Marathon Training Week 18

This was it. The last week of training. I did it, and, spoiler alert, I ran the marathon. It was difficult and amazing, and I was prepared as I could be and not prepared at all. That’s for another post though. Now, let’s talk training.

I took Monday as a rest day as prescribed by my plan. It felt weird not to run and made me think about what it’s going to be like don’t now that this is all over. On the upside, I was able to cook and eat dinner by 8. On the downside, I just felt kind of restless all night. I wasn’t sure what to do with myself.

Tuesday was freezing outside! I had planned to do some runs outside this week to acclimate to the temperature, but dark and 30 degrees is where I draw the line. So, I was back at the gym on the treadmill for 3 miles. My body felt a little stiff, but I think I was just overanalyzing everything.

Wednesday was my last training run at the gym. I had a weird commute and generally long day and expected to feel crummy, but I actually felt great. That was an awesome confidence boost.

Thursday was when things got so real. I completed the last training run of my plan! Since it was 2 miles, I decided to brave it outside. Chris and Layla joined me, so it was hands down the best run I’ve done this whole time. We just talked, and the dog was smiley, and it reminded me that I actually really love running. Sometimes (a lot of the time) training felt like work because a lot of the time it was. I ran when I was tired, sore, cold and sick. Sometimes I ran when I wanted to, but most times I ran because I had to. Thursday was great because it was just fun. It reminded me that my only goal on Sunday is to find the fun in a decidedly challenging situation.

I spent Friday just trying to eat right, drink lots of water and not get hurt. I packed that night and totally freaked out. I mean once you pack your sneakers, it’s on. I foam rolled a bit then went to bed at 9:30. It was glorious.

The cats woke me up earlier than I would have liked Saturday, but it ended up being a nice day. We tried to keep things as normal as possible. We took Layla to the dog park and gave her a bath. Then, I finished packing, and we drove to Philly! I was freaking out the whole car ride, but we made it. The rest is all part of the marathon tale to come. It was a perfect weekend.

M- rest
Tu- 3 miles
W- 4 miles
Th- 2 miles
F- foam roll
Sa- foam roll
Su- 26.2 miles!

Total miles: 35.2
Miles so far: 445.98

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So close!

The marathon is so stinking close! Tomorrow! Unbelievable! I don’t have much to say, but I did want to put my frantic thoughts down on Internet paper.

I started the week feeling really nervous, but now I’m mostly just excited. It’s not just the 18 weeks of training, it’s something I’ve been dreaming about since I ran my first half marathon in 2010.

I am truly bugging out. Any time anyone asks me about it I just make weird squealing noises. I’ll find myself thinking of random things like upcoming appointments and then think, “Oh that’s after the marathon,” and my heart just starts beating a mile a minute. I get a big goofy smile on my face and think, “Holy cow. I am going to run a marathon.”

I’m just generally being an overly analytic weirdo too. Am I drinking enough water or too much? Are cupcakes good carbs? (Yes) Should walk more or sit more? I’m pretty sure nothing you do for a week matters, but it just feels like everything matters right now.

The nerves are still here. How could they not be? My worst fear was that I won’t finish or that I will finish but I won’t enjoy any of it. Then it will be like the last 18 weeks were wasted. To pull myself out of that dark hole, I reminded myself that lots of people don’t finish marathons. It’s one of the most physically taxing endeavors, and if it isn’t my day, that’s ok. If not finishing is the worst thing that happens, I’ll be just fine.

As far as not having fun, well I’m just not going to let that happen. I’m making a point to take it all in and enjoy the experience. You only get one first marathon, and I want to make it count. Even if it hurts, I want to remember that I’m out there because I love it, and I’m so lucky to have running in my life. And no matter what happens, those 18 weeks matter. I proved every week that I could do more than I thought I was capable of, and that is a really cool feeling.

Otherwise, I’m just reminding me that the hay is in the barn. I’ve done the training. I actually stuck remarkably close to the plan, and after the first week, I never missed a run. I definitely could have worked more on strength and flexibility, but there’s always more you can do. I’m happy with what I did.

My only real anxiety surrounds how the heck I’m going to get to the start line at 5:30, but I’m trusting fate and the city of brotherly love to help a sister out. Oh and I have the numbers of 3 taxi companies in my phone.

See ya on the flip side!

Marathon Training Week 17

Last week was the perfect week to get me psyched for this race. My body felt lighter and more rested than last week, and I really enjoyed all my runs. Buoyed by some outside of running good news on Thursday, I was flying high all week!

Monday I was supposed to run 4 miles, but my sister called as I was getting ready for the gym and said she needed to vent. When your sister needs to vent, you change your plans. That’s just part of the deal. Anyway, I headed out later than I planned so I just did Thursday’s 3 miles instead. It was probably a good move anyway since I was still sore from the previous week’s long run. Three miles *almost* felt like cheating. I couldn’t believe I was done as soon as I was. I actually missed running longer. Weird.

I felt a little under the weather all day Tuesday. I actually think it has something to do with the weather which has been yo-yoing lately. There was frost on the ground Tuesday morning, but it was 65 on my walk home. I hate that.

Anyway, I took some Advil and hopped on the treadmill to knock out my last midweek long run. 6 miles with The Wire. I had a little stomach troubles for the first half, but they went away, and it was a great run. It put me in a good mood for the rest of the night.

I took Wednesday off to celebrate my four month-iversary with that husband of mine. Mostly we just really wanted to go to this awesome little farm to table restaurant in our town. It takes like a month to get a reservation, so when I had to pick a date, I figured why not the 12th?

Thursday was a book club night so I had to get my run done in the morning. I got to the gym at 5 am. Yikes. I actually much prefer the gym in the mornings. It’s quiet and not yet 800 degrees. Still, getting up in the 4 am hour never gets any easier. I ran four miles before I even really woke up. Done and done.

Friday was a rest day spent making a million meatballs for the next day’s Friendsgiving. Totally worth it.

Saturday was my last long run of this cycle. Seriously, how has it been 17 weeks already? It was the coldest run yet at 34 degrees when I started. I bundled up and headed out, and I had a really great run. I felt a little twinge in the should I carry my work bag on which nagged me a bit. I’m reminding myself this week to carry less junk to and from work. Chris joined me for the first half which always helps. My legs felt light and springy, and I just thought back on all the long runs before this and got really excited.

Sunday was another rest day. I foam rolled and did my MYRTYL stretches and just tried to absorb that I’m going to run a freaking marathon on Sunday. I mean, wow. This post is already long enough, so I’ll elaborate later, but I’m staring down the barrel of one of my biggest and longest standing goals, and this is just kind of mind blowing.

M- 3 miles
Tu- 6 miles
W- rest
Th- 4 miles
F- rest
Sa- 8 miles
Su- foam roll & stretch

Total miles: 21
Total so far: 410.78

Marathon Training Week 16

AKA week 1 of taper! I was surprised by how tired I felt all week. I figured since it was taper that my body would be feeling great, but I was most definitely still recovering from the previous week. I ended the week more refreshed than I started, and I’m looking forward to an even more low mileage week this week.

I spent all of Monday much more sore than I expected to be. I was way more sore than I was on Sunday. Getting up and down from my desk chair at work was grueling. I took some Advil and came home and took a hot shower before foam rolling for what felt like an hour. My IT bands were so tight they were rubbing on my knee joints. It felt like I had screwed up my knee, but having been down this road before, I knew it was the IT band. We took the dog for a long walk, and that also loosened me up a bit. No running, obviously.

I woke up feeling much better on Tuesday. It was Election Day, so Chris and I went to vote after work. It went pretty quickly, and I was on the treadmill by like 7:15. My stomach was a little wonky, and I was still a bit stiff, but it was a good run. I was riding the high of my last long run and basically just loving running. Oh and I’m almost finished with season one of The Wire, and the episode I watched on the treadmill took the show from good to great. 5 miles done!

Though the run was good, I came home feeling really burnt out. I knew I should have foam rolled because I know that staying healthy these next few weeks is so critical, but I just sat on the couch and drank wine instead. I think that 15 weeks is just kind of a long time to follow a schedule. I’m getting tired, and I’m hoping this taper helps me find some of my energy back.

Wednesday was another longer run I got to tick off. 8 treadmill miles with The Wire. The first 5 were good minus a little stomach trouble. The last 3 were tough. My body is just achey. I think it’s all pretty normal at this point. And the great thing about taper is instead of finishing a long run and gearing up to an even longer one, each run I finish is another tough one ticked off the list. After this run, I realized I only had 10 runs to go, including the marathon! That’s crazy.

I actually foam rolled twice on Wednesday. I knew I should have Tuesday night, but I just didn’t have it in me. When I woke up Wednesday morning, my IT bands were hot to the touch (not good) so I rolled a little before work. I rolled a lot when I came back from my run that night, and I felt about 75% better.

Thursday, since I had 4 miles on the schedule, Chris I ran together! It’s hard to find roads with sidewalks that are well lit enough to run on, and I didn’t want to run in the dark park. My biggest a fear is slipping in a hole and rolling an ankle or something so close to the race. We thought we could make 4 miles on the main roads, but we ended at 2.67. I kind of felt bad short-cutting the run. I asked Chris if he thought it was a mistake not to go for 4, and he gave me this look like, “You are an insane person.” And I thought, I am, so I showered and drank wine and stopped feeling bad. Taper!

Friday was Ashley’s wedding so the extent of my working out was shaking it on the dance floor to a little T. Swift. I danced way too long in silly shoes and woke up with sore feet. Good thing I did nothing but a whole lot of waiting around on Saturday morning. I haven’t had the time to change my driver’s license since we got married. The DMV’s hours are not super conducive to my work schedule. But I registered for the marathon with my married name, so I figured I should have some documentation to match. Three hours later, I was a new woman or something.

Sunday’s 12 miler was my last long run over 10 miles before race day. Keeping with the theme of the week, my whole body just felt tired. Also, it was a little hot for me (about 60 degrees). Still, I’m really loving these long runs. I feel like they really anchor my weekends, and I look forward to them all week. Sure they stress me out, but once I’m out there, I usually don’t want to stop.

M- foam roll
Tu- 5 miles
W- roll / 8 miles/ roll
Th- 2.67 guilt free miles
F- Shakin’ it off
Sa- 3 hours of butt in chair at the DMV
Su- 12 miles

Total miles: 27.67
Total so far: 390.78

20

I know that this post is a little self-congratulatory, but I had so many thoughts about my 20 mile run this past weekend that I just wanted to get them down on (Internet) paper.

As I said in my last training post, I was nervous about this run from the moment I downloaded my training plan, but my nerves peaked this past week. The forecast for Saturday was not looking good all week. They had been predicting rain and a high of 45 degrees, and they were not wrong. I was also just feeling run down and so sore with 20 miles already under my feet for the week. Everything just kind of dully ached.

My original plan was to try and simulate the race day by waking up at 5 and heading out at 7, but the bad weather made me reconsider, so I woke up at 7. The rain was coming down hard. I made some breakfast and drank my coffee while I waited for the sun to rise and my family to wake up.

Once Chris was up, he suggested I try and wait out the rain, but I knew it wasn’t stopping. He suggested I run Sunday, which I guess I could have, but I didn’t want to suffer through another anxious day. Plus, I had already moved my 18 miler due to rain, and I wanted to see what running for that long in the rain was like in case of bad weather on the day of the marathon.

I had major butterflies in my stomach as I headed out the door around 9. I was bored of all my old routes, so I plotted a new course. Covering new ground definitely made the run more interesting and helped the miles pass. The first mile was tough. I was still warm and dry so the rain felt like little icicles dripping down my back. Not fun. I did adjust (meaning I was soaked and the rain stopped bothering me as much) by the second or third mile, which was also when I turned off the main road onto the trails.

Probably because of the rain and the cold, I was the only one on the trails, which was wonderful. It was a little drier under the tree cover, so I got a brief reprieve from the rain. The leaves had all turned their fall colors, so it was just breathtakingly beautiful. I wanted to take a picture, but my phone was stashed in the pouch of my water bottle inside a sandwich bag to protect it from the rain.

Navigating a new route was a little challenging especially with minimal use of my phone, but I think being forced to pay attention to where I was going helped keep my mind off the run.

Around mile 8, i rejoined the main roads to find the weather had gotten worse. The rain was coming down sideways thanks to all the wind, and after avoiding puddles for almost two hours, I finally landed in a big one which totally soaked my feet. It was at this point that I began to question if maybe I should have waited until Sunday. I got a few honks from cars passing by that I chalked up to encouragement. Why do people honk? I also had a girl passing by on the sidewalk motion for me to take my headphones out. When I did, she asked me if I was ok. I guess she thought I was running from something?

I knew if I could just get to my home turf, I’d be ok, so when I hit my regular route around mile 11, I got a big boost of energy. I was home, I was more than halfway there, I was doing this!

At mile 16, I switched from podcasts to music. Between my fingers which were swollen and numb from the cold and the plastic baggie, it took me like a solid minute. It was like my hands just stopped working. I hadn’t noticed until then, and it made me start laughing out loud. Seriously, running for hours does something to your mind. The absurdity of the situation just hit me. Here I was running in big circles in the cold rain for hours and now my hands weren’t working. I don’t know why I found that so hilarious, but I’m glad I did because a laugh (even at myself) was just what I needed.

I realized that I was at 16 miles which was a distance I didn’t even think I could do a few months ago. It’s also when I started taking walk breaks during my 18 miler, and I didn’t feel like stopping this time at all! I felt great. Well it felt like someone was pulling my legs apart like a wishbone, but overall, I felt good. I felt strong and excited for the marathon and proud of myself for choosing to tough it out in the rain. My music was pumping me up, and I was heading into the park where I’ve done all my runs. I started seeing people again, and I just had a huge smile on my face. I kept smiling all the way through the end.

In the park, I really kicked it up. I had started with 11:30 miles and gradually sped up, but the last 4 miles were all under 10 minutes. I saw a lady running with an open umbrella over her head and that got my laughing all over again. I just felt great and so happy. Maybe I was delirious? I don’t really care. My watch beeped 20 miles like 30 feet from my house which was just perfect timing.

I finished and while I was glad to be home, I honestly felt like I could have done more. Maybe not 6.2 but I didn’t feel totally spent. I was as tired and sore this week as I’ve ever been, and 20 miles felt totally manageable. I finally felt ready for this marathon. Now, I know the old saying: there are two halves to a marathon; the first 20 miles and the last 6.2. So, I understand that anything could happen and that last leg is definitely going to kick my ass, but I feel ready.

I kept trying to explain to Chris why this run felt so much better than my 18 miles. The weather was much cooler. I was better fueled, more mentally prepared. That’s all true, but also I’ve done the training. And it’s worked. I’m glad to have found this mindset going into taper. The work is done. I’m ready to see what some fresh legs can do on November 23.

Marathon Training Week 15

This past week was peak week. I’ve been dreading this week for months, which has kept my mind off being anxious about the actual marathon. So I guess that’s good.

I took a rest day Monday after running 14 miles on Sunday. I spent about half an hour doing my MYRTYL (for the hip girdle!) stretches and foam rolling. Then I went to bed at 9:30 for real. It was glorious.

Tuesday I was up at the crack of dawn to run. I had a late work call Tuesday night that I knew would leave me unmotivated to run. After persuading the dog to get up with me (laziest dog in the world) and go to the bathroom, I fed her and headed to the gym to knock out some morning miles. It was rough. Like real rough. Everything just hurt. I guess that’s to be expected, but at 5am, I was unprepared to handle it.

Mostly the arch of my right foot ached. It felt like it cramped up and radiated up my leg and into my back. It took 4 solid miles to feel like I was in a groove. Just in time to run one more and head home then to work. Oh well. I got it done and felt like a (sleepy) rockstar all day. I foam rolled and did my stretches again that night. Two days in a row!

Wednesday I had a knot in my stomach pretty much all day thinking about running ten miles. Oof. It just felt like so much on a weeknight, inside on the treadmill and before dinner. I was proud of myself for arriving at the gym by 6:55. Only, I forgot my cell phone, which I use for podcasts and episodes of The Wire, and had to drive back home and back to the gym again. Dumb dumb.

I was running by 7:20, and I felt good! I had no idea what to expect after Tuesday’s achey run, but I actually enjoyed the first five miles! I reset the treadmill and did the next five. My only misstep was filling my water bottle with Gatorade which was just doing nothing to quench my thirst. Otherwise, I really had a great run. By ten I was more than ready to be done, but I did make it!

I was in the car heading home by 9:20. I was showered and eating (pasta with butter and grated cheese- little kid style) by 10 and in bed by 10:30! I feel so relieved that my longest mid week run is over! Every middle of the week run from here is under 10 miles! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! Woo hoo!

Thursday was a blessedly uneventful 5 mile run. It was actually enjoyable. I had a dentist appointment after work, and my dentist told me all about his marathon experiences. Combined with all the hype around NYCM this weekend, I was just loving running. The gym was still 800 degrees but not as crowded. The Wire is getting really good. I was home by 8:30! Can’t beat that. I did a little foam rolling before bed because everything is tight and sore these days.

Friday I laid low and got super anxious about my long run. I just felt sore and achey and tired. I had no idea how I was going to do 20 miles the next day. Chris and I gave out some candy (we actually ran out this year!) and ordered a pizza. We watched a couple episodes of American Horror Story, (3rd season) and I obsessed over the weather. I set my alarm for 7 and turned in around 11.

Saturday I woke up to rain and wind and just as anxious as ever. I want to devote a separate post to 20 miles, but spoiler alert, I did it!! Sunday was a total rest day. We did the usual church, dog park, errands routine, (albeit with some very sore legs) and it was perfect!

I really feel like my training turned the corner this week. After that first tough run I really started enjoying running again. The miles were fun, and I’m so excited about this marathon rather than fearful of it for the first time!

M- stretch and roll
Tu- 5 miles / stretch and roll
W- 10 miles!!
Th- 5 mile / foam roll
F- stretch and roll
Sa- 20 freaking miles!!!
Su- stretch and roll

Total: 40 miles (!!)
Total so far: 363.1

Marathon Training Week 14

It felt good to be back home for this week’s runs. It’s much easier to schedule everything when I’m in one place. It was also comforting to know that I’m really in the home stretch. Two more tough weeks and one easier week then the race. Wow. That happened quickly.

Monday, I wasn’t really feeling like running mostly because I was tired from work and had a lot to do to get caught up at home. Still, I knew I didn’t want to run Wednesday night, and I was pretty well rested from not running Saturday or Sunday. I came home and tried to head back out as soon as possible.

I was on the treadmill by 7 and back home by 8! Not bad. I hesitate even saying this, but 5 miles almost felt short. Almost. I maxed out my cell phone data streaming Parenthood, so I decided to just buy the first season of the Wire to watch while running. I’ve been meaning to watch that show anyway. It’s really good.

I spent most of Tuesday wondering how I was going to finish 9 miles that night. That’s a lot for a weeknight, especially on the treadmill. Then I let my mind wander to next week when that run becomes 10 miles. I tried to reel myself back in and just focus on each step. Make it home on time, get changed, get out the door, get on the treadmill and just start.

It worked and I got the 9 miles done which was such a relief for the week. I broke it up into 5 and 4 (I always have to restart the treadmill after an hour) and it wasn’t so bad. I listened to a Stuff You Should Know podcast for the 4 miles and Shake It Off on repeat for the 5th mile. Then I switched to The Wire for the last 4 miles. That was my carrot, and it worked.

Chris ordered us Tex-Mex takeout while I ran, and that was pretty motivational too.

I made Wednesday night a rest day because I had a busy day Thursday, and it ended up working out well. Wednesday was a very blustery day and rain was blowing sideways and up under my umbrella for my whole commute home. By the time I got home I was soaked and the last thing I wanted to do was head to the gym. So I did a little leg and an strengthening and foam rolled and stretched a bit. I probably could have done more, but I wanted to relax a little.

Oof Thursday. Physically, I was not into this. I spent way too much time walking around in heels during the day and my feet and ankles were really sore. I ate a late, small lunch and came home hungry, so I ate a small bowl of cereal before my run and just felt full and cramps the whole time. The gym was 800 degrees yet again, and I had taken some stomach medicine that made me so sleepy.

Mentally though, I was ready. I’m so happy with how far my mental game has come. Before I started this training , I would have cancelled or scaled back this run, but I’ve actually gotten used to being uncomfortable, and I’m not as scared of it anymore. I knew it would suck, but I knew I could do it, and that was cool. 5 miles. No stopping, and I even kicked it a little for the last mile.

Friday and Saturday were pretty lazy days. I should have used that time to stretch or do some strength training, but I didn’t. I spent a long time in the car Saturday driving to a bachelorette party in south Jersey and back, and I woke up Sunday feeling really stiff.

Somehow I managed to convince Chris to spend his Sunday morning running with me. Probably, the nice weather swayed him. He only planned on joining me for the first 5 miles, but he stuck it out for 7 which got me halfway through my run. It was wonderful.

Every long run I’ve done so far has been alone. Despite generally enjoying running on my own, running the same routes again and again can get pretty dull. Having some company really made the miles tick by quickly, and by the time I started the second half, it felt like nothing. I’m already trying to recruit volunteers for legs of next week’s peak 20 miler.

Though I had company, and the first 6 miles on Sunday really hurt. I was really tight and my feet were super sore. I was kicking myself for not stretching more and am really going to try to this week.

After the halfway point, I fell into a groove and actually kept a really decent pace. The weather was about 300xs better than the last long run, and that put some pep in my step too. It’s still fairly warm for this time of year, but the high for Saturday (day of the planned 20 miler) is only 45 degrees, so hopefully that’ll give me a good idea of what a late November marathon will feel like and help me figure out what to wear and such.

M- 5 miles
Tu- 9 miles
W- strengthen & stretch
Th- 5 miles
F- rest
Sa- rest
Su- 14 miles

Total miles: 33
Miles so far: 323.1

Being in the home stretch is pretty great. I’m still insanely nervous for my longest run yet, but ticking off the remaining hard runs as I work towards taper makes everything seem more manageable than it did a few weeks ago. Ok Philly, I’m (getting) ready for you!