Richmond Marathon Training – Week 12

Confidence is a funny thing.

Each run gives you a deposit or a withdrawl into your confidence bank.  Some may give you more or less, but a few bad runs can have you really doubting yourself.  The thing is, the only way to get that confidence back is to keep trying – and a few goods runs can really turn around your mentality.

I recently read The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, and it’s a fantastic book.  I highly recommend it to all women.  The book is really geared toward how (lack of) confidence holds women back in the workplace, because it keeps us from taking action.  However, the best way to GAIN confidence is to TAKE action.  Practice leads to mastery, and you get confidence along the way.

This week was all about building confidence.  Not just in running, but at work, too.  I mentioned before that I started a new job back in August, and it’s going really well.  I had meeting on Thursday that I was leading, and I was so anxious for it.  I don’t have a lot of experience leading these types of meetings, and I really wanted it to go well and make a good impression.  Volunteering to do this is so outside of my comfort zone, but it went great! And now I have confidence going into the next one.

I gained so much confidence in my running this week, too.  Last week, I talked about how unprepared I felt for Richmond, but I ended this week KNOWING that I can conquer that 26.2 beast.  I’m so excited to have gotten that confidence back, and there are only 3 weeks left!

Finding confidence: Week 12 of training for the @Sportsbackers Richmond Marathon Click To Tweet

Here’s how this week’s training went down:

Monday: 5ish easy miles.

I started this run really wound up and anxious for this week.  Within a couple of blocks I got a low battery warning on my Garmin.  Instead of stressing about it for the entire run, I just turned it off and decided I would do about 5 miles (I know my routes pretty well by my house) and just try to enjoy myself…and I did just that! I was having a pretty great run, and then on my way back (somewhere around the end of mile 3) I ran into my friend Christy.  We haven’t run together in so long because I usually am running about an hour earlier than her – but Monday I was able to run later since I had my Podiatrist appointment.  We shared the last couple of miles and it was so great catching up with her and running Garmin-free.

Myself and Christy!

Myself and Christy!

I had my follow-up appointment with my podiatrist and got two thumbs up from him to keep running.  He made me a new brace to wear during my runs and sent me on my way.  I’ll be going back to him to get custom insoles in a couple of months.

Tuesday: 6 miles @ 10:51 pace

I ran this a little faster than I probably should have but I was just feeling great! The new brace the doctor made for me felt good and the weather was perfect – about 45 degrees.  I had a training class all day at work and then a work dinner, so I wasn’t able to squeeze in any other workouts Tuesday.

Wednesday: Rest Day

Another super busy day at work.  I had planned to do cross training on my lunch break but something came up and I didn’t get much of a break at all.

Wednesday night was Brian and I’s anniversary! It’s hard to believe that we’ve been dating for 11, yes eleven, years.  We went out to a great dinner at Bones Steakhouse and enjoyed spending time together.  I didn’t get a picture of us…I totally forgot! (Proof of how great the night was!).

Thursday: 5 mile hill run @ 10:17 pace

Another day that totally kicked my butt at work – this was the day of the meeting I mentioned above.  I slept in Thursday morning since Brian and I didn’t get to bed until really late Wednesday.  I planned to do strength on lunch and running after work, but I ended up going out to lunch with a coworker who was visiting in town. After work, I decided to go run at Chastain Park, which is this great park pretty close to my house.  It has a great running path that loops the park at almost exactly 2.5 miles for one loop, so it’s a great option for a 5 mile run.  The thing about Chastain is that it is VERY, VERY HILLY!! My body was itching for a hard workout, so I decided to really work my legs on these hills.  This pace was pretty challenging, and my legs felt like jello after, but man was it a great run!! I don’t get to run in the daylight during the week that often, so to see the sunset at the park really capped my day off well.

Sunset at Chastain Park (one of the few flatter stretches)

Sunset at Chastain Park (one of the few flatter stretches)

Friday: Rest day

My left side of my body just felt tight – IT band & glute specifically.  I brought my stick roller to work and tried to move around as much as possible.  For my pre-long run dinner, Brian and I went to Stoney River Steakhouse.  I wanted to test my pre-race meal as closely as possible.  I got steak and a very large baked potato.  I laid my clothes out and got to bed around 9pm.

Saturday: 20 miles @ 11:16 pace

This was our dress rehearsal for race day! Unfortunately, the weather took another swing to the warm side (around 55 at the start of our run, closer to 75 by the finish) so I wasn’t able to test out my race day outfit, but everything else was tested.  I got up early – about 4:30, and ate my breakfast.  I had a hard time getting down the second half of my bagel, but I reminded myself I’ll probably have the same trouble on race morning so I forced it down.  I met Carrie and Terrie a little after 7 – with plans to start around 7:30 (which is what time the marathon starts).  After our warmup we headed out.

I tested my fueling strategy for race day and it went well – a Cafe Mocha Huma Gel every 4 miles or 50 minutes (whichever comes first), and a salt pill every 5 miles.  I did get hungry around mile 15 but that went away when I took my gel at 16.  I also did not wear my brace, just my new insoles for this run.

I have been studying the elevation chart for Richmond.  The course is mostly flat or very small rolling hills, but there are two substantial hills on the course – one around mile 8 and another that lasts from 16-18.  I planned our route so that we would hit similar hills around similar parts of our run.  I didn’t look at my watch much during this run, we were just running on feel.

The first 8 or so miles of the run went by pretty quickly.  We ran these on the Silver Comet Trail, which is mostly flat with a slight (2%) grade, very similar to the first part of the Richmond Marathon course.  Once we hit the hill around mile 8, it felt like we were climbing forever and the next few miles felt a little harder.

We stopped around mile 10 to grab some Powerade and continued on.

Quick photo-op mid run!

Quick photo-op mid run!

I got a little too Powerade happy and drank too much (it tasted SO GOOD) and had some waves of nausea the next couple miles, but they passed and we trudged along.  Carrie had the same problem but hers did not pass as well – she got the flu shot earlier this week and had a bit of a reaction to it, and her body has not been quite right since.

Around mile 15, she needed to cut back the pace to get her stomach under control so we split up.  All of mile 15 I was thinking about the huge hill at mile 16 and started mentally prepare myself.  I turned on some good music and just powered up the hill – NO WALKING! I slowed down a bit to get up it but felt like such a beast when I finished it.

That hill definitely took it out of me though.  Miles 17 and 18 were such a struggle.  I was now on part of the path that wasn’t shaded, the sun had come out, and it was in the 70s.  My legs felt tired, heavy, and achy….yet at the same time, I almost couldn’t feel them.  It was like they were a separate part of my body if that makes sense.  I gave myself a pep talk: “Jessica, what are you going to do when this happens on race day? Are you going to walk, or are you going to keep moving forward?”

I pulled out my new mantra (“Think Strong. Be Strong. Finish Strong”) and just focused on one foot in front of the other.  I really focused on getting to the end of mile 18, because that was my turn-around point.  I kept telling myself I could turn this around, just slow down and get myself back together.

You know what? I turned it around.

During mile 19, I was on my way back to the start and suddenly started to feel better.  I was going more downhill at this point which I’m sure helped, too.  I started getting more energy and felt stronger.

When my watch buzzed that I had completed mile 19, I kind of lost it.  I got so emotional thinking about the race.  I realized that I had pulled myself out of a dark place during those miles, and that I suddenly wasn’t just feeling ok, I was feeling great.  I started picturing feeling this good at mile 20 of the marathon and envisioning really finishing strong.  Then I came to the realization – I’m going to do this.  I can do this, despite my setback with my injury.  I am going to run a marathon again, and the combination of my training, the taper, & the crowds will get me to the finish on race day.

When I looked at my splits later, I was SHOCKED to see that during those really hard miles I didn’t slow down.  This was proof to me that so much of this race will be mental.  Having that experience of pulling myself out of those tough miles is invaluable going into the race, because that is the experience I will draw on if that happens during the marathon.  Having that experience has given me the confidence I will need to finish strong on race day.

Confidence earned on a tough run helps you dig deep on race day Click To Tweet

Splits: 11:40/11:31/11:35/11:48/11:48/11:05/11:20/11:13/11:24/11:18/11:10/11:09/11:16/11:00/11:16/11:36/11:08/11:04/10:40/10:24

I finished the run and then cheered Carrie and Terrie on as they finished.  I’m so proud of Carrie – it would have been easy to cut the run short the way her body was revolting against her (she actually got sick at one point) but she kept going and finished all 20 miles!  We are both going to have such a good race!

Sunday: I plan to go to yoga today and continue my recovery.  I took an ice bath yesterday which I feel like really helped my recovery, and I’m feeling okay today. My legs are certainly tired, but the good news is….NO FOOT PAIN! Yep, my foot is feeling near 100%.  I have a sports massage scheduled for tomorrow night which I think will really help as well.

Total miles for the week: 36

What went well: getting back to running and getting my foot recovered.  I also did pretty well with nutrition this week which made a difference.  Getting back my confidence was such a huge thing and I needed it so badly!

What didn’t: life happened and I wasn’t able to get in my other non-running workouts.  I’m trying not to beat myself up too much over this.

Looking forward to next week: I’m travelling for work, so getting my workouts in and eating well will continue to be a challenge.  My taper technically starts in that my long run will be a lot shorter, but I still have some longer runs mid-week.  My legs have been so tight, so I’m going to focus on starting to get them as loose as possible and getting rid of these random aches.

Also, the Richmond Marathon revealed the finisher medals this week, and they are so beautiful! I think it may actually be my favorite medal I’ve run for so far.  I can’t wait to earn this medal in 20 days!!!!!

Image via Richmond Marathon Facebook Page

Image via Richmond Marathon Facebook Page





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    • Thanks! It doesn’t quite feel too much like a taper yet but I think it will really start feeling that way next week!

  1. How smart to plan a route that mimics Richmond- and say what?? I didn’t know about these hills! Glad I read your post, now I won’t be surprised.

    Super job with your 20 miler! You so got this 🙂 Bring it on Richmond!

  2. Great job last week and an awesome 20 miler with a negative split. Really proud of you and love your new mantra. I think running without focusing too much on your watch and watch pace really works well for you when you can dial into how you are feeling and make adjustments based on that. I feel a great day coming on for you in Richmond! xo

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