Tomorrow I’m running the Pittsburgh Marathon. I’ve picked up my bib, laid out my clothes, and packed my gels. I’ve set my nutrition and pacing plans and drove the second half of the course to check out the hills. I’ve checked the weather every thirty minutes and watched the chance of rain shift back and forth (low forties, chance of rain 30% as I write).
I’m proud to be here. A month ago after finishing the All Day 20k at the Carlsbad 5000 I didn’t know if would be able to toe the line. I had missed a month of training after injuring my sacroiliac (SI) joint, and after cranking out my first full week’s worth of training and four 5k’s in a day I felt a lot of pain.
Carefully I came back over the next few weeks, ramping up my mileage and workouts until I could get in two full weeks of high mileage hitting most of the pace targets my coach set. I feel like my fitness level has returned, but I know I missed a segment of training designed to build leg strength for the marathon. If I had chosen to run the half I would feel more than prepared for a PR. But I decided (after discussing with my coach) to keep my plan to run the full.
That was one of the many questions in my head around the 23 mile mark of the 2016 Anthem Richmond Marathon. I had lost the pace group, my legs felt heavy, and I found myself on a very long run that had seemingly lost its meaning. I passed through a water stop, politely declined a beer from the neighborhood cheering section, and tried to regroup as I plodded off down Fauquier Avenue.
Yesterday I had possibly the worst run of my life.
I drove to a park an hour away believing I would run a trail half-marathon only to discover that the race was the day before. My training schedule called for a long run, though, and I figured it was worth exploring a new location so I headed out.
The trails were complicated and designed more for mountain bikes than hiking/running. Some were well-marked but most weren’t. I had to run with a bad PDF map on my iPhone, constantly stopping to check my location. I was stressed and nervous, and felt a sharp pain develop in my lower back as I ran. I thought I could work through it.
Note from Adam: Since my wife brought up the idea of running this race, I asked her to write the recap and she graciously obliged. There’s a bonus post from our daughter embedded towards the end. Enjoy!
A few weeks ago our family ran the second annual Ellie Helton Memorial
5K at Wake Med Soccer Park in Cary, NC. This was the first 5k for Monkey (age 7) and Cottontail (age 6). They had both expressed interest in the distance and when we looked at options this one came to mind because of the charity it supports.
One of my co-workers and his family organize the race in memory of their daughter, Ellie Helton. Ellie was a vibrant, loving 14-year-old who passed away on July 16, 2014 as a result of a brain aneurysm. She loved God, her family and friends, superheroes, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and pizza. She was a unique spirit who loved life, was accepting of others and persevered in everything she tried. You can read about her from her family’s website.
It’s hard to believe I’m entering my last week of training before
Richmond. I’ve organized my life around training for the past three and a half months so it’s strange for it to be drawing to a close. There were only two key workouts this week, and I hit my targets in both the mile repeats on Tuesday and in my last tempo run on Friday (despite facing a stiff headwind for the last half) to provide some positive momentum into the taper. My challenge this coming week will not be running as much as it will be mental preparation. To be as ready as possible for Saturday I need to rest, stay calm, and finalize my plan for the race.
It’s getting close. I got my bib number in an email from Richmond this week, logistics are worked out, and I re-filled my stockpile of Huma gels. The goals now are just to finish my training plan and get rested for the marathon.
I hit the targets for my two workouts this week, and the other runs went well but were remarkable. At this point one of my challenges is not getting bored. I’m trying some mindfulness activities to focus on segments of runs that keep me distracted, but this week I found at least one better way to change things up and keep running fun.
This was the last high mileage week for my training, so I guess my taper has technically started. As a nice surprise, fall kicked in and most of the days this week featured actual seasonal temperatures and I even broke out long sleeves for one of my runs. Some workouts were harder than normal, some easier giving the week a feel of cresting a hill.
There wasn’t anything really special about training this week. This was a step-back week, and I hit my targets for both the tempo and strength workouts. The interesting runs came this weekend.
Yesterday my family rant the Ellie Helton Memorial 5k (recap forthcoming). It was a great time and a good cause, but forced me to break the scheduled ten mile run into three chunks (3, 4, 3) with long breaks in between. I couldn’t have asked for better weather or company, but breaking up the runs created stiffness I didn’t anticipate.
Every marathon training cycle has its strange and difficult moments. This past week was one of mine.
I had planned to run a half-marathon as a warm-up race to see how well I could execute a race strategy. However, Hurricane Matthew forced postponement of the race for two weeks, and given the degree of flooding in Kinston it may have to be cancelled. I looked forward to the race, but you take what the weather gives you.
This was a step-back week, and after back-to-back hard weeks I think I’d confused “step-back” with “easy”. I expected a break because my plan had several easy runs, but when I think about it I probably shouldn’t have expected any week of marathon training to be easy. There are a couple of reasons why this week felt particularly long.
First, I tweaked my groin at the end of my speed workout on Tuesday and have had to nurse it through the rest of the week. It wasn’t too bad most days, but by the end of my ten mile run this morning I could feel it depending on how I planted my foot. I am stretching and taking it easy, but hope I can work through it (yes, future self, I can hear you).