Remember last week when I was writing about how there aren’t many good weeks in marathon training? Well, when you have one, you should be grateful.
And I am grateful. Hugely grateful.
Week 7 is the peak mileage week in the Pfitzinger 12/55 plan at, obviously, 55 miles. I still remember the days when I hit 70 or more miles a week, and I would love to do that again some day when I can figure out how to schedule that much time. Plus, 55 feels like a lot when three of the runs are in double-digits.
After a crappy long run last weekend, I had Monday as an off day. I would usually have cross trained but I had a meeting until 7:30 that evening. I went for a walk with a colleague and enjoyed the rest day.
Tuesday I managed to leave work early enough to get in 6 miles before my weekly Power Hour Yoga class. With 6×100 at the end, the run looks faster than it really was. But it was a comfortable, easy run, followed by a great yoga class.
Wednesday was the day they announced the Boston Marathon registration cut-off, and that led to a lot of introspection on my part — which I blogged about last week. But I think it did put a little bit of pressure on me for that evening’s run.
Schedule called for 12 miles with 7 miles at LT pace (approximately half-marathon pace), aka the workout I’ve been skipping every week. Not this week! The weather was great and I actually started running hard earlier than I planned. I was thinking a 2 or 3 mile warm up, but after the first mile I was feeling my oats a bit and noticed I went through the first quarter mile at almost workout pace. In fear of losing my giddy-up, I went for it. I had bartered with myself that even 5 miles at LT pace would be acceptable since I hadn’t been putting in the workouts. Then I renegotiated: all 7 miles but with a mile easy after 4.
Rarely do I get excited about workouts, but I basically killed this one. I had double-checked McMillan Calculator, which put me at 6:40-6:58 pace for tempo. My original thought (that went along with the long warmup) was to do it as a progression tempo-type thing — start at 7 minute pace and work my way down. But I came out hot at 6:43 pace and even when I tried to slow it up, it didn’t work. First four were 6:43, 6:44, 6:36, 6:39. I took a mile easy and vowed to get back on pace. It worked, briefly — 6:49, 6:40, 6:26. Average across the 7 miles was 6:39.
The worst part of the workout was the 3 mile cool down that I was now stuck with, which seemed to go forever. And even that was at a decent speed.
I was walking back to the gym and scrolling through my watch. 12 miles in 1:25:44. Not bad, I thought, especially with 5 miles in the 7:40-7:50 range. I think to myself, pretend I ran those at 7 minute pace, add a mile … “Holy moly, I might be able to break 90 minutes right now.”
Holy moly. Despite putting in the work, I haven’t felt fast and have felt unsure about my goal time for Monumental. Realizing I am at least close to sub-90 shape nearly brought me to tears.
Thursday was my second off day of the week, so I went for a short walk and to Pilates Strength class.
Friday I actually took the day off work and enjoyed running at a reasonable hour with my friend D, who was visiting from Nebraska. D is really my earliest running companion. We worked together at the running store for years and have traveled to more races together than I can possibly count. She’s living in Lincoln for the next few years, which makes me sad but does open up the possibility for some new races. We had a nice easy run, better than I thought it might go considering the workout, the 12 mph winds and the hilly route.
On Saturday, my husband hoped to get back on the wagon with his training — also for the full at Monumental. He hadn’t run in about two weeks. So he set out to run 20. I met him after 5 miles, along with D and her husband. I had no need to push the pace knowing I had 20 coming up the next day. In the end he made it 18.
I had running company for Sunday, which took a lot of the mental strain off me. Solo for 20 miles is not something I wanted to do. I ran about 1.5 miles to meet up with three other ladies, and it was hilly, dark and scary and I almost got hit by a van. Fortunately I didn’t need my headlamp for long, and we were down to a trio by then anyway. We ran the new Bowman Field loop and headed back, dropping off another girl. I ran the last companion back to her house, then set off for 7 miles solo.
I made a pit stop at my car for more Body Glide and some water, and had 5.25 to go. I had parked my car at basically the low point of the park so that I could finish downhill (the original proposal was to meet at the highest point, which is why I ran there first — I didn’t want to finish running back up to Hogan’s Fountain). This meant I had to run uphill no matter which way I went so I sucked it up, ignored the chafing, and carried on. Since I was heading into my normal running area, I was able to figure out where I needed to be at the 19 mile mark, and then the 18. Mentally that was a big plus, and I knew about where I needed to run out to, and then I just had to turn around a run back.
Since I had started the solo section, I had been picking up the pace. Actually, I think Amanda had picked up the pace as we got close to her house. And then there were some Crossfit-looking girls who I didn’t want to have running faster than me. (I shouldn’t admit that but it is true.) I kept telling myself the speed didn’t matter, and really, I wasn’t paying attention to it. I wasn’t too far out of goal marathon pace territory, which I didn’t realize until later. I can’t think that hard at mile 18.
I’ve been flipping my watch over to elapsed time (instead of pace) for the last mile of my long runs, which I like to do during longer races, too. I’ve been using that as my mental preparation, envisioning the finish and trying to finish strong. Thanks to the nice downhill finish I set up, I clocked a 6:38 last mile.
Basically, I felt like a badass.
55 miles, two cross training sessions.
This week is a step down a bit in mileage but includes the first of two tune-up races. I’ll be running the 10k at Louisville’s Race for the Cure on Saturday, followed by 17 on Sunday, which makes me cringe. But it will be good to race and see where I’m at.
As Matt Ebersole said to me on Twitter, “The cake is baked and now it’s time for some frosting!”