Marathon Training – Peak Week Recap

Wow!! I can’t believe peak week of marathon training has come and gone.  I remember looking at this week on the schedule when I first laid out my training plan and being completely overwhelmed with the mileage.  It’s truly amazing how baby steps toward a goal make something that seemed so achievable totally within reach!  I had a really emotional epiphany during my running to this affect and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned once this journey is complete!

This week turned out to be challenging not only because of the mileage, but also, the weather was NOT cooperative.  Like most of the country, Atlanta was under a deep freeze this week.  Thankfully, I have a membership with a gym about 10 minutes away so my runs did not suffer.  However, I never thought I’d be running 10 miles on a Wednesday before work, ON A TREADMILL.  This week was definitely just as much about mental training as it was physical.

Monday: Planned 0, Actual 5 – We had some winter weather forecasted for Monday night and Tuesday morning/afternoon, so I moved my Tuesday run up to Monday.  I was happy to get this run in! I had a ton of energy and an “easy 5” turned into a tempo run because I was just really feeling it.  I ran my first ever sub-9:00 mile during this run!

Tuesday: Planned 5, actual 0 – I actually really liked having a Tuesday rest day! It was nice to sleep in a bit and not have to wash my hair!

Wednesday: Planned 10, actual 10 – I planned to do this run outside, but when I got up it was much colder than anticipated, plus a windchill.  I decided to not run so long in the cold, so I downloaded Mockingjay to watch and headed to the gym.  I did all 10 miles on the treadmill while watching the movie.  I had to split the run into two 5-milers because the treadmills at the gym are programmed to only let you run 60 minutes at a time.  I know that treadmill pace is different than road pace, so I wore my heart-rate monitor and just kept my pace based on effort.  On the plus-side I did get to wear shorts and a tank top…..however, it’s been so long since I’ve worn shorts that I forgot to put on glide and ended up with some nasty chafing.  Yikes!

Thursday: Planned 5, actual 5 – Another treadmill run for me. I stuck to music this time and played a game with my speed and my music to keep me occupied.  This run was easier mentally since I had just done the 10 the day before.

Friday: Planned 0, actual 0 – I was so happy for a rest day! It was nice to sleep in.  Christina drove down from Charlotte and we had a nice dinner together.

Saturday: Planned 20, actual 20 – This was it!!! The longest run of our training.  I planned out a route for us that consisted of a loop of about 9 miles and then the rest as an out-and-back on the silver comet trail.  It was finally a bit warmer (around 33 degrees when we started) and I tested out my marathon-day outfit (with the exception of the top layer shirt, my mom is making me a special one for race day that I should have in time to test prior to race day!)

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Here we are before the run!

We ran the loop portion with the Metro Atlanta Running Club, and then split off around the 9 mile mark to do the rest of the run by ourselves.  It was sleeting for a couple of miles, but luckily, it wasn’t too heavy and didn’t last too long!  We stopped at mile 10 for a mid-run selfie:

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We were feeling really pretty good at this point and practiced our fueling and walking strategy for race day (walking every 2 miles through the water stops).  Around mile 12 we ran past a group of new army recruits who were being forced to run and looked like they were in pure misery.  I have to say, it felt pretty bad-ass to know that we were 12 miles into a run and feeling and looking strong.  We shouted some words of encouragement to them as we ran by (they didn’t look amused).

Things started to get harder around mile 15 and each walk break made running again harder.  My feet were hurting pretty bad by 17 as well as my glutes and hips.  The last mile was very hard for us but we pushed through.  It was definitely hard to imagine going another 6 miles after that.  However, I’ve been reflecting on this and there are a few things that make me feel good about this and give me confidence for race day:

– We ran 20 miles leading up to our 20 mile run, following several weeks of hard training.  Our bodies are beat to shit and our legs are TIRED.  And we were able to finish 20 miles in this condition.  Race day will come after several weeks of low mileage and lots of rest!

– I don’t think our pants were warm enough for the weather.  While my legs didn’t FEEL cold when we were running, my muscles definitely weren’t warm.  We stopped around mile 9 and had a quick bathroom break, and my legs were very cold to the touch at that point.  I think this made us much more achy and harder for our muscles to work. I need to re-think the pants I’ll wear on race day if it’s actually this cold.

– We ran a few miles too fast for a long run. On race day, we should be much more conservative the first half of the race, especially since we don’t have a goal time.

On the plus side, we both had a lot of energy, our muscles/bodies were just hurting.  This tells me that our fueling and hydration was good.

After our run, we showered and ate and sat around the house.  We had plans to go see McFarland, USA, but it was sold out.  I think we were both secretly a little glad that we didn’t have to put on real clothes and drive to the movies!  Instead, we watched “Prefontaine” on Netflix, which chronicles the story of the Olympic runner Steve Prefontaine.  This was a great way to recover after a hard long run, the movie was so inspiring! It turns out there are a lot of great, inspiring quotes from him.  However, I didn’t know anything about him before watching the movie, including the fact that he died at such a young age….so the end of the movie was a bit of a downer.  At any rate, it was definitely worth the watch (and is available for streaming on Netflix!)

Steve Prefontaine USA

We capped off the day with a little shopping at the running store, hibachi for dinner, and then foot massages.  I may have even fallen asleep during the massage, it was so wonderful!

Today, I’m feeling…..like I ran 20 miles yesterday.  My muscles are sore and I’m tired.  However, nothing feels injured (win!) and I think my nutrition was good yesterday.  I soaked my legs in a bath earlier and that helped relax my muscles.  I found single-serve packets of epsom salts at Target.  I definitely plan on packing one of these in my suitcase for the race!

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The week ahead: I’m so, soooooo grateful that our mileage is finally cutting back this week, but it’s still pretty high (29 miles total).  I’m looking forward to really taking care of my body this week.  As much as I hate yoga, I do have a yoga for runners DVD I’m going to try to do at least 3 times this week and really concentrate on foam rolling and stretching.

I’m also starting to get all the final preparations completed for the race.  My mom has printed a few shirts for me in the past, and is making Christina and I matching shirts for race day.  We’re working on finalizing the design now! The big reveal of the shirts will be on race day!

I’m also doing research on the best ways to recover from a marathon, both in the first day or two as well as the following weeks to ease back into running.  I would appreciate any tips anyone has!

Finally, as crazy as it sounds, I’m already thinking of my next challenges.  I know that I’m aiming for a sub-2 hour half marathon in July, and I am 99% sure that I’m going to sign up for the Anthem Richmond Marathon in the fall.  I went to undergrad in Richmond, and I’d love to go back there to run.  It’s been named “America’s friendliest marathon” and has gotten fantastic reviews.  The full marathon distance is only $10 more than the half…..so why not?  I know myself and I know that no matter what happens on race day, I’m going to want to do this again.  If it’s great, I’ll want to do it again.  If it’s bad, I’m going to want a re-do to prove to myself it can be great. They will be at the Rock n Roll expo in DC so if they have a good promo going on…I’ll likely bite the bullet and sign up.  Stay tuned!!

TWENTY DAYS UNTIL I’M A MARATHONER!!!

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Jess

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