Taper Time! Baystate Marathon Training: Week 13

By use of the exclamation point in my title it would seem that I’m excited to have reached the taper portion of marathon training. And I am, but I’m also surprised by how quickly it came and feeling like I could use an extra few weeks of training. At some point of every training cycle I reach a point where training feels endless and arduous. Yet, by the time I reach the end I’m wishing for more time. My training hasn’t been perfect, I never did quite hit the paces my training plan called for on long runs, but I’m happy with the effort I’ve put in. Running is a hobby and an outlet for me – as a mom, it’s my few hours a day to have an identity and passion that is all mine. I think it makes me a better mom. It’s stress relieving, meditative, and empowering. I hope it inspires my girls to be strong, to believe in themselves, and to go after something they want, even if it is hard. I overheard my oldest telling my husband, “If I run the Boston Marathon one day, when I get to Heartbreak Hill I won’t stop.” Maybe she will be a runner when she gets older, maybe she won’t, but I love that to her the possibility is hers for the taking.

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Week 13 Recap: September 19 – 25

Monday: Plan: Recovery 4M – Actual: 4M @9:40

Tuesday: Plan: 10×400 @6:18-6:38 pace (400 RI) – Actual: 1.25M w/u@9:01, 10×400 @6:45 (400 RI @11:00), 1M c/d @9:42 – I was sort of dreading this workout – 10 400s and 10 rest interval 400s just sounded so boring, but this workout actually sped by. With such short intervals, the 400s were over so quickly that I couldn’t believe when I looked down to see had already run 6 miles and was finished with the speed portion of the run. It felt like I had just started! 

Wednesday: off

img_8736Thursday: Plan: 10 min w/u, 8M @8:07, 10 min c/d – Actual: 1M wu @9:06, 8M @7:56 (8:07, 8:04, 8:05, 7:56, 7:55, 7:50, 7:53, 7:45), 1M cd @8:27 – My last long midweek tempo run! These past 3 weeks of 8-10 miles tempo runs have been the most nerve wracking part of my training. Way more daunting that my 20 mile runs where I knew I could slow down if need be. These were the workouts I felt like I needed to hit if I wanted a shot at hitting my marathon goal. Temps and humidity were back up, though not terrible, and the water I carry on all my runs felt soooo heavy in my hand this time. The first 2 miles I was breathing heavy and telling myself that I wouldn’t be able to run all 8 tempo miles. Then I told myself to get a grip, I wasn’t dying and I was going to be just fine! This bit of perspective, and dropping my bottle at a point I’d be passing on my way back, helped and I immediately felt better. Having completed this workout was a huge relief!

Friday: Plan: Recovery 4M – Actual: 4M @9:42

Saturday: off

Sunday: Plan: 20M @8:27 – Actual: 20M @8:40 – Sunday was the Jimmy Fund Walk along the Boston Marathon route. For those not familiar with it, the Jimmy Fund raises money for cancer research and care of patients receiving treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. In the past year, two people very close to us were diagnosed with cancer and have benefited from the support the Jimmy Fund provides. One is a little boy, the son of dear friends of ours, and the other is a family member. I wanted to raise money in honor of these two special people in my life so I incorporated my long run into running for the Jimmy Fund Walk.
Along the course they had set up Mile Marker Hereos – each picturing a person benefiting from the Jimmy Fund. Most of them were kids around the ages of my girls. Their bald heads and megawatt smiles featured on the billboard with a little bit about them. So many kids who loved Legos, dancing, animals, and wanted to be veterinarians or ballerinas when they grew up. So many kids fighting cancer. It sure puts into perspective race goals and heavy legs on a long run.

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The weather had dropped considerably by Sunday morning. Gone were the 80 degrees days from just a few days ago to be replaced with a temp of 40 degrees when I started and 55 degrees when I ended. After suffering through a summer of high heat records and a cutback week last week I expected to have to hold myself back early on in this run. Instead, from the start my breathing and legs felt heavy. I wondered about getting through the next 15+ miles that included the hills of Newton and tried to settle into a relaxed state. I didn’t want to have to stop and walk. I wanted to make the people I was running for proud. 
Once we reached the Newton Hills portion of the Boston Marathon course I actually started feeling better. It was an absolutely picture perfect fall day. Crisp air, the bluest of skies, and the carriage road along this part of the course was filled with runners, families with strollers, and other people participating in the Jimmy Fund Walk. The first of the four Newton hills always seems the hardest to me – it’s shorter than Heartbreak Hill, but steeper too. I’d had some stomach cramping around mile 6, but it had stopped and my breathing felt pretty even. I knew once I reached the top of Heartbreak Hill I would have only 6 miles left into the city and for the first time ever in a run I looked at my watch and thought “oh, I only have an hour left. That’s not bad.”
The last 6 miles went fairly quickly although they were the most congested part of the run. After passing through Newton the atmosphere quickly changes from suburban to urban, and even early on a Sunday morning there is a lot of pedestrian and vehicle activity. At some point along this stretch I developed stitch in my stomach, but luckily it came and went within a mile. I followed the Jimmy Fund Walk’s signs at the famous Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston part of the Boston Marathon and arrived at the Jimmy Fund finish line with 20 miles complete.
It was a great and meaningful way to end the main part of my training cycle. In a world that is so filled with awful news and awful people doing awful things, it was heartwarming to see an event where nearly 10,000 people come together in such a positive way.
Splits: 1) 9:10 2) 8:53 3) 8:45 4) 9:17 5) 8:37 6) 8:55 7) 8:50 8) 8:51 9) 8:34 10) 8:44 11) 8:39 12) 8:47 13) 8:30 14) 8:38 15) 8:46 16) 8:31 17) 8:35 18) 8:27 19) 8:18 20) 7:40

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Weekly Total: 45 miles

Do you enjoy taper or do you get the taper crazies? 

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February Wrap Up

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Well, I definitely fell off the blogging wagon. My runs have been pretty lackluster all month and writing about hard run after hard run just wasn’t all that exciting to write – and I assume, read – about. Most of the interesting stuff in my life has been kid related, which I don’t like to blog too much about for a variety of reasons, so that left me without much to say! The running highlight of the month was probably the arrival of my new Mizuno Wave Rider 19s.

My youngest was just as in love with them as I was and every time I tried to put them on she was trying to wrangle them away from me to wear them herself! The picture on the left was the only one I managed to get without her, or her hands trying to grab them, in the pic. We have a great, local running store (Marathon Sports) that I ordered these from and they included a handwritten note in my box which was a really nice touch. #shoplocal

Last week’s training that I skipped blogging about:

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Just looking at it in a spreadsheet it doesn’t look bad, but the mile repeats and long run felt so hard. I listened to a really interesting podcast on Run to the Top with Matt Fitzgerald about running too hard during easy runs. I’ve read quite a few of Matt’s books and have always gotten a lot out of them. He was saying that runners tend to run their easy runs at a moderate intensity instead, and that studies have shown runners who run at a truly easy run pace see more fitness gains than those who run them at a moderate intensity. He also noted that it’s usually not a huge pace difference, just 10-20 seconds/mile slower will typically be enough to put the intensity level to easy. I stuck to that rationale this week and am interested to see how it pans out for me.

 

Weekly Training: February 22 -28

Monday: Gym – 15 min warm up (elliptical), 40 minutes of strength, MYRTL, stretching

Tuesday: Plan: 10x400m @7:24 (400 RI) – Actual: 1.5M w/u, 8x400m @7:24 w/400m RI @10:00, .75M c/d – Surprise, surprise another hard run. I skipped the last two 800s because by that point I was sure if I tried to do one more that I’d end up tripping and falling off the treadmill.

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Plan: 1M Easy, 5M Mid Tempo, 1M Easy – Actual: 1M @9:29, 5M @8:34, .5M @9:31 – Again this felt hard (notice a theme here). I debated breaking up the tempo miles with an easy mile in the middle, but talked myself (literally, in my head telling myself to keep going) into finishing it off. I hopped off the treadmill after the 5 tempo miles to refill my water with full intentions of running a cool down mile after filling up, but once I got off I just wanted to be done. .5M c/d was good enough

Friday: Plan: 6M Easy – Actual: 6M 9:31 – I had my sister-in-law’s company for this run and the miles flew by! Running + chatting = quick miles

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Plan: 14M @ HMP+30 – Actual: 14M @8:34 – I decided to drive to the Boston Marathon route so I could 1) have a lot of company and 2) get in some hills.  Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 3.40.52 PM

I am SO glad I did this! If I had set out for 14 miles from my house I’m 99% sure I would have cut it short.  My splits were all over the place during my long run the week before so I decided to not look at my watch and try to just keep an even effort. I felt like I spent my whole run last week speeding up or slowing down and spending way too much time and energy trying to hit a certain pace. This run started off a little tough. It was a lot colder than I expected so I’m not sure if my legs were just cold or if they were tired, but it took me a while to warm up. By mile 4 I was starting to feel good and had made the turn to the start of the Newton Hills. The atmosphere on this part of the course is so fun. There were dozens of runners training for Boston out, people walking their dogs, kids riding their bikes, and BC athletes doing hill repeats. I got a little carried away by the energy out there and ran up Heartbreak Hill in one of my fastest miles of the run . . . and promptly felt really tired on mile 8! There were some really hard miles in there (1-3, 8, 11) and some really good miles in between. It was good practice for me to get through the hard miles and see that there could be good miles on the other side. 

Weekly Total: 32.5 Miles