Celebrate the small victories. That is my plan.
On Monday I was able to run 18M with Kim. Heel cups worked to alleviate the pressure on my heel bursa and I felt pretty good. Not 100% but truly much better that after any other long run since this bursa has been aggravated. However, none of these long run are anywhere near the paces I hope to be running at this point in my training.
Just being able to run 18M is a victory at any pace. I will celebrate that.
I have been trying to figure out if I trust the STRYD Pod for weeks now. Today I turned it off and let it quietly collect data while I allowed the actual GPS on my super expensive GPS watch collect my distance and pace data ... the exact reason I bought the super expensive watch for.
When I got home, I took off my shoes and realized my pod was gone. My heart sunk. Oh no! After weeks of wondering if this thing was worth it's weight in anything.... I was sad it was gone. I pulled up my STYRD app to see when it stopped recording while I ran those 18M at the beach 45 minutes away from my house... and it was all there. Hopeful, I headed out to my truck to find it sitting on the floorboard. Another small victory!
I immediately knew that I would miss using the pod in the treadmill because that was the one place I felt like it has value for me. Immediately I removed it completely from my shoe and decided it will live out its life as my treadmill odometer and we both will be very happy this way.
I met Dave on Tuesdays for hills. Today was the Spring Climb repeat workout. But I was worried about my heel. I wore my heel cups in my Saucony Endorphin Pros because that is what I used on Monday and I felt good,
Oh no... do not try to climb a super steep hill with heel cups in your shoes. My feet were falling out of my shoes. Completely out the back. I contemplated just stopping half way up and pulling those cups out but it was only .1M and I was half way up...
As soon as I hit lap to turn back, my feet settled back into my shoes and I all was well... until I started heading down hill and realized my toes were not jammed so far into the toe box that my big toe pretty much blew up before I hit the halfway point. Ugh.
This workout is 5 x 2 up and downs... 10 repeats but we only take a short rest after running two complete cycles. I chose to just continue on until the first break and then I would fix my heel cup issue.
Once I removed them, I felt better. Running felt good. Still not 100% but I didn't feel like I was being held back from pushing myself.
At the end of the 4th set, an older gentleman was walking along the bottom of the hill. Dave just flew into the finish and I was trying my best to run fast on the descent. The man made a joke by holding out his cane across his body as if to brace himself from the impending imaginary collision. When I stopped I said to him.... "Two to go! When I'm done I may need that cane more than you do"... He laughed and then provided a complement saying "You two are in good shape."
As we headed up the hill, I commended to Dave about how kind this man was to complement us on being fit when he is out walking with a cane. Many people who struggle don't have the capacity to be supportive to others who are doing things they can't do themselves. Many can. But many just can't.
As I finished my 10th repeat, I went to find my heel cups that I had tossed along grass on the shoulder.... I found them neatly stacked side by side on top of a rock near where I tossed them. This man had also organized my things for me. Again I commented to Dave about this stranger to use was such a wonderful human being. We need more people like him in this world. I hope we see him again!
In addition to feeling inspired to be a better person through the kindness of a stranger, I also learned that one of climbs was my fastest yet! I can't complain about my heel or my toes when I am still manage to get faster at this really hard workout.
More small victories. I can focus on what is wrong... or what is going well. I have the choice.
One thing I am struggling with, besides the bursa, is fitting in all my strength training. I prefer to do 3 session per week but I aim to do them on the same day as hard workouts. This means Tuesday, Thursdays, and Saturday/Sunday depending on which day I run harder.
But Tuesdays are long day for me. Often I don't get home until 8:30 pm or later... The last thing I want to do is lift weights for an hour and then get to bed late than I aim to while aimed up with adrenaline. I have been opting to skip it. I thought about trying to lift Wednesday morning instead... I tried it this week and I could tell that my legs were still tired by Thursday's speed day. I may just need to settle on two hard strength sessions per week and one extra when time allows.
It didn't really matter that my leg were tired. I met Dave for our interval work and after a 2 mile warm up we were devastated to find that all the bathrooms were locked. There are three sets and all of them locked for the first time in forever since I have been training here.
If we had more time to seek out alternatives we would have gone somewhere else but we just both decided it was easier if we both head back home (me to mind, he to his) so that he could beat traffic and just run solo as much as possible from his house before work. He is tight on time in Thursdays. This was a big disappointment. I hope next week they are open.
I decided that my legs were tired from strength training and my bursa was not feeling awesome so rather than do speed work solo, I took a rest day and ran an easy 6 with Sid.
Because I essentially rested yesterday, I felt great when I met Alanna. She had a triathlon on Saturday so we kept it short. It was a beautiful day and it was nice to not rush.
At this point, I was hopeful that I would get my 20M LR in this weekend. I was trying to take it easy and it felt like it was working. I wore heel cups in my shoes at work. I was careful to not irritate the bursa when I could avoid it. I chose my shoes carefully. I got a pair of Brooks Ghost that helped off-load pressure on my achilles. I felt good by Saturday. I decided to run 5 before work and I just felt like running was easy again. It was nice to see a sub-8 minute last mile that didn't feel like I was racing.
But this workout was cleary "too much too soon" for my bursa. By Sunday morning, everything was back to being just a little too sore for my comfort level. I could run. I know this. I most likely would be fine... but why push it. I struggled with this but I made the decision to rest completely so that maybe tomorrow I can get my 20 done.
I started this week with a short run, still trying to determine how I feel about the 745 and the STRYD pod. After a week of messing around with it, watch videos, reading about other's experience, having my own experience where I was running much further than I used to for .3 repeats compared to both my past experience and Daves data, I have decided that I don't want to use it any more to measure my distance and pace.
STRYD suggests that the pod is more accurate than a GPS because it doesn't need to connect to satellites so there is no issue of dropping a connection. But what about connection between the STRYD and my watch? It seems like that drops sometimes and the data on one watch is not the same as the data on another when both are connected to the same pod. I could do an offline sync to see what STRYD collected BUT that will sync months of runs into my STRYD log because I can't just select one run to review. It is hassle. I won't do it.
At this point, I have a choice. Do I want to connect my GPS watch to the complicated government created GPS satellites in the sky to help me identify my distance with the understanding that I may loose a connection and it may not be perfect... or do I want to connect my GPS watch to the "satellite" accelerometer foot pod attached to my shoe with the understanding that my watch may lose a connection there too? I don't see much of a difference... so I am going to use the GPS satellites for a while and see how that goes since I spend too much money for an actual GPS watch. .
I'll keep the STRYD. I think it is more accurate on my treadmill that the actual dashboard display but I can't really be sure of that either. It doesn't matter because I am no using my treadmill much anyway.
It also seems I can keep it on my shoe to collect data, but if turn it OFF it will not overriding my Garmin. That is fine.
Wednesdays are rest days.
Despite horrible sleep because Yazzy was throwing up at 3 am, I was excited to try my new watch for speed day. Then the very first .3 rep happened. As I blew past the mark I knew to be the end of the first .3 while actually pushing myself hard, I suspected something was wrong. The paces for my workout felt physical much faster than what the watch was showing. Dave's watch was in sync with what we did last week. I would run to the end of .3 on my watch and when he stopped his it would say .31 or .32. This isn't much of a difference but it felt like I was running 5:40 pace being told I was doing 6:20... which feel mentally like a big difference. Dave was using GPS + Gallileo and I was using my STRYD to track distance. I will be switching to the set up Dave is set to.
More information on how to choose the GPS set up here: https://expertworldtravel.com/gps-vs-glonass-vs-galileo/?fbclid=IwAR1PiVSW_XIJHVPMgm5fnvVNNzfZiB5VxCcNM8qP-jBhy2t3_-5TEeWxGhc
And more information on how to make a Garmin more accurate here
This week I also had a return of my bursitis. This stinks. I was hoping to be past this. It has been coming and going for the past few weeks but usually it doesn't last long and it doesn't interfere with my gait. But this Thursday it was a little more irritated than it has been last week. I don't need this right now.
Friday: I had actually ordered the heel cups from Amazon while sitting in the parking lot just before meeting Kim for this 16M run. I had hoped that by the morning my heel would feel better, which was the pattern so far. But not today. I wasn't going home. I was there to run so we did but we took it easy and added in a lot of walking which I was grateful for.
Saturday: I found an old pair of Brooks Ghost which are a 12mm drop and with the heel cups in there I practically eliminated all the soreness while running. It was amazing. I felt normal again. It was miserable with a feels like 102 degrees so I kept the run to 6M and figured I could try for my 20M tomorrow if all was well.
Sunday. Bummer. I woke up a little sore again which hasn't been the issue. I can't imagine how running 20M will help me out so I begrudgingly decided to be smart and take today off. I have plans to meet Kim tomorrow. I will wear my beat up all Brooks Ghosts with the 12mm drop and my new heel cups for extra elevation. I ordered a new pair of Ghosts to get me through this phase. I moved my 20M LR to next weekend. Hopefully by then I will feel better and training will be back on track. Hopefully.
If not, there is really nothing I can do but revise my expectations to match my reality
Physically I feel fitter. My Body Composition is showing my muscle mass improving and my body fat decreasing. I am definitely stronger. I did manage two workouts this week but I snapped my screenshot early this AM so it didn't make the cut.
It is nice to see both Garmin and STRYD predict I am sub-4 shape. That is a fair assessment. This bursa is holding me back from solid LRs that will challenge me. So for now I just keep doing what I can do and hope that the pieces fall into place. I already feel like I am running out of time. I not where I had hoped to be at this point. I have been cautious with my heel.
I know that if I can't get into solid marathon shape by Boston, I will still be able to build a good enough base to support me getting as fast as I can manage again by Spring. For now I just need to get this heel cooperating so I can get to Boston!
It is funny how 70+ miles can feel so good, but then a drop back 50 mile week can feel so hard despite being 20 miles less. It wasn't the actual running part that is the hard part. What makes it hard for me is that when I have less running to do, I start to negotiate about when I want to do it... and some bad decisions lead to hard runs. But on build weeks, I know I have a lot to do so I make sure I get out the door to do them first and they just get done. But build weeks makes me tired so I like to sleep a little more on rest week.... and that is just what it is. A struggle to get all the needs met each week.
Monday was the day after 4th of July and I was a bit tired from being up late comforting my stressed out dogs who hate that human celebrate freedom by blowing stuff up.
I asked Alanna to meet me early because I had three things planned today and I wanted to get like 10-12 miles before the entire day went sideways.
The day went sideways before it event started so I should have just slept in. I actually made to the part 30 minutes before Alanna with a plan for me to run about 3 miles before I met her.. and then I would see how close to 10-12 I could get... but nope. I just sat in my car answering emails and doing training log reviews before she got there.
Then we ran 6M and I felt like I had enough for the day.
This week I decided to make my bed more comfortable so I could get better sleep. I got a new gel/foam mattress topper to replace one that was not helping me rest.
I also decided to get a new Garmin. This was a hard decision because they are incredibly expensive. I chose the 745 and looked forward to it's arrival.
After day off Wednesday, Dave and I ran Speed on Thursdays and I was so incredibly happy. My last .3 was at a 5:25 pace. I was thrilled to be able to move this fast. It has been a while.
Like always now, we take the photo for my blog and then sit in the back of his Forester reviewing data and deciding how to revise the workout. Initially, I wanted to gradually increase the distance of this repeat... but I am really happy running .3s. They feel hard and I get to run fast and I enjoy that part (and hate it at the same time). We decided to keep .3's but to cut back the recovery so we can get one more .3 rep in next week. Then grow from there.
I got my new watch and wanted to give it a try. I felt strong and started easy. This was really not supposed to be a workout. But as the time passed, it felt nice to just open up my stride so I did. This is not fast enough to be anything worth labeling but it was harder than an easy day and it felt nice for me to finish in the low 8s. It has been a while since I just went out and run low 8's as an easy day.
Saturday morning I volunteered with NorthStar Pet Rescue to help out at Transport Day. I get up early, get there at 6:30 am and play with dogs who just got off the transport truck while they wait for their meet-n-greets or fosters to come pick them up. It is so incredibly awesome to spend a morning meeting dogs and trying to help them realize everything is going to be ok. I do that by bring a pouch full of freezer dried liver :) It helps.
Check out all the great work NSPR does here: https://www.northstarpets.org
My grand plan was to switch my work shift to Sunday so after Dog Transport I could come home and run my easy 16M... but by the time I started it was late in the afternoon. I was overheating from the start. My new shorts were not working with my bottle and waist pack. I was uncomfortable in every way. I got out to 8M and ran out of water. My stomach started to get cramps from the late lunch I ate before I left for 16 in the hot sun...like that would go well. I ended up having to run/walk maybe 1.5 miles back to the park just to get to a bathroom where I could also get more water. I shut my watch off at 12M called Sid and asked him to come get me. I was done. He was called to work so he couldn't get me.
I decided to walk home the 4 miles, switching my new Garmin to walk mode... which promptly failed to actually function as a GPS and just logged nothing accurately, making me feel really frustrating that I just spent $$$ on something that I wear on my wrist that is supposed to tell me how many breathes I take while sleeping BUT it can't tell me how far I walked? Ugh. (Good news it now it works).
Sid finally joined me for run while I tested out my old Garmin against my new Garmin both connected to my stryd which just caused more frustration. But I sorted that out. One watch has auto calibration of the stryd pod enabled while the other did not.
What I did learn is to never trust a HR monitor. This is data from the same run from two watches.
So Random Stats: Stryd says I can finally break 4:00 hours in the marathon but we are having Trust Issues this week.
Garmin and I are also having trust issues as well. And apparently the new Garmin does not believe in me as much as the old watch that said I could run a 3:36.
The Garmin does collect a lot more (probably inaccurate or useless) data. But I enjoy it none-the-less. It is a new toy. It was a reward to myself for sticking at this for 6 weeks. It makes me happy to having something updated that does actually work better at tracking elevation gain than my 645 did. I can't wait for hill day to see how far I "actually" do climb!
That is all for now.
It has been 5 weeks now and training is finally starting to feel good. My heel bursa issue is not yet a memory. It is so very minor now that it feels like background noise. Although my long run training pace has a lot of room for improvement, I am so very happy to see that my goal of rebuilding my volume is manifesting.
I was able to run 74.4M in 6 days of work over a 7 day period this week. It has been a long time since I ran this much. If there is one thing that I can do that will help me get fitter faster it is to first build up my volume and then work on getting faster. This is not a blanket statement for all. This is what I know works for me.
My goal for "phase 1" was to build up to a 20M LR at whatever pace felt "good enough" under the conditions/circumstances before taking a rest week and then entering "phase 2" (to work on getting faster). I am happy to declare "Mission Accomplished" :)
Monday with Kim at the beach. We are just doing our thing, adding 2 miles per week to each of her runs so she can get back her base again too. We are in no rush, speed will come later. First we build the ability to endure.
Tuesday Hills: "The Tour" is a hilly run but it is also the run Dave and I agree is the "easiest" run we do together. No rush, just climbing. My barometric altimeter is not well. The data is not accurate but it is good enough. We climb hills. It is fun. It is work. We moved this run to Tuesday, after my med-long run with Kim. I could feel the cumulative fatigue in my legs today. I was walking the steep climbs because I just didn't have any power. But I am fine with this. I want to climb tired. Boston's hills are toward the end. I need to practice climbing tired. So this is a good place for hills. They will stay on Tuesdays.
Wednesday. Ah how I love my Wednesdays. Today I rest. I sleep in. I walk the dogs. I try to move a little as possible... but because I am busy it is still around 10,000 steps.
Speed on Thursday: Best decision I could have made was to ask Dave if we could move speed to Thursdays. I needed a do-over with .3s so we did just that. Last week I had trouble hold sub-7 pace! This week we had two .3s under 6! So this was perfect. We decided to repeat .3's one more week since this weekend we have a 20M LR. Once we drop back the LR, we will then increase the distance of speed work at that next speed work.
Friday with Kim. Easy General Maintenance training. No rush. Just miles.
Long Run Saturday. Saturday was supposed to rain. Thunderstorms were supposed to hit us. I stress ate 3 cinnamon rolls in preparation for this 20 mile ordeal. Instead we got to run in one of the best running weather days in many many weeks.
We decided to do another interval workout for this. .9M repeats with .1M recovery for 20 miles. The last 5 miles we worked the .9's hard. It was nice to finish this 20M run at 7:32 pace even if just for a .9M burst.
Sunday! Last run of the week. I met Kim at the beach again and we did her 14M LR today instead of tomorrow.
Random Meaningless Weekly Stats:
Garmin says I am getting slower.
STRYD says I am getting faster.
My Last 7 Days data makes me happy. And my scale data does too. My body composition improving in ways that I care most about (increase in lean muscle with decrease in body fat at a healthy pace.) I am getting more sleep, more steps, and more strength training. My RHR is dropping. This is all good.
In my opinion, the best measure of race fitness is race pace... but I am not racing right now so I can't use that. The next best thing for me personally (I am speaking only for myself) is to use data from my devices and take that information with a grain of salt.
I can see changes in ways that correlate to improved fitness and performance. This motivates me to keep working hard. I am working hard and seeing gains helps.
I can set expectations for myself based upon what I am seeing changing week-to-week. When I race more frequently, none of this matters. Only race data will matter if my aim is to race my best. But for now, for my blog, for my own personal data tracking, I share it.
Supplements (Security Blanket? Waste of $$? Helpful in anyway?):
Without fail people will ask about supplements as if there is some magic pill that will make us fitter, faster, stronger... as if "all runners" should be taking certain things to support training. I don't believe that.
I don't take a multi-vitamin because I don't think I need to overdose on some micronutrients to make up for deficiencies in others. I eat nutrition food and get what I need that way whenever possible. I do also think about what I believe I personally need and I take specific supplements if I feel I can't get enough of it from actual food.
It should go without saying, but it clearly doesn't, so I will say it. Don't do what I do. Do what is appropriate and correct for you based upon your personalized needs and your personalized health issues. Not everyone should take anything they want. Understand your health. Understand your medications. Understand that even OTC supplements can cause issues for some people. Not everything is regulated. Understand and accept the risks. Be responsible for yourself.
Often when training hard I do end up adding a few very personalized supplements to my routine. Do they help? I have no idea. But I do pick them for a reason. Sometimes that reason is simply because I want to test out how I feel when I take them not because I am certain it will absolute "fix" some deficiency.
During this training cycle this is what I have decided to take:
Zinc. I used to eat a lot of oysters. Every other week we would go to this little restaurant that had the best oysters. It was a ritual after LRs or races and I felt it aided my recovery. Oysters are very high in zinc. But we stopped doing this. The restaurant closed. I prefer to eat my nutrition in the form of real whole food, but since my bi-monthly dosing of oysters has ended I opted to add zinc to my routine at night. Maybe it will help? Maybe not? I take it night (if I remember) because that is when I am sleeping (recovering).
Iron. I normally don't take iron, but since I donated blood just before this training cycle started, I have been taking iron to help support RBC development. Either it helps or not? I have no idea.
Two types of CoQ10, Biotin, and Collagen: I takes these in the AM before my training. I want them circulating in my bloodstream when I am training to give them the best chance of doing anything at all.
The CoQ10 is added out of curiosity. I used this once before during very hard training and I felt really good during that training cycle. Was it because of this? Probably not. Did it hurt me? I have no idea. CoQ10 has some research showing that it can increase support of mitochondria development, which is what endurance athletes need. (And it has some research that says it is not helpful and waste of $$). If you would like to read about CoQ10 on endurance here you go. One study is one opinion, not the whole story. Do your own research too: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Stefan-Siebrecht/publication/298043174_Protein_and_peptides_for_human_health_and_fitness/links/5eafd84e92851cb267730dff/Protein-and-peptides-for-human-health-and-fitness.pdf
Biotin. I am taking this because I have blood sugar regulation issues and Biotin has some evidence supporting it as helping with this problem. It also has risks. If you don't have issues you don't need to take something that helps regulate issues you don't have.
Collagen. I added this out of sheer desperation when my achilles tendon and heel bursa started to bother me two weeks ago. Today I feel better. Did it help me? I have no idea. Probably not but it makes my nails less brittle so I will keep it.
If I don't know whether or not these supplements are helpful why am I sharing this here? Because this is my training blog and this is what I am doing during this training cycle. I also would have serious trust issues with anyone who insisted some OTC supplement was magical or necessary. I am just sharing my journey and being transparent. I added this here at the end because I really don't expect anyone to read this far :)
Week 4 is done! The good, the bad, and the ugly is all here. The truth of my journey as I train for Boston at 45 years old with a hope to be able to perform 106 days from today in a way that will make me proud of my work.
This week, I bombed my speed work with Dave and then promptly "recycled" myself for a speed-work do-over while planning to move hills to Tuesday. This way I can keep training with Kim as she goes longer and longer on Mondays, climb hills on tired legs on Tuesday, and have a chance to nail my speed work on Thursday after a rest day. I raced a check-in race (just a mile) on Saturday and then got a heat-exhausting 18M LR done with Rich. And this was a 57 mile "drop-back" week.
The week, mostly in pictures.
Kim and I moved our Mondays to the beach. I just need to see the ocean. It is 45 minute drive each way for me to do this but it is so worth it. The cool ocean breeze in hot humid air makes it feel more comfortable. The smell and sounds of the surf distract from the work. It is so rewarding to run at the beach for me.
Tuesday, it was hot, humid and even though I thought I was fine after the 10M with Kim yesterday my legs clearly were not peppy and needed more rest. This workout was .3 mile repeats as fast as possible. Last week I got down to 5:56 pace but this week I was falling apart and trying with everything I had to hold on to sub-7 pace today. (This did not build my confidence for the Mile race I would do Saturday).
I asked Dave if he would mind a repeat week at .3's because I don't feel good about graduating up to .4's yet since these felt horrible. He was fine with us recycling the workout.
I also want to make was to move our hills to Tuesday instead (I can climb tired and that is more likely to help prep me for late-race hills anyway). I would like that rest day before the speed work (which we will now do Thursdays). This should help me nail speed-day or at least be better at it.
On Wednesday, Sidney and I did a lot of walking, with (before work) and without (after work) the dogs today. It was nice to just walk. I need to bring my phone for pictures of the walk days too. Sidney is getting left out of the blog and he is a big support for me. The dogs need to make there own appearance here too. They help me get a lot of time on my feet.
Thursday was Hill Repeat Day. We did 10 repeats of the 16% climb. We made some changes to this workout.
We decided to stick to just 10 repeats for the rest of the training cycle but we want to improve out time in three ways. We stopped resting at the top and now immediately turn right back around to recover at the bottom before the next round. That is more like what we will deal with when climbing over a hill.
So now as we do this workout, every other week,
(1) we will try to climb faster (my fastest split on my Garmin is 1:03),
(2) we will try to get faster on the decline, and
(3) we want to rest less at the bottom.
Fridays are just a relaxing day. Run/Walk with Kim. No rush today.
Today, Rich joined me to race the first USATF-NJ Long Distance Running Grand Prix Race of the year. It was 1 mile. :) My entire race report for The Big Bang Mile is here.
I ran a 6:19 for 7th place in my heat and 3rd place in my age group (45-49). This is good. I am happy. I am only in week 4 of training, still focused only on volume building, with some hills, and some fast short speed session. I am not race-ready.
My favorite part of the day may have been with Dave D. put down his trumpet to say to us "OMG you are here to run 1 mile, That's hilarious... now go off and do like 20 more!" and Rich says to me quietly "We'll do that tomorrow" :)
Saturday. This was grueling for me. So hot and humid. "Felt like" 92 degrees. Did I say Humid? It's summer. Nothing is shocking here. I could have gotten their earlier but my phone died over night and my alarm never woke me. Thank goodness for Lapis's big giant paw to my face at 6:20 am. She was wondering why I was still sleeping which means she does pay attention to me :) She is a sweet dog.
Coffee and BCAAs on the way to the run. Then just water the rest of the way. No calories. I paused the watch at bathrooms and when back at the car so I could get more water. So this is just run-time.
I hit the wall hard at maybe 14.5 miles. But that is the point. I want to Embrace the Wall. Give it Big Fat French Kiss and tell it I love it... and I want to visit it regularly in training. If I get to know it now, when I am carb-depleted, dehydrated, under-trained and cumulatively fatigued, I know it will then not interfere with my carb-loaded, well-hydrated, well-trained, and tapered dreams on race day. That is what depletion training is all about for me.
Random meaningless weekly stats:
First, my sleep stinks. I should just shut the laptop right now and go directly to bed!
Last week, I said I wanted 7:15 hours average but I got less! 6:39 hours average. I can't function like this. This is in part because my bed situation is horrible but it should be better soon. Sid and I are trying to find the perfect mattress topper that is good for both of us and this has been a tricky little puzzle. I think the next topper we get may be the right fit. We shall see.
Next, although I gained 0.5lbs this week, it seems that some of that is muscle so I am ok with that.
AND next, I added strength training 3 times per week but only AT HOME Body-Weight resistance stuff. I'll get back to gym eventually. For now I am thrilled that I can use my left foot solo when doing calf raises and single leg hops because as of last week I could not do that (heel bursa was mad). The ironic things here is that my heel bursa improved after I raced he mile? I am confused but happy.
I do need to add flex work next. That is always the hardest to make time for. I do add some in throughout the day but I make no dedicated time for it.
Finally, STRYD and my Garmin both agree that I am getting faster. I have no idea what makes them think these are times I could run, but I would bet if I ran a marathon right now, I would be closer to STRYD than Garmin at this moment.
That is all I got for this week! Bring on Week 5.
I am off to sleep now.
Race Details and Weather.
The Big Bang Mile was the first USATF-NJ race of the abbreviated 2021 Long Distance Race Series. I am so excited to be part of this again!
The race took place at Bell Works in NJ which is "a work, live, play office campus, with tons of hip amenities in addition to the office tenants, a thriving hub of activity, also open to the public."
The conditions were Hot and Humid with some Wind. The race took place in heats and my 40+ Masters Women was at 9:45 am.
The course was an out-and-back with a lovely wide turn at the turnaround. It was fast. No slow 180's around a cone here! At every quarter mile there was a sign and a clock too. This was all very thoughtful.
I arrived around 8 am to meet Rich and his son for some meandering warm-up miles. 3-4 miles before the race seemed like enough. Rich's son was racing at 9 am and Rich at 10 am. This meant a lot of running back and forth to the starting line so we just ran around the campus until it was time for someone to race.
The warm up for me really started in the car. I usually listen to podcasts or audio books when I drive around. But this morning I pulled up the play list I used when I was racing well at the end of 2019. I played it loud. I felt surrounded by rhythm. I realized in that moment how much loud music is a part of my racing, but not a part of anything else for me. I need this.
When running some warm up miles, I could feel the familiar sensation of adrenaline and endorphins and all the feel-good performance-enhancing neuro-chemicals that completely flood me before a race. I forgot that feeling. I missed it. This is a special thing the body can do... to get completely amped up in anticipation of an intention to do something really hard. This feeling is so incredible. It feels like magic.
I return to what I had been doing in the past before longer races. This was just a practice run anyway.
Like I always do before races, I ate more carbs than I generally intend to eat on a daily basis. So the night before I had sushi (I prefer to eat rice or potatoes before racing, not pasta). We ate at Kona Grill, which I feel was not the best choice and I won't do that again. I don't know if chain restaurant food is just more bloating than local sushi, but it felt that way to me. I drank more water the day before that I normally do.
I had coffee in the morning, and then on the drive down I had some Fruit punch flavored BCAAs on the way to the race. I did not eat anything on race day morning because after all this was just 1 mile.
I brought 3 pairs of sneakers with me because clearly I forgot how to race. I ended up wearing all three pairs by the end of the morning, lol. I warmed up in the Endophorin Pros because I thought I would use them. I didn't feel like I could justify putting a "un-trained" mile in my expensive Nike Vaporfly Next%. But after a few strides during the warm up and ONE HUGE quarter mile sprint during the last quarter of Rich's son Mile (so we could cheer him on at both places) I decided I needed all the help I could get today :) Vaporflys it would be. I cooled down in my Pegasus.
I brought a gel... for no reason at all. Out of habit maybe? I was not taking a gel before this mile. I don't know if I would take a gel before any mile? I don't race miles. This was just a Check-In race and just showing up was winning for me today.
Health and Wellness Stuff.
I was worried about my irritated heel bursa. This was my biggest concern. I didn't want to do any damage at the start of Boston Training just to race a mile relatively "slowly" (as I am not even close to being peak shape yet). The bursa has been on-and-off the last two weeks. Today it was fine and I wanted to keep it that way. I would stop if it felt terrible. I knew this.
However, apparently running a fast mile was exactly what my bursa needed (which makes no sense). Ever since I raced that hard mile, my bursa has been the happiest and least problematic it has been lately. I can jump on just my left foot again which I wasn't able to do comfortable before the race.
Had this not been a USATF-NJ LDR Team race, I would not have raced today at all. I know I race most comfortably when I am about 117lb and I was bouncing from 122 to 126 this week. I knew I was little heavier than I prefer to be when I line up to compete. I would have waited if this wasn't a team race. I am glad I didn't wait.
Knowing all this about myself, I was confident I could be sub-7, but my goal-window was 6:20-6:45. I wanted to negative split.
Overall, I was not very confident in my ability to assess what I could really do since I haven't raced since 1/11/2020. I needed to just assess and test. That is what today was for.
What Actually Happened: The Splits
I line up one row back from the line. There is one command and the gun and I take off fast. Faster than I realized I actually could move. My watch says 5:50. This felt surprisingly nice but I know this was a very bad move. I wanted to get out of way of the small group a little before I slowed myself so I would not cause anyone behind me any issues. A few moment later I slowed down to what looked like a 6:12 pace on my watch. That feels fine for the moment, but I want to negative split and I don't feel like I could get faster from there. So I slow a bit more.
My watch seems unreliable by the first 1/4 mark, so I just try to run by feel. It says I am running 6:50 pace but I know by those around me that can't be correct. I hit the 1/2 turn around and split my watch. First 0.5M -3:02 I actually don't feel terrible. I have a little bit of hope in me that I can and will negative split this thing.
And then I complete the turn into that headwind. Excellent (not). Ok, now I know why 3:02 felt so "ok"... but I also knew negative splitting was unlikely.
I wasn't able to pick up and hold my pace. I wanted to salvage the last quarter mile at the least. My watch is still telling me I am moving at 6:50 pace or slower, BUT I felt like that couldn't be correct. I am sure others probably didn't notice the wind as much as me but I felt like I was fighting it.
My torso was getting tired. My arms were tired. Everything was tired. All I could think about was how tired I was instead what I should be doing. This needs to change. I cannot use my energy to achieve a goal if all my energy is being used to assess what is not going well. Feeling like I am working hard is not shocking. This is supposed to be hard. I have done harder things.
6 ladies were ahead of me. I couldn't tell if any more were going to pass me. I see the "1/4M To Go" sign. That clock reads 4:39. Wait, what? 4:39. 4:30 is 6:00 pace. If I kicked hard could I possibly run 6:09? But I had no oomph.... I know I had another gear in me, I know I did, BUT it was just so very hard to shift. The work of shifting gears is always so much harder than how it feels after the shift. I am out of shifting practice. Rather than shift to kick, I became complacent. Complacency is the path of least resistance. That is not ok in racing (or life, really). "This is fine. I am fine. 6:30-6:45 is fine. I don't need to make this any worse. I am almost done. This is a mile. I am not a miler. This is not what I am good at..."
Then I hear Jim O. yell something to me (and snap me out that negative self talk). I can't tell exactly what he said (later he explained and it was funny), but I knew it meant someone was behind me and I needed to move. So I took a moment to muster up all my energy and I did finally shift, but much later than I should have.
I didn't mind cruising in a few seconds slower, but I would mind if someone blew past me with less than a tenth to go. Probably with about .1 to go, I was able to open my stride a bit and feel like a runner again. Second .5M - 3:17
Clock reads 6:19. I fail to stop my watch because I am trying not to die.
I need to travel solo to important races whenever possible. I need my time with music, bad music, loud music, and my thoughts. I want to not worry about what anyone else needs at that time. I won't have the capacity to be there for anyone else when I completely self-absorbed. I just want to be self-absorbed in my car for the ride over.
I need to revisit my pre-race routine. Today was not the day to worry about that and I enjoyed having no structure. But in the future, I need make sure I know what I am doing and when I need to do it. For important races, this routine needs to be non-negotiable. I need to get on the bathroom line when I need to. I need time to change shoes when I need to, I need to make time to do strides when I need to. I need to be lined up when I need to. I know all this, but I do want to get back into the routine. I don't need to be this structured for less than very important races, but I do need to workout the routine and get my timing down.
I need to re-learn how to trust my body and my mind again when in the middle of a race. Trust is quiet and calming. Self-Doubt is noisy.
I need to not use the watch to tell me what I am doing. The watch is a liar. It always is. I never race well when I use the watch to tell me things. I race my best when I use the watch to collect data for me while I use my breathing and the sensations in my legs to set my pace. I am out of practice being in tune with my body. I am out of practice negative splitting. It has been awhile. I just need more race practice. I look forward to it!
Week Three Boston Training: Not sure if I feel good or if I am just too exhausted to know how tired I am :)
Week-to-Week, this blog may seem pretty boring, but I am hopeful this will become meaningful to me (and maybe others) once I work though this training cycle and see what Dave and I can do. I am sharing the workouts we decide to do, showing where we are starting from (the bottom) and anticipating that we will create momentum all the way the leads to Dave and I having some great marathon experiences together. This is my real life training. It is the good, the bad, and the ugly. Maybe someone will be inspired. Maybe not. Maybe I will simply enjoy seeing how far I can go in a few months of training. We shall see. :)
So week three is done. Another week down and I am happy to have completed the three hard workouts on the schedule.
The plan underwent some revisions based upon how Dave and I were feeling. It is so easy to write out an entirely too ambitious plan when you are writing one for yourself. I am alway more conservative and more realistic with my athletes than I am with myself. This is because I know that I will absolutely revise the plan to set me up to succeed without self-judgment, whereas my athletes often experience a revision as an indication of failure... which is never the case.
So this week Dave and I decided:
(1) The long runs I had hoped to do were clearly too ambitious. The heat/humidity was too much for me (Dave probably too) to tolerate without any acclimation under us. And I haven't run long in a long time. So Dave and I decided we would take a few weeks to build up to 20 miles LR without any pressure to run any specific pace. After we reach 20M, we will take a rest week and then start working on Fast Finish long runs from there.
Here is the week mostly in pictures.
Tuesday Speed Alternates: For those following along, I meet Dave on Tuesdays for speed. I developed a new systematic progression for us to torture ourselves with. They won't get truly hard for a while, but right now we are laying the foundation for that hard work.
This week we ran 9M with 6M of them speed work consisting of .3M hard/ .7M Recovery. This was a bump up by .1M of the hard running from last week with a decrease of .1M of the recovery. We will repeat this on week 4 as well. During the hard run, we try to run as fast as possible. I don't have any window to target. I don't even look at the pace, I just run as hard as possible until it is time to stop.
I am happy to see that our speed is getting faster. Last week during .2's we were actually slower. Lap 13 was our last hard burst and I am so happy to see a sub-6 pace there.
I went home and did some Resistance Training. Just body-weight stuff at home.
Wednesday is my Rest Day. I just walk the dogs. I need to get in some flex work but this is always hard to feel motivated to do. I don't know why. I know it is not just me. I know many people who would rather do anything else but stretch or foam roll.
I did make green soup. This is awesome. I have been buying bags of greens faster than I can eat them (clearly I have good intentions but I buying without checking what I need). I blended a few bags of greens into chicken stock with sautéed mirepoix and some quinoa I added some Enzo olive oil and red pepper flakes at the end. This stuff is amazing.
Thursday is Hill Day. The one rule of "The Tour of Morristown" Hill Day is no one is allowed to turn down a hill. If we can go up, we choose up over down. It is like the rules of improv comedy, you are not allowed to say "no"... no matter how ridiculous the idea.
Friday is another day with Kim. We do her LR on Mondays, so Friday will be a little easier. Today was a 6M run/walk day. It was hot/humid and it slowed us down. But we got it done.
Saturday was my 16M Long Run (any way I could do it). It was so freaking hot. It "felt like" 90 degrees on my weather app but in real life it felt like I was running in Hell. At mile 12, I contemplated calling Sidney to come get me. But I decided I could get myself home even if I was slow. I knew pace didn't matter and starting my run at 11:00 am meant I was going to suffer, so I wasn't shocked it felt so bad. I lost 7 lbs on this run from dehydration it was that hot. But it got done and I know I will be better off for having done it.
Sunday is my standing 8-12M run with Alanna. We drive 45-50 minutes each way to meet to run. We don't care really what we do, we just know that if we are getting up early to meet it needs to be between 8-12. Sometimes we do more but not today!
Today I felt like I was run over by a truck. I needed to keep the pace easy. I added a lot of walking. I carried water which I rarely do but no calories. By mile 8 I was so incredibly hungry. I hit the wall hard. This is such a great sign for me. I know it means I am changing.
This is how it starts. I chase after this bonk. I want to look it in the face and tell it that I am not concerned. If I can get used to feeling this way in training, when I show up on race day, well-rested, well-fueled, well-trained, "The Wall" just doesn't exist. Today it existed and I was actually happy to run into it again. I haven't run into that wall in a long long time.
Stats and prediction for the week: Apparently STRYD believes I am getting slower. Thanks! Garmin has me the same.
I did my own calculations, which my athletes can tell you that I am quite good at. Based upon our speed work, I believe we have the speed for a 3:20... but only once our LRs are up over 20. So right now, we aren't in 3:20 shape. I hope to be by August.
Week Two is done.
Three workouts. Speed work, Hills, Long Run. Nothing monumental. Just more work than I have been used to doing. My body is reacting to the load. I expected to feel beat up as I return to training..
Tuesday' Speed with Dave.
We repeated last week's workout (.2M Hard/.8M easy) but the weather was 25 degrees hotter and humid. We didn't meet the goal of running faster than last week but we did "good enough" work. I want to see our bursts in the low 6's, and eventually sub-6 if possible. We shall see.
We also a new route which was not a keeper. Too many intersections and uneven sidewalks slowed us down. We will return to last week's route next week.
After the speed work, I did only about 20 minutes of strength work.
Wednesday, I woke up feeling some ache on the bottom of my left foot by the heel. It felt bruised. Not like PF but more like I steeped on something hard? It wasn't horrible but it did make me not want to stand on my left foot for too long. Thank goodness Wednesday are rest days from running. Dogs got walked and then I went to work.
Last weekend, I noticed the hill repeats were still in my legs by LR day, a bit too much than I wanted to feel them. It was 85 degrees last Saturday, so the sudden heat wave slowed me down anyway.
Regardless, I made a decision to move hard hill repeats (the 16% grade climb) to the Thursday before the easy LR, not the Thursday before the hard LR (which we will do every other week to accommodate our schedules). On alternate Thursdays we will do a longer very hilly run but the grade will be less than 16% for most of the climbs. This will be easy to recover from by LR day.
Fridays are Kim's easier day. Still using Walk/Run. .
This run was 5M. Nothing was swollen so off we go. Easy pace just to be safe.
47M total with 42M of running (maybe 42.5?).
I did two strength sessions only because I wanted to rest my heel. I also failed to do any flex for no good reason.
After Blood Donation on 5/24, my RHR is now back to 49. This is good.
STRYD Predicts my Boston may be a bit faster that last week.
Garmin didn't change, except to tell me that I am "Unproductive" lol
That is all I got for this week!
Let's see what happens in a week from now.
It's time to start blogging again. Rather than focus on races only, this time I want to track my weekly training through Boston... for better or worse. :) Expect a lot of photos. This log will help me have something to reflect back on when race day comes and I need to remember how far I have come from 5/31/21 - 10/11/21. This is all for me. Follow along if you wish.
Pre-Training: To Train Solo or To Build a Team? Finding the right locations. Building the plan. Donating blood.
Last time I trained, I did it all solo. I am happy I did this. Everyone should train through at least one marathon training cycle solo. It will change a person for the better. Last time, I needed to just focus on my recovery from my sepsis surgeries in 2019, I did not commit to meeting anyone so I could make decisions as I went along that were best for me. As a result, I was so happy to run a 3:03 at Charleston 2020 before Covid shut down racing.
I was not so happy to have sustained a significant injury (osteitis pubis, which is basically the tearing away of the muscle from my pubic bone) at the end of that training cycle. This injury took me about 9-10 months to heal well enough that I don't think about it or notice any tightness when I run. During that time, I was very sedentary, lost my endurance, lost my strength, lost my fitness in every way. I have a lot of work to do.
Now is time to get back to work. After a year or more of forced isolation, I decided this time I NEED to train with the others, especially those I care most about most on this planet, who I know will be my biggest cheerleaders, my biggest motivators, my biggest fans when I need their support and encouragement, as I will be all that for them as well as they training for their own personal goals too!
At 45 years old, I have noticed for me training is starting to feel harder. Having a team of best friends to train with feels like a very powerful secret weapon.
So no matter what happens, I want to say right now how grateful I am to Sidney, Kim, Alanna, and Dave for being the best training partners I know. Without you all running by my side, I know that I would never have as great of a chance to achieve my next best races as I do when you all are there early in the morning, in the heat of the summer, in the rain, on the trails, on the hills. Whatever I end up doing in Boston (0r any race before it) it will be in a big part because of all of you and everyone else mentioned in my blog as I go along!).
Dave committed to racing out in the mountains as a last long run before Boston, where hopefully all this work he does will get him a new PR. He also agreed to meet me for the hard workouts (the hills, the speed, the fast finish long runs). But we weren't sure where to train.
We took a month before training started to explore different training destinations. We settled on road-based speed work by me one day a week and hills by him one other day per week. Hard Long Runs will happen on the route we used when we last trained together and both PR'd back then.
Kim is returning to training after her knee surgery and agreed to meet me for my General Maintenance runs were pace doesn't matter but company does!. Alanna agreed as always to help me keep the volume hight by doing my easy LRs with me whenever possible.
Sid, Yazzy, Lapis and Piper will keep me moving when I am home.
WIth this team in place, I felt excited to get to work.
I built our plan to start on May 31. I wrote some new workouts that will be challenging yet exciting! I want to get us off the track. Our speed will take place on the roads. We will use a systematic progression to alternate bursts of speed with recovery running. We will slowly grow the speed duration while shortening the recovery.
I want to spend time running repeats on the steepest hill we can find, because our mountain race will require a LOT of downhill tolerance. I want to alternating those repeats with a medium length run on a very hilly course.
Once we found our optimal locations, both Dave and I were excited to start. But we decided to wait until 2 week after his 6-Day race to give him some time to recovery from running 356 miles in less than a week.
The last thing we did during our Pre-Training phase was donate blood. Blood donation is important and very necessary to save lives. There is not a lot of scientific evidence about the impact of blood duration on endurance athletes. Most of it says "Don't do it when in training because you will lost 2-4 weeks time to train hard."
Available research has identified a 2-4 week period of time when training hard will feel horrible due to low RBC. It takes 2-6 weeks for the body to replace those RBC. But after RBC have been regenerated, they will last 120 days. 1-1.5 months after blood donation performance should feel much easier.
I am not sure if training hard during that 2-4 week low RBC window will do anything to stimulate a super-compensation of RBC in a way. That would be helpful to us as runners but there is nothing in the research that shows this is possible. If it happens then that will be a bonus for us. If it doesn't happen and we get back to our RBC in 4 weeks, training should feel a million time better by then compared to what we are putting ourselves thought during weeks 1-4. I think just that shift will help with motivation to train hard. Regardless of the impact on training, we still each saved 3 lives before we got so deeply immersed into training that we missed any window to donate.
It has been almost 2 weeks since we donated. I noticed that one week after blood donation, my RHR rose from 48 bpm pre-donation all the way to 60 bmp on 5/31. But on 6/5, less than two weeks later, my RHR reverted back to 48 bmp. Running fast and running hills felt terrible when my RHR was 60 bmp. I have no evidence that I felt better when it lowered back to 48 bpm because the weather change during that time was extreme (from 40-50 degree runs to 75-85 degree runs). I have felt horrible running due to the heat after my return to 48 RHR. Give me a cooler morning and then I can make a better assessment. :)
Tuesday I met Dave for "speed" but I wasn't sure how we would do since we both felt sluggish after he blood donation. We decided to run 6M of .2M repeats as fast as we could comfortably hold with a .8M jog recovery. Our speed pace was 6:14-6:30 pace. That is fine for week one.
Thursday, Dave and I ran our hills repeats through a significant storm. The rain was so hard that we got splashed from head to toe by a car driving though a huge puddle and it didn't impact how wet we were at all
My data doesn't reflect the amount of work we did out there. But my butt and quads knew it. :) The work here was 7 x .1M 16% hill repeats. Maybe next time we run this my watch will get me some real elevation gain data? I hope.
My Saturday LR was supposed to be a Alternating Fast Finish LR with Dave but he had to be in PA and the heat was entirely too much for me to tolerate. I was solo for this run and just decided to get the mileage due to the heat crushing my soul. I needed walk breaks to get through it but I am grateful I got the mileage. I drank 50+ ounces of fluid and still came home exactly 4 lbs lighter. It took a lot out of me to get this done.
I tried a new energy drink mix, Roctane Summit Tea. I like Roctane anything because of the added amino acids. This was tolerable. I do think I prefer Optimal Nutrition Fruit Punch ProBCAA better than the last of this, but the BCAA have only 10 calories. I wanted something for energy today and this did the job.
Sunday with Alanna ended the week. The heat was tough. 75-85 degree for this and I felt beat up from the LR yesterday. I have mixed feeling about this. I miss being so fit that I could run 20 in one day not over one weekend. But I am excited to see how my fitness grows over the next few months.
Race Performance Predictions:
Just for fun I am tracking what STRYD and Garmin predicts for my marathon time. This is what I got this week.
Dave and I are also keeping an email chain going entitled Training Topics: There we are discussing any training related.
This week we discussed taking iron to supplement our RBC development since we gave blood.
We discussed Walking as "deliberate practice" for Good Running Form and identified keep elements to efficient form that we want to reinforce when running and walking as much as possible.
We discussed eating more protein during training and what types of protein we prefer.
Add some dogs walks, a short run with Yazzy, lunch time walks and my mileage was 55,1 Miles moving with 48.0 Running.
I did two strength sessions and one flex session as of now for the week. That might change.
I am tracking my body composition during this journey. At the start of the week, I was 126.2 lbs (23.1% body fat, 30.1% muscle, and 57% Water) at the start of the week and 122.8 (22.3% body fat, 30.5% muscle, and 57.6% water) by the end.
That's all for the week. I look forward to documenting how next week goes for my reflection come October.
Almost one year ago, while recovering from my first of 4 surgeries I wrote post hoping that I would be able run just one more marathon. I wasn’t sure if I could ever run again and if I ever had the chance I wanted to aim high and not squander the opportunity to shine.
Charleston was emotional. After Sid and I lost Enzo to cancer, a few days later I got an email from the Charleston Marathon announcing the race date of 1/11. We found Enzo on 1/1/11 and this date close enough to feel like a sign. I sitting was outside working at the time. As I read the email, a red cardinal landed nearby. Some believe this is also a sign that you are being visited by a loved one who has passed.
At that point, I didn’t hesitate. I registered myself and personalized my bib. Then I sent Sid, who was inside, a text to let him know what I did.
And once he saw the date, he texted me back that he just register himself too. This would be his first marathon. He, too, personalized his bib for Enzo. We didn’t even discuss that part. We just both did it.
Let's pause for a moment to remember the little soul who made Sidney and I better people.
After my last surgery on October 4, I had 13 weeks to prepare. I had spent the 12-week interval between my prior surgery and this last one using a Run/Walk training plan to build my base. Once recovered from my last, and fortunately minor, surgery, I picked up my training intensity and got to work. I was quickly on fire and making huge gains in short periods of time.
But starting the Thursday before Christmas, on 12/19, I got very sick, I suppose it was bronchitis? I really don’t know. I had three days with a fever and then an obnoxious cough that lasted for 3 weeks. Once the fever broke, I resumed my training despite having that serious cough. The only time the cough stopped was when I was running, so it was hard to not just go run.
If I had more than three weeks before my "A Race", I would have rested but this was peak week and I was about to taper so I powered through. I am happy with my decision to continue to train the best I could. I cut out the very fast highest intensity work. I cut out the hill repeats. I cut out lifting. I did manage the best 24 mile solo training run of my life on Christmas morning and then I started to pull back from a 115 mile peak week of training. I hoped to be well by race day.
My chest congestion lasted until about 4 days prior to Charleston (about 3 weeks total). I was coughing so often for so long that I strained a muscle in my abdomen and caused inflammation in the cartilage in my rib cage that has been waking me up at night for weeks now.
I actually did not get the abdominal strain and costocondritis (rib cage inflammation) confirmed) until 1/28 (this week when I saw three doctors to help me rule why I have been in pain for this long. I am still in pain from both of these problems and I haven' run very much at all since this race. I was concerned that I gave myself a hernia from the coughing. I was terrified of the rib pain. I am grateful both are not serious.
I raced a 5k on 1/1 despite this pain because it wasn’t excruciating at the time and I really wanted to see a 5k time before I set my final race day goal for Charleston. I had already dropped my weekly mileage from 115M to 60M that week. But I was not feeling any better. After that race, my mind starting drifting to worries about a possible ovarian issue. Or worse, my biggest fear which kept me up at night and led to stress eating too much chocolate, my fear that my abdominal pain was related to my colorectal illness and it was recurring. I am exhausted by this illness. It has been a tremendous struggle to stay mentally at peace through this ordeal.
With a significant and sudden major reduction in my training volume and the appetite of a runner training at 100M+ per week, I ended up 5 lbs heavier than I wanted to be by Charleston and this made me feel a little less confident. I worked so hard only to show up heavier than I was at the start of my last marathon and also now with abdominal and rib pain and whatever else was not 100% fro 3 weeks of bronchitis. This was not how today was supposed to start.
Everything I have done as an athlete since my last two surgeries was in preparation for this race. Even the walking I was doing in July when I couldn’t run non-stop for very long was to help me build my base for this race. Racing for Enzo and with Sidney kept me motivated when I feared I would never be able to run again.
I made a spreadsheet with my weekly goals and the check-in race times I needed if I wanted to run my best in Charleston. I got off to a good start but I fell off my schedule at the NCR Marathon, despite finishing second.. And when I won the Sly Fox Half in 1:28, I happy with my time but I knew it wasn’t nearly as fast I wanted to be by mid-December. And then I got bronchitis 4 days later. Excellent!
Sid had a hard a time too. He made it up to 18M in training without much trouble. Then he ran the Ashenfelter 8K and pulled a hamstring. He wasn’t able to get any more quality training done since that happened on Thanksgiving Day.
Although both of us felt like a mess, nothing was going to stop us from racing for Enzo and giving him our best effort.
As I walked to the start from the school, I pointed to the giant paw prints painted on the ground (the school’s mascot was a bull dog) and I said to Sid, “OMG, Enzo is here with us and by the size of those prints he is a Giant! He is everywhere!” It took all my strength to hold back tears.
I weaved my way up front, feeling just not well. My lower left abdomen was sore and painful whenever I lifted my left leg.
I started at the front of the race anyway. Matt lined up next to me and asked me if I was trying to go low-3 again (like at NCR where I ran a 3:08 on 11/30). I said I was planning to go out hard to find a pace I could possibly hold on to. I would either achieve my goal or blow up trying. Today was the day to take some risks.
It was 64 degrees at the start at 7:10 am. The humidity was already over 90%. By the finish we would be close to 80 degrees with 90% humidity. Runners around me suffered and I was 14th OA.
I got a fast start off the line. I don’t hold this. I do this for a few seconds, so that I can count ladies as I settle into my pace. My first mile was 6:44 and I was comfortable. I also knew this was going to be the coolest temperature of the day
My plan was to sit just at 3:00 pace (6:53 pace) through Mile 16 and if I felt like I had the ability to pick it up from there I would do so. If I needed to hold that pace, that would be find too. As long as I sat at 6:53, I could dip under sub-3 with a kick to the finish.
I was pleased with my work. I felt like I was holding a sustainable pace through M13. At this point I considered picking up the pace but I just didn’t feel like I could hold a faster pace for the last 10 miles. However, I really didn’t feel bad. I just knew the weather, especially the wind was challenging.
I just need to say how much I dislike wind.
This course was primarily north with a wind coming at us from the north, however the first 5.5 miles of this race went south. It was easy to hold a faster than average pace with the wind helping a little. But at 5.5 we turned north and that is when the work really began. There were several sections that had no shielding and long stretches in the wind made my pace drop 30 seconds per mile until I got out of it. It was a constant battle adjusting pace to deal with wind-resistance.
I decided to wait until M20 to make a push for sub-3 but by Mile 16 I started to feel the heat catching up with me. I was feeling overheated. I started to get goose-bumps and chills and I know this is not a good sign. But I was running well and I wasn’t falling apart. I was just not able to shift gears.
From the out and back sections, I could see the first place female was significantly far ahead of me and I was just as far ahead of the 3rd place woman. I couldn’t win and if I just help my pace I would finish second. I decided to set my sights on passing as many men as I could in the last 10 miles which was hard because I was most often running completely alone during that time.
Some of the men (there were no women) around me were struggling. I passed one who was sitting on the ground massaging out a hamstring. I passed another who was throwing up on the side of the course. It was clear the warm weather was a factor. I passed everyone I could pass, even with my own pace fading into the 7’s. I felt that I was running very well for the conditions and for not be heat acclimated.
And then at M22, I buckled. It was bad. I almost went down. It was sudden and it was shocking. I was unstable and getting so fatigued I could not lift my left leg without straining. I didn't know if it was the abdomen pain that buckled me or the heat. The day after the Charleston, I could not walk with about searing abdominal pain so I know I made the strain much worse. But this was the day to leave it all out there.
I didn’t notice the pain during the race. I did notice I could not lift my leg properly. I felt like I was having mechanical problems rather than limitation from pain. Sometimes I am really good at not allowing pain to register. I think today was one of those days.
At 4 miles to go, I just took the race one mile at time, trying to stay upright and finish as strong as I could. Despite not negative splitting this one and not achieving my A-Goal of sub-3, I am so very proud of my work. I knew I wasn’t feeling 100%. I knew the climate was going to stress my system. But every time I felt tired I looked at my bib and knew why I was there. Enzo is my CoPilot and He will not allow me to give up!
After I finished, I waited for Sid. When he came through, finishing his first marathon in 4:45 despite having screws in his knee that prevent him from running painfree and with a strained hamstring that was not healed, I was overwhelmed with joy for him.
We were both flooded with emotion at soon as we saw each other. He said “At mile 9, “I could feel my knee was having trouble and I could feel my hamstring grab if I tried to push myself, but I wasn’t running this for me. I was running for Enzo and I was going to finish it”.
He explained that when it got hard he slowed down, but he must not have looked that good because a cop actually gave him a donut!
For the first 10 miles, he was confused about why so many people were cheering “Go Sidney! Go Sidney!” We don’t know anyone except Veronica and David in Charleston and they weren’t on the course yet. After a while, he figured it out. A female runner nearby was wearing a sign on her chest with her name, "Sydney", printed on it and people were cheering for her… LOL. But then at M22 when Veronica and David were actually cheering for Sidney. He didn’t look up right away because he just thought “Syndey” was back.
And I laughed at first at his stories and then my eyes welled up because I know how much pain Sid had to fight through to finish. And only Sidney truly understands that there is no amount of pain a marathon can cause that could ever equal the pain we carry daily now that Enzo is no longer in our home.
Today we ran in honor of him, for his memory, to express our gratitude to have been given the chance to know and love him. Enzo will forever be alive in our hearts and through the sharing of our memories of him, but the void he left can never be filled and this is as it should be. Thank you, my boy. You gave me #OneMoreMarathon, #ForEnzo, #TheLittleMonster, #TheMonkey, #TheKing
Shannon McGinn, MS, MA, JD, EDS, CWHC.