Sunday, March 8, 2015

Week 6

This week brought the staple of all marathon training, the 20 miler! After the half marathon last Sunday, I was a little sore but not too bad. On Monday, the run was only 7 miles with some strides so I was happy about that. I actually felt good and ended up running 7:56 pace. Not bad. Tuesday was supposed to be 11 miles with 6 at tempo pace (15k-half marathon pace). The last 15k I ran was in 2011 but it was my PR. I ran it in 6:59 pace. The 7:11 pace for the Little Rock half is my half PR but I know I can do it faster. I assume these runs should be done sub 7:00. Since I had just done LR, I was worried about this run and figured that as long as I gave a good effort, the pace today wasn’t that important. I was still going for it though and arbitrarily assigned 7:15s as respectable. I used the first 3 miles to warm up and then took off for the tempo run. As it often is by the river, it was pretty windy. It was a cross wind which meant I’d never really get any help from it no matter what direction I was going. I felt pretty strong in the first mile which is usually my slowest and hardest mile. I did 7:12 which was fine. After that I did 7:07, 7:06, 7:03, 7:01 and 7:04 with a tempo average of just over 7:05. I would have been fine with this on any tempo run day but considering I just did a half marathon, I was really happy about it! On Wednesday, they were predicting more winter weather. It started raining in the early morning hours but the temperature was up in the 40s. I was supposed to drop through the day and eventually turn to freezing rain, then sleet and then snow. At first they said it would happen around noon but it kept getting pushed further back. We made some calls to our patients and everyone either cancelled or came in early. I was done seeing patients by noon and left work around 1:30. At that point, it was close to freezing and raining. I dressed as best you can for those conditions, prepared for life to suck for the next two hours and left the house for my 15 miler. Since it had been raining so long, parts of the trail were flooded so I had to stomp through some really cold pools of water that were ankle deep. By mile 8 I couldn’t feel my hands. I kept moving them around and they actually did warm up a bit before I was done. I was soaked to the skin though. Around mile 10 the rain turned to sleet. It was windy and the sleet bit into my already cold face. It hurt and felt like hundreds of pin pricks. I was about a mile from home so I decided just to head that way and finish the run on the treadmill. Once I got to turn out of the wind though, everything became bearable again. I took a different, longer route home and decided to tough it out. Once I got into one of the newer sections of my neighborhood, the road got really slick and I had to slow down and be careful. Once again, I decided to just get home and finish on the treadmill. When I got onto the older streets of my neighborhood, it wasn’t slick anymore and I passed my street at 12.25 miles and decided to keep going. I did another loop and ended up in the slick new neighborhood again but I wasn’t as discouraged since I now knew it was just that the newer pavement was slick and it would get better once I hit the older streets. Unfortunately, the sleet had been coming down long enough at that point that the old streets were nearly as slick as the new streets. The last mile back to my house was tough. I’m sure I was tired from the run anyway but the sliding was making it worse. When I got to my street, I needed  little more distance so I passed it and ran down the other side of my circle. It was getting slicker by the minute. By the time I had to run up the hill to my house, I was crawling. I got over into the grass but that was like running in sand. I managed 8:19 pace overall which I was more than fine with. It was a real adventure and at least I avoided the treadmill. When I walked into the house, I was soaking wet and my skin was so red. Brian looked at me and couldn’t help but laugh. I had left a towel by the door and stripped everything off right there to keep from tracking water everywhere. I took a warm bath. I was numb so I didn’t want to burn myself with a hot bath. After that, some warm clothes and hot apple cider, I felt tons better. The sleet turned into snow so I did my Thursday 5 mile recovery run on the treadmill at 8:24 pace. I took Friday off. Saturday Brian had a 2 mile race in a town about 20 minutes away so I had to wait to do my long run. This is actually good because I’ll probably get to run Boston no earlier than 10:30. A few weeks ago, the thought of doing my long run at any time other than first thing in the morning would have given me hives but I’ve done several long runs later in the day on this training cycle and I actually like it-especially since it is relevant this go around. Brian won his race so that was exciting! I couldn’t run from home because the snow on our trails was still pretty bad since they are mostly shaded. I decided to hit the river trail and go up Fort Roots Hill. Fort Roots is an old Army post that now happens to be the NLR VA hospital that I have worked at for the last 12 years. It sits atop a big hill and the back way up, Fort Roots Dr., is a mile long, switchback climb. I started at NLR side of the Big Dam Bridge and ran about 10 miles and then headed back on the trail. It was fairly clear but I did have several patches of slushy snow so I got a little adventure here and there. I headed up Fort Roots Hill after I turned around. It is shaded and so there were lots of patches of snow left. Luckily, the road is still closed to vehicles so I was able to safely run in the clearest parts of the road without worrying about getting hit by cars. At the top of the hill is the hospital gym so I was able to stop and get a drink and take a Gu. I did a lap around the campus and headed back to my car. It was all pretty uneventful and I did the 20 miles at 8:03 pace which was pretty good considering the big climb in the middle as well as having to slow down for various patches of snow and ice slush. The real challenge of the 20 miler is how you feel afterward. I always feel a bit beat up. My joints ache and various places on my body are sore. Predictably, my hamstring was pretty tight but the general rule after a really long run is not to stretch for about 24 hours as the muscles are so damaged that you can actually cause more harm than good. I would typically take an ice bath after a long run but this winter has been cold and I just straight up don’t feel like it. I soaked in a warm tub and did as much couch sitting as possible for the remainder of the day. On Sunday I was supposed to do an 8 miler with some strides. I really, really didn’t feel like running and the fact that it was “only” 8 miles wasn’t helping. It was supposed to rain so my running buddy went early to avoid it. I had to wait because Brian did an 18 miler. We also had to spring forward so getting up early wasn’t appealing to me. I lucked out and the rain never came. I had a hard time getting started on the run and first few miles were slow but once I warmed up and the strides started, it wasn’t so bad. I ended up doing 8:14 pace which was pretty good considering how slow the first couple of miles were.

I’m still feeling good. I don’t feel over trained at all so that is great. When I trained for Go!STL last year I was feeling very sluggish by this point. I did go to yoga once this week but the other class I would have gone to was cancelled because of the stupid snow. I have a 20 minute DVD that is actually really good so I need to do it when I have to miss class. Gah! Why is it so hard to do what is good for you?

Next week’s plan:
M-General Aerobic + Speed 8mi w/10 x 100m strides
T-Lactate Threshold 12mi w/7@ 15k to half marathon race pace
W-Med Long Run 14mi
R-Recovery 5mi
S-Long Run 21mi
S-Recovery 6mi

More of the same really. The tempo run will be the longest and the last of the training cycle but I’m not too worried about it since last week’s went so well. There was a time when I would worry about a tempo run the entire day before I did it. While they aren’t easy and I don’t love them, I glad they aren’t anxiety producing anymore.

I think I have the blisters under control. I was really getting frustrated not being able to run without pain bad enough to change my mechanics. That is a recipe for injury. The 2nd skin and blister pads were just making it manageable but not fixing the issue. The Little Rock half had me scared to death since I knew it was going to rain the whole time. I decided to try my old Injingi socks and see if that did the trick. If you aren’t familiar, these are the socks with individual toes in them.
They help by keeping your toes from rubbing against each other which really seems to be my problem. Even with the wet conditions at the half, my feet held up. I bought several pairs on Monday and I’ve run in nothing since then. Two of the three blisters on my foot are completely healed and the worst one is better everyday. I think this is the answer to my issues!

Books wise, I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Loved it and I can see why it is a classic. I then read Paper Towns by John Green and started Looking for Alaska also by John Green. I like both of these. YA stuff that is entertaining and helps the miles pass.

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