T-Minus 5 days and counting…

24 10 2016


Today is Monday, October 24, and the marathon is Saturday.  I’ve made it through the training without injury and I feel like my body is as ready as it’s going to be.  Short of some core work and stretching, one more strength training session and a couple more little tune-up runs, I’m done.

I remember reading a quote way back in 2009 when I was training for my first 10k and so worried that I’d only run 4 consecutive miles prior to the event.  It said something like “it’s better to be 10% under-trained than 1% over-trained.”  I found that to be true when I rocked that 10k and crossed the finish line feeling like I had just won the Olympic Marathon (despite my poky 13:01 pace).  I feel like the only aspect in which I may be under-trained is cross-training because that is what I have neglected when time ran short.  But I don’t think it will make a difference in my ability to finish.

As you can see from my calendar on the Garmin website:
october-runningsince last posting on the day of my 21 miler, I have run as little as 1.35 miles and as far as 10 long slow miles (along with a whole bunch of dog walking).  I’ve done intervals, slow runs and speed work as well as casual no-specific-strategy runs.  I was going to do a 5k at “average effort” a couple of weeks ago but ambition overcame me and I hauled ass instead.  I ended up with another age group award and a new PR.  The weather was nice and it was a beautiful location.  Sometimes that just spurs you on, and off you go.


So October 2016 will probably be a big month when I look back on it, featuring a 5k PR and my first marathon, but something else pretty awesome also happened.  I’m in the cover photo on the latest newsletter for my running club!  How cool is that?!


However, this trifecta of running “firsts” will only be complete when I cross that 26.2 mile finish line on Saturday.

Hurry up 5 days!  Let’s get this thing done!

More later….

The last and longest Long Run … and I survived!

6 10 2016

21-43I called it a dress rehearsal for the marathon,  a 23-mile very slow run which would approximate conditions for the big day.  Using my house as a bathroom/food stop with water bottles and snacks laid out on the kitchen island, I made a series of “between 3 and 4 mile” routes on MapMyRun with home as the starting point and planned to do seven of them (which added up to 22.85 miles — close enough to 23 for me). Since the marathon is also a series of short loops (as are all the races offered by the Mainly Marathons bunch), I figured it would be a perfect simulation.  I even started at 8:00 a.m. which is the same time (7:00 a.m. Mountain Time) the actual race will begin on October 29.

I learned a lot.

First: even though there will be an extremely plentiful aid station handy at that race, I will still want to carry my own water.  I always do.  I feel naked without that little hand held bottle carrier thingie. When I tried to ditch it yesterday, I missed it.

Second:  the ridiculously expensive sports-bra-with-front-pocket that carries my iPhone is not the best choice for a very long run.  It caused upper back pain after about the first 10 miles.  I often use the PEAR Sports heart-rate based coaching and tracking programs when I run, but I will skip that during the marathon.  There’s just no place to carry that giant phone easily for such a long distance. The armband carriers always slide down and that’s a big pain in the ass.  The waist carrier pouch thing makes me sweat more in the heat.  And I won’t need the phone for music anyway because I have an iPod shuffle (two actually since I once lost one and then found it a year later).

Third:  it’s nice to have actual food instead of just gel packs and such.  The Mainly Marathons races always have real food, so I made small ham and cheese sandwiches with pear slices and cookies for my mock aid station.  As long as I didn’t eat too much, I had plenty of energy and my stomach felt comfortable.

Fourth:  my legs will be fine (although tired sometimes) but my feet could be an issue. I ended up switching shoes about halfway through because the higher heel-to-toe drop in my Brooks Addictions got to be a problem.  It felt like running in high heels.  The Saucony Hurricanes (even though they’re older) will be the official shoe but I will bring my Hokas along too, just in case.  I can probably stash them by the aid station should I feel the need to change to something even flatter.

Fifth:  you can’t exactly rely on the MapMyRun maps to be 100% accurate on the distance you will run as an individual. Even though I thought I would get almost 23 miles done, it came up barely 21 and 1/2 (per my Garmin watch) by the time I got done.  Being a little obsessive, I considered getting back out there just to get in that extra mileage but decided not to.  It was 80 and sunny, I was hot and in pain, and no added benefit would have come from it.

So now the taper begins.  My right Achilles tendon is a little cranky today but it’s nothing I can’t baby along and stretch out as the clock ticks down toward October 29.  I’m scared and thrilled; confident and nervous; ready yet wishing it was already over all at the same time.


More later.

MARATHON TRAINING: Month 3 = making Zefram Cochrane proud

2 10 2016

Like the mythical phoenix rising from its own ashes and Zefram’s ship The Phoenix making the first warp flight — that’s how I would describe September’s training experience.  It started out pretty rough.  My right Achilles tendon was achy.  A lot.  More than achy really.  It was pretty much hurting with every step for a while. Eventually I realized I hadn’t been rotating shoe styles as much as I needed to so I started doing that again and it got better.  But first came a two week slump where my attitude seriously tanked due to the daily pain and nagging thoughts of “how on earth are you going to do 26.2 miles with that pain” bouncing around in my head (along with their companions “you cannot quit again” and “you’d better find a way, girlfriend”).  So I spent the first two weeks of the month doing minimal training mileage every other day and stretching on the days in between.  I even stopped strength training for a while because I was devoting all of my workout time to running and stretching.  I wore my dorsal night splint to bed every night and even changed shoe styles at work.  My workout log looked very un-marathon-traininglike:


But eventually my strategy paid off and the pain regressed to a nagging ache and finally dulled to the level I have lived with so many times.  Just in time for my 20 miler on September 18th.

The Fox Valley 20 miler is part of a trio of 13.1, 20 and 26.2-mile efforts that follow along the Fox River in Geneva, Batavia and St. Charles, IL.  It is a beautiful and scenic race that takes place in the fall around the time people are getting ready for the Chicago marathon and looking for that final 20.  It was my first ever 20 mile race.


Quite honestly, I was scared shitless about it for days.  I’ve never run a 20 mile race before.  I’d never even run 20 miles before.  I’d walked it once in maybe 2008 or so, but I wasn’t a runner yet and so it literally took me like 8 hours that time.  I’d done the half-plus-3 in Madison that qualified for my 16-mile training run but on the weekend I was going to do 18 miles, we got company and I had to abbreviate it to 10 miles instead.  And I’d done precious little in the days since because of the stupid tendon.  The last thing I felt was Ready.  But remembering the old saying that “it’s better to be 10% undertrained than 1% overtrained,” I figured I’d just get out there and do it.

And I did!  Holy moly!  I did!  I ran 20 freaking miles!  Of course, I was slow.  And yes, it was grueling.  I didn’t bring enough to eat and it took me longer than I intended and my feet and legs were screaming at me to stop, but I DID IT.


And feeling like a phoenix rising out of the ashes then turning into Zefrem Cochrane’s Phoenix and blasting into warp speed to soar into the heavens, I realized as I crossed that finish line that would be able to do 6.2 miles more on the day of my marathon.  If I could do 20, then I COULD do 26.2  What a confidence builder!


In the days following, I continued daily stretching, shoe rotating and night splinting but also reinstated regular strength training and the previous routine of tempo and interval runs interspersed with light cardio and walking.  And the Achilles tendon pain stayed at a low but tolerable simmer.


On September 25, I ran the Plainfield Harvest 5k which is a local race on my running club’s circuit.  It was quite the family affair with runners, walkers, parents with strollers and even giant inflatable critters. It was hot that day but I had fun.

So that pretty much closes out the final full month of marathon training.  The race is on October 29 which is now less than a month away.  More cross training, stretching and the usual shorter speedier runs are on tap along with a pair of 10-milers and a 23-mile very slow outing whose only function is to give my legs and feet another chance to feel what it’s like to spend 6 straight hours pounding the pavement.

The 23 miler is coming up on my next day off work, 3 days from today.  I’ll report back afterwards once the taper has begun.

In the meantime, as always
Leonard Nimoy 1931-2015 - Live Long and Prosper!