The Glass City Marathon in Toledo, OH is my goal race this spring. I ran the half marathon there in 2015 and it’s still my PR. It’s close to home so I won’t have to take any time off of work to travel, and it’s early enough in the season that I should have time to recover and get ready for triathlon season afterward. I’ve been anxious to get back to the marathon distance after 2016’s hot and humid Bayshore Marathon was a bust for me. I ended up running about 20 minutes slower than I’d been hoping to run. I’ve been through injury and rebuilding since then, and I think/hope I’m ready to tackle a marathon again.
I still haven’t run the Boston Marathon, but ran a BQ time at the 2015 Twin Cities Marathon. I’m hoping I can pull it off again and actually go to Boston. When I got my BQ, I used Hal Higdon’s Advanced 2 marathon plan, but used the Hansons Marathon Method workouts on Tuesdays. Since that worked so well for me, I’m going to try it again. I’m tweaking it here and there, and won’t start the Hansons speed workouts until my sixth week of training. That’s when their beginner marathon plan adds speed. Prior to starting this training, I had been running four days a week. I’ve spent the last four weeks adjusting to running five days a week. The plan calls for six days of running, but I’ve chosen to ride the bike in place of a 3-mile run each week so far. I’m still trying to gauge if I will stick with that approach or try running six days.
I officially started training on December 18th and things have gone well so far. The main theme of my training has been coping with the winter weather. There was a record-breaking 12-day stretch at the end of December and beginning of January when the Detroit area did not get above 20°F. I’m not a big fan of cold, so it hasn’t been especially enjoyable. Fortunately, I have decent tolerance for the treadmill.
Here’s how the training has gone so far.
The first week of training went pretty well because there wasn’t much snow and it wasn’t too cold. We have a hill that’s perfect for hill repeats right outside our door, so that was my first real workout of the training plan.
Our local metroparks are awesome because they keep the paths clear of snow, so that’s where I’ll do the majority of my training. I did a 6-mile loop at Stony Creek Metropark one day.
I went to Indian Springs Metropark for my first marathon pace run. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull it off, but I ended up running each of the five miles 10-15 seconds faster than marathon pace. I’m sure as the miles and fatigue start to build, I’ll settle down a little bit.
My long run for the week was 10 miles, which is the same distance I had run the previous two weekends.
Totals for week #1: 31 miles of running, 10 miles of biking, 3 miles of swimming, and two strength/weights sessions around 45 minutes each
I stuck with the treadmill Tuesday-Thursday mostly out of convenience, but also to avoid the cold. One morning it was -3°F. I was on Christmas break and was able to get all of my workouts done in the morning. A couple days I swam first then hopped on the treadmill next. Another day I did strength/weights first and followed up with a treadmill run. I got outside for my weekend runs and battled the cold.
My long run was 11 miles this week, and the real feel was 1°F. Brutal. Balaclavas annoy me because I don’t like having something over my nose and mouth when I run. Although I wore one, I spent most of the run playing with it. I’d keep it over my face until it annoyed me, then I’d pull it below my chin. When I did that, the mouth area froze and stiffened up, making it extra annoying when I covered my face again. On top of that, my bottle’s nozzle froze in less than an hour, so after that I had to stop and unscrew the top in order to drink my sports drink slushie.
Totals for week #2: 30 miles of running, 15 miles of biking, 3.25 miles of swimming, and one strength/weights session around 50 minutes
More time on the treadmill. Once the snow hits, it’s not always convenient to drive to one of the parks after work for my run. Going to the gym to use the treadmill is often the easy way out, especially if I need to shower and go out somewhere when I’m done. I ran 4×800 one day, which is the first true speed workout I’ve done in a long time. I ran the repeats around 10K pace, and it was definitely challenging. The weekend was cold again and I couldn’t bring myself to attempt six miles at marathon pace outside when the windchill was below 0°F. The treadmill run went really well and marathon pace felt comfortable. I ventured out the next day for my long run. Luckily it was a back-down week and I only had eight miles. It was ridiculously cold and my bottle froze again before I was done, but I layered up enough to make the run tolerable. This was the first time I’ve had my eyelashes freeze!
Totals for week #3: 30 miles of running, 15 miles of biking, 3.25 miles of swimming, and one strength/weights session around 45 minutes
Hill repeats were on my schedule, and I was able to do those outside in our neighborhood again. I did a 5-mile tempo run at Stony on an extremely rare warm day. It was 50°F! Clouds of fog blowing off of the piles of snow made for a really scenic run.
It was super cold again by the weekend, so rather than fight the nasty windchill, I had another solid 6-mile marathon pace run on the treadmill. I braved the cold again for my long run, which was up to 13 miles this week. I’m so tired of the cold! The windchill was in the single digits and I hoped it was warm enough to avoid the balaclava. My face froze for the first half mile, but luckily I warmed up after that. I felt like I was dragging for most of the run, but the pace on my watch made it look otherwise. I felt a lot slower than I actually ran. Having the sun out for the first half of the run helped, but then it got cloudy and the wind picked up. I have a sore spot on my right kneecap following this run, and I hope it’s just a random tweak that goes away. I will worry about any little thing I feel and hope it doesn’t turn into anything that could derail my training!
Totals for week #4: 33 miles of running, 10 miles of biking, 3 miles of swimming, and two strength/weights sessions around 45 minutes each
Totals for the first 4 weeks: 124 miles of running, 50 miles of biking, 12.5 miles of swimming, and strength/weights 1-2 times per week
Four weeks down, 14 to go! I hope the whole winter isn’t this miserable, but I guess I’ve managed to survive so far.