Bad runs, good runs, fall training

With one notable exception, it’s been a bleh week for running. I spent Monday traveling to Iowa, Tuesday at a memorial service for my grandmother, followed by a reception at her retirement home, then Wednesday traveling back home with hours of flight delays.

So Monday and Wednesday, I did not run. On Tuesday morning, though, my sister and I headed over to the Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids, located along the Sac and Fox Trail, to attempt a run. Alas, after a week of rain the trail was a mudbath. So we hit the road; Otis Road, to be exact.

What a lovely run it was. I ran on ahead since I wanted to cover 8 miles to her 6 and we had to hurry along to get ready for the service later in the morning. We saw two trains pass by. She managed to get the conductor to honk by waving at him. Enthusiastic arm pumping by me on the way back yielded no honks from conductor number two.

Otis runs through farmland, and along the way I saw many deer, hawks, feral farm cats, a squashed squirrel and a bunch of friendly horses (or maybe just hungry ones) at a horse farm. We ran an out and back and at some point later in the run I was catching up to Susan, who was gliding over the crest of a hill, framed by a sterling Iowa morning sky. A beautiful scene indeed. I got choked up, realizing that the chances are slim that I’ll run in Cedar Rapids again.

Despite the fact that I was there for my grandmother’s service, I enjoyed myself. I spent a lot of time with my mother and her partner, my sister and niece, as well as with some extended family whom I don’t get to see that often. But, as was expected, it was also a rough trip emotionally. Not surprisingly, I came home feeling totally drained, and it wasn’t just from all the travel.

I did a terrible 4.5 miler yesterday. I gained about 3 pounds of water during the trip (eating lots of junk), plus I screwed up my left foot wearing formal shoes all day Tuesday. I don’t have bad runs very often, but they truly suck when they happen.

I got up this morning to try another, but it was pouring ran. So I did 5 miles inside on the treadmill at noon, and that went a lot better. Tomorrow I’ll do 10 in the morning, then 5 or 6 in the afternoon. Then a big 17 miler on Sunday, with the last few at marathon pace.

Westchester has changed the Bicycle Sunday rules, I’ve noticed. For most weekends in May, June and September Westchester shuts down several miles of the Bronx River Parkway on Sundays from 10AM – 2PM. It used to be limited to bicyclists and rollerbladers, but this year they’ve changed the rules to allow walkers, strollers and “joggers.”

Last weekend I was finishing up a 16 miler right around 10:30. I noticed that no runners were using the parkway. I suppose they either don’t realize they can, or, like me, they’re worried that it’s more hazardous than using the paved path. I’ll probably stick to the path again on Sunday — it’s more shaded there anyway.

One great aspect to Bicycle Sundays is the appearance of an ice cream truck right at the end of my long run. Last weekend I was starving for the last few miles and I cursed myself for not bringing either a gel or any money with me. I’ll take a fiver on Sunday so I can get a delicious treat after whaling on my legs for 17 miles.

I’ve mapped out my marathon training plan for the fall race: 8 weeks of base building, followed by a 14 week program that’s a modified version of what I used for the spring. The approach is pretty simple. The 8 weeks of base building consists of one long run on Sunday (alternating each weekend with marathon pace miles at the end) and one other hard run: either hills, tempo or intervals on the track. I’m also building up the miles from current 60ish to 90.

Then I go into 14 weeks of training in which I continue this approach, but throw in a midweek long run (to make it three hard workouts a week), more marathon pace miles, and a few tune-up races. The mileage tops out at 105, but I’ve put in more recovery runs (and more frequent full recovery weeks) this time around, so I’m hoping that will ward off injury.

I’ve decided to mix up the quality run types (tempo, hills, intervals) throughout training rather than doing them in phases. I believe that doing speed intervals every week for a month is what pushed me over the edge into injury. So I’m forgetting about Pfitzinger’s “mesocycles” this time around. Another grand experiment.

We decided to run the Fairfield Half Marathon on June 22. It’s supposed to be a well-organized race, and it’s a competitive field. I also need to get acclimated to running in the heat; what better way than to run a half marathon full out in late June? And I’ll do a couple of the Van Cortlandt Park 5K races on Thursday evenings, to replace tempo runs. Racing’s a lot more fun than a tempo run any day, even if it is hot. Especially if it’s hot. And at five bucks a race, it’s hard to pass up. Then, in September, I’ll do the South Nyack 10 Miler — my third year running this race. I missed an age group award by a few spots last year. I intend to come home with some cheap hardware this year, by hook or by crook.

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