Wings out on a sunny Saturday.

BIG WEEK. Completely exhausted, trying to rest as much as possible today to get ready to do it again. That’s the grind of marathon training — you have to be consistent, committed, relentless.

I started off the week with a slushy recovery run. We got decent bit of snow Sunday but it warmed up overnight and started to melt pretty quickly. The roads were in great shape but the sidewalks were not, so about a mile in I stepped in a deep puddle of frigid melted snow. Not much fun. But, 37*? I’ll take that all day. I also rocked an unintentionally awesome coordinated outfit featuring one of my new Personal Best Training shirts that coach sent. I wore some SmartWool socks, which stay warmer when wet and are a higher cut to keep slush out of my shoes, plus my New Balance Hierro trail shoes. They’re a Boracay hybrid, so they have more grip but not a really aggressive tread and they don’t ride too stiff for the roads. They do, however, have a water resistant upper. Winner, winner. I felt recovered and fit on this run, which is a good feeling. It’s also a feeling I didn’t expect to last for long.

Cue Tuesday: I was intimidated by this workout and fretted about it all day. My avoidance of workouts should be well-noted by now (see this post, this post or this post). Coach was calling for 8-10 total miles with 1×1600 at 10k pace, 4×800 at 5k pace and 4×400 at mile pace. Translated into HR, that’s 85-90%, 90-95% and 90%+ . During the warmup, I was trying to decide if I wanted to do all the intervals on the track or on the road. I also hadn’t decided how much of a warmup I wanted to do. But I was feeling ready and it’s always better if I just rip off the bandaid and start trucking. So I decided about a mile and a half in to the warmup that I would definitely do the first interval on the road, because I have a pretty good neighborhood loop that’s about a mile long. It has a slight long incline up the long side, then you get that coming back down. Minimal traffic and no real intersections. I had already dropped my water bottle where the loop “starts,” and I was contemplating a 2.5 mile warmup. But when my watch beeped for 2 miles, I just went for it.

IMG_3563My goal for the mile interval was about 6:20, but also to feel smooth and relaxed. I checked my HR at a couple of intervals and it was right where it needed to be — and I clicked through in 6:07. My average HR for the mile was 88%.

Recovery was about half the interval time, but I hate doing time recovery and distance intervals. So I went a half-mile, sticking to the roads, figuring I’d head over to the track for the 400s. The 800s went well, consistent and in the right HR range but well below my target pace of 3:03. I split 2:52, 2:47 (!!!), 2:54, 2:52. I was getting into rush hour so there was a little more negotiating traffic in the one intersection but everything was how it should be. Average HR was 89-91% across each, which was on the low end of the range coach gave but was so far under my goal pace I was worried I was pushing too hard (I didn’t check it on the 800s). I took a quarter mile recovery between each but since that was short, I also paused my watch and took a little more time to walk, stretch, drink, etc.

I jogged over to the nearby track for the 400s, which gave me a little longer recovery. I was starting to feel the workout for sure, with 3 miles of effort already in the bank. But the 400s were still good, right on target pace at 1:22 each. Average HR was right at 90% but that was all I had left in my legs.

I finished up with a long enough cool down to hit 10 miles in 70 minutes, which makes for a good day in my book.

Wednesday was much less fun. Coach proposed making shirts with the PBT logo on the front and “Wednesdays Suck” on the back. Because they do. And knowing you have a workout again on Thursday doesn’t make you want to go any harder than you have to on Wednesday. I got in 6 miles on the treadmill, HR average 130 and 8:11/mile, catching up on Just Jillian. Then I taught an hour of Pilates. My calf cramped up and was sore until Friday. Great fun.

Second workout of the week was Thursday, but not as hard as Tuesday — 8 miles with 30 minutes of continuous hills. So 30 minutes with as little flat running as possible, and you don’t get to count the flat parts. I tried a different route than the last time I did this workout … One hill was perfect but the other side wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. It was a little tricky because I was teaching Pilates early so I wanted to start pretty close to the gym, which made the hills farther away. But it worked out and my pace was faster than I expected, considering I was still feeling Tuesday’s workout. And then I taught a class with a bunch of lunges and squats. Oof.

I was worried Friday that I was getting sick, which is not a good feeling. I was really sneezy and my throat was sore and I was super tired. I wasn’t sure I’d make it through the whole day at work. Thankfully, I felt better as the day went on. I taught Pilates to my coworkers at the end of the day, then headed to my friend’s house to run before we had a girls’ night. It was warm out but the winds were gusting 40 mph which made it pretty interesting. For a recovery run, my HR was pushing the higher end (around 75%) of where it should’ve been — but I was also going a bit faster than I usually do on recovery days. This is important to note, because consistently higher HR on recovery runs can point to overtraining. Considering the wind and feeling a little (unnecessary) pressure to hurry up, I’m not overly worried about it but definitely will be watching over the next few days.

Friday night girls’ night was followed by an early girls’ morning to run (although a different set of girls). I was excited to have a group to run with Saturday, especially so early. I needed to start around 6 to be finished and ready to teach at 10. We had an absolutely perfect day for running. The winds had died down overnight and we had 45 degrees to start. Because I was out a little late the night before, I was woefully unorganized and grabbing things as I walked out the door — clothes to teach in, headlamp, blinky, gels, Recoverite and sandwich for after running, Pilates notes… Hot mess, but I made it with everything I needed.

Run about 19 miles, teach Pilates, eat all the things.

We started with three of us doing about a 4 mile loop and then picking up our fourth person. I had 18 miles, two girls had 15 and another had “as far as I can go before I need to head home.” One of the 15 milers was our 6:30 pick up so I was basically guaranteed company for my whole run. When she started to back off on how far she was going, I was like, “I have 6 left which means you have 6 left!”

The whole run was basically short loops, which is fine by me. The second one was about 6 miles long, then we did another 4 mile loop, and then another 6. It made it easy to swap safety gear for sunglasses once the sun was up, or long sleeves for short sleeves.

We started this run off at an easy pace, not much under 8 minutes a mile for the first 10. It was a little slower than I would typically go but I knew I was feeling fatigued and had a long way to go. Plus one of the girls is working her way back in shape for Boston, having qualified last spring not long after having her second child.

This is a fundamental rule of a running group: there will be faster people and slower people. And who those people are will change, and the fastest person may become the slowest, and the slowest may become the fastest. As a group, you support the slowest person so that they become faster, too, and thus the entire group moves forward.

So while the first half was slower than I might have run on my own, 1) I didn’t have to talk to myself for 2-plus hours and 2) I want my friend to do well in her first Boston. Those 10-15 seconds per mile aren’t jeopardizing my training at all, and considering where coach wanted my HR to be, it was probably better anyway.

Around mile 11, it was down to just two of us. Amanda is racing the half at Shamrock next week and is in good shape. (All the former collegiate runners I know bounce back into form so quick.) We picked up the pace but also ran a hilly loop, so those last 8 miles were between 7:15 (last mile) and 7:43 (uphill mile), much quicker than the first part. I picked it up on the last mile because I was feeling good and wanted to open my legs up a bit. Once I hit 18, conveniently where we cross the street back into the park, I stopped my watch and saved it. Amanda said she wasn’t going over 15, but I forgot her watch was a bit behind because we didn’t pick her up exactly at 4. Drats. So I ran the last 1200 meters or so with her back at normal pace but without my watch on. Double drats. I wish I had recorded it. I entered it manually into my log because I ran 8.5 on Thursday and I wanted to even it out on the week.

This is what keeps me going. Save 15% on your first order!

After the run, I had Hammer Nutrition Recoverite (chocolate) and half an almond-butter sandwich while I prepped for class. I also had time for a shower which was pretty exciting. This was my third class at Milestone for the week, but each of the three classes is a little different. I feel like this one went well, and I think I’ve gotten better by quite a bit each time. It’s definitely intimidating and challenging but I’m enjoying it!

My primary goal for Sunday was to sleep in as late as possible. I know I’m not getting enough sleep so I needed to stock up while I could. Of course, I still only made it until about 8:30 a.m. and it was pouring down rain when I woke up. Fortunately the rain stopped around 11 and it was 55 degrees out. I convinced the hubs to go with me for a few miles — 6 easy for me to hit 60 for the week.

Very happy with the week — three solid hard days, a lot of Pilates and a lot of miles! I’m fighting a little bit of a cold, I think, so trying to get as much rest as I can this week. Anthem 5k next weekend — spring racing begins!

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