It certainly has been awhile, hasn’t it!
In my very long blogging absence, I have actually completed training for the Santa Rosa Marathon, and we are now more than 2 weeks into our 3 week taper….which means… The Marathon is FOUR DAYS away. I can’t believe it! We’re even within reliable forecast range (and what a beautiful forecast it is).
If you’re wondering, training ended well! Not maybe as well as I would have hoped way back in May, but I am undoubtedly faster and stronger than I was before heading into Chicago two years ago.
Highlights from the last few weeks of training include:
1) My fastest ever 800’s track workout.
I make absolutely no attempt to conceal the fact that 800 meter repeats are my least favorite running workout. But, since they work, I do them anyway to build speed and mental toughness (I literally have to pep talk myself through each and every step).
Despite the rainstorm in the middle of this last workout (which happened about 3 weeks ago), I pushed on through, and consistently hit most of the repeats at or below goal pace, and had my fastest ever splits. Knowing that those were the last 800’s I may ever have to do in my life absolutely helped. (But really…who are we kidding).
2) A relatively reassuring final 20 miler that not only didn’t hurt, but also yielded my fastest training pace for that distance ever.
We also survived the subsequent wedding weekend for my sister including a humid 10 miles the morning of her wedding day.
3) Aside from a few little aches and pains, I finished training uninjured and mostly intact.
There are still plenty of hours left for something to go wrong though.
This morning, I actually was on a local morning talk show dressed as a donut to promote an event we have coming up (don’t ask), and we had to jump over hurdles. Talk about insane ankle-twisting/leg breaking paranoia.
If I had blogged more regularly over the last few weeks, I would have also discussed some of the changes we made during this training cycle. I still a very inexperienced marathoner, and I believe in cautious experimentation until a perfect formula is worked out. I still have so much to learn about my body and how to whip it into optimal marathon shape, and until I’m convinced that my lovely Boston Qualifier wasn’t a fluke, I’m open to change.
What we tweaked this go-round:
1) 3 week taper.
I’ve done a 2 week taper for the last 2 marathons. For Chicago, we were sick on the day of our last long run, so we pushed it back a week. My plan for Boston only called for 2 weeks. Both times I felt like I didn’t adequately heal between our last long run and race day and I went into both races with some pain. My legs are feeling really great right now with a three week taper.
BUT, this time around I am worried that I’ve lost some endurance. We reduced long run mileage gradually (12 miles two weekends ago, 8 miles this past weekend), but were those runs enough to get me through 26 miles on Sunday?
Luckily, I’ve been too busy to really dwell on whether or not a 3 week taper was the right decision.
2) More (and different) race fuel.
Up until this training cycle, I’ve been taking a ClifShot every 7 miles (roughly once an hour), maxing out at 3 during race day. I’ve increased this to every 50 minutes during training, so I am planning on taking 4 during Santa Rosa.
We also switched it up from ClifShot to Gu because we were both noticing that the ClifShots seem to give us stomach issues whereas the Gu have not. The Gu is also less thick and I think it tastes better. I think that these will both be beneficial changes.
3) More “flat” training.
We did most of our Chicago long runs going up a steep incline, then down the steep incline. This was great for building overall strength, but running on a flat course uses only one muscle group over and over without relief, and I don’t think our training prepared us for it.
So, this year, we did all of our long runs on a flat course. Because the incline was consistent, I also trained at a more consistent pace which is how I race. I’m hoping on Sunday that this course specific training will pay off a little bit.
When I first set out my goals for this training cycle, I was very ambitious. I figured if I worked hard, I could pull off something along the line of 3:25 and 3:27. Training did go wonderfully, I know I pushed myself harder than I think that I did for Chicago, and while I didn’t quite build myself up to run what I wanted to back in May, I think I can realistically run both a PR and a BQ on Sunday. Regardless, I am really excited to visit an area that I called home during college, hang out with some old friends, and meet some internet strangers!
And wine. I’m excited about wine.
Meanwhile, I have been loving every second of the taper. Whereas I used to have full on panic attacks coupled with the intense desire to RUN MORE! RUN FASTER! during taper in previous training cycles, I have really (really, really) enjoyed not spending all of my spare time running. Summer went by so fast, and I feel like we didn’t get to really enjoy it. We also kept almost completely to the training plan, only missing a few workouts with no crossing training (unless you count puppy walks), so we put in a lot more miles this go-around.
I’m kind of burned out.
But, I’m sure if I hit my goal on Sunday, I’ll be happily signing up for the next goal race, because that cycle pretty much is the story of my little runner life.
I do have a couple of other blog posts that I hope to get up this week with overall race strategy and goals, but um, if for whatever reason that doesn’t happen (since my track record isn’t great), you can track me on Sunday HERE. I am searchable by last name, and bib number (#841). Even if you don’t, please say that you will because thinking that people are watching my progress really motivates me to keep going.
Thanks for all of your support during this training!
SERIOUS/TMI QUESTION!: I developed an actual black toenail on my big toe about 5 weeks ago which is absolutely disgusting. It has started to ache the last few days, and I am pretty worried that it will fall off before the race, or during. Is there anything I can do to ensure that it hangs out on my actual toe (as opposed to OFF it) until Monday? My first thought is to wrap it in a band-aid, but upon further consideration, I have no idea how that would help at all.