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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Marathon training, week 9

I realized after my post for week 7 that actually I DID run week 7, it was week 8 I missed. The only thing worth mentioning for week 7 is that I capped it with an 18-mile long run including 3x2 mile at marathon pace with 1 mile aerobic pace "rest" - right before hopping on an international flight. Gotta do whatcha gotta do to get the long run in!

Monday: Easy five plus 8x100m strides
Tuesday: We changed things up by taking the Moneghetti fartlek to the bridges to stimulate rolling hills. The weather was nice - I think just 80F or maybe 82F - and we all had a great workout. If you don't know the workout, here it is:

2 x 90 sec ~5k effort
(equal rests around MP)
2 x 60 sec ~5k effort
(equal rests around MP)
2 x 30 sec ~5k effort
(equal rests around MP)
4 x 15 sec sprint
(equal rests around MP)

I ended up with 2.22 miles in 14:26, which is 6:20 pace overall, and with warm up and cool down had close to 8 miles.
Wednesday: 40 minutes easy
Thursday: 90 minutes plus 8x100m strides; with strides I got over 12 miles.
Friday: Tempo day. We did 2 mi @ Tempo, 90 sec jog rest; 2 x 1mi @ 10k, 90 sec jog rest; 4 x 200 @ 5k, 60 sec standing rest. I struggled to hit the 10k splits, so I wasn't happy with this workout. Over 11 miles for the day.
Saturday: Easy 6
Sunday: Our first 20 miler! We had a workout, as usual: ten miles conversational, then 4x (2mi @ MP, 1/2 mi aerobic pace). It was muggy and hot, even with an earlier-than-normal start, and again I struggled with pace a little. I hit all my splits, but it just felt harder than marathon pace should. I hope things feel smoother if the weather EVER becomes fall, but if it doesn't, I'll need to reassess my goals.
67 miles for the week. Whoa!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Walking the West Highland Way

To celebrate my sister's 40th birthday, I took her on a trip to Scotland. Walking the West Highland Way was a bucket list item for her, and a wonderful way for us to spend much-needed time together. I'll post our amazing photos separately, but for now, an outline of the trip and some logistics:

The walk: It's a 96-mile walk through the highlands, and you can complete it a variety of ways:

  1. Backpack and camp the whole way
  2. Backpack, but arrange to stay in B&Bs or "wigwams" or other shelter
  3. Arrange for luggage transfer, and simply walk to and from each B&B with a day pack.

We did option #3, but in retrospect, option #2 would have been cheaper and simpler. You just don't need to pack that much, and if I'd had time to make my own B&B reservations, we could have saved a ton of money. As it was, we went with a tour company. We paid a set fee for them to transfer our luggage and provide accommodations. The upside was that we didn't need to worry about where to stay, because these tiny towns fill up very quickly. But otherwise, it was a waste of money. We used Hillwalk Tours, and they were basically useless. They provided no assistance or support other than the very basics included in the package. For example, when you book, they tell you that you can easily get from the airport in Glasgow to the starting and stopping points by train. But then when I went to buy tickets, I discovered that the train doesn't run on weekends. I contacted the tour company for suggestions, and they were like, shrug, sorry. So if your tour starts or ends on a weekend, you might end up like we did - taking a taxi the whole way (it's a two-hour drive). The only other thing the tour provided were "walk notes" which were not only full of errors, but pointless. The trail is clearly marked. I would have much preferred notes that included historical or geographical info to enhance the walk. The notes they provided had maybe one or two mentions per day, nothing really educational. So anyway, if you do a West Highland Way walk, by all means skip the tour company. Throw some waterproof layers in a backpack and just carry it around with you!
Ready for a cold day

We ended up doing most of the walk - we started at Drymen, so a bit after the traditional starting point - in five days. It's not a strenuous walk: there are ups, down, and rocks, and you are walking in water most of the time, but I think anyone could do it. I wouldn't call it hiking - it's definitely just walking. Our days varied from as few as 14 miles to as many as 22.

On a warm day: just my base layers, all rolled up! 
As far as packing goes, we way overpacked! All the B&Bs have drying rooms, and since you're going to get wet anyway, you might as well just rinse your clothes, toss them in the drying room, and re-wear the next day. I bought some merino-wool blend base layers that were awesome - they washed clean in seconds and dried completely in about an hour. Then I would wear leggings and a long-sleeved tech race T over that, plus a ball cap and a raincoat. On warmer days, I'd shed some layers, and when it was cold, I put a winter hat over my ball cap. I wore the same pair of hiking shoes the whole time. We went to dinner every night, so I brought one pair of non-hiking shoes, a pair of jeans, and some tops. That plus the scarf/shawl I brought on the plane was plenty.

I did get rained on almost constantly, so if I did it again, I'd get a waterproof backpack and even a backpack cover. But in general, it's an easy and low-stress trip and such a fun bonding experience for family!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Marathon training, week 7

Went to Scotland. Zero miles (well, walked 96, but no running).
The end.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Marathon training: week 6

I think this week is our last base-building week, as the long run workouts start next week. Ooh, it was a rough week, too. Work was terrible - holidays just aren't even worth it in the pharmacy world. You're so slammed before and after that it would be easier just to work.
Running that streetcar track...

Monday: I honestly don't remember Monday. I think it was an easy six or something. I don't wear a watch for most easy days, so I don't have any kind of record.
Tuesday: This was a bad workout for me. Work was very stressful after the holiday break, and my workout showed it. The workout was 5-8x1k at 10k pace with a 400 jog, and I stopped at five. I struggled from the get-go, with "10k pace" edging close to tempo pace at 6:28! I got progressively slower with each rep, and couldn't wait to quit. I normally try to do, if not the max recommended reps, more than the minimum, but there was no point on Tuesday. I wasn't getting the benefit I was supposed to from the workout, and actually, even the cool down felt hard.
Wednesday: Easy 5.5
Thursday: Seventy-five minute run on the levee. I got about 9.7 in on a really muggy morning.
Friday: Five x 1 mile tempo with 1:30 jog. This is more rest than we've been getting for our tempo intervals, and it felt just fabulous! I think I averaged around 6:32 pace.
Saturday: 7.2 easy.
Sunday: Sixteen mile long run at 7:36. Again, fast finish. I think we took too many water stops on this run - three - but I was DYING for a drink by the time we hit St. Charles. I definitely have to get back to carrying water: we zipped into the ever-accommodating Avenue Pub for cold water, and I drank two full cups in a matter of seconds. After that revival, I picked it up for the last few miles home. But for future runs, I really want to limit the stops and pauses - our group is so large that water stops can take five minutes!
Upcoming races: Sadly, I am out of town for Blue Doo next week, home of my 2-mile PR and an all-around super fun race. So next up is probably the Jazz half marathon in October. I would really like to run a PR at that race, although I have no idea if I'm in shape to do so. And we'll probably not do any sort of taper. So who knows how that will go!

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Marathon training: week five

I think this was a purposeful down week from our coach -  which was kind of bad timing for me, since I took a down week last week! But it seemed like we had some more flexible mileage options that allowed us to run shorter distances, and some easier workouts.

The way our coach writes our workouts is really just for the whole group - it's not individualized. We're lumped into "marathon" and "non-marathon" right now, and our coach writes a track workout for Tuesdays, a tempo for Friday, and a Sunday long run. At this time, he's also writing some guidance for the rest of the week, and that's where I noticed this week had some easier options. Where last week he prescribed "75 minutes conversational pace", this week we had "60 - 75 minutes", etc. Our workouts were about a mile shorter apiece, too. I hope he continued to build in some cut-back weeks to keep us fresh and healthy.

Monday: 6.5 easy, plus a very fun karate class at night in which we got to do partner sparring! I got to whack my husband in the face and it was totally ok!
Tuesday: Track combo: one mile warm up, 3 miles aerobic, then 3x1 mile at tempo pace with 1 minute standing rest. One mile cool down. Myself and another girl in the group, Daniella, are the slowest, and we're running our marathon workouts together (for now. She'll probably get a lot faster and leave me in the dust). Since she lives kind of far away, I rarely have a workout partner, so that's been nice. My tempo miles were 6:32, 6:30, and 6:34, and I felt pretty good considering how hot and humid it was.
Wednesday: 5.5 easy
Thursday: 75 minute medium-long run. I love this run that's been popping up on our schedule. I think 75 minutes is the perfect amount of time to run, and lately I've been taking this run to one of my favorite routes: out and back on the levee. It can be tricky running on the levee in the summer, because there's no shade and no water. But if it's early in the morning, and I just accept that I'm going to be thirsty, it's doable (or I could bring water, but since I only get 9.5ish miles in, it seems unnecessary to carry water). The levee runs along River Road, and I love the peacefulness of the wide Mississippi to one side and the bustle of morning commutes far below me on River Road on the other side.
Friday: Another easier workout: one mile warm-up, three miles aerobic, 5x30 seconds on/30 seconds off, two miles aerobic, one mile cool down. A group of us meet in Audubon park for these Friday workouts, and for some reason we were feeling less than peppy as a whole, so this workout was on the slow side. Or, our slower pace could be due to an earlier start: we met at 5:30 instead of the 5:45-that-turns-to-6 that we usually do, and it was dark. I'm just not a strong and confident runner in the dark, especially on the imperfect surface up on the Fly (the part of the park that extends up along the levee).
Saturday: I slept in, then ran 6.4 easy at 10 am - which was hot, but no big deal, until I came home to no water at all. Apparently the sewage and water board forgot to notify our block that we would have no water from 9 am to 5 pm! They posted notices on another block, just not ours. Nice. We ended up driving all the way downtown to the gym to shower.
Sunday: 18 mile long run. It was "only" 80F for most of the run, but humidity was in the 90's, so it still felt hot (especially once the sun came out). We aren't doing specific workouts yet, but I've been doing a sort-of progression or fast finish for most runs, including this one, and I finished with 7:36 average pace. I can pull these off only because my easy days have been QUITE easy!

65 miles this week.