Remain Calm

Remain Calm: VCM is 9 weeks from today.  Before I get into recapping Week 7, I need to get real with you all.  The last 2 weeks have been terrific in terms of mileage.  I even felt “speedier” during at least 2 runs this week.  But the truth is, I am nowhere as speedy as I would like to be at this point.  I think my lack of speediness is due to a combination of the following:

  • False Expectations.  Back in November, when I set my PR in the 1/2 marathon, I felt on top of the world.  Although I continued to run until VCM training “officially” began at the end of January, I obviously did not train at the same level of intensity as I had been training at prior to the GMAA marathon and Race Vermont 1/2 marathon.  But when I began training for VCM, I falsely assumed that I would pick up where I left off in November.  As they say in Spanish, my assumption was incorrecto.  That 1/2 marathon PR was the result of many months of hard training, MOST OF WHICH TOOK PLACE IN THE SUMMER AND FALL.  Which brings me to my next point…
  • Training for a marathon during the winter in Vermont sucks.  Plain and simple, training during the cold/snowy/icy/dark months is just not the same as training during the warm/sunny/bright summer and fall months.  Running on the treadmill is not the same as running outside.  Running on snowy/icy roads is not the same as running on clear roads.  I do not have access to trails (my preferred place to run hills).  I do not have access to a track (my preferred place to do speed-work).  Although I have trained for a spring marathon twice before, attempting to BQ (and consequently set a massive PR) at a spring marathon is much different than training to finish.
  • Not racing.  Last summer and fall, I raced as much as I could.  Not only do I love racing, but I firmly believe that the torturous devilries that are 5ks are the best form of speed-work.  Even longer races, such as 10ks or half marathons, are a great way to get in some speedy miles.  Although I can do speed-work and tempo runs on my own, there is nothing quite like a little friendly competition to get my juices flowing.  Unfortunately, winter in Vermont is hardly conducive to racing.  Luckily, I will have a few opportunities to race before VCM.  First up is the Unplugged 1/2 marathon in 3 weeks.  I’ll talk about my goals for that race in a later post.
  • Anemia and the plague.  I think this bullet point speaks for itself.  I will say that I no longer remember what it’s like to not have a stuffy nose.

That being said, I am not yet willing to throw in the towel.  Do I think I can PR in the marathon in 9 weeks?  Hell yes.  Do I think I can BQ in 9 weeks?  Not without a miracle.  I don’t know.  On one hand, 9 weeks is a long time.  Assuming I stay healthy, I can accomplish a lot in 9 weeks.  Especially because April is a little over a week away and April showers bring May flowers, RIGHT!?!?  On the other hand, 9 weeks is not a lot of time at all.  In fact, if one wants time to pass really quickly, he/she should sign up for a marathon.  There is no better way to make the weeks fly by!  Conversely, if anyone has any suggestions as to how to slow down time, I would love to hear them! For now, I will focus on positive thinking, healthy living, and training, training, training.  

Onto Week 7!  Here is my weekly summary:

Week 7

Monday – 9 miles easy/moderate outside

Tuesday –  6 miles easy (treadmill)

Wednesday – 1.5 mile warm-up, 5.5 miles progression tempo w/ super fast finish = 7 miles (treadmill)

Thursday  – 3 miles easy (treadmill)

Friday – ~ 8 miles easy/moderate outside (Garmin stopped working)

Saturday – 12 mile hilly long run in the great outdoors (I am reluctant to refer to this as a “long run” because 12 miles does not feel particularly long these days)

Sunday – Rest

Total: 45 miles

Now for the rundown.  Pun intended, I so funny.  My favorite run of the week occurred on Monday.  The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and my “speedy” pace felt easy!  I could have continued for many more miles, but dinner was calling me home and Basil turns into a grumpasaurus if she is not fed by 5 PM.

Literally could not stop smiling!  Also, I need to stop posting such flattering selfies on the blog.
Literally could not stop smiling! Note to self: I need to stop posting such flattering selfies on the blog.  Makes the other running blogs jelly.

Tuesday’s run felt the opposite of easy, but I blame this on the 99 pounds of Irish-themed food I ate for lunch during a St. Patty’s Day work potluck.  After 6 miles of burping up corned beef and cabbage, I called it quits and did some strength training.  On my way out of the gym, I found a 10 dollar bill in the parking lot!  Some little leprechaun was looking out for me.

Totally should have worn this hat on the treadmill!  Next year.
My dollar store hat that I wore all day at work.  Should have also worn it on my run!  Next year.

Wednesday’s run is self-explanatory.  I felt good.  On Thursday, my legs were dead, but I managed to get in a solid strength session.  On Friday, I ran about 8 miles at a rather brisk pace.  After noticing that I was really struggling to make it beyond 5.12 miles, I determined that my Garmin had lost satellite connection or my pace had decreased to 0.0 min/mile.  So I can only guesstimate that I ran about 8 miles.  Commence the taking of deep breaths. Must run precise number of miles.

Saturday’s long run was a little shorter than I would have liked, but it was super hilly and a step-back week to boot.  (Side note: I did not step back my mileage because I am still trying to make up for 3 weeks of illness.)  Next weekend I will run 18 miles, and then the following weekend I will run my first 20 miler of this training cycle!  Yikes, stripes!  I did an out and back on Rt. 100b, which I have driven on but never run.  Holy hills!  There was nothing too crazy or steep, but if I wasn’t going up, I was going down.  I will definitely be running this route again.  The shoulder is super wide, and the views are astounding.

Ran by the cutest/creepiest graveyard.
Ran by the cutest/creepiest graveyard.  Not sure who (or what) is buried there.  I also just figured out how to make pictures bigger.  The internet is hard.

I actually planned to run farther than 12 miles, but when I returned to my car for a water break, my legs announced that they were done.  This leads me to 2 things that I will do differently next week.  First, I will suck it up and look like a nerd run with water.  By the time I returned to my car after completing 12 miles, I was so dehydrated that any motivation I had to continue running was completely zapped.  I need to drink early and often.  Additionally, I need to run with water because it’s way too tempting to cut a long run short when I adhere to the “stop by my car for water” method.  Next week, I will make it physically impossible to cut my 18-miler short unless of course I hitchhike or call an ambulance, neither of which is out of the question.

The second thing I will do differently next week is either not run, or do a very easy run, the day before my long run.  So far, I have adhered to the “running on tired legs” long run philosophy.  While I think this philosophy is not without merit, my last 2 long runs have definitely felt a bit rough, and I’d like to get some solid non-rough long runs under my belt.  I’d also like to add a fast finish to the end of my long run, which is sort of impossible when my legs are so tired by the end that I’m hanging on for dear life.  Next week, I will likely take Friday off (or do a shake-out run) and run the last 6-8 miles of my long run at an increasingly faster clip.  I shall report back on how it goes!

A few random notes:

1) According to Map My Run, this is the elevation profile for my 12 miler on Saturday:

The definition of rolling hills!
The definition of rolling hills!

This is the elevation profile for VCM:

See that little spiky thing around mile 15?
See that little spiky thing around mile 15.81?  I eat bigger hills for breakfast.  (The hill coming up the beltway, around mile 8, is actually just as big, but at mile 8 in a marathon I am still like “Yay I am running a marathon! Life is grand. Rainbows, butterflies, and puppies!”)

So if Map My Run is telling the truth, I ran almost double the elevation in 12 miles that I will run over the course of 26 miles at VCM.  Does anyone know if Map My Run is remotely accurate?  The squiggly lines generally seem pretty on point, but I’m not sure about the total “gain.”  I wish my Garmin tracked elevation, but alas it only tracks the basics – time, pace, and distance. 

2) During my run on Saturday, I listened to the first 3.5 episodes of Serial.  I know I am late to the party, by OMG so good.  Twelve hilly miles flew by.

3) I tried some new goodies this week!  I ate the Honey Stinger waffle immediately prior to my run on Saturday.  Not only did it taste delicious, but it sat well in my stomach.  Honey Stinger waffles and I will definitely be seeing more of each other on future runs.  As for the Gu chomps, I am not a huge fan.  I started popping these around mile 6.  They taste delicious, but I felt like I was playing a game of chubby bunny.  By the time I finished chewing, I literally felt out of breath probably because I had not consumed any oxygen for 30 seconds.  The chomps also made me feel slightly sick to my stomach.  Lame sauce.

If the waffles weren’t so darn expensive, I would eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

4) Goals for next week:

  • Run outside as much as possible.
  • Run at least 50 miles.
  • Feel strong and steady during my 18 mile long run.  Finish fast.
  • Eat more vegetables.  Who am I kidding, I heart vegetables.
My bffs.

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