6 Weeks to Clarksburg Half Marathon
9 Weeks to Cal International Marathon
If you are running either of those races, do those numbers seem to be getting just a tad small to you? I seemed to recall giving myself a few good, solid months to get battle ready. Those months now appear to be evaporating before my very eyes.
I now realize my mistake. I should've been counting in months all along, not weeks. Everything sounds farther away in months. I mean, 52 weeks is hardly any time at all. But twelve whole months...that's all the time in the world.
Ahem: 1 & 1/2 months until Clarksburg; 2 months & a week until CIM.
This was my first 50+ mile week, though it ended up being just slightly more mileage than I'd planned. I ran six days this week. Just barely, but I did it. I know better than to expect I'll be able to have weeks like these every week, but it did feel very good to get it done.
Monday: 6 miles easy. One of the problems with my easy runs is that, in a certain way, going easy makes it harder. Like I'm trudging along in slow-motion, tethered to the ground via the almost-visceral tentacles of gravity. Each foot is on the ground for an eternity. The scenery takes forever to change. Even going just 15-20 seconds faster feels so much better! My feet feel light & my legs feel springy...even better, I have a LOT less shin splint pain. So, even though I guess technically my 'easy' pace should be somewhere in the 9:00-9:10 range, I've been doing some of these closer to 8:40-45ish, and so what? For all that I adore my Garmin, I'm finding that on easy runs where I don't have to worry about keeping up a certain pace, I do pretty well ignoring it and mainly going by effort -- ie, keeping up a good pace, but not breathing hard (excepting for hills, and even then I dial it back a good bit). So this was a good run, if on the quick side.
Tuesday: 6.25 miles (2.25 wu + 4 x 1600 @ 10Kish pace) Originally I'd planned 600 m of active recovery between each 1600, but it was HOT out there (ie, like 75°) and I kind of felt more like chillin in the shade for 4-5 minutes in between reps instead, thankyouverymuch. Given the heat (and ever-present backstretch headwind, "Carl"), I gave myself about 10 seconds' leeway on the pace; I figured as long as I was under 7:20 and they stayed more or less around the same pace I was good.
Continuing the week's theme of downplaying reliance on the Garmin, however, the damned thing decided to die about 20 seconds after I turned it on. (Okay, I mayormaynot have forgotten to put it on the charger two days in a row...). Fortunately, the spontaneous Garmin dying / refusing to turn on lesson is one I have longsince learned and prepared for. I busted out my old-school sports watch and headed for lane one. The one problem with Garmin-less speed workouts is that I constantly worry that I'm not keeping up my pace, so I over-compensate by running too hard. Realistically I was shooting for 7:15-20 / mile, & ended up with 7:15 / 7:12 / 7:06 (!) / 7:09 for splits. Oops.
Thursday: 10 miles (2 wu + 8 @ MP) As I said last week, and will probably say again next week (and, let's face it, most likely every week between now and CIM), marathon pace runs are a BITCH. I can't for the life of me figure out why, given how easy HMP runs are, and how great my random 8.5 miles at only slightly slower than MP were last Saturday. I think part of it is that I just don't have a great handle yet on how hard I can exert myself for 26 miles. Running at slightly sub-8:00 / mile for eight miles in & of itself isn't really an issue; it's more that the emotional part of my brain just really doesn't want to let my body work that hard, because it's afraid of the idea of having to do that for 3-4 hours. In a way, I think my brain is trying to scare me into adopting a slightly slower marathon pace (which, who knows, could be a good idea. It's not like I'm a freaking pro at this or anything). Anyway, I came in at 7:58 / mile & 176 bpm, about the same as last week.
I am kind of curious as to how the difficulty of the terrain in Golden Gate Park (where I've been doing these runs) compares with that of the CIM course. Both have hills, but from what I hear CIM is mostly short rollers, whereas GGP is more sustained gradual uphills & downhills for half a mile to a mile at a time, with a few more dramatic spots. Those long uphill stretches really wear me down, so I'm wondering how that will compare to the toll the rollers will take on me in Sacramento.
(Also, let's be real for a minute -- if there is wind, I am effed. That is all.)
Friday: 5 miles easy. I think I'm kind of starting to reach that whole "cumulative fatigue" state that the Hanson brothers described regarding this training plan. These were the five hardest "easy" miles I've run in a while -- my legs still felt pretty trashed from Thursday, so I really took this run very, very easy. And even then I was counting down to the end of it by tenths of miles. (It actually would've been a little less bad if I hadn't tweaked a muscle in my right calf -- nothing too horrible, I don't think, but bad enough to bother me the whole time.)
I decided to walk / jog the 3.5 miles to the track, do my HMP run, & walk / jog back. This amounted to 3 very slow miles on the way there (I walked all the hills) & 2 equally slow miles on the way back (I walked the first 1.5 miles on the way back to recover). The HMP run felt tough for the first three miles but easier for the second three. I ended up averaging 7:35 / mile & 184 bpm. For all that it's not what I'd call a pleasant pace to maintain, I feel pretty confident now that I am at least physically *capable* of doing it for 13 miles, if I can force myself through it mentally. I think that'll be the real battle come race day.
Sunday: 16 miles easy. Done and done. This one gets its own post -- you can read all about it here (or, y'know, just scroll down).
Grand Total: 54.25 miles
I wish I could say with conviction that I'm honestly capable of consistently running six high-mileage days per week, but it just isn't the case. I still want to stay in the 45-50 range this week if I can, but after this weekend, I really need a couple of rest days to make sure I'm recovered & strong enough to stay safe.