday, so the treadmill was the only way for me to squeeze this run in. Listening to a morning show podcast kept me entertained and distracted, and the 9 miles were a breeze. I started slow and gradually sped up, to the point that this ended up being a little faster than a marathon pace run.

Wednesday: Ran 4 miles. It was a beautiful day for a run on the trail. My legs had felt pretty fresh during the day, but they stiffened up when I started this run in the afternoon. It made me realize I had better slow down so that my “easy” run actually felt easy. I needed to save my speed for the next day, so I’m glad I felt too tired to push it.

Thursday: Ran 7 miles. Today was a 6 x 800 workout, so I headed out to the track. We’re lucky enough to be close to two schools that are right across from each other, giving us options in case one track is being used. I parked by one track and ran around a neighborhood to warm up. By the time I got back, a bunch of young football players had gathered, so I opted to go to the other track. I always get myself worked up about speed days because I feel pressure to hit a speedy pace. It’s definitely a challenge, and sometimes I both love and dread speed work. It can be fun to go so fast (or what seems fast for me at least), but it can be brutal trying to maintain it. Matt had paced my last couple speed workouts, but I was on my own this time. I thought I ought to aim for a 6:50-7:00 pace, but I ended up hitting between 6:35-6:43 for the repeats, with my final one being the fastest. I couldn’t believe I pulled that off. I ran a lap of recovery between each repeat, but after my third one, I started to incorporate some walking. I’d walk for a minute or so, and jog at least half of the lap. I was so out of breath by going so fast that it’s the only way I managed to recover in between. I really ought to slow down a little bit for these so I don’t end up getting injured.

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Ran 13.1 miles for a race simulation. Hal Higdon’s Advanced 1 plan calls for a half marathon race at the end of the 9th week. He says that it is not necessary, but it can be a helpful way to access your current fitness level. I was a bit wary of actually racing a half marathon all-out because I typically take a week off to recover from an effort that hard. I’m trying to be cautious during training. I really hope to avoid injuries so I can make it to the day of the marathon fit and ready to go. My schedule said to rest on Friday and Saturday and run a half marathon on Sunday. With a bunch of family activities going on over the weekend, it wasn’t ideal for me to race, and it worked best to run long on Saturday. I worried a little about only having one day off before running a hard half, especially since I had just run the 800 repeats so hard on Thursday. I figured I could at least aim to complete the run at marathon pace.

Saturday morning was beautiful, and I was actually a little cool at the beginning of the run. The Paint Creek Trail was ideal for this run because I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about stopping much for traffic. I actually lucked out and didn’t hit any traffic at the crossroads. Matt ran with me for the first 5 miles, and my goal was to run no faster than an 8:13 pace for the first half of the run. Matt helped keep me under control whenever I started to go a little too fast. I managed to keep a very consistent pace, hitting somewhere around 8:16-8:18 for much of the first half of the run. My legs felt tired around 4 or 5 miles and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep it up, but luckily the tired feeling faded. I figured that I would conserve my energy for the first half, and give it whatever I had left for the second half. If that was still marathon pace, I’d be happy. If I could actually get going faster, that would be great too since the schedule called for a race. I took a few Honey Stinger chews after the halfway point and sped up with the added benefit of the slight decline heading south on the trail. My 7th mile was just under an 8-minute pace, and I gradually sped up as I went. It was a hard effort, but I just ran based on feel. I was surprised to see that I ended the last full mile in 7:33 – just above my 10K pace. This run was a great success and I ended up finishing a bit faster than my current half PR! The Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K in May was the first time I successfully executed a race using this method. Running conservatively early and kicking in later seems to lead to great results for me. Based on this run, the McMillan calculator estimates a 3:41 marathon time for me. Considering how this was run in the middle of marathon training with no taper, I’m really happy with that estimate.

Sunday: 9 miles on the bike. Since my schedule allowed for two rest days this week, I chose to take today off of running. After yesterday’s effort, I wanted to be careful. I actually ended up feeling pretty good and it doesn’t feel like I just put in a race effort. What a relief. I kept my legs moving a little bit at least by riding 9 easy miles on the bike.

Totals for the week: 36 miles of running, strength once, and 18 miles on the bike.

This was another great week for me, and I’m hoping it keeps up for the second half of training. This is probably the last time I will run less than 40 miles in a week until I hit the taper period. It’s going to be challenging, but I’m feeling good about the challenge after this week.

Another cool thing from this week is that I got a medal in the mail from 3 Disciplines. I was not listed in the top three in my age group when awards were given out for the Village Triathlon in Clarkston last month, but the online results said that I placed third. After contacting them, I got this in the mail.

Very cool medal from The Village Triathlon!

Very cool medal from The Village Triathlon!

Pretty cool. Well, onto the second half of marathon training and another challenging week of squeezing everything in!

– Janet

Week 8 of marathon training

I’m another week closer to the Grand Rapids Marathon! Here’s how my 8th week of training went:

Monday: Swam 2,000 meters, followed by 3 easy miles on the treadmill. I’m not real consistent with swimming lately, so it was nice to get this in. The treadmill run was my first with my latest pair of shoes – Brooks Launch. It’s my second pair of the Launch and I’m extremely thankful Brooks decided not to retire this model like they had planned. This is probably the pair I will use for my marathon.

Tuesday: 35 minutes of strength training, followed by a 7-mile tempo run. I added a mile for warm up and a mile for cool down, so the tempo part of my run was really the 5 miles in between. I’ve done my last few tempo runs on the treadmill, which makes it easy to lock in and stick with a pace. I did this tempo run on the trail, and it was a bit tough. I cut my pace by about 10 seconds each mile for a few miles, then gradually slowed down. I’m not good at keeping a consistent pace, so I tend to start too fast, have to slow down, then speed back up. I always struggle more on the way up the trail, which has just the slightest incline, and I speed up on the way back down. I probably ran a bit harder than I should have, and my right ankle/shin felt messed up at the end. I iced it right away and luckily I was fine the next day.

Wednesday: Ran 4 easy miles. Nothing exciting about this easy trail run.

Thursday: Ran 8 miles. Now that I’m running so much, I feel the need to mix things up now and then and run some different routes. I didn’t map anything out ahead of time, but decided to just wander some neighborhood roads that I don’t usually hit. It was nice to change things up and see some different scenery.

Friday: Rest.

Saturday: Ran 8 miles. Looking for more new scenery, Matt and I went to Riverbends Park in Shelby Township for a run. I’ve done a couple 5Ks there, but hadn’t really explored the park. I didn’t know the bike trails went for such a long stretch. We pretty much stuck to the paved trails and it was a peaceful and pretty run.

riverbends01

Riverbends Park

 

riverbends02

Riverbends Park

 

riverbends03

Riverbends Park

 

Sunday: Ran 17 miles. I ran up the Paint Creek Trail to Lake Orion, added a couple miles around town, then headed back down the trail. I’ve ridden my bike up to Lake Orion a ton of times, but have never done a run that long. This run went really well, and I even had enough left in the tank at the end to pick up my pace a little for the last few miles. It definitely boosts my confidence when these long runs go well.

Totals for the week: 47 miles of running, strength once, and 2,000 meters of swimming.

This marathon training business is tiring! My habit of not getting enough sleep on a regular basis isn’t going so well with all of these miles. I really need to work on that. Aside from being really tired and a bit sore, things are going well so far. On to week 9!

– Janet

Week 7 of marathon training

It was another busy week of training as I prepare for the Grand Rapids marathon. Here’s what the week looked like:

Monday: 45 minutes of strength training followed by an easy 3-mile run. I had done the Clarkston triathlon the day before, and during the day on Monday, my left shin began to throb. I’ve struggled with shin pain for about 2 years now and have finally gotten the pain under control thanks to the help of a chiropractor. My shin pain has dropped off a great deal, but it hasn’t completely gone away. The throbbing I felt as I walked around work on Monday was the worst I’ve had for quite a while. I was practically limping at times. I figured I’d skip my run to let it rest. By the time I got to the gym after work, the pain had gone away. I chose to give it a shot on the treadmill to see how it went, and I had no problems. I kept my pace slow and got through 3 miles without any pain during or after.

Tuesday: 5 hill repeats – 6.5 miles total. I ran about 2 miles to warm up and 2 to cool down, with 5 hill repeats in between. I ran my usual hill in our neighborhood and wasn’t too excited that a family was out on their porch at the top of the hill, probably wondering why I was torturing myself. They had a small dog who barked during a couple of my repeats, and it took off after me as I headed down the hill following my final repeat. Luckily it never actually got close to me, but it did follow me down the street for a bit. As if that wasn’t bad enough, a car came along. It really pissed me off to think that the dog could have been hit. I can only hope that it was enough to teach the people to keep the dog on a leash.

I used my ankle resistance bands for about 10 minutes of exercises after this run. I’ve been feeling my hips a bit lately and need to keep doing some exercises to work them.

Wednesday: 4 easy miles. This is when the ridiculous part of my week began. Thursday was going to be really busy for me after work, so I’d have to run in the morning that day. I didn’t feel like running 4 miles Wednesday night followed by 8 early the next morning, so I ran the 4 easy miles early on Wednesday morning. Tuesday night’s hill workout didn’t wipe me out too much, so it wasn’t a problem. I headed out with my headlamp, and it was actually pretty nice and peaceful, aside from my encounter with a skunk. Luckily it didn’t spray!

Thursday: 7.5 miles on the treadmill. I had 8 miles on the schedule and didn’t want to attempt to run that much in the dark so crazy early in the morning. Since our gym is open 24/7, I thought I’d finally take advantage of that perk. Less than 10 other people were crazy enough to get there even earlier than me. I’ve never seen the gym so quiet! I listened to a podcast to keep distracted, and made it through 7.5 miles on the treadmill before I thought I’d better stop to get ready for work. This worked out pretty well, aside from the sleep deprivation factor. We went to a concert Thursday night and I didn’t get to bed until just before midnight, so it made for a really long day, and a very tiring Friday.

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 8 miles. This was the day of the AdvoKate 10K, and I ran 1.8 miles prior to the race. My schedule called for 8 miles at marathon pace, and I kept below the pace for the warm up, and way below the pace for the 10K. My pace is supposed to be 8:13 and I ended up running around a 7:45 pace. My recap of the race is posted here.

At the AdvoKate race

At the AdvoKate race

Sunday: 16 miles. I had 16 on the schedule, which was the most I’d ever run. I was pretty worried after running a bit too hard the day before. I took it nice and easy and actually felt pretty good. I ran from our place to Oakland University, where I ran a loop around the campus. I ran through Rochester Hills and hit a portion of the Clinton River Trail, followed by a small stretch of downtown Rochester. As I waited at a crosswalk, I saw Matt across the street! He was not running 16 miles, so we did different runs. I hadn’t mapped out anything specific, so he didn’t really know where I’d be. We just happened to luck out and hit the same spot at the same time! At that point, I had 2 miles to go and it was great to have his company. By the end of the run, I still felt fine. The nice and easy pace certainly helped, as well as the beautiful and cool weather.

I did about 20 minutes of exercises with my ankle resistance bands right after the run. After cleaning up, we went to the Rochester Diner & Grill to reload some carbs. They have great breakfast food at a really reasonable price. The soreness began to hit eventually and got worse as the day progressed, but otherwise, I’m really happy with how this run went.

Totals for the week: 45 miles of running, and strength once. No swimming or biking this week. The lack of sleep and craziness of my schedule this week made it difficult to squeeze in much else.

I will probably cut back on the biking and swimming quite a bit from here on out. I don’t think I’ll do any more triathlons this summer, and it’s hard to fit everything into the schedule. I’ll do some when I can, but won’t worry about it if I don’t have time. Marathon training alone is quite a handful.

– Janet

AdvoKate 10K race recap

Like most of my recent races, I chose to run the AdvoKate 10K at the last minute. Earlier in the week, I thought about how I had 8 miles to run at marathon pace and I would probably run those miles on the Paint Creek Trail. I realized the AdvoKate race would use the trail for part of the course, so why not just run the race? The race environment would certainly help me hit the pace. It’s a race that Matt and I have considered running for several years now, but it never worked out. We either had something else going on, or we opted not to do it based on hot/humid weather. The weather was due to be perfect this year, so Matt and I decided to sign up.

This was the 7th year for the AdvoKate run, which raises money for St. Jude’s in honor of Kate Hrischuk, a 6-year-old who lost her battle against a tumor in her brain stem. We were happy to support this great cause. Packet pickup and new registrations took place the day before the race at Runnin’ Gear, so I went there to sign up. The packet included a cotton t-shirt, as well as a thin Gatorade towel. I’ve never received a towel in my packet, so that was something new and cool.

The race t-shirt

The race t-shirt

The weather was perfect the morning of the race – in the low 60s and clear. The race began in Rochester Municipal Park, which is an easy jog from where we live. With 8 miles on my schedule, Matt and I chose to run down to the park, allowing me to get 1.8 miles in before the race. We got there with about 15 minutes to spare and found a pretty large crowd scattered throughout the park. Around 600 people took part in the race.

People gathered near the start

People gathered near the start

The 5K and 10K started at the same time. We lined up at the front, just behind a big group of kids. As I’ve learned from past races, the younger kids tend to have a major burst of energy at the start that fades pretty quickly. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before I was trying to navigate around a group that was probably 8-wide across the street. It was awesome to see so many kids taking part in the race, and hopefully they saved some of their energy for later in the race! As the course took us out of the park, the hilly climb began.

The elevation according to my Garmin

The elevation according to my Garmin

There are some pretty good hills on this route for a couple miles, followed by a large downhill drop on the way to the Paint Creek Trail. At that point, the 5K runners headed back towards the park while the 10K runners ran up the trail in the opposite direction.  My goal was to use this race to hit my marathon pace and not race it all out. I knew I’d probably go faster than marathon pace (8:13), so I figured I should aim for an 8-minute pace. No such luck – I definitely went faster than I should have.

My splits

My splits – so much for that 8-minute pace

I was pretty consistent, but unfortunately that meant I was consistently too fast! I knew I’d struggle to keep myself disciplined.

I enjoyed the trail portion of the race because as the leaders hit the turnaround point, we got to see them coming back down the trail. It was fun to root for people, and Matt and I exchanged a high-five as he came by. I liked watching out for the people I knew, and it made for a good distraction.

As my splits show above, I ended up with 6.16 for my total distance. I ran about 20 seconds slower than my 10K PR pace, and I’m not sure I could have gone a whole lot faster if I had tried. My time was good enough to earn me a second place finish in my age group! Matt did great and won his age group.

Matt got a picture as I finished

Matt got a picture as I finished

By the finish line

By the finish line

There was a great variety of food in the pavilion area after the race. Bananas, donut holes, mini cookies, bags of mini muffins, bagels, and Clif granola bars. I think I definitely made up for all of the calories I’d just burned! Matt and I met our Twitter friend Laura (see her blog The Rum Runner), and caught up with some old friends as well.

People hanging out in the park after the race

People hanging out in the park after the race

Everyone gathered around the pavilion for the announcement of the overall race winners. Prizes were not awarded in age groups, but they had a TON of raffle prizes. I’d been hoping we’d win a prize from Rockin’ Cupcakes or Cookies By Design, but no such luck.

Gathering around the pavilion

Gathering around the pavilion

After catching up with friends, we took a nice walk through the park and back up the trail towards home.

Rochester Park

Rochester Park

We had a great experience with this race and would definitely run it again. My only concern is that pushing my pace may make my 16-mile run tomorrow pretty rough!

– Janet