Carmel. 

I feel my posts are a little more “real” when I have a glass of wine, couple bottles of beer, or a Manhattan before typing something up. As I write this, the choice is a glass (okay, two) of wine after a bath with lavender and tea tree essential oils. The bath lately has been less about sore muscles and more about relaxation and stress relief. 

I don’t know why I’m nervous to publicly post this… post. (The two semesters of being an English major in college are totally cringing at this, my goodness.) Okay, it’s a lie, I do know why I’m nervous but I also think I’m being totally ridiculous for feeling this way. 

So, let me just come out and say it – I’m dropping from the Carmel marathon to the Carmel half marathon. 

Ugh. 

I feel like I quit, I failed, I gave up, and the most important feeling to me, like I’m letting down a lot of people. I have many friends who love the marathon, like, really, really love.  And truthfully, I feel like I’m letting down those people because I’m dropping the ball here, just a couple months short of my goal race. 

This decision hasn’t come lightly. The thought first crept into my mind after I had to take some time off because of Cranky Groin. It wasn’t a lot of time but I missed 3 stress workouts in that span and it kept me from increasing to the mileage I wanted. I pushed it out of my head when I compared my mileage and training to that of Chicago. I was a week or two ahead of what I was running in preparation for Chicago and I finished Chicago, so I’d be fine for Carmel. 

I had a decent 16 miler during Lake Effect Half Marathon as well. During the workout I kept thinking how much better this was than anything I did during Chicago. I’ve had struggles but what marathon cycle doesn’t? My knee bothered me but that kind of shit happens. Twinges come up, marathon training isn’t perfect, you adapt and move on. 

But then I really thought about what I’ve been doing. My plan has me well above 30 miles per week and I’m hovering at 30 per week.  This is better than Chicago where I peaked at 31 and then had ankle issues and my taper was like 10 miles over three weeks – no joke. But, ultimately I’m not doing my plan justice. Could I finish Carmel? Absolutely! Could I finish faster than 4:20:05? Pretty certain. Is/was my goal to “just finish”? That’s a hard NOPE. 

Besides that, truthfully I haven’t enjoyed marathon training. I didn’t love it when I trained for Chicago either but I figured it’s because it was hard. It was also summer and I was trying to balance coming back from my nasty bout of tendinitis, vacations, and running. I didn’t love running forever on weekends, but I enjoyed hitting new distances and knowing one of my best friends would be running by my side. This time around, things felt less hard and mentally, I’ve been much better prepared but… I still don’t love it. I have plenty of friends who love the long run and especially love ultramarathons. The thought of that makes me cringe. 

Some people love running slow and forever, but hate faster efforts. Some people love both types of runs. Then there’s me – I would rather run a hard, fast, gut-wrenching half marathon or 5k that burns my lungs to the core than be out there running a conversational pace for 3 hours (or more).  

I don’t know if, or when, I’ll tackle a second marathon. I thought a half marathon was my one time bucket list item, but maybe it’s a marathon after all. I’m finally starting to feel “okay” that I’m not in love with 26.2. Sometimes I get caught up in what everyone else in this world is doing. So many are drawn to the BQ, or running sub 3 or sub 4, or whatever the goal is. It’s everywhere. But I realized that desire is not mine and that’s okay.

So what are my goals? I’m still going after that sub 1:40 half marathon. I’ve taken a handful of days of this past week because of my knee, but also, work has been super stressful and instead of wanting to run to feel better, I need to lay down with some Candy Crush and Investigation Discovery. I have some work to do because marathon pace has been my jam the past two months and speed has been on the back burner. I’m going to run Carmel as a hard workout, maybe even race it to get an idea of fitness. Then I’m going to run Buffalo Half as my goal. It holds my PR and I’m ready to see what I can do. I may be way off sub 1:40, but I’m excited to see what comes of the next 12 weeks.

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Marathon Training is Hard

I am so tired. For the past couple weeks I haven’t been sleeping as well as normal, which I’m pretty sure is the cardinal sin of marathon training. Sleep is equally as important — no, more important — than all the miles and all the food. 

My favorite running buddy!
When I trained for Chicago, I had a decent base because I had just run the Buffalo Half Marathon. My legs were used to 10+ miles and long, hard efforts. This time around? The legs are so not used to it. When I run 8+ miles, my legs feel like toast all night and while my body is exhausted, my mind is awake and then I finally go to bed and end up with restless legs all. damn. night. Top that off with dreams about the POTUS (maybe I shouldn’t look at twitter after 6pm?) and I’m downright exhausted! 

I modified last week’s workouts from the plan because of said exhaustion, plus with that week off from being sick, I was trying to bridge the gap a little. 

I was happy to put some miles in on my new sneakers – New Balance Vazee Pace. I’ve been running in the New Balance Zante, which I love, but as I got up to 7+ miles, I got some gnarly blisters and could feel soreness all up my arches. So I bumped up from 4mm drop (which is the max I’ve had for years!) to 6mm and the feel of a little more cushion. It’s working well. 

Last week, I had two easy run days – one with Dunkin outdoors and one on Saturday, when I started to do my long run on the treadmill and realized mentally I couldn’t handle it. I was supposed to have a recovery run Wednesday night after my CrossFit in the morning but… exhausted. So I opted to nap and walk Dunkin instead. 

Tuesday I had the most solid workout I’ve had in a while. After a mile warmup, I had 24 minutes of 2:00 hard (8 or 9 effort) and 1:00 easy, but not recovery. I was cruising at 6:45-7:20 pace on the hard efforts and 9:00 on the easy. I felt in control throughout the entire run, though on the verge of vomiting all over on the last set. My cool down was brief solely because Olive Garden was waiting for me upstairs, oops. 

CrossFit for the week was something I really enjoyed. It was a recovery workout for everyone which is why it suited me so well. I didn’t have to modify too much and felt like the strength really helped my running. Our warmup was single leg Romanian deadlifts, which I already include often in my program. I always like when we do single leg things because I succeed at it when the people who focus on CrossFit struggle, mostly because they don’t spend as much time on one leg. We also worked on our cleans. The workout was a 10 minute workout of deadlifts, power cleans, and push-ups; it also didn’t leave me too sore to exist. 

Sunday Running Buddies (can you spot them?)
Since I moved my long run to Sunday, I ended up going outside and spending quality time in a few inches of soft snow. I had 14 easy miles on the calendar which I knew was a stretch from the 11 the previous week, plus with the snow, effort felt like more. I ran 12, however, 6 of which felt like sand and made my legs shake by the end. It was hard! I felt good with my 10:00 average overall, considering the snowy miles were closer to 10:30.  I tried to focus on fueling this run but I’m still not running long enough for it to make a huge difference.  I plan to use Honey Stinger chews again but I may experiment with their gels in a bit, we’ll see. I hate how they leave me sticky because I’m a klutz when I open and eat them!

I had to laugh a bit during my run because I listened to I’ll Have Another podcast and the conversation was surrounding a bit of running and CrossFit, which you basically can’t be good at both. It made me think more about my training and how I try to fit it in. I’ve found what works mostly for me, but it definitely is hard. I know I’m not super fresh for long runs sometimes, or I have to plan carefully with my modifications to ensure I am, but I wouldn’t have it any other way right now. If I’m 5 minutes slower because I wanted to keep up with CrossFit, I’m okay with it because it keeps me sane, healthier (no injuries if I keep it up, injuries when I don’t), and happier. 

One more hard week (and with my planned CrossFit on Sunday — Murph, FINALLY!), I am so looking forward to a recovery week next week. 

Week 2: Running with a Cold

Come on. Kindly vacate my body, you stubborn son of a bitch. I am so not used to this. I started to feel better on Monday, but my workouts this week haven’t come easy. By Saturday, what was left of my voice sounded an octave lower and I had an underlying wheeze, but my energy levels were much higher. 

Despite all that, I hit my highest mileage week in a year and if I recall how I felt a year ago, I think I feel much better now. I guess I can stop commenting on how the present week is my highest mileage in a certain amount of time because every week is going to be that way. 

Monday was an easy run of just a few miles. Four was on the schedule but I didn’t want to jump in my first run back after the cluster of a run I tried on the previous Wednesday. Since I didn’t run after those 2 miles, it felt a little rusty. I finished up with some much needed core work (maybe this summer I can have some solid abs? Kidding, my chicken finger sub is laughing at me.)

Tuesday I worked second shift from home so my workout was a little shifted. I still did it at the same time, but on the treadmill and probably much better fueled than normal.  It sucked, to be frank. The written workout was 3 x 1 mile at 7:40ish, with a quarter mile recovery between. I actually did 2 x 1 and struggling to hit 7:50-8:00.  The effort was there, but the legs and lungs were not. 

I took a solid rest day on Wednesday, and easy 3.5 on Thursday, and another rest day on Friday. 

Thanks to global warming, we had the most unseasonably warm Saturday and I totally enjoyed it. It was 60°!  Last week’s long run was supposed to be 10 miles with the final 4 at 8:40. This week’s long run was supposed to be 12 easy. I decided to meet the two in the middle with 11 miles, 3 of the last 4 at 8:40, and a cool down mile. Those 3 faster miles averaged more like 8:25 because I was running just enough behind a guy that I was ever so slightly gaining on him and my legs just did their thing… oops. I would have gone for the final 4 at 8:40 had I actually been running 8:40s but my legs were dead after 3 (and finishing on a healthy incline). 

I really needed Saturday’s fast finish to feel some speed back in my legs but it was a little discouraging because it felt a hell of a lot more challenging than I thought it would. The amount of running I’ve been doing on the treadmill has been mentally tough because my paces feel so much harder, too. I keep telling myself it’s because it’s upper 60s in my basement and probably a bit humid, so if it were outdoors running in those temperatures, I might be feeling that way anyways. It should get easier the more I do it. I hope. 

I took a pretty significant amount of time away from training, so I know I should be easier on myself as far as where I’m coming from and getting to the start of Carmel. I still have like 12 weeks to get me to the start of the marathon and truthfully, that’s a lot of time to get into peak fitness, right?  After being sick for a couple weeks, I’m just ready to be 100% and start to see the gains in my legs and lungs for some encouragement. 

Oh, but good news did come this week! Another year with Nuun!  Which is obviously exciting to me considering how much of this I drink on a daily basis. Without it, I’d probably only drink water immediately after a run and who knows what during the day.