Monday, March 7, 2016

Road to Redemption Omnibus: February

I’m horrible at regular updates.  Therefore, this is really long – but nobody cares except me and I said I’d track this training cycle so darn it, I’m tracking it!

Week 5 (Jan 31 – Feb 6)

Monday – Speed work on the docket: 2 x 1600, 2 x 800. Goal paces were 6:41 for the 1600s and 3:13 for the 800s. You know sometimes within the first half mile of a run you know it’s just not going to happen? That was this run. At the end of the warm up mile I knew things were not going to go as planned. Here is how things panned out:

First 1600 – 6:47 (eh)
Second 1600 – 6:55 (bad)
First 800 – 3:23 (worse)
Second 800 – 3:35 (terrible)

 C’est la vie.

Tuesday – Yoga, per usual. At this point it was so long ago that I can’t remember any specifics from the class. Oh wait. Yes I can. I remember that I felt very tired and weak even though the routine was not one of Penny’s most challenging. It was during this class that I began to think that the random cough I’d been having for two days was developing into something more sinister.

Wednesday – Switched things up for this tempo and headed to south side instead of our normal north bound route. I had written in my training calendar that we were to run 6 total miles: a 2 mile warm up followed by 3 miles at 7:04 and 1 cool down mile. Since the night before, my illness had progressed and I felt way less than great when I met Kit in the parking lot and then proceeded to absolutely bomb this work out – or so I thought. Feeling very sorry myself and looking for an excuse or reason as to why I did so terribly for the second run in a row, I pulled out Run Less Run Faster to recheck what the tempo target pace was supposed to be for the work out.

Lo and behold, I had transcribed incorrectly and my goal pace for the tempo miles was 7:14 NOT 7:04. So in reality, I had managed to make goal. Thank goodness, because I was really starting to feel like a failure.

Thursday – I skipped spin. I hardly slept and felt terrible in the morning.

Friday – Felt even worse. I spent the day trying every possible remedy to relieve/cure cold including chicken noodle soup, Emergen-C, Airborne, and green tea with honey. None of it worked.

Saturday – Long run day with 16 miles on the schedule. I woke up feeling terrible and with a very low grade fever. But being the stubborn, bone-headed runner that I am, I headed to meet up with the training team anyway. My irrational thoughts included: “Maybe you can run this cold out and burn it off with a good workout” and “You’ve had two really crappy runs this week, last week got screwed up because of the blizzard, so you can’t miss this long run or the entire training cycle will be in the toilet.”

A few miles in, I knew I wasn’t going to be running the full 16. At the mile 4 water stop, I was so out of it that when Coach Shawn came over to say hi and give me a hug, I didn’t even realize who was hugging me until after it was over. Observations from my teammates included, “Kathryn, you aren’t running like yourself. You feel ok?” and this gem by Kit: “I can sense that you are suffering over there.” Despite my sickness, I was somehow maintaining between an 8:00 and 8:15 pace for the first 8 miles. But by the second water stop, I knew I needed to head straight back. In my fevered brain, I somehow thought that running straight down Monument Avenue from Monroe Park to Willow Lawn was only 2.5ish miles, which would bring me to around 11 for the day and that would be fine. Unfortunately, Monroe Park to Willow Lawn is actually more like 3.75 miles straight down Monument Avenue. And they were the worst 3.75 miles that I have run in a very, very long time. At every intersection, I stopped even if I had the light. I actually sat down on a retaining wall to take a break. I managed to will myself to keep running by playing the old “just get to the next traffic light and then we can take another break” trick. I haven’t done that in years.

Even though I felt that I must have been running a 10:00+ pace, the last three miles were an average of 8:30. I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier to finish a run than I was that day. Trying to do a 16 mile training run when you’ve got a fever, full on cold, and it’s only 20 degrees is really not a smart decision.

Total Weekly Running Mileage: 25.4
Total Overall: 138.72

Week 6 (Feb  7- Feb 14)

Monday – For some reason , I had the delusion that I was going to do the prescribed speed work (10 x 400) after work, even though I was in terrible shape. I was loathe to miss another training session and frustrated that I was suffering through an illness that was preventing me from running yet again. In fact, I had more than a tiny crisis in confidence after deciding that I should not do the run. I was certain that I would never be able to ready to run Wrightsville at goal pace and felt like quitting (truly).

Tuesday – No longer having insane coughing fits, I went to yoga and felt pretty good. When I left I thought that maybe I was fit enough to run a marathon in a few weeks and that the illness wouldn’t set me back too far. Maybe.

Wednesday – Ladder tempo run with Kit, with slightly modified pace goals given my lingering Typhoid-Mary status. I really REALLY needed a win and thank goodness, I got it. Things were a little bit uneven – the progression was not exactly perfect – but I did manage to increase my speed over the six tempo miles. When we finished and I caught up to Kit I said, “OK, maybe I can do this after all.”

Thursday – I opted once again to just sleep in and skipped spin. I’ve always been bad at sticking to cross-training.

Friday – Rest day; spent the day mentally prepping myself for 18 miles after having done nothing but run 8 miles during the week.

Saturday – I surprised myself. Honestly, I can’t remember what my goal for the long run was other than to finish it. I wasn’t feeling confident after nearly 2 weeks of sub-par training. The beginning of the course was mostly downhill and we ended up going too fast. What goes down must come up, and after what felt like a nearly vertical uphill at mile 8, my legs were protesting loudly. Thankfully the next 10 miles were relatively flat and forgiving, except for the last three which were headed due west… which also happened to be the direction from which a very strong head wind was blowing. Even Kit was feeling a beat down by the relentless wind and happily agreed to duck onto cross streets to “stretch” once or twice during that last three mile slog. Despite that, I finished with an overall average of 8:05 and felt immensely redeemed.

Total Weekly Running Mileage: 26
Total Overall: 164.72

Week 7 (Feb 15 – 21)

Monday – SNOW RUN! We were treated to about 4” of perfect powdery snow. Kit and I decided immediately that a snowy trail run > our planned speed week session, so we met up around 7:30 am and ran a point to point on the Buttermilk Trail, making first tracks in many sections. There is nothing more magical than a quiet snow run on the trails.


Tuesday – Yoga

Wednesday – Time for the first mid-week 10 miler of the training cycle. How I used to dread these runs; I remember during my first season of MTT, I looked ahead in the training plan and when I saw those 10 mile Wednesday runs, I wanted to just cry. Nowadays they don’t scare me so much anymore. This was a tempo run, 1 mile warm up and 1 mile cool down with 8 miles at 7:49 in the middle. Usually we try to stay pretty flat on tempo run days; Kit made the route for today and he thought he was sticking to the flats but as it turned out, there were quite a few moderate hills. We still met our goal (I actually finished with a 7:45 average) but when we finished, I declared that Kit was fired from the position of route-creator.

Thursday – I persuaded myself out of bed and went to spin class. ::pats self on back::

Friday – Rest day, spending most of the time fretting about the next day’s 20.

Saturday – When we originally devised our training plan, Kit and I had planned to run a 3 hour 30 minute run on this Saturday. The idea was that we’d spend the same amount of time on our feet that we would on marathon day and thus be prepared for all for all of the aches and pains that come during that last 30-40 minutes of a hard marathon effort. However, after last Saturday’s pacing fail (going out too fast and losing time from mile 15 on) and knowing that we are both pretty incapable of slowing up more than 10-15 seconds from our usual territory of 7:55-8:05, we changed our plan. We figured that if we ran for 3 hours, 30 minutes we would probably run 24 miles due to that inability to slow down; and running 24 miles wasn’t really necessary.

 I started researching alternative long run strategies that can mimic race day conditions/serve as marathon readiness tests and landed on the McMillan’s 3 Marathon Predictor Workouts and decided that instead of the timed run, maybe we should try a fast finish long run. After much back and forth, Kit and I decided on a 20 mile run, average pace goal of 8:00 (my race pace), with a negative split as follows:

Miles 1-5 goal pace 8:05
Miles 6-15 goal pace 8:00
Miles 16-20 goal pace 7:55

The first 13 miles or so were pretty much identical to a large segment of the Richmond Marathon – decidedly familiar territory for Kit and I (and really, most of the training team). In the cue sheet for the route, I actually wrote <bunch of crap we know> for that section of directions instead of taking the time and space to write out a bunch of turns that we know by heart at this point.

The whole thing went really well. After showing GREAT restraint during the first 5 miles, we may have run too fast for the rest (ok… we DID run the rest too fast) but it felt good. As Kit’s marathon goal pace is lower than mine, he opted to go it on his own for the last four and try to ratchet things down to a 7:39 pace. In an effort to try to keep myself from chasing him, I waited at the mile 15 water stop and gave him a good 2 minute head start so that he’d be far enough away that I’d never have a hope of catching him and the temptation to try would be less. It didn’t really help… I ran my last five miles in 7:39, 7:42, 7:48, and 7:37, and 7:58.

But the important thing was that I felt GREAT throughout the entire run – and that I accomplished my fast finish goal. The first half of the run was at an 8:00 average; the second half a 7:49.

For the rest of the day I was in a great mood. I wasn’t that tired and did not take my usual post-long run nap after I got home and showered. I did some house work and read a while, marveling in the fact that it didn’t feel at all like I had run 20 race pace (or faster) miles that morning.

And then I tried to go up the stairs. Suddenly, I could not lift my left leg. It felt like there was no strength at all in my hip or glutes. In my mind, I visualized that something had torn or come loose; some ligament completely slipped out of place and was flapping in the proverbial breeze, useless. I tried stretching, massaging, but I couldn’t find a place that hurt. It just seemed to be useless. When I went to bed, I had to haul my left leg up after me and then couldn’t lie on that side. I lay there, inwardly panicking while Googling the symptoms of hip fracture on my phone.

Talk about going from high to low.

Sunday – I could once again lift my leg on Sunday (a good sign) but there was definitely something still off about it.

Total Weekly Running Mileage: 37
Total Overall: 201.37

Week 8 (Feb 22 – 28)

Monday – Given the weirdness going on in my left leg, I did not have high hopes for speed work (yet again). It was a weird session, too: 2 x1200 followed by 4 x 800. Shockingly, I managed to hang in at pace for the 1200s and then, with the weird pain increasing deep in my left hip joint, decided to stick with Yasso pace for the 800s instead of the RLRF pace (3:30 per 800 versus 3:13). I ended up with something in between:

1st 800 – 3:19
2nd 800 – 3:21
3rd 800 – 3:20
4th 800 – 3:17

Tuesday – First thing in the morning, I was in to see BFF Steve. As I described my terror at not being able to lift my left leg on Saturday night, he didn’t seem nearly as alarmed and informed me that with SI joint dysfunction, weakness in the affected leg is really common. That was news to me; other than the very first time this issue ever came up back in 2013, I’ve never experienced anything like what had happened on Saturday. A quick check revealed that sure enough, my SI joint was literally stuck in a weird position and therefore had made all of the associated muscles and connective tissue really unhappy.

That night I went to yoga per usual and as we worked our way through a series of standing balance poses that I normally nail, I immediately found my balance was awful thanks to a high level of fatigue in my hips and glutes.

This SI joint is going to be the death of me.

Wednesday – Tempo Day! Tempo run day has definitely become my favorite run of the week. Since I fired Kit last week, I created a quick and flat north side jaunt. Goal: 7 miles, 5 tempo miles at 7:19. Result:

Mile 1 (warm up) – 7:45 (ha!)
Mile 2 – 7:12
Mile 3 – 7:19
Mile 4 – 7:19
Mile 5 – 7:17
Mile 6 – 7:14
Mile 7 – 8:20


Thursday – Back to my usual laziness; skipped spin, this time employing the “don’t want to inflame my left hip” excuse.

Friday – Rest day that I didn’t really deserve considering the skipping of spin.

Saturday – “Drop back” week to 16 miles; but a tough 16 miles they were. We crossed the Nickel Bridge today and then ran the hilly part of Riverside Drive during the first half of the run. Pacing was all over the place and discipline was generally out the window… fastest mile was Mile 12 at 7:29 and slowest was Mile 14 at 8:14. Overall average worked out to be 7:49, so it is no wonder that I felt completely zapped by the end.

Sunday – The weather was beautiful, so I dragged Husband out for a little walk in the afternoon.

Total Weekly Running Mileage: 31
Total Overall: 232.37


So there you go. A very up and down month indeed. During the first two weeks of the month, I went through a number of days when I was just sure that there was no way in hell that I would ever be ready to make my goal at Wrightsville thanks to so many missed training runs. There were times when I really did think that I should just call it and give up this one.

Thankfully, just when I felt like I was ready to throw in the towel, the next day I would be right on target with a work out goal. After the 18 and then the successful fast finish 20, my confidence was buoyed and by the end of the month, I felt like it was possible to get the 3:30 in Wrightsville.

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