MCM Training Week 1 Recap!

My 16 week training cycle for the Marine Corps Marathon began on Monday, July 6th.  Given that my body is still mildly protesting the agony fun-fest-of-joy that I put it through less than 2 months ago at VCM, I have decided to gently* ease back into marathon training mode rather than jump in head (feet?) first.

* I plead insanity with respect to what happened on Saturday and Sunday.

So now for the official Week 1 Recap!  Note on paces (or lack of thereof) – I find it easy to get sucked into the comparison trap when bloggers post their training paces for every freakin run.  Therefore, I will not post about my training paces unless my pace is somehow crucially important to whatever nonsense I’m blogging about.

Week 1

Monday – Lunch: 4 x 800 + warmup/cool-downs = 3.75 miles / Evening: Legs & Core

Tuesday –  4 miles road/trails (was supposed to be easy, but I found myself huffing and puffing on the hills)  / Arms & Core

Wednesday – 4 X 400 + warmup/cool-downs = 4 miles

Thursday  – 5.39 miles on mostly trails (lots of hills! gah!) / Arms & Core

Friday – 2 miles super easy on the dreadmill / Core

Saturday – Bear Swamp Run!  (Masochistic 5.7 miles) + Warmup = 6.5 miles

Sunday – Stowe 8 Miler!  (distance self-explanatory, no warmup or cool-down because I was already sweating before the race began I planned to run at an easy pace)

Total: 33.64 miles (Trying not to freak out about the .64.)

My mileage was not as high as it was for Week 1 of VCM training, but that’s OK!  I want to do things a bit differently this time around.  My training cycle for MCM will hopefully include:

  • Less junk miles and more meaningful miles.  I actually hate the term “junk” mile so I don’t know why I just used it.  Running is running.  However, when I was training for VCM, I found myself slogging through slow blah miles just to reach my magical weekly mileage number.  This time around, I’d like to run more miles with purpose, even if that means running lower mileage overall.
  • To elaborate on the above bullet-point, more speed-work and tempo runs!  The plan is to do speed-work at least once a week (preferably on the track), and run at tempo speed at least once a week as well (if I have a race, that will likely count as my tempo run).  Equally important, easy/recovery runs will be easy!  No more of this pretending-my-pace-is-easy-when-I-am-clearly-out-of-breath crap.
  • I know I’ve said this before, but more strength training!  I will shoot for legs 3X/weeks, arms 3X/week, and core 5X/week.  No slacking.
4oc747
This is how I know I will have made progress.

So you may be questioning my life decisions wondering about the two races I ran this past weekend.  The Bear Swamp Run is a Central Vermont Runners race that is 5.7 miles long and SUPER hilly.  Despite its name, I did not see any bears during the race.  😦  I may have seen a swamp, although I cannot be sure because I was mostly on the lookout for bears.  Here is the elevation profile:

Elevation Profile for Bear Swamp.
Just looking at this picture is giving me PTSD.

I checked out the elevation profile ahead of time, but for some reason I did not think it would be that bad.  Well, it was that bad.  I’m sure the heat and humidity didn’t do me any favors as well.  I knew going into the race that I am not in shape to run like the wind, so my plan was to run strong and have fun.  Unfortunately, I felt pretty crappy for the entirety of the race.  My fun level was at about a 2 on the running fun-ness scale (goes from 1-10, obviously), and that was only because I enjoyed chatting/hanging with my fellow runners.  Had I been competing against a bunch of un-fun people such as post apocalyptic zombies I probably would have been at a 1 on the fun-ness scale. 

Previously in the week, I had received an email offering free entry into the Stowe 8 Miler for CVR members also running and/or volunteering at Bear Swamp.  This seemed like a good idea at the time.  [Spoiler alert!  Not a good idea.]  However, I woke up slightly sore on Sunday from the above-mentioned mountain hill.  Nonetheless, I was not too worried because I planned all along to use the Stowe 8 Miler as my long run, therefore running no faster than an 8:45ish pace.  That probably would have been perfectly manageable had the race not taken place in the inner core of the Earth in 85 degree/humid weather.  While I managed to stay under 9:00/mi, I felt like I was going to die from heat stroke the entire time.  It was clear from the carnage around me that I was not the only one on the brink of death.

See that pink and blue blog in the background?  That is me, melting.
See that pink and blue blob in the background?  That is me, melting.  [Also, you’re welcome EORC man.  You are now famous.]
Ah well, what doesn’t kill me makes me want to live in a hole in which the soil is likely cool and dark and there are cute animals such as groundhogs makes me stronger, right?  On to week 2!

Injury Scare

PSA: I started this post last Sunday, but didn’t get around to finishing it until today (Thursday), so I apologize if the timing doesn’t make sense!  I am on vacation and under the influence of margaritas so procrastination is the name of the game.

***

As far my running hobby (obsession?) goes, the last year has been fantastic.  PRs!  Sub-4 marathons!  Love!  Rainbows!  Puppies!  Aside from a tight calf here and there, the Running Gods have spared me from suffering from any real running-related injures.  Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have some terrible, awful, no good, very bad news.  One week ago, I experienced my first DNF since the VCM salmonella incident of 2014.  At the Paul Mailman 10 miler, I was forced to drop due to a stabbing pain in my right buttocks.  Yes, I am discussing my buttocks on the interwebs.  Yes, my colleagues read this blog.  (Hello!)

Before you reach for the tissues and buy me get well soon presents such as brownies and/or chocolate chip cookies (I will also accept gummy bears), this sob story has a happy ending.  So please keep your tears inside your head for the time being.  If you want to cry happy tears, please do not hesitate to do so but know that I will be judging you.  The story starts on May 29th.  On that day, I volunteered at the Central Vermont Kids Track Meet, a.k.a. the most adorable event in the history of events except for the puppy bowl.  

I die.
I die.  I want to take them all home with me in a non-creepy way.

In between corralling tiny exhausted humans into straight lines and asking them their names (I imagine it would have been easier to convince a pride of lions to dance in a circle whist singing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”), I happened to mention to a fellow volunteer that I had a sporadic stabbing pain in my right butt cheek.  Since I was only 5 days out from the marathon, I was not very concerned with aforementioned butt cheek pain.  However, my fellow volunteer happens to be a Physical Therapist and world champion Iron Woman.  Ya know, just the usual sort of person.  She mentioned that I may have piriformis pain/syndrome/evilness, which I filed away in my head next to future yellow lab puppy names before resuming management of my herd of adorable tiny runners.

Fast forward a couple of weeks.  In the interim, I resumed running; no real issues except for legs made of lead; lots of trails and bears; probably jinxed myself by writing a post about how I was going to run nothing but trails.  Well, two Fridays ago, as in June 19th, I was frolicking through the woods on one my favorite trails when OW OW OW OW OW.  The right butt cheek pain was back, and it was back with a vengeance.  I attempted to limp through the rest of my run, but the pain was noticeably altering my gait.  I made my way back to car and drove home, where I proceeded to attack my butt and other muscles with a tennis ball.

Rolled out
Torture for both of us.

Due to Friday’s butt cheek pain, I did not run on Saturday.  I may have returned to Kettle Pond for a 3 mile walk with my favorite human and favorite non-human, but as a friendly reminder, there are bears at Kettle Pond so you should not go there under any circumstances.  During the mild inclines (as in, I stepped over a rock), my right butt cheek was NOT happy.  I dealt with the situation in a perfectly healthy manner by pretending that my right butt cheek was completely fine.

The next morning, I woke up bright and early to volunteer at the registration table for the Paul Mailman 10 miler.  I had also tentatively planned to run the race if my post-marathon legs felt up to it.  (This plan was formed prior to right butt cheek pain.  Obviously the plan changed considerably after right butt cheek pain.  On opposite day.)  To make a long story short, I stupidly toed the line and promptly realized that 10 miles was not in the cards.  Did I drop out right away?  Of course not!  That would have been wise!  Instead, I ran like a wounded horse for 2.5 miles before informing a course marshal that I would be turning around thankyouverymuch.  I then proceeded to wallow in self-pity for the remainder of the day.

What is a sad runner girl to do?
Wearing my marathon medal and snuggling with #snugglesaurus cures even the bluesiest of blues.

You may be wondering, where is the happy ending in this tale of woe?  Well, after a week of rest and a PT session, I am back to running pain free!  Apparently, my silly right butt cheek has been utilizing my piriformis muscle when it should be using my much stronger gluteus maximus muscle.  The good news is that my PT confirmed that this is not a strength issue.  My glute max is very strong, she informed me.  In other words, I have buns of steal.  No surprise there.  She showed me a few exercises I need to do in order to activate the right muscle.  So far, the exercises are working.  KNOCK ON AN EXTREMELY BIG PIECE OF WOOD SUCH AS A TREE.

The not so great news is that between marathon recovery and an injury scare, I have lost a lot of fitness.  However, as someone who has been forced to take months off due to injuries, I am just grateful to be able to run.  Even if running results in the consumption (and wearing) of lots of bugs.

I will
Protein.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to drinking margaritas vacation.