I can see the light at the end of the tunnel…I mean…the shoulder on the side of the road.

My theory of good weeks following bad weeks proved itself valid, as I had a great week of training last week. In my world, the week begins on Monday, not Sunday, a factor that would have made the previous statement untrue otherwise, since my long run Sunday fell significantly short of pleasant. It was only 13.5 miles though, so I told myself it was better to have that run be sub-par and look forward to a solid 18-miler the next weekend.

I miss you, track!

I miss you, track!

To avoid the issue I battled the week before when I tried to do a track workout, I chose to do a workout earlier in the day Tuesday rather than at night (er, at 6:30pm…same thing). As I feared, the track was not shoveled after the snow we got at the end of the previous week. Luckily, the snow had been completely cleared from the neighboring turf field, so I took advantage of its unoccupied state and did 5 x 3 laps, or 1255 meters, with about two minute rests. It was so windy, so that definitely was an added factor, as well as the slightly soggy surface. I ended up averaging 6:30 pace for the intervals, granted my GPS was accurate while running in a square, which wasn’t as fast as I would have liked; however, I got out there and did it, and after the week before, that was okay with me. I was also very grateful to have the turf available for intervals when the track was covered in snow.

Thursday was a workout I was both looking forward to and anxious about…clearly, signs of a workout that was going to be worthwhile. I wanted to do another five mile tempo, maybe even six, but I did not want to do it on roads with shoulders covered in ice and snow, with cars forcing me to break my stride and jump to the side every few minutes. A coworker had told me she did a tempo run in Hillsborough, a couple towns north of here, and there were huge shoulders and no traffic. I didn’t have to be at work until later that day, so off to Hillsborough I went. It helped that it was almost fifty degrees with full sun: short sleeves and shorts, hooray! I will spare the details of how the few errands I had to do before this run caused me to almost pay a frozen yogurt shop worker to use the bathroom as a locker room. It happens. That is all.

I mapped what I thought looked like a good course ahead of time, and wrote the turns on my arm, like so:

I failed to write one road/turn here, which made me improvise a bit at one point, but it was all good. I used the first two miles as a warmup: 7:46, 7:48. At mile 3 I picked it up to tempo pace and held it for the next 5 miles. There were some gradual inclines and declines, and a steep, short hill during the second tempo mile, but for the most part the course was much, much flatter than places I normally run. Splits: 6:52, 7:10, 6:56, 6:51, 6:41 (34:30, 6:54 avg). I thought about going for a sixth mile, but instead decided to do a recovery mile, then do 4 x 60 seconds hard, 60 seconds easy, then cool down back to the start from wherever I was at that point. This ended up being pretty fun. The easy mile was 7:42, and then the on-off minutes and cooldown looked like this:

I was pleased that my “recovery pace” after the tempo was around 7:30; it felt very comfortable. Overall, I managed to run 10 miles in 72 minutes, for an average pace of 7:12. Although my tempo two weeks before was faster, I averaged an overall faster pace for this run and a farther overall distance, and this route had considerably fewer downhills. It was one of those runs that left me with rekindled confidence as well as a killer runner’s high. I put the windows down on the way home (for about five miles until I was freezing of course) and blasted this awesomeness:

I usually match…but when I don’t, I really don’t (not shown: traffic-cone orange shirt).

Brooks Transcend group run

That evening was our group run with Brooks. I was thinking about doing two miles really easy in the Transcend, but decided against it since a lot of people ended up showing up and so I didn’t feel bad for not participating. I still have yet to test out the shoe, but I recently read Jesica’s thorough review on rUnladylike, so I will direct you there for now! What I did learn was what astronaut ice cream tastes like. I can’t say it’s better than real ice cream, but I’m not even a big ice cream fan, so what do I know.

Saturday was the first long run in my training that felt like a legitimate long run. That is, not a run I would do if I were not training for a marathon. The plan was 18 miles, and I luckily found a buddy for the entire thing. I decided to be smart and not do much besides go to a yoga class and eat dinner the night before. I was already multiple steps ahead of my first super long run last year. In short: this was the shortest 18 miles I had ever run. We talked the whole time, and made for excellent matches in terms of pace, lack of awkwardness, etc. This whole phenomenon makes me laugh when I think about it, because it’s almost like going on a date. I just wrote so much more about this and then took it out, which means…separate post to come – subject: why a first run is like a first date! But back to the run itself: I keep mapping similar things, yet adding on an extra corner or two as the run gets longer. This time, I took us down a road I’ve always been curious about, called Aunt Molly Road. Come on, don’t lie. You’d be curious too. It turned out to be a very interesting stretch of road, including an unpaved section, a farm, a lot of trees, and a vulture sitting atop a telephone pole. Curiosity satisfied indeed. Of course I added the infamous hill in reverse as well…and my running buddy still wants to run with me again sometime. I think. So that’s good. We stopped back at the car for water but that was at 16.5 miles or so…not really necessary but I took a few sips and we did a small loop for 18 (18.33, actually). In terms of fuel, I was also going to have a PowerGel on the run, and one for “breakfast.” I was hungry when I woke up, so I had both for “breakfast.” Oops. The good news is, I didn’t feel like I needed it on the run at all, and felt like I could have kept going. Summary: I feel way stronger than I did at this point in marathon training the first time around (last year). Long miles feel easier. Big hills feel easier. There is very little thirst, or bonking, or slowing of pace. I was excited to have completed this run, and am simultaneously looking forward to the 20-milers ahead of me, because I know they’ll just make me even stronger, especially mentally to be honest. [AND THE SNOW IS MELTING! BIG DEAL. SO EXCITING.]

What I did with my wet clothes after the run...sometimes you've got to be creative....

What I did with my wet clothes after the run…sometimes you’ve got to be creative….

Oh, and let’s not forget my weekly elevation report:

(Watch got screwed up, aka I forgot to restart it for awhile, hence the cut-off.)

So, I’m already well into the week after everything I just wrote about…and contrary to the pattern that developed before, it’s been quite alright! The E. Murray Todd Half Marathon is this Sunday, March 2nd. A couple weeks ago I was feeling pretty underprepared, but now I’m actually excited. The course is rolling the whole time:

emurraytoddelevationchartHowever, it looks like the hills are less massive than the ones I’ve been running. I’m looking forward to putting the work I’ve done so far – and yes, I finally feel like I have actually done some hard work – to the test and seeing what I can do. I’m not gunning for a PR, or even a PR effort, but rather a hard effort over 13.1 miles that will serve as a benchmark and confidence-booster for the rest of my training for Boston. It would be nice to run faster than I did on the somewhat hilly Caesar Rodney Half course last year, though. So while I’m not going to state an overall time goal, I will say that I would be content maintaining around a seven-minute-mile pace effort, or slightly faster.

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3 thoughts on “I can see the light at the end of the tunnel…I mean…the shoulder on the side of the road.

  1. I love your square track workout! Haha. Luckily I’ve made it to the indoor track (30 min) away which is great but the snow on the track ONLY 3 MILES down the road better start melting soon!

  2. Pingback: E. Murray Todd Half Marathon recap | SHOE STORiES

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