Week Twelve/Eleven: Baltimore and Marine Corps Marathon Training

This is kind of how I feel going into Week 12 of marathon training. Photo Credit: TheBatCove.com
This is kind of how I feel going into Week 12 of marathon training. Photo Credit: TheBatCove.com

Fundraising Update: I’m at 32% of my goal with $196 raised for Team TAPS! Make a donation today and help the families of our nation’s fallen heroes. Check out my post about why I am running for TAPS. Thank you to all who have contributed! I can’t do this without your generosity and support.

I sort of hate to admit this, but I’m almost oblivious to what week I am on right now. Last week, after having missed a crucial long run because I haven’t been getting enough sleep, I realized that I need to put my focus on getting adequate rest more than I need to focus on getting my mileage done. At this point, with three weeks left before I start tapering, my training should be at its peak. My medium effort runs should be at 10 miles this week, not 8. I should be running pace runs at least at 9 and I am on 7. Maybe I am overthinking this, but I don’t know if I am doing enough to run two back-to-back marathons. I can’t do much right now to alter the outcome: if I am not doing enough, there’s nothing I can do now to change that. I can’t drastically increase my mileage if my body is used to where it’s at right now. There’s not enough time to adapt. I’m not cozy with the idea of increasing my mileage goal by 6 miles, and I don’t think it’s really hit me that I am up to 18 miles in my long run with 2 20-milers to get through. Things feel unreal right now. And erratic. I feel like I am cram-training. At Week 12. Not good.

My Planned Training Schedule: August 31 – September 6

  • Monday: 16 long run miles (Goal Pace: 9:36 – 10:36)*
  • Tuesday: 4 easy pace miles (Goal Pace: 10:37 – 11:00)
  • Wednesday: 8 medium effort miles (Goal Pace: 9:07 – 9:37)
  • Thursday: 6 easy pace miles (Goal Pace: 10:37 – 11:00)
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 18 long run miles (Goal Pace: 9:36 – 10:36)
  • Sunday: 7 race pace miles (Goal Pace: 9:06)
  • Total Weekly Mileage: 43 miles*

*Monday: 8 miles at 10:41 average pace; 8 miles at 10:45 average pace. After missing Sunday’s long run, I knew there was only one thing I could do: I had to run it on Monday. With limited daylight after work, that pretty much left me with one choice: I had to split my long run. 8 miles in the morning, 8 miles again that evening. Why couldn’t I run 16 miles in the morning by starting at 4:30 and ending at 7:30? Because I hate early mornings with a passion. I can’t think clearly when I am up that early. But I had to set my mind to getting this done. The guilt of missing a long run was immense, and I couldn’t handle it. The night before, I set out everything I needed and set my alarm clock to 5AM. I woke up at 4:45, afraid I had missed the alarm, and I knew that I was up for the day at that point. When I did finally get going around 6:10, the morning was really muggy and cool under a periwinkle sky. I could barely move– everything felt heavy, my head was still on my pillow, and I was cranky. Really really cranky. I did pass a few other runners, saw some rowers on the Potomac. Wondered who all these freaks of nature were and why they were out so early. There was no joy in my heart, being out so early. No feeling of “Quiet Me Time,” no  And the one time I was awake to see the sunrise, it was an overcast morning. Go figure. I freaking hate early mornings. I couldn’t even be happy I got it done– all I wanted was my lost 2 hours of sleep back. Throughout the work day, I was wondering if I would feel too wrecked to finish my remaining 8 miles. Sometimes sitting at a desk all day can be detrimental for runners. The day had also heated up to 90 degrees. However, after I got home, I dutifully suited back up, in partial disbelief that I was about to do this again. I took the same 8-mile loop, only I went the other way around so I wouldn’t lose my mind. Surprisingly, my legs didn’t feel terribly exhausted. My mind was more less out of the game, but I definitely wasn’t crabby as I was that morning. Yes, I am definitely an evening runner. Also, there was a gorgeous sunset. When I was finished, I vowed not to do that again. I know some people have no choice but to split up their long runs like this. And I had a good reason not to knock it all out on Sunday. But next time I feel like I can’t get my long run done and have to split it in two on a workday, I know now that it’s a strategy that will not work for me.

Tuesday: Rest Day. After my 16-miler, I wasn’t feeling particularly up for another run. I really needed to foam roll and I was holding onto some lingering crabbiness about how Monday went. I didn’t love my finishing time on either run– I was short my goal pace range both times. And I called my parents on the way home from work, then called my grandparents, then called my great-aunt and made dinner plans with her. I suppose I needed a break from marathon-training to feel normal again. It’s weird that I feel like I am in a good spot, mentally (I am not burned out), even as I am physically worn down. But I also think it’s because I take things a day at a time when it comes to running, too.

Wednesday: 8 medium-effort miles at an average 9:39 pace. Psyching myself up to run a medium effort run on a 96-degree day was like convincing myself to make a dental appointment. Not that I would have rather done the other, but this is the week in which the “I can’t” and “what’s the point?” critters are circling me. At this point, things are more mental than physical but one thing can definitely trip up the other. As I started to run, my legs felt fluid and easy to move. Within half a mile, it all started to go south and suddenly they felt heavy. True, the evening was maddeningly hot and I was probably a little dehydrated, but it all went south quickly. I was also just not in the mood either. I’m not always in love with running, and as marathon training goes by and the weeks start getting into double-digits, somehow it all feels like I’m still on day one when issues like this arise. Plus, I was running the same route that I had run twice on Monday. That somehow felt like too much. I wanted to call it quits at mile 6, but somehow finishing with 2 miles left to run felt utterly defeatist. I mean, I was already out there. I was already running. What was another 2 miles? Usually when that happens, when my mind is begging me to quit but I have one mustard seed of faith that I can accomplish it, I stop fighting and lean into whatever I am feeling. There’s no way to “mantra” my way out of a mental roadblock. Acknowledging that things suck– there’s nothing wrong with that. Why rise to the challenge of being positive when rising to the challenge to run 8 miles on a hot night was hard enough? And you know what? It worked. I stopped trying to be a badass and I just ran; did what I needed to do. I directed my thoughts to other things. And then I was at 7 miles with no reason to stop, given less than a mile to go. So, I got my 8 miles done. And thank God for that.

Thursday: 5 easy miles at an average 10:23 pace. I’m starting to feel that weird misalignment issue surfacing again, only this time in my left leg. I’ve started to realize that, when it happens, it’s likely because I am not doing enough strength and cross-training to offset some imbalances in my hips. I’ve stopped with the Iron Strength Workout DVD for now, simply because I was doing SUP at least once a week and it was easier for me to sneak in 15 mountain-climbers or a 1:00 plank than it was to block off 45 minutes to do a DVD. I realize that I need to do what I did for running and create a good base to start strength-training more and right now, I just don’t have it. My running and strength are not on the same planes right now, and that is okay. I can maintain what I do have and not get injured or benched from trying to do too much. Tonight’s run, uneventful, was thankfully an easy run.

Friday: 90 minutes of stand-up paddle-boarding. With the start of the Labor Day weekend, and the fact that I was about to accomplish two long runs within 6 days of each other, I decided that I needed a day to do some cross-training instead of running. I felt like my 18-miler was the more important run than a 4 or 6-miler.

Saturday: 18 long miles at an average 10:15 pace. I know we runners tend to use running as a way to pretend like we’re on top of everything else in our lives, but it’s not true. Saturday was one of those days when I had to put all of my personal shit aside to get what I needed to do done. Even then, I carried it out on the trail with me. I had to stop at 3.38 miles into my run to cry. Not just let out a tear and catch a breath, but bawl. I haven’t done that for awhile. Sometimes, it just happens. You know? Even as I was running a super great pace, there was a lump in my chest that just had to be let out. So, I stopped running and cried. A lot. For about 3 minutes. Did it fix things? Not really– I was still upset. And my problem was still there, even if I did have 14.62 miles left to go. But at least I could breathe.

Sunday: Rest Day. Because the beach.

Recap: I feel like I am teetering a fine line of “just good enough” with training this week. I might be a little bored with running all the time, or of putting in so much effort and get back mediocre. But it was another week down…

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