Road to NYC: Marathon Training Week 16 Recap

I love Taper Town

me running 10192014

Ah yes, I really do. I know lots of people complain about tapering for a marathon or half marathon. Those two weeks before the race can cause all sorts of mental problems with runners. You can begin to question whether you’ve done enough training, or whether you should do another long run or not. You begin to feel all sorts of aches and pains in places that never bothered you before. You begin to wonder whether your plan is solid, or if the volume is too low. Thankfully, I do not have these problems.

Nope, I am perfectly content when tapering. I can trust that I’ve done all I can, and that another run or two won’t make a difference at this point (nor will missing one). Thinking back to school, I was the same way with an exam. The night before, I could rest easy knowing I had done as much as I could, and cramming at that point would be pointless. Same with running for me. Instead, I just run how I feel like running, at whatever pace I want and for whatever mileage I want, within reason; I’m not about to try and run 15 miles at 8:00/mile pace. But I’ve managed to get off the couch and run a bit, at decent paces.

This week, due to the darkness in the mornings and the later sunrise time, my weekly runs were moved to after work. These were my first afternoon runs since April. It’s definitely a different way of doing things, as I’ve written about before. You have to make sure you hydrate and watch what you eat, otherwise you feel heavy and gross during the run. There’s also a sense of urgency you don’t have in the morning, chasing the sunset. Which, by the way, is awesome. Along the bluff, the brush has been cut down allowing unimpeded views of the river in both directions, and it is gorgeous. I’ll try and snag a picture during my next sunset run.

NYCM Week 16

Tuesday. No run. Oops.
Wednesday. 5 miles at a sub-9 pace. Why? Because I felt like it, because the evening was nice and cool, and because I could. Ended up stopping twice to say hi to some friends who were out there doing Insanity workouts.
Thursday. 5 miles, again at sub-9 pace. If only I could keep that pace up for 26.2 miles instead of 5.
Sunday. 6 miles at sub-9 again

There are two reasons why our normal Saturday run was moved to Sunday. First, we went out Friday night for a friend’s birthday and probably had too much fun. Second, the marathon is run on Sunday, so why not start practicing that! But Sunday was absolutely gorgeous. I kept the pace up, thinking that if I couldn’t do the full run scheduled (12 miles), then up the intensity to make up for it. Afterwards, I hung out at the park while I waited for R to finish up her miles. And by hanging out, I mean I played on this guy:

Beale Street Landing

Yup, that’s a giant catfish that kids (or adults who act like kids) can play on/in/around. There’s also some water features for the kids to play in on hot days. Have to remember that during summer runs next year.

Less than two weeks to go!

Marathon Training Totals
Weekly Runs: 3
Weekly Miles: 16
Total Runs: 53
Total Miles: 384

Road to NYC: Marathon Training Week 15 Recap

Peak Week Is Over!

ice bath

Holy crap. Peak week is over, and I am now tapering. I can’t believe we are here, just under three weeks from Marathon Sunday. Peak week called for 40 total miles: 5/10/5/20. Last year during this week, I quit after 18 miles, blaming it on the heat and humidity that day (it was REALLY warm out, I swear!) This time, I was determined to finish 100% of my runs. That determination ended on Wednesday. Oops.

I don’t know what was wrong with me, but I just didn’t have it on Wednesday for my 10 mile run. This is the longest mid-week run on the plan, and I had a 9AM meeting at work, so I knew it was going to be stressful. For some reason, after about five miles my body wanted to quit and started revolting. I felt physically sick and couldn’t maintain 10:00/mile pace. I stopped after nine miles, and Ro said I looked very sick when I got back. I just sat on the floor for awhile, drinking some Gatorade but not feeling all that awesome.

I ended up skipping Thursday’s five miler as well, since I still wasn’t 100% and wanted to rest up for the long run on Saturday. Saturday morning, the weather looked very iffy. It would be cool and overcast the whole day, and thunderstorms and rain starting Friday evening into Saturday. At 5AM when the alarm went off, it was pouring out. 6AM, still pouring. At 7, it was still raining but we finally got out of bed (yes, I snoozed for two hours). We ate and did our normal thing, and by 8:30 knew we had to get out there or risk finishing after dark. The run itself actually went pretty well. I did my normal stop-every-three-miles to eat and drink, utilizing big loops around the park. I also brought a bottle of Gatorade that I stashed behind a bench. Every time I went by that bench, I stopped and had some. I think this worked out fantastically well. Normally I have to run by my apartment, pause my Garmin, wait for the elevator, get to my apartment, drink, then go back down outside and continue running.

The first 15 miles went by quickly and painlessly enough. Mile 18 I was feeling tired, but figured two more miles was nothing. Mile 19 came and I got the worst side stitch I have ever had in my life. I was physically in so much pain that I was doubled-over and making strange noises. I slowly walked until it started going away, which it did after about half a mile. I started running again but I was spent. Final mile: 15 minutes. Average across 20 miles: 11:22/mile. Right on target for sub-five hours.

NYCM Week 15

Tuesday. 5 miles
Wednesday. 9 miles
Thursday. Oops
Saturday. 20 miles!

And with that, I am officially in Tapertown. A nice and easy two weeks of running, with long runs of 12 and 8 miles. Then it’s off to NYC for the marathon/my birthday/vacation. Can’t wait!

Marathon Training Totals
Weekly Runs: 3
Weekly Miles: 34
Total Runs: 50
Total Miles: 368

Road to NYC: Marathon Training Recap Week 14

The NYC Marathon is in 26 days. Oops.

I forgot to finish my posts last week. Double oops.

Week 14 was a step-back per the plan, and the weather was gorgeous. Morning temps in the high 50s or low 60s. Saturday’s long run was a bit sunny, but windy and a low of 46 to start. It did quickly warm up, but no biggie. It was only 12 miles. As far as my plan, I’ve been doing a sort of combination of Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 (weekly runs) and Novice 2 (long runs). I like the structure, it fits my schedule, but I wanted to put in some longer distance runs and do a bit of speed work that Novice 1 was lacking. So I combined the two into a hybrid. It’s been working well so far, and I’m almost done, so we shall see on race day.

With the marathon less than four weeks away, things are starting to get serious. The official NYC Marathon Facebook Page holds training chats on Wednesdays and first-timer chats on Fridays. One thing that always struck me was people who lack any sort of plan surrounding their training. Some people just wing it and ask if 15 miles was enough for a long run. Others were wondering if they needed to hit 30 miles in a single run to properly train. Wow. If you only ran 15 miles as your longest run, you’re in for a long day. People doing a marathon for the first time just don’t realize that the first 20 miles may be “easy” but the last 10k is extremely difficult. And running more than that can have a negative effect on your training.

NYCM Week 14

Tuesday. 5 miles
Wednesday. 9 miles
Thursday. 5 miles
Saturday. 12 miles nice and easy. My pace ended up being 10:10/mile, which I thought was awesome. Can I keep that up for another 14 miles? Doubtful, but I can give it a shot.

Pretty soon, we’ll be talking about race day strategies and pacing and all that fun stuff. This week is peak week, with a total of 40 miles on the calendar, peaking at 20 miles on Saturday. I’m hoping to nail this one, run it a bit faster than I have been in training, to see how my body would hold up when I push it. After that it’s all tapering, so might as well go for it and see what happens. I have a good idea of what my goals and realistic expectations are for this race, with my main goal being to come in under 5 hours (thus improving over MCM by 20 minutes). I think that is perfectly realistic, and in the right conditions I should be able to nail that easy. But you never know, and every run is different.

Hope everyone’s training is going great! Getting close!

Marathon Training Totals
Weekly Runs: 4
Weekly Miles: 31
Total Runs: 47
Total Miles: 334

Road to NYC: Marathon Training Week 13 Recap

Pretty glad I took off last week for my anniversary trip. I was able to wake up each morning last week and get all four runs in, hitting (basically) my mileage goal and feeling pretty confident. We are getting very close to race day, and now is not the time to push it too hard and get injured. That’s always been a fear of mine leading up to peak weak. Don’t be stupid, don’t push too hard, don’t ignore your body and break your leg or something. You’ve come too far to not be able to run. Just keep going and you’ll get there.

Tuesday. Five miles, all in the dark. Weather is becoming less of a problem, but light sure is. No longer can I start running at 5:45AM and not need street lights to guide my path. Sunrise doesn’t start until later and later now.

Wednesday. Nine miles. I basically broke this up into three miles at 10:30 pace, three miles at 10 pace and three miles at 9:30 pace. Felt pretty good. I dealt with the dark by sleeping in and going to work a bit late. Not sure I can get away with that this week though.

Thursday. Another five miles. Nothing special.

Saturday. 18.3 miles out of my scheduled 19. I broke it down like this: My normal six mile loop, the six mile loop to the island and back, and then the final seven miles. I took quick walk breaks to get some chews every three miles. Much like the 18-miler from two weekends ago, I kept things nice and easy (mid to low 11s) for the first 12 or so miles, then picked it up. And everything felt awesome for the first 15. Miles 16 and 17 were at a mid-10 pace, but I could feel myself fading under the direct sunlight. I went to take a walk break at 17, and just couldn’t get going again. I would try, but my feet just didn’t want to cooperate. I ended up walking along the river back to the park to find R, and we walked back to the apartment together. My last 1.3 miles was at a walking pace, but I’m fine with it. I know I’ll finish and I know that NYC won’t be as hot as Memphis can be.

It’s a step-back week this week, followed by peak week. Not looking forward to that, though I am ready to get this thing over with. I’m at the point in training where you are tired and sore. Everything hurts and you just want it to be over. And soon enough, I’ll be toeing the line on Staten Island, ready to cross the bridge and hammer this race home. And I better see a four as the first number on my finishing time!

Marathon Training Totals
Weekly Runs: 4
Weekly Miles: 37
Total Runs: 44
Total Miles: 303

Road to NYC: Marathon Training Week 12 Recap

Sorry for the lack of posts. I went out of town this weekend and didn’t have a chance to post again before I left, and when I got back I got sidetracked.

I think it’s important, whenever you are training for a big endurance event, that you take stock of where you are and what you need to be successful. We both determined that we needed a break, a chance to get out of Memphis for a weekend and celebrate our anniversary without worrying about diets or mileage or proper sleep. So we headed out to Hot Springs, Arkansas, to take in the sights and do some hiking.

We arrived into town on Friday late afternoon, having taken a half day. The three hour drive was fine, other than our A/C going out in the car. We checked into our hotel and partook in their free happy hour. We then walked around a bit, trying to get our bearings before the sun went down. We ended up eating dinner at Rolando’s, which combines two of my favorite things: Tex Mex food and the roaring 1920s. That’s right, it was a speakeasy that served twists on Tex Mex. We shared the special quesadilla, which added goat cheese to the normal chicken, veggies and cheese. It was delicious.

Saturday was hiking day. After a big breakfast, we headed down to the national park visitor center to score a map and go through the bath house tour. It was pretty interesting to see the different ways they would use the natural hot spring water as a way to heal different ailments, ranging from sore muscles and headaches to hangovers and syphilis. We then headed up Hot Springs Mountain to get to the observation deck. The hike was short and the trails were pretty poorly marked, but we made it and found the views pretty nice

Hot Springs, AR

Hot Springs, AR

We continued to walk around the park area, spotting different hot springs. This water is crazy hot, like 140 degrees! We each put our hands in it for a second, and it was awesome. I can see why the resorts grew up around it.

Hot Springs, AR

Hot Springs, AR

As far as running…well….we didn’t do much. I did my 5 miler on Tuesday and my 8 miler on Wednesday, but we missed our Thursday runs and skipped our weekend runs. We are now in the thick of peak training, with our longest long runs left: 19 this weekend and 20 in three weeks, before tapering towards the marathon.

    NYCM Week 12

    Marathon Training Totals
    Weekly Runs: 2
    Weekly Miles: 13
    Total Runs: 40
    Total Miles: 266