Tag Archives: marathon

Week in Running: 1/13/14-1/19/14

Last week is the first week I really felt like I was starting to get into the groove of training. Even though I was only sick a few days, it was a tiny little bump in the road on my way to getting back to training. This past week, I had slightly more intensity and did some faster running than I’ve done since the marathon. It felt so nice to run fast again, especially because it didn’t feel terrible and I didn’t feel totally out of shape! I’ve got a long way to go and it’s an effort to stay patient, but last week was encouraging.

Monday: 8 miles easy with 6x30s pick ups. My dad brought to my attention that I should probably explain my workout terminology a little bit better. 6x30s means I did six strides during my run of 30 seconds each. If you’re unfamiliar with strides, this is a fairly good article to read: http://www.runnersworld.com/workouts/add-strides-your-next-run. I usually do mine sprinkled into my run, but a lot of people do them after and sometimes I do that, too. It just depends. This run felt great. I just felt really smooth and it felt effortless and fun.

Tuesday: 10 miles easy; One thing I’ve learned over and over is how different you can feel from day to day (or even from morning to night on double days!). I felt great the day before but this run I felt flat and 10 miles felt so long.

Wednesday: 3 miles easy with strides (I did 4), 10 hill blasts, 2 miles easy; Hill blasts are short sprints at an all out, 100% effort up a short, steep hill. I shoot for about 10 seconds as hard as I can go. I focus on good form and turning my legs over. After each hill blast, I jog slowly for 2 minutes and do it again. These are new to my training this cycle, but are great for speed and fitness and will be an asset for training for Boston. I will probably switch to a steeper hill down the road but I’m enjoying getting into the groove with this workout. One thing to note is that 10 hill blasts were a lot harder than last week’s 6. Ended up with 7.75 miles for this day.

Thursday: 9 mile natural progression run; starting nice and easy and working down towards 7 effort. I LOVE progression runs. They’re my favorite. I guess it’s kind of the lazy man’s favorite workout because you get time to naturally warm up, usually they’re fairly unstructured (not always) and you can gradually speed up. I love that I start slow and feel like I’m flying by the end, but I don’t feel like I’m dying. I went a little fast on this one unintentionally, but loved getting the wheels moving again. These runs are a nice transition to harder training and more intensity. Splits were: 8:54, 8:14, 7:56, 7:37, 7:22, 7:12, 7:05, 6:56, 6:49 and last .14 was 6:16 pace (down a hill).

Friday: 6 miles very easy

Saturday: 16 miles; if feeling good I could drop it down to a steadier, 7:30 effort the last 3-4; I felt really great and strong for most of this. I’ve been running a bit faster on my long runs and I am guessing it’s just because I don’t have much, if any, cumulative fatigue built up yet at this point in training. I am not intentionally picking it up but it’s hard to slow down once I’ve gotten rolling. The last couple of miles were tough. My legs were tired and I wanted to be done. I really truly meant to keep the last four miles slower but had trouble putting on the brakes. Gotta get more disciplined with that. My last four miles were: 7:25, 7:28, 7:26, 7:22. This training cycle I want to be more disciplined and not run much faster than the effort or paces I’m given. An important lesson I’ve had to learn is to not race my workouts because then I have nothing to give on race day.

Sunday: 0-6 very easy. I ended up going with six. Felt really good besides some left calf/behind the knee soreness. My boyfriend always pokes fun at me because I almost always do the max if I’m given a range. One day he asked me how many miles I was going to do and he said, almost angrily, “Are you EVER just going to do zero?” My philosophy so far with this has been, I’m going to listen to my body as much as I can. I don’t cut myself a lot of slack so I’m generally not going to take a day just because I feel lazy. But, if I feel like my body really genuinely needs me to do less miles or even zero, then I will. I’ve found that active recovery really works for me. Getting out and doing some very easy miles seems to help me recover better than not running at all.

Total Miles for the Week: 63.5

Slowly climbing in the mileage and intensity. I maxed out last training cycle at 79 miles for a Monday-Sunday week (though I went over 80 on a 7 day stretch a couple of times). It’s important that I not rush right back up to the 80 range or I could risk injury. I really enjoyed some variety in my workouts last week and am starting to feel like I’m getting back into training again.


Week in Running: 1/6/14-1/12/14

Whoops. I just (re)started this blog and I’m already behind.

I am easing back into training for Boston. At first, I panicked at the reduced mileage but I’ve come to appreciate the time. It’s given my body a chance to recuperate, I feel much fresher, and it’s a chance for a mental reset. My first week after the marathon I only ran every other day (that was tough!) and ran not quite 16 miles. The next week back, I had one rest day and ran 40.8 miles. Then, the next week I ran every day and logged 51.8 miles.

Last week, I had a minor setback as I came down with some kind of cold. I ended up only missing one day of running but it meant a few extra easy days.

Here was last week’s training:

Monday: Coach said to run 0-4 and if I had a fever at all to not run. This was the only day I took off. I felt like I was on the mend but I felt so drained. Decided my body probably needed the rest.

Tuesday: 8 easy miles; felt surprisingly good after being sick.

Wednesday: 10 miles easy with 6x30s strides; it felt really nice to get out there and run a little bit longer.

Thursday: 3 miles with 4x30s strides, 6xhill blasts and 3 miles cool down; it has taken me awhile to get into the groove with hill blasts. I struggled to find the right hill initially, one that was short enough and steep enough. Hill blasts are 10 seconds at 100% up a short steep hill. As someone who is more long distance minded, I’m not accustomed to running at 100% ever. It’s deeply ingrained for me to conserve! So, it’s actually been kind of fun to do these. However, I had 10 instead of 6 this week and that was significantly harder!

Friday: 8 miles easy

Saturday: 15 miles with 11.2 on the Percy Warner 11.2 (infamous for its crazy hard hills); I did the 11.2 the week before and had a bad experience. I felt okay during the run but at the end felt truly awful. Now I realize I was getting sicker that day and the sickness really took hold of me that evening. This week was much better. I ran the first 4 miles up and down Belle Meade Blvd before doing the 11.2. The hills are brutal and sometimes relentless, but I finished feeling really strong which was a nice contrast to the week before.

Sunday: 4 miles very easy

Total Mileage for the Week: 53.1

Next week maybe I’ll try to get my training up before it’s almost time to document the next week’s training!

Rocket City Marathon

I started training with my coach in June. I knew I wanted to do another marathon because I felt like New Orleans went really poorly. It wasn’t really about my time. I didn’t love my time, definitely thought I should’ve done better, but it was about more than that. It was about the fact that I started to feel bad at mile 16 and it was all downhill from there. My pace started to slip. I started to feel MISERABLE. I do feel I underperformed with a 3:26 but it was a respectable time for my first marathon.

So my coach and I discussed a fall marathon. He threw out some options and Rocket City on December 14th seemed like a good time and the course sounded great, so that became my goal race. It seems like I trained for it forever but at the same time, it went by so fast. I won’t recap all of that because it’s too much to try to catch up. But, overall, training went great. I trained so much smarter thanks to my coach and began to improve pretty quickly. When he started having me do marathon pace workouts at 7:10 pace and then started throwing around the idea of a 3:10 marathon, I almost couldn’t believe it. After running a 7:52 marathon and feeling like death, a 7:10 pace marathon less than a year later seemed almost impossible! Except that all my workouts were going great. My longer work at marathon pace, my fast finish long runs. I was hitting the paces pretty comfortably and feeling like I had something left in the tank at the end. 3:10 was the basic goal but I was hoping to squeak in under 3:10 if I was having a good day.

This was towards the end of the last mile of my first marathon. We had to come over a small bridge and the meager hill felt terrible at the time. Much to my dismay at the bottom of the bridge was a photographer who managed to capture this reaction.

This was towards the end of the last mile of my first marathon. We had to come over a small bridge and the meager hill felt terrible at the time. Much to my dismay at the bottom of the bridge was a photographer who managed to capture this reaction.

Leading up to the race, I was pretty nervous. My races had been going great, my workouts had been going great, but it was still difficult to fathom how I could really hold that pace for 26.2 miles. My first marathon was my only experience to compare to and I remembered how good I felt until suddenly I didn’t. I was terrified of running along comfortably and then the wall showing up out of nowhere.

My coach gave me a lot of great advice and strategy leading up to the race. The main things I drilled into my head were to be patient, not go out too fast, and not to get greedy too early. I had run a lot of my workouts just slightly fast but I knew for the marathon I needed to be disciplined. Even just slightly too fast early on could really come back to haunt me (and hurt me) later.

The basic strategy was to get with the 3:10 pace group and hang with them at least through the half. Rocket City has three sections. The beginning goes through downtown and then residential streets. Then it goes down a long highway for several miles which is boring and this year had a nasty headwind. Then, it turns back around mile 15ish (I think?) and it’s back up through residential streets to the finish. My coach advised me to stay with the group and shut my brain off through the highway stretch and then if I felt good, I could SLOWLY pull away.

I was nervous about the pace group and letting someone else set my pace. But, I knew how much mental energy and focus it takes to keep yourself on pace and as much of that as I could conserve for later in the race, the better.

My boyfriend was out of town for the race which was a big disappointment. He was a saint for my first marathon and he is very low anxiety which really helps balance me. I tend to get pretty anxious about the little details leading up to the race so having someone who is patient and not getting anxious too helps. However, my mom agreed to come down to cheer me on. We looked at the race map and decided to best place for her to be stationed was at the elementary school because we’d pass by there around mile 7 and then again shortly after mile 21. I armed her with gu and a water bottle with an electrolyte tablet.

Coming back by at mile 22ish

Coming back by at mile 21.5ish

When I woke up race morning, it was raining. Pretty hard. I was bummed about the rain but thankful they weren’t predicting strong winds. Rain isn’t fun but I don’t think it slows you down like wind can. Leading up to the race it was showing the rain stopping around the race start time (8 am) but the morning of the race the forecast changed and it started showing it raining through the race. I don’t think I’ve ever put more vaseline on my body before that morning and I still chafed in weird areas, like my wrist where my watch was.

Thankfully my mom put up with me that morning because I was hyper focused and not talking. I did my usual race morning stuff. Woke up and ate first thing. Normally I eat pretty light before a race, just a banana and peanut butter, but I added half of a gluten free bagel to it because I didn’t want to screw up my race by not having enough carbs. I tried to finish drinking everything an hour and a half before start. This worked well because I was able to find a bathroom before the race and didn’t think even for a second during the race about needing to use the restroom. After eating and drinking, I put on my clothes, vaselined up, and did my foam rolling. I started the tradition of foam rolling before I run when I had an IT band injury in the spring. It’s worked great for me. Also, the night before a race or a long run, I always foam roll and stretch.

This is my torture device of choice. Except on the IT band. It kills and I always end up with many bruises.

This is my torture device of choice. Except on the IT band. It kills and I always end up with many bruises.

I got to the Holiday Inn about 50 minutes before the race start. I am not sure why I arrived so early because once I went to the restroom, I just stood around. About 20 minutes before the start, I went outside and did my very very easy (seriously, like 9:40 pace) warm up jog for 5 minutes and 2 easy gentle pick ups.

I lined up in the 3:00-3:15 area. I started to get nervous because people were filling in and the announcer was telling everyone it was almost time, but the 3:10 pacer was nowhere in sight. I started to realize I might have to pace myself for this whole thing. Then suddenly, an older man in the shortest shorts I have ever seen, appeared! He was wearing a headband and he had gels stuffed into them. That was a new one for me! Several people seemed relieved to see him so I was glad there would be other people running with us. I soon found out our pacer was named George and he knew EVERYONE. Every area where people were standing someone shouted out to him by name. A local running celebrity apparently. He had run 2:38 on that course before so I guess the 3:10 pace would be pretty easy for him (thankfully-you don’t want a pacer who can barely squeak by at the pace!).

I got nervous because George didn’t seem to know how to show his splits on his watch and was asking some of the guys if their watches did that. Uhhh…have you used your watch before? I started to get nervous about the pacing but figured I’d just go with it and see where we ended up.

Before I knew it, we were off. I kept my watch screen on the lap pace but I turned auto-lap off so that I could manually hit the lap button at the mile markers and have a better idea of what our splits were. I just ran with the group and didn’t pay much attention to my watch but I could tell we were starting fast. We were sub 7 pace for a significant portion of the first mile before we settled in. My first mile measured long, 1.04, so the pace showed 7:05 but the split was 7:21, so a little slow for 3:10 which is 7:15 pace.

Early on in the race. Yes, I am stealing these pictures. Sorry...

Early on in the race. Yes, I am stealing these pictures. Sorry…

The first several miles were a blur. There was a big group running and it didn’t take long for everyone to start talking. This was wonderful and helped keep nerves and everything in check. It was really easy to just run with the group and not stress about pace or constantly check my watch. They call out the time at each mile marker which was great and kept George in check on how we were doing relative to the pace. Almost all of the miles we ran measured long and I ended up with 26.47 on my watch at the end. The course has something like 70 turns I think and running the tangents perfectly is all but impossible. The next few miles were: 7:08 (1.01), 7:07 (1.02), 7:09 (1.01), 7:06 (1.01), 7:24 (1.03-slowest mile the whole race). I took a gu at mile 5 and planned to take them at 5, 10, 15, and 20 which worked out great.

I saw my mom at mile 7 which was nice and something to look forward to. Then I saw Jackson who handed me a Huma gel. Scott was nice enough to talk to Jackson the night before and set it up and I really appreciated that! We saw a guy already walking at mile 8 so that’s pretty rough. Not sure what could’ve gone wrong so early in a race but I felt for him. There was another girl running with me named Laura. She had only run one marathon 8 years before and totally crashed so she was nervous about the race like I was. We started talking about goals. She was hoping to hold on for a 3:10. I told George I hoped to squeak in under 3:10 but it was too early to tell. He said I seemed strong and was talking like normal. Next miles were 14:32 (2.02 miles-didn’t see the mile 7 marker), 7:11 (1.01),  7:11 (1.01).

I really did feel great. I was kind of marveling at it. It took very little focus early on and I was able to talk comfortably. But I knew it was too early to get cocky so I remained conservative. Not too long after that, we hit the highway stretch. This is definitely the worst part. I got lucky and got to draft off people most of this stretch. I’m too short to really break the wind for anyone so no one wanted me up front! For awhile, George and a few of the guys were just too far ahead of pace for my comfort so I let them slightly ahead of me. They never started to break away so I felt good about that. There was a pretty nasty headwind and eventually I felt like it was in my best interest to catch up to the group and let them break the wind. It didn’t take too much to speed up just a little and tuck in behind them. The next several miles were:  7:00 (1.00), 7:11 (1.01), 7:13 (1.00), 7:07 (1.00), 7:09 (1.02). The highway stretch definitely caused us to work more and I found myself really sweaty after it. We dropped a 7:00 early and the girl I was running with was like, “wow that was 7? What is that, like a 3:05?” I decided to slow it down a little at that point because I felt like it was way too early to get greedy.

Coming off the highway stretch was such a relief. The wind stopped and the pace felt easier. Coming off the highway was kind of a milestone for me because that’s when I thought it was time to start doing some work. I had a few milestones in my head for this race. One was the halfway point. I wanted to get there without having done much mental work yet and still feeling relatively good. Another milestone for me was 16 miles. That’s where I began to feel bad in my first marathon and I thought it would feel meaningful for me if I still felt good. Then of course, 20 miles. That’s a milestone I think of any marathon and feeling strong there would mean I could start to push the pace a bit.

The next several miles I continued to run with our (much smaller) group. We had lost almost everyone. At that point it was just me, Laura, George, and one other man whose name I forgot but was from Brentwood. I kept waiting for the wall to show up. I was mentally focused and prepared to put in the work mentally if the wall did come. But it didn’t arrive. I started to feel more confident and excited as the later miles passed, but I stayed conservative for awhile. The next several miles we ran as a group and our splits were 7:05 (.99), 7:07 (1.00), 6:57 (1.01), 7:03 (1.01), 7:06 (1.01), 7:03 (1.01). After the highway stretch, we wound through residential streets. There were lots of turns but I loved that because it kept the race interesting and the sections mentally manageable. In any workout I struggle with long straight stretches. We hit a gradual uphill on mile 16 and so for mile 17 we had a bit of a downhill and we were rolling. We realized we were running well ahead of pace but we all felt good. I was still nervous to go too fast early on but my confidence was building.

I continued to run with Laura and George through mile 20. Around mile 21 I started to break away. It wasn’t a conscious decision but I was feeling strong and it was feeling like it was now or never. I was afraid to get cocky but it didn’t feel like the wall was coming. I took my last gel at mile 20. When I came back by the school, Jackson handed me another one and I held onto it just in case but never used it. I saw my mom around mile 21.5 and she handed me my water bottle. I was all smiles as I told her, “I’m doing it!”

I wanted to make sure I got plenty of fluids and it’s hard to drink out of the cups. I put an electrolyte tablet in the water bottle and drank most of it. I saw a guy standing by his car on the side of the road and I shouted to ask him if he’d throw it away for me. He agreed so I flung the bottle at him. Man, spectators can be so nice! I just couldn’t litter but I also didn’t want to hold a bottle the rest of the race.

Somewhere around mile 23 I saw that I was coming up on a girl. I didn’t realize at the time but passing her would mean coming into 5th place. She seemed to be slowing down and I was able to pass her fairly easily. Knowing she was behind me though really pushed me the rest of the race. I couldn’t let myself slow down because I didn’t want to get passed by any women.

My boyfriend loves this picture because of how happy I look with the girl I just passed in the background.

My boyfriend loves this picture because of how happy I look with the girl I just passed in the background.

I passed a ton of people in the last 5-6 miles. Lots of people were walking or jogging slowly. Unfortunately there was only 1 woman to be passed. The rest of the women were way faster than me and the top 4 were all under 3 hours.

Around mile 24 I started to feel tired but it was manageable. As I came up on a water stop at mile 24, I grabbed a cup and then quickly had to turn the corner. I ended up rolling my ankle. I panicked but after a few steps I felt fine. I had an extremely sore calf for the next 5ish days though and I think that little moment was the culprit.

Late into the race and super focused

Late into the race and super focused

I was so elated that I was actually going to run this marathon and hit my goal that I think my enthusiasm kept me going at the end. It was really emotional for me. My coach believed in me and that was a huge boost but man I really almost couldn’t believe that I was capable of running a marathon as fast as I was running it. The last mile I repeated some mantras to myself (I don’t remember specifics but just reminding myself I’m almost there and to not slow down now, etc) but I kept up the pace. As I was rounding the final turn, I heard a spectator shout to someone behind me, “Go Leslie! Yay Leslie, you can do this!” I didn’t think there was any way a woman had caught up to me but I was not chancing it. I put on the gas and ran as fast as I could towards the finish. As I was making the final steps, I was running faster than a guy in front of me. His ego couldn’t handle being outkicked by a girl, I guess, so he started to sprint towards the finish. I am not ashamed to say that I was not going to have that and so I started to sprint too. However, my legs and butt started to lock up and I couldn’t overtake him. We crossed the mat at the same time but I am happy to report in looking at the times, I beat him by 1 second based on chip time 🙂

My mom caught this one of me coming into the final stretch. I was going to overtake this guy but I guess his ego couldn't handle getting outkicked by a girl.

My mom caught this one of me coming into the final stretch. I was going to overtake this guy but I guess his ego couldn’t handle getting outkicked by a girl.

I crossed the mat in 3:06:44 gun time and 3:06:41 chip time. I was ecstatic. I never hit the wall and felt strong through the finish. My final miles were 7:06 (1.01), 7:02 (1.01), 6:58 (1.02), 7:02 (1.00), 7:01 (1.01), 7:05 (1.01), 8:14 (1.22, 6:46 pace-never saw the 26 mile marker).

I kind of couldn't believe it was already over at this point.

I kind of couldn’t believe it was already over at this point.

I felt so great about this race and I think it will continue to be one of my favorite memories. The day was really magical and everything went right. I’m not naive enough to think every race will be this wonderful and perfect. I’ll have hard races and I’ll have races where I don’t meet my expectations and I’ll have races where the last miles are a death march, etc. But I treasure how well this race went. My coach won’t take much credit and it’s true that I had to put in the work. But without his guidance and training plan, I would not have run a 3:06 marathon less than a year after a 3:26. It’s just fact. I had no idea what I was doing and going by the Blair method of training was leading to injury and burn-out. I have fallen back in love with running and it’s so satisfying that all the hard work I put in really does translate into progress.

This race has helped me get over my intense fear of the marathon. I still respect the distance, of course. You have to. It’s unpredictable and requires serious strategy. But now I know it is possible to be prepared for a marathon and it is possible to not hit the wall.

For now, I am easing back into hard training. Immediately after the marathon, I had a lot of soreness in my left calf and my right foot. I only ran every other day for the week after the marathon which was torture but necessary. I’ve been slowly building mileage. Last week was around 40 and this week is around 50. I’m doing a lot of easy running and am trying to enjoy this phase. However I’m excited to get back into harder workouts and start to get faster again.

Next goal race is ultimately Boston in April but I am looking forward to running some other races in the meantime, including the Tom King Half Marathon in March which is one of my favorite Nashville races.

Thanks to my mom for this photo

Thanks to my mom for this photo

My Week of Running

This week was my highest mileage week ever! And boy did I feel it on Saturday. But before I get to that, here’s the recap:


8.08 miles, 1:00:29, 7:29 pace (morning)
1.3 miles, 9:42, 7:27 pace (warm up on treadmill before Sculpt class in the evening)


1.01 mile warm up, 8:23, 8:16 pace
2 mile time trial, 12:41, 6:19 pace
1.06 mile cool down, 8:34, 8:04 pace


7.27 miles, 53:47, 7:24 pace


2.06 mile warm up, 17:12, 8:20 pace
5.05 miles (Boulevard Bolt), 33:48, 6:41 pace
2.01 mile cool down, 16:44, 8:19 pace


16 miles, 2:01:05, 7:34 pace

Total weekly mileage: 45.84

Right now, I’m starting marathon training but I’m not using one particular training plan. I think when I first started out with running, I needed an exact plan every week. It helped give me structure and honestly I had no idea what I was doing. Now I have a pretty good idea of what my body needs and what works for me. I still use them as a guideline but I adapt them. I have Peter Pfitzinger’s book Advanced Marathoning and it’s an incredibly helpful book to read based on the comprehensive information it has about all facets of training-from nutrition, recovery, etc. However, the plans in the book are VERY high mileage. I’m loosely following the 18 week plan that tops out at 55 miles a week (that’s the lowest mileage plan!). The problem with the plan for me right now is that a lot of the weekday runs are LONG. I’m not used to running 12 miles on a Wednesday. I definitely want my body to get used to the longer runs but I’m a bit scared off by the prospect of having to fit 12 miles on a morning before work. He also doesn’t have speed work built in for the first part of the plan. I’m in the habit of doing speed work every week and will continue with that. I am however going to use the plan to dictate my long runs every week and when I should do cut back weeks. I want to get my weekly mileage higher and at least do one run during the week that is fairly long-but it’s intimidating to me right now to imagine regularly going on runs over 10 miles before work. I already wake up between 5-5:30!

So onto this week’s runs! I have enjoyed being a bit flexible at the start of marathon training. I went out on Monday morning with the idea to at least do 6 miles and just see how it felt. Something about that freedom, allowing myself to end it at 6 or go longer if I felt like it, really helps me mentally. I ended up doing 8 miles because my legs just felt great and I had a lot of energy. I’m not sure if I had told myself I absolutely had to do 8 miles, I would’ve enjoyed it as much.

I did speed sessions with Fleet Feet back in the winter and it’s what got me hooked on speed work! Even though the speed sessions ended in April, I’ve continued doing the workouts every week on my own since then. We did a 2 mile time trial at the beginning of speed sessions and in the middle. The first time I got somewhere around 14:10 and the 2nd time I got 13:35ish (I got a cramp 1.3 miles in and had to stop and breathe through it and start again). All of your workout paces for speed sessions were determined by your time trial. I hadn’t done a time trial since March and all of my paces were way outdated. I’d been guessing for months. I finally got my ass in gear and did the time trial on Tuesday. Ugh-they’re a certain kind of agony. It’s just really tough to run full out for 2 miles. However, I ended up getting 12:37! I shaved almost a minute off my time. I was extremely excited about that. My first mile was 6:20 and my second was 6:17. I felt like I really paced myself well this time. When I ran my first one last winter, my 2nd mile was about 10 seconds slower than my first. This time I tried to stay relatively conservative for the first mile and then was able to really push it in at the end. I do not enjoy time trials but it was so validating to see my progress! And it’ll be nice to have legit times to shoot for when I do my workouts now.

Wednesday’s run was so run of the mill (get it…hahaha…) that I don’t really remember details. Thursday was the Boulevard Bolt! It’s a Nashville Thanksgiving tradition. It’s a 5 mile race up and down Belle Meade Boulevard. Basically you run past mansions the whole way as people in Belle Meade are LOADED. This is really the only thing I took pictures of, so bear with me.

It was way too f-ing cold for that outfit. I took one step outside and turned back around and put on a long sleeve shirt.

I wanted to get more than 5 miles on the day, so I parked 2 miles away and jogged to and from the race start. This seemed like a great idea, and I still think it was, but unfortunately the jog to the race was mostly downhill, so…I kind of hated myself on the jog back. Especially after racing 5 miles. I kept my pace super conservative for the jogs there and back. On my jog there, I got yelled at by a police officer. Yes, really. Me, goodie-two-shoes, got yelled at. By a police officer. Just want to reiterate that for emphasis. It was close to the start and it was a madhouse. This year’s race pulled in over 8500 participants! I was jogging along, trying to get around people, and I had my headphones in so I wasn’t hearing what was happening around me. Apparently this police woman was trying to get people to stop at the driveway into the church (where the race started/ended) so that a shuttle could get out. Me, with my headphones in, trying to get around the crowd, was oblivious. Suddenly, out of nowhere, this woman was in my face yelling at me. I gave her the stink eye and told her that I saw her. At this point I had no idea why she was freaking out. I took out one of my headphones and realized she was yelling at me because I was trying to jog across the driveway and she was trying to get people to stop. She was screaming about how it was a police order and did I think she was just standing around for fun, she was a police officer, blah blah blah. It was so intense and so unnecessary. Granted, she must be really bored since she works in Belle Meade, the land of rich people. She was probably enjoying her brief tango with power.

The look I gave the angry police woman

Anyway, if I learned anything from running the Bolt last year, it was that you should absolutely line up right by the start line. Even though there are signs for you to line up by predicted finishing time, and people on the megaphones are yelling and reminding people who are going to walk or have small children to get to the back, no one listens. Last year I spent the first mile running through the grass on the side of the road trying to pass all the assholes who willfully disobeyed the seemingly simple rules of lining up. I learned my lesson and lined up right by the start line and thankfully didn’t have to spend much time at all dodging the rule breakers.

I have the sense of humor of a 7th grade boy but now I keep thinking the circles look like boobs. Sorry.

Running past mansions!

The race itself was uneventful. After doing a 5 mile tempo run at 6:53 pace as my speed workout a couple of weeks ago, I knew that I could do sub 7 minute miles. That was my only goal. Here’s the truth-I don’t care for shorter distance races. It really sucks to go all out. Even though it’s over quickly, it’s painful. I like going moderately fast for a long period of time much more than going super fast (relative to the individual) for a short amount of time. My splits for this race went: 6:58, 6:41, 6:44, 6:45, 6:17. I’m pretty excited by the last mile time. It’s amazing what the human body can do. Even when you feel like you just can’t give anymore, somehow your body finds the strength to give it that final push. By mile 3 I wanted to be done but somehow at mile 4 I found something within me to push it to the finish.

Shit loads of people at the finish area

After the race and jogging painfully 2 miles uphill to my car, my legs felt kind of wrecked. I decided to get a bag of ice on the way home and ice bath it. I knew I was facing 16 miles on Saturday and wanted to try to recover as much as possible before then. After the ice bath, I got decked out and ready for Thanksgiving feasting.

All the cool kids wear compression socks with flip flops

Saturday’s run was tough. I am struggling lately mentally with long runs. I decided to sign up for this marathon because I wanted to do it at least once and see if I could enjoy it. I know that I’m capable but I guess I want to be able to say I did, not just I could. I know that when I trained for my first couple of halfs, runs of 10, 11, and 12 miles seemed HUGE. They were not always enjoyable. Now, those runs don’t seem bad to me. My body and mind have adjusted. I know it’s just going to take time and patience for my mind and body to adjust to these even longer runs. I’ve been doing longer runs since the summer. I basically built up to 17 miles and then had 3 half marathons in about a month and a half so I wasn’t able to keep building. Now my race schedule is clear until the marathon and I have nothing but time to work on this. I wanted to see if I could enjoy training for and running a marathon but I have to be honest-some weeks these long runs discourage me.

I love the half marathon distance. Part of me feels like there’s this idea that to be a legit runner, you have to be a marathoner. I can’t tell you how many times I would tell people about a half marathon I ran and they’d ask me when I was going to do a full or tell me about someone they know who runs fulls all the time. Or my favorite question- “are you doing the full? Or just the half?” JUST THE HALF. YOU GO RUN 13 MILES AND SEE HOW JUST THAT SEEMS TO YOU! Anyway-all of this to say-I love the half distance. I love the push of endurance but still being able to really push the speed. Maybe one day I’ll love the marathon-but if I don’t-is there really anything wrong with that?

Now, that’s not to say I never have enjoyable long runs. I do! I had a run a few weeks ago of 14.5 miles that was great. I’ve had a few 15s that were great. But this week’s 16 was rough. Here are a few issues:

  1. I ran way too f-ing fast. You’re supposed to run your long runs significantly slower than your normal paces. But I’m too much of a damn perfectionist to let myself chill out and take it slow. I start out with the mentality that I’ll just take it easy and not push it. But then I get comfortable around miles 3 or 4 and my pace naturally increases and then I won’t let myself slow down. Something about positive splitting seems like a failure to me and so I push myself to at least keep the current pace up. It’s a problem and I know it will eventually hurt my training so I need to work on it.
  2. I haven’t had much of an appetite lately for some reason and I think probably didn’t have the proper glycogen stores built up that I normally would.
  3. Cramps. I have been cramping so badly lately. It’s happening on almost every run. I can’t seem to figure out why it’s happening. It happens on fast runs but it also happens on the slower runs. The cramps started early on this run. The started around mile 4 and plagued me until around mile 11 or 12. It’s always the same spot, in the right abdominal muscle. It only seems  to happen in the winter which makes me think it’s asthma related somehow but I also wonder if hydration/electrolytes are playing a part. I don’t fuel differently now than I did during the summer. I don’t know. I’m stumped but I’m really freaking frustrated. I guess the silver lining is I’m learning how to run through them so it doesn’t totally derail my run.
  4. High mileage week + strength training on Friday. This was my highest mileage week ever AND I raced 2 days before this run. I think my legs were just wrecked. I also did strength training on Friday morning instead of Thursday evening since Sculpt was obviously canceled for Thanksgiving. The worst part of the run was how tired my legs were. I think I just wore them out.

Not even proud of the pace because it was dumb to go that fast.

Anyway-this post is already absurdly long and I can’t imagine anyone else is really still hanging in so I’m gonna wrap it up. I got home after the 16 miler and did my regular routine of ice bath + coffee, hanging out in bed with about 800 layers because I’m fucking freezing, and then getting ready for my day. Ultimately, I know these long runs are important. Some of them will suck, some of them will be okay and doable, and some of them will (hopefully) be great. They’re important because they’re training my mind and my body. I want my body to get used to these long runs. I want them to be able to endure the strain. But I also want my mind to get used to the idea of running for so long. I want it to be less daunting. I want to be more confident in myself. I know that if I can step my mental game up, the runs will be more pleasant. Honestly-that’s my biggest concern at this point. Can I get my mind to the point where it can handle 26.2 miles? Because I know my body can get there.