Monday, November 12, 2012

CIM Week 11 of 14: Lies, Lies, Lies...

Lies, I tell you, are totally underrated.

Don: "You didn't lick the spoon & stick it back in the batter, did you?"
Me: "Um, NO. Because I am IN NO WAY gross & disgusting like that."

Some horrible gift giver: "Do you like it?"
Me: "OF COURSE I DO! It is absolutely the best _____ I have ever received and I LOVE IT."

Me: "Aren't I the hottest chick you have ever seen ever in your life?"
Don: "Well DUH, by like A TON."

Runner Brain: "Ugh, I soooo don't feel like running 10 miles today..."
Rational Brain: "Well, it's you're lukcy day, then! We're only going to run, like, 3 or so."

Runner Brain: "Ugh, that hill looks REALLY steep...and as I recall, it goes on for a while...
Rational Brain: "Good thing you're BADDASSEST RUNNER on the ENTIRE PLANET EARTH, then!"
Runner Brain: "Flattery will get you EVERYWHERE."

(She is a sucker for that shit, let me tell you.)

I am not saying that lying is a great idea in every situation, obviously. But I AM saying that lying to myself and others, and knowing full well that I am lied to by others at times, is a key part of what gets me through life, the universe, and whatever training cycle I happen to be in the middle of.

A and I ended up not going to Clarksburg; she has been having an unhappy hip, and I decided I wasn't excited enough about getting up at 4:30 in the morning & driving two hours each way by myself, so I decided to sleep in & do my 20ish here in SF. I had no real plan for it, except to park my car somewhere in Golden Gate Park & run for at least twenty miles.

Here is the nice thing about not really thinking of myself as a marathoner: I just cannot muster any real sense of worrying about or feeling pressured by this race in any way. There was some pressure last year, just because it was my first marathon and there were a lot of "what ifs" running through my head (what if I get hurt, what if I can't finish, what if I haven't trained well enough, etc.). But this time there's no doubt in my mind that I'll finish. Plus I know the course, I seem to be in better shape (in spite of running quite a bit fewer miles), and barring catastrophic injury or illness, beating last year's time is a foregone conclusion.

Likewise, I can't muster much enthusiasm for any particular time goal. I've been given an average pace to shoot for, but after three months of trying to "own it" the way I did 7:38 when I was shooting for a sub-1:40 half, I still don't feel that attached to it. I also feel like it's a magical-day, best-case-scenario, all-the-stars-align kind of pace, and part of me feels like the race will be a lot less fun if I set the bar that high.

Can I tell you a secret? I just don't care that much. The only loose goal that carries much meaning for me is qualifying for Boston, which is certainly within the realm of possibility but far from guaranteed. And even with that, I'm very much of the if-it-happens-great-if-not-let's-eat-pancakes kind of mindset.

For me, this second marathon feels much more like one piece in the giant puzzle that is developing some level of skill around marathoning. It took me way more than two 5Ks or 10Ks or half marathons to feel like I had a good handle on how to run those distances well strategy-wise, so it's kind of unreasonable to expect I'd be running a really good, "best case" marathon on my second attempt. Mostly I just want to finish and go, "Hey, that felt better than last time!"

So I parked my car by Kezar Stadium & set out to loop the Park. One thing I knew I did want to practice was really using the downhills as much as possible, something I think helped me a lot in Healdsburg. You know that lesson about not trying to stick religiously to your goal pace at every moment? That is particularly important in hilly races. In the past, on downhills, I've sometimes seen really low numbers & gotten freaked out & tried to slow down, but in the past year or so I've really embraced the art of "controlled falling" -- basically letting myself slide down a hill at whatever pace gravity dictates & only using my legs to keep from eating pavement. This does take a) some skill / practice and b) serious core / quad strength, but if you can manage it, it's a GREAT way to compensate some for the time you lose on the uphills. On those downhills going west through the Park, I kept reminding myself that while averaging 7:30/mile for 26 miles is out of my reach for now, it was just fine to "fall" down a hill at that pace.

Reward beer. This stuff is amazing.
I've been pretty laissez-fare about pace in my previous long runs, so for this one, I decided to push it just a little. I let myself "fall" down the downhills in the 7:30-7:45 range, with my goal on the long uphill stretches to just stay below 9:00. Surprisingly, I found my legs really wanting to go faster than that, and legitimately able to do it without feeling like I was expending much effort. Also, the uphill stretch on the second loop felt even better than the first (?!?) and I kept looking at my watch & seeing low eights when I really felt like I shouldn't be.

Since I'm not a complete marathon rookie anymore, I did rein things in some. Pushing the pace some & experimenting with theoretical best-case race pace? Fine. Basically racing 20 miles three weeks before a marathon? Not so great.

I got back to my car with about 18.6 miles down & decided on a whim to go to 21, in order to make it a nice round 40 for the week. I did the last 2.4 on the track, and since it's just so easy to go fast there, I let my body do what it wanted & cruise them at an 8:00 pace.

Now for the really amazing part. Friends, at no point did any of that run feel hard. Yes, it was a fast pace for me for a long run, but it felt completely comfortable. I never felt desperate for it to be over. No aches / pains / cramps / etc. Just cruising along for two hours and fifty-three minutes, until I was done.

Grand Total: 40 miles

* 33.4 easy
* 2 speed / intervals
* 4.6 tempo

Monday: 5 easy (sort of). This was the day I ran from home to the train, then from the train to work because I'd left my car there the previous Friday. I started a post about that last week & never finished it. :/

Tuesday: 2 wu + 2[3 x (300m @ 7:05 + 100m jog) + 400 jog] + 2 cd. Order of operations track workout. Which I managed to decipher because I have hella math skillz. This felt harder than it really should have, but you can only expect to feel so fresh after 11 weeks of marathon training.

Wednesday: Karate + strength.

Thursday: 2 wu + 4 x (1 mile @ 7:20 + 1:00 jog) + 1.4 cd. I can now add to my list of "Things I Cannot Recommend" running mile repeats on the sidewalk in the dark. It's just really, really, REALLY no bueno. I was afraid that if I drove to the track at dinner time, though, I might never find parking in my neighborhood ever again. So that was that. Again, these felt suspiciously hard, but week 11 & all that.

Friday: 4 easy. Baby shin splints & feet. They were both acting up & feeling sore & achey.

Saturday: 6 easy. My lower legs & feet were still feelign complain-ey so I was already 50/50 on this run when I got up. When we got back from the Stanford game around seven I was wiped out & decided another rest day was not the worst thing in the world. (On a somewhat related note: GO CARD!!!)

Sunday: 21 long.

Part of me still feels a little sketchy about the fact that I've run so little mileage this cycle (ie, this is only my second week that starts with a 4), but in spite of that, things seem to be falling into place fitness-wise, which is the whole point, right? The only thing left is to make sure I rest & taper well, and if I've mastered any part of this by now, it's definitely sitting around not running. :)


  1. Don't sweat the mileage totals. Crazy awesome job on your 21. No lie ;-)

  2. I wouldn't worry about the mileage. I have run 90% of my PRs on really low mileage. :-)

  3. I agree with the ladies above -- don't fret about the mileage. Instead, concentrate on what an awesome 21 mile run you had. Great job!

  4. Hi there Angela, long time reader - probably the first time commenting. I'm a newbie runner (started last year) but when I got hooked I started trying to learn all I can. Your blog's been super-helpful and I appreciate learning through others' experiences. I'm one of your DailyMile acquaintances as well.
    I ran the Clarksburg 20-miler this past weekend and had a great run (for me). Still can't help fretting about my first marathon, though and what could happen after 20. Like you mentioned - I suppose that I've just got to trust that the training I've done so far has prepared me, and just be happy and try to enjoy the whole experience.

    Best of luck in the next few weeks!

    1. Hi Claudine! I'm glad to hear the blog has been helpful for you. :) I'm a firm believer that your first marathon should totally be for having a good time and not stressing out too much, so if you had a good 20 miler, you are probably set to have a great race as long as you rest up & taper well. Best of luck to you!!