Week 17 was a nice taper week and the Grand Rapids Marathon is now only 6 days away. The past week was about as perfect for running as anyone could ask for. Sunny skies, nice temperatures, and fall colors made for some gorgeous runs.
Before I became so obsessed with running, I used to take a lot more photos and post them on my website. Although I am lucky enough to take photos all day long for work, I’ve kind of neglected “fun” photography lately as training has taken up so much of my time. Last week I FINALLY got a new phone with an excellent camera (my old one was terrible) and that will surely inspire me to take more photos again. Most of my runs this week turned into half jogs and half photo expeditions. As a result, this post is loaded with photos.
Here’s how the week of tapering went:
Monday: Ran 4 miles. My typical 5-mile run days dropped down to 4 this week. I split this run up between the Paint Creek Trail and Rochester Municipal Park.
Tuesday: Ran 6 miles. I had been worried that the taper might leave me with fresher legs and I’d end up going faster than I should, and that did happen during this run. Not that I really went fast, but when I’ve gotten used to running easy runs 25-30 seconds slower than marathon pace, 10 seconds above seemed faster than usual. When I realized I was at marathon pace for the second mile, I slowed down. Yet I was back to it again for the fourth mile. It was nice to feel good, but I have to make sure I don’t push it too much.
Wednesday: 40 minutes of strength training followed by a 4-mile run. I’ve been told I should stop strength training before the race. Lately, I’m down to only once a week as it is, and I honestly don’t do much with my legs when I strength train anyway. I read an article from Runner’s World that addresses this topic, and it sounds like it’s ideal to cut out strength training 8-14 days before a marathon. So, this was probably my last weights session for a couple weeks.
After the gym, I headed out on the trail once again. I’ve spent so much time on the trail during marathon training because it’s flat, close, and convenient. Although I’m extremely thankful to have such an amazing place to run, for a while I’d grown a little bored with seeing the same sights day after day. The fall colors have suddenly brought new life to the trail though, and I loved running there this week. This was my first run with my new phone and I stopped a bunch of times for photos.
Thursday: Ran 6 miles. I had a 30-minute tempo run on the schedule, so I ran a mile to warm up, a mile to cool down, and did a cut down run for the middle 4 miles. Pretty much all of my tempo runs for marathon training have been done on the treadmill. It keeps my pace steady and where it should be. I had to get out to enjoy the nice weather though, so I attempted to keep a decent pace on my own on the trail. I originally figured I’d aim for miles at 8:15, 8:00, 7:45, and 7:30. I ended up with 8:09, 7:55 , 7:44 , and 7:24. It was a successful run, though my pace was pretty choppy and I was constantly speeding up or slowing down to hit the goal paces.
Saturday: Ran 4.25 miles. 4 miles seems like such a wimpy weekend run after going through the full marathon training segment. Since this was supposed to be an easy run, I used it as an opportunity to take some more fall photos. I didn’t care if I jogged for a few minutes then stopped for a few minutes for pictures. At this point in training, it’s kind of nice to have no pressure and just go out and do whatever I feel like doing. Matt and I went out on the trail, through Rochester Park, and through Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve.
Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve is a nice little area off the Paint Creek Trail just north of downtown Rochester. It’s very peaceful and has a lot of pretty sights. We saw a large family of deer in the woods, including the dad.
Sunday: Ran 8 miles. My last longish run of marathon training. Because it was going to be another beautiful day, I wanted to go somewhere we don’t usually run and enjoy the fall colors. Matt and I decided to run on the Polly Ann Trail and chose to start in Leonard. We ran on the trail once during the summer, starting in Lake Orion. I wanted different scenery, and Leonard is one of the few towns along the trail that has a good area for parking. We enjoyed the sights as we drove to Leonard on some dirt roads through the country. When we got to the parking lot we saw a couple women heading out on the trail on their horses. Aside from them, we saw a few people walking and a few on bikes, but the people were few and far between. The trail was nowhere near as busy as Paint Creek Trail. There was one short portion that was paved, but the rest was crushed limestone. The trail was so covered with leaves in spots you wouldn’t even know what kind of surface was underneath!
The trail was beautiful! Although I also enjoyed running through the Lake Orion and Oxford portions of the trail the one other time, I’m really glad we decided to check out the Leonard portion this time. We will definitely have to go back.
Totals for the week: Ran 32.25 miles, strength training once.
I haven’t had a week with so few miles since the beginning of this training segment. It was nice to be more relaxed this week and take in so many beautiful sights. I’m feeling good and I noticed that I had a bit more speed. I’m trying hard to keep the extra speed in check, though the 8-mile run on Sunday was nearly at marathon pace even though it shouldn’t have been.
It’s hard to believe it’s almost time to do this. Don Kern, the race director for the Grand Rapids Marathon, had some great advice in today’s email to race participants – “re-freakin’-lax.” There’s nothing more that can be done at this point. You’re either ready or not ready. I know my training has gone extremely well. The marathon is such a monster though, and it can be easy to worry about a lot of different factors. I need to heed his advice and do the best that I can to chill out. I think I’ll be okay for the most part, but nerves always kick in before any race. Time to take lots of deep breaths and remind myself that I’m ready!