Training week in review: 13 of 18

This week’s training theme:

If you feel like pushing the pace a little in a training run, go for it. The worst that can happen is you’ll have to slow down. But it you can handle it, you’ll get a real shot of confidence.

This past week was another case of deciding that some recovery was in order. After three weeks of banging away at between 85 and 95 miles, all that stress caught up with me. I was very tired on Monday, and was worn down mentally from needing to do so much running inside due to the weather, snow and ice.

Tuesday afternoon was the last straw. I experienced some intense side effects from my third rabies shot: a malaise that hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks about three hours after I got the shot. Unfortunately, at the time I was attempting to embark on my second speedwork session — this time inside on the treadmill — and finding that I could barely run a 12 minute mile.

Oh, our ancient washing machine also died on Tuesday afternoon. That also contributed to my foul mood and overall sense of doom.

So, after feeling really frustrated and despondent for awhile, I got over it and recast the week’s schedule to try to salvage things. I split a longer easy run into two recovery runs, leaving me with just two hard days: Wednesday and Sunday. All the rest were double recovery session days, with 60% of my mileage at dead easy pace.

One thing I couldn’t change was the weather (much as I wish I could) and its effects on the running path and roads. So, with the exception of two runs, everything was inside again this week. But today, at last, we had a hint of spring, with temperatures in the 50s. Our cat was also beset by spring fever this morning, always a sure sign that the season is turning.

This week’s centerpiece run was my last big marathon pace run. I chose to again use a race environment for support. This time around, it was the 25K (15.6 mile) Boston Buildup in Norwalk, CT. The race start was a local elementary school, where runners kept warm in the gym.

What an interesting race! It’s part of a series of races of gradually increasing length, presumably designed for people who are training for the Boston Marathon to use as training runs or tuneup races. As people began trickling into the gym, it was clear that this was a serious, accomplished crowd. It was a small race of around 200 people, and there were some very good runners there.

One side note: This is the first race I’ve run in where they actually banned headphones. I didn’t care because I never race with them (and I rarely run with them outside anymore), and no one else seemed to either. It was necessary for this race, as the roads were open.

The race was on a tough, tough course. The first 8.5 miles were uphill, with an elevation gain of around 500 feet. We were also running into a 15 mph headwind much of the time. Then, at 8.5 miles, the course headed downhill. There were still a few little, yet challenging uphill bumps, but overall it was a fast cruise downhill, and I was running a good 20-30 seconds per mile faster in the second half.

I wasn’t racing, but I had decided ahead of time to go for broke and target a pace of 7:48 minutes per mile, which is a 3:24 marathon pace. For most of the past few months I’ve been training at paces appropriate for a 3:30 race. It’s only in the last week or two that I’ve picked things up; I’m doubtful I’ll run 3:24 in April, but I’ll certainly be trying for something well under 3:30.

It was a fantastic training run. People were very spread out, but close enough that I kept a few in sight and they pulled me along. And I passed a few people over the course of the run. I was working hard, but I felt comfortable and in control of things. I could have run it faster. The miles flew by and at the finish I still felt pretty fresh, like I could have kept going. The picture above shows me just a few seconds before crossing the finish line. See how fresh I look?

The best part? I came in at 2:01:08 — a 7:48 pace, right on the nose.

Post-race, the gym resembled a war or disaster triage area. About a dozen student massage therapists had turned up to give free massages, and they had their tables all set up. When I walked in, I saw all these prone runners getting massages. It was quite impressive and distracted me from my mission of determining which was the best variety of bagel offered. There were no trophies, but Jonathan got a very nice, long-sleeve custom “Boston Building” tech tee (from Asics, the race sponsor) for coming in first in his age group. They were also giving out free copies of the book Breakthrough Running. Smart schwag!

The race organization was a little rough around the edges, with too few people running things, but it was a challenging course and a good crowd to run with. The people running the race obviously cared about putting on a good event, despite the limitations. I’ll definitely want to do that one (and perhaps others in the series) next year.*

A look back at the week:

  • Monday: 4 miles recovery pace (AM), 6 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Tuesday: Disaster strikes after my rabies jab: 3 miles at enfeebled pace
  • Wednesday: 5 miles recovery pace (AM), 5.5 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Thursday: 15 mile long run (steady) pace (PM), 4 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Friday: 5 miles recovery pace (AM), 6 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Saturday: 4.6 miles recovery pace (AM), 3.4 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Sunday: 16 miles at marathon pace

Total mileage: 73.5 miles

Paces this week:

  • Enfeebled: 12:00+
  • Recovery: 9:50 – 11:30
  • Long: 8:44
  • Marathon: 7:48

This week’s quote:

Act like a horse. Be dumb. Just run.

— Jumbo Elliott

Coming up in training week fourteen: Another attempt at speedwork, a weekday 20 miler, and my last tuneup race before the big race in April. And my penultimate rabies shot. And a new washing machine. A very, very fast washing machine.

*They had salt bagels, too, which no one ever has. These are the best bagels to eat after a long race, when all the salt in your body has been sweated out of you, settling as a fine powder on your skin.