Fall Training: Weeks 18 and 19

I skipped last week’s training report on account of being up in CT enjoying the company of both familiar and newly discovered family members. So this is another twofer.

I’ve documented some of the ups and downs of the past couple of weeks in individual posts, so I won’t repeat those here. Suffice it to say that this season’s training really wore me down. So much so that I’m considering moving to a 10-day schedule (instead of a weekly one). I found it difficult to do three hard workouts per week over such a long stretch of months. Some of that may have had to do with the difficulty of training in heat and humidity. I’ll see what happens over the winter, I guess.

With rare exception, I did all the planned workouts, but looking back on my diary entries, I realize that I never felt recovered and ready for the hard days. As a result, I rarely hit the paces I wanted, and this has done a real number on me mentally. When I compare this season’s training to last, the number of hard workouts each week was never an issue. The obvious difference this time around was the mileage: an average of 91 mpw compared to 76 mpw. If I’m going to do higher mileage training, I think I need to accept that a woman of my rapidly advancing years needs more recovery time in order to make those harder runs really sparkle.

A look back at training week 18:

  • Monday: 6.8 miles recovery pace (AM); 7.1 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Tuesday: 4.7 miles recovery pace (AM)
  • Wednesday: 14.1 mile long run (steady pace) (AM); 4.8 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Thursday: 8.1 miles recovery pace
  • Friday: 5.9 miles recovery pace (AM); 7 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Saturday: 22.1 miles with some at marathon pace (meh)
  • Sunday: 6.9 miles recovery pace

Total mileage: 87.4 miles

And training week 19:

  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: Off
  • Wednesday: 3 miles recovery pace (AM); 5.5 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Thursday: 6.2 miles recovery pace
  • Friday: 10 miles with 5 at tempo effort
  • Saturday: 6.1 miles recovery pace (AM); 4.5 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Sunday: 18.5 mile long run (steady pace)

Total mileage: 53.9 miles

Paces these past two weeks:

  • Recovery: 8:50 – 10:40
  • Tempo: Hard to tell on the treadmill; ran at 89-91% max heart rate
  • Marathon pace (sort of): 7:30-7:45
  • Long: 8:16 – 8:46

I was so exhausted during week 18 that it wasn’t even funny. So much so that I couldn’t even run my marathon pace run at marathon effort. I was averaging 82-83% heart rate, so I never hit my times. I just couldn’t go any faster.

I thought taking time off on Monday and Tuesday of this week would help, but I still felt awful on Wednesday. So I cut back the mileage much more than expected and hoped I’d feel better toward the end of the week. Last season I had roughly equal mileage in the first and second weeks of my taper (although owing to injury rather than exhaustion) and it didn’t seem to be a problem come race day.

I felt good enough to do a decent tempo run Friday morning (although since I had to do it inside on our unreliably calibrated treadmill, I have no clue how fast I was running); I broke that run up into two 2.5 mile segments, with a half mile easy pace inbetween. That went pretty well. But I must say that I’m very rattled by the fact that I still have no idea how fast I should be running in two weeks.

Today’s long run was quite the adventure. We had temps in the 70s and 93% humidity. I got about 12 miles into the run and felt a sprinkle. My top was soaked anyway due to the heat and humidity. But then the sprinkle turned into a steady downpour. By mile 15 I was completely soaked. In a way, it’s liberating to just accept the rain and try to appreciate its cooling effect. I also had the running path pretty much to myself once the rain really got going. Thanks, Hurricane Kyle!

I wore a newer pair of shoes this morning: the Asics Speedstar. I’ve been looking for a racing alternative to the Saucony Fastwitch, at least for the marathon. The Fastwitch is perfect for the half distance and below and feels good until about 20 miles. Beyond that point it feels like I’m running on two pieces of cardboard. Since the last 6 miles of the race are the most painful ones, it seems crazy to wear shoes that will only add to the pain. Jonathan’s worn the men’s version of the Speedstar for the marathon and says they held up well. They felt more substantial than the Sauconys on today’s run, and there were no hotspots (even when they were soaked), so I’m going to wear them for Steamtown in two weeks.

Coming up in Training Week 20: Running “doubles” is now behind me; it’s one run per day from here on out. Taper week two calls for equal mileage to taper week one, but with fewer hard miles. I’ve got a short speed session on Wednesday (mile repeats at 5K-10K race pace), and then a shorter long run (13 miles on Sunday). After that, it’s just one week until showtime.

I ♥ WordPress

Because its “stats” are so informative.

For example, someone arrived at my blog today via the search term “running black panties.”

You know who you are.

Chasing Bolt

Great series on Usain Bolt from blogumentarian Matt Taylor, the brains behind Chasing Tradition, Chasing Kimbia and Chasing Glory.

Ran 6

Just did six slow miles outside. No, I didn’t really feel like running, but I got a pep talk this afternoon from a certain someone who can’t run at all at the moment. So I went out there and ran six for The Gipper.

My legs were stiff, and since it’s five days before my cycle, I feel like I weigh a thousand pounds and haven’t slept in a week. But I ran them.

It’s supposed to start pouring this evening and basically not stop until Sunday morning. So I figured I’d better get outside while the getting is good.

One day at a time.

I have something in common with Sarah Palin

Besides being 43 and having breasts.

Like me, she can run a sub-4:00 hour marathon.

Read it and, perhaps, weep.

Feeling really bad again

This, the first week of my three week taper, has not gone well. I took Monday and Tuesday off deliberately. Yesterday I felt horrible — elevated heart rate, slight nausea, general malaise, the whole nine yards. I struggled through two recovery runs anyway: a 3 miler in the morning and 5.5 miles in the evening.

This morning I work up feeling worse and with a resting heart rate even higher than yesterday’s. I actually feel fluish, although I don’t have a fever or other obvious symptoms of having picked up a bug. Needless to say, the 16 miler planned for this morning was right out. I took a bath, and lay down for awhile, neither of which helped.

So now I’m at a loss. I think I’m going to wait until I feel right again (and actually want to go running) before attempting another run. But I have no idea when that will be. In the meantime, my carefully planned taper training is going out the window.

I’ve worked so hard since May to train for this race, yet I have no confidence in my training and this latest week of feeling like crap isn’t helping. I’m beginning to wonder if I should bag the race altogether if things don’t look up soon.

I am not happy.

Music for a long, fast run

When I’m faced with the prospect of having to suffer through a fast run that will take me in the neighborhood of three hours to complete, I look to my MP3 player for distraction. Nay, inspiration! And, since I have to run fast, podcasts and audiobooks don’t cut it. No, I need the loudest, most testosterone-fueled sonic bombast that I can get my hands on.

Here is what I listened to on this morning’s run:

1. The Thousand Names Of God – Motorhead
2. Anarchy In The U.K. – The Sex Pistols
3. God Save The Queen – The Sex Pistols
4. Holidays In The Sun – The Sex Pistols
5. Bodies – The Sex Pistols
6. No Feelings – The Sex Pistols
7. Liar! – The Sex Pistols
8. Problems – The Sex Pistols
9. Seventeen – The Sex Pistols
10. Submission – The Sex Pistols
11. Pretty Vacant – The Sex Pistols
12. New York – The Sex Pistols
13. EMI – The Sex Pistols
14. Bonzo Goes To Bitburg – The Ramones
15. Going Underground – The Jam
16. That’s Entertainment – The Jam
17. 20th Century Boy – T. Rex
18. Crown Of Thorns – Social Distortion
19. Cold Feelings – Social Distortion
20. When The Angels Sing – Social Distortion
21. I Was Wrong – Social Distortion
22. Ring Of Fire – Social Distortion
23. Soul Kitchen – X
24. White Girl (Single Mix) – X
25. Los Angeles – X
26. No Cars Go – Arcade Fire
27. The Bell And The Butterfly – Charlatans U.K.
28. Around The World / Harder Better Faster Stronger – Daft Punk
29. Superheroes / Human After All / Rock’n Roll – Daft Punk
30. Only Happy When It Rains – Garbage
31. When I Grow Up – Garbage
32. Special – Garbage
33. Vow – Garbage
34. Celebrity Skin – Hole
35. Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
36. North American Scum – LCD Soundsystem
37. That’s How People Grow Up – Morrissey
38. The Hand That Feeds – Nine Inch Nails
39. It’s My Life – No Doubt
40. Switch On – Paul Oakenfold
41. Think Tank – Public Image Ltd.
42. Dear Lover – Social Distortion
43. Untitled – Social Distortion
44. More Human Than Human – (Meet Bambi In The King’s Harem mix) – White Zombie
45. Problem Child – AC/DC
46. Get It Hot – AC/DC
47. Touch Too Much – AC/DC
48. Girls Got Rhythm – AC/DC
49. Highway To Hell – AC/DC
50. High Voltage – AC/DC
51. Back in Black – AC/DC
52. You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC

Lots of odd choices for a post-modern feminist like myself. But I guess that’s what makes me post modern.

I should add that “You Shook Me All Night Long” is my favorite running “power song.” I also hold the sincere opinion that it is one of the greatest musical recordings ever produced.

The hay is in the barn.

Today was my last big training run: a 22 miler with 9(ish) miles in the middle run not quite at (desired) marathon pace; more like as fast as I could muster. Which means 15-25 seconds slower than (desired) marathon pace. I am now questioning my fitness to run my (desired) marathon pace in three weeks, considering I’ve barely run more than a few miles in any given training run at it.

Was it the dreadful summer heat and humidity? Not enough recovery? Failure to adapt to training enough to reach my desired level of fitness? All of the above? What speed I can reliably hold over 26.2 miles is anyone’s guess right now. And I don’t like that.

Perhaps I will undergo a miraculous regeneration in the coming few weeks and, with (I hope) cooler temperatures, I’ll pull a rabbit out of my hat (or shorts) on race day. But a part of me is thinking I need to readjust my plans and expectations. What I do know is that the first 10 miles of a marathon should feel ridiculously easy and slow. So I think my entire strategy is going to be built around that maxim: Find a pace in the first few miles that seems absurdly easy and stick with it through the halfway point. Then start turning up the heat and engaging in my favorite marathon game of chance: “Guess When Julie Will Blow Up!”

The weather was astonishing this morning. Perfect. It was in the low sixties and dry. It was, as always, very windy (both coming and going). But I felt good until around mile 18 when I started to bonk. But, with only four miles to go (and a Powerbar in the car), I was fine.

I parked the car at Hartsdale Station and ran down to Bronxville with an 8 mile warmup at easy pace. Then I turned on the jets (cough cough) on the way back and ran all the way up to the Kensico Dam in Valhalla. Availed myself of the Ladies Room, sat on a bench inwardly whining for awhile, and then hit the road again for the last 5.5 miles.

There was not one but two huge training groups out there. I think one was a Team in Training group, since about a quarter of them had their distinctive purple TNT singlets on. There must have been 30 people, judging by the collection of bags they left in the park in Hartsdale. The other group was operating out of a van in the North White Plains train station parking lot. They were all so young, fresh and enthusiastic. Not at all like me! I wonder if they’re training for the New York marathon. It was nice to share the path with so many friendly runners today.

I did my big run today because tomorrow we drive up to Connecticut for what my uncle’s wife, Diane, is calling The World’s Smallest Family Reunion, and I’d like to be able to display something resembling a lively personality (which is out of the question after a hard 22 miler). I’m meeting one of my two second cousins, (father’s side), Ann (and her husband, Greg) for the first time in probably around 35 years. My dad and his wife, and my uncle and his are also coming. Except for going to Iowa in the spring for my grandmother’s demise, followed by her funeral, I’ve not traveled at all this year. And I don’t exactly count those two trips as “vacations.” So, even though it’s just two nights away, I booked us a tony suite in a B&B. I have extensive family history, good food and wine, and the possibility of getting to help cook in a real restaurant kitchen on Monday evening to look forward to. And, I’m certain, a lot of great conversation and company.


I felt better yesterday morning, so I went out and did the planned 14 miler at easy/general aerobic (Pfitz’s term) pace of 8:15 average. I didn’t throw in any hills, as my calves and achilles’ were quite sore and I didn’t want to irritate them further. Then I did a four mile recovery run in the evening and was quite tired (not surprisingly; that second run of the day after a hard run in the morning is usually pretty difficult).

I slept 9+ hours last night and, although I feel pretty good this morning, I’m skipping the planned morning run. I’ll see how I feel later in the day. I may take the whole day off if I still feel tired.

It’s supposed to get very cool starting tomorrow. So I’m hoping to be fully recovered for a big run on Saturday morning. If I’m not, I’ll push it into next week. Or skip it.

Steamtown strategizing

Once my pre-race taper begins next week, I’ll have lots of free time to work on a pacing strategy. Although Steamtown has nearly a net 1000′ elevation drop, it’s peppered with smaller hills in the first half, followed by three big hills at the very end. So I’ll spend a few hours with Google Earth and a calculator to put together my pace band.

In the meantime, here’s an interesting review of last year’s race.