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MCM Training: Week 7: The Accidental 20-Miler

Last week's training was pretty much triumphant. I completed my distances (and then some), I threw in some speed work, I did all my runs in the morning, and I got in all the cross-training I wanted to do.

Monday morning's run was mostly unremarkable--except for the fact that I got up to run before work for the second Monday in a row, in my whole life. But later in the day, Coach Lyle--who is not my official coach but is a running coach who is part of the Monday night group I (used to) run with, and who put together my training plan--wrote to several of us from that group who are training for MCM. He asked how things were going, and I replied enthusiastically that my training was going very well, except for the minor fact that I wasn't doing the speed work. He replied that he was happy things were going well but warned that if I wanted to meet my goal pace, I'd have to do the speed work. This killed my buzz a little bit, but I knew he was right. So I promised him I'd to the next day's speed work and let him know how it went.

Tuesday runs are the most difficult weekday runs I have, simply because they are long and incorporate speed work. Those seem like two incongruous elements, but the idea is that there is warming up and cooling down and interval periods, etc. Last Tuesday's run called for "2 x 2 Miles @ Temp, 4 min jog recovery between," within a total of 9 miles. While I wan't completely  positive I knew what a tempo run was, I knew it was supposed to be greater than my usual effort but lesser than my 5K race effort. (Now that I've looked it up, I see that it should be about my 10K race pace.) So I started my run at a comfortable pace, trying to plan when I should ramp it up. I waited until I was 2 miles in, as that seemed more than adequate for a warm-up, and I went for it. And I didn't like it. At all. So I did only a mile of it, thinking, maybe I can to 3 x 1 mile... Also, the "jog" afterward was even difficult to maintain, so I did take a little breather. This makes me think that I ran faster than my 10K pace, although I'd have to check to verify. (I have hardly been looking back at my times at all this training cycle.) I did that 1.5 more times and called it my speed work. It was more than I usually did, so I was proud of that, but there was still much to be gained in the arena of speed. Plus, I mean, I ran 9 miles before work. That's still a big deal to me.

Wednesday was my CrossBoot night. I had missed the previous week's CrossBoot workout, so I was feeling nervous about this one. That always happens--it becomes very easy to start making excuses to not go to this class as soon as I miss one. It's so late (7:30-9pm); I'll have "CrossBoot" legs in the morning and have a bad run; I won't get to sleep on time; I don't know when to eat dinner; It could possibly rain... Yes, I've used all of these excuses before. But none of them are valid, and I know that. (Tonight I think I'm coming down with a sore throat.) But I went, and I made it through. It was grueling, as always, but the personal reward of getting through that class is still huge to me.

So Thursday morning I ran on my CrossBoot legs, which I knew would drag me down a bit, but I did the miles without incident. For part 2 of my day's workout, I came home from work, hopped on my cruiser, and rode to the Facility to take the IsoFit class I try to make each week. This class is sort of like yoga in the positions we do, but we hold them for a loooong time. And although much of the class material changes monthly, there's inevitably a 2-minute push-up in the mix: we start in plank, go down halfway into a push-up, hold for 30 seconds, go down almost to the ground, hold for 30 seconds, go back up to halfway (this is the impossible part for me), hold for 30 seconds, and then go up to regular plank, hold for 30 seconds. By the end of it, I'm always so happy to be in plank. The class was short and sweet, and afterward I rode my bike back home.

Friday is my optional rest day, but I decided I wanted to get in a yoga class, and since the Facility was offering a new yoga core class that evening, I decided to try it out. I figured it wouldn't be too intense of a workout the night before my early-morning long run Saturday. And because I knew I wouldn't be able to get my bike ride in on Sunday morning, as usual, I decided to, again, ride my bike to and from the Facility, which equals 9 miles total. Because the yoga class was just added on mid-week, I was the only student who showed up for class, so I had a semi-private class with Laura, who is wonderful. I definitely got my core worked out, but I didn't feel too exhausted from the class. It was just right. I'll likely keep it in my training plan, but I don't know if I'll ride my bike again. It was pretty late and dark afterward (although, that was partly due to the fact that we couldn't figure out how to lock the door to the gym and had to wait for one of the owners to come and turn the key the right way!). Once I was home, I basically just prepared for my wake-up time of 4:30 (!) the next morning.

Saturday began with a successful wake-up! Here's a cropped screen shot from my phone, which I specifically took for proof:

I was meeting my friend Stephanie on Davis Island so we could begin our run at 4:45. She had to do 20 miles, and I had 18, so we figured we'd just run 18 together and she could finish her remaining 2 solo. Also on this morning, the Blue Shark running group began their official training season with a 5:30 meetup, also on Davis Island--their training ground. Stephanie and I wanted to get 3 miles in before returning to the parking lot where the Sharks meet, which we did with time to spare. By the time we got back, the parking lot was filled with dozens and dozens of runners, all pumped to get started. It was admittedly intimidating to me, as those early morning runs have mostly been quiet and solitary times. So I have a few pros and cons of running among this group:

  • I felt like I was at a race, which was a bit exciting.
  • The group provided water for everyone, which is necessary on runs out there.
  • I got to know--or at least see--more of the running community in my area.
  • I felt like I was at a race, which was the opposite of how I wanted to run.
  • I stopped quite a bit for water, even when I didn't really need it.
  • I kind of wanted my personal space at times.
One of the other runners who did stick with Stephanie and me (but mostly Stephanie, who was running ahead of me in pace) was Lindsay. I'd met her at CrossBoot before, and it turns out she was just beginning her training for the New York Marathon in November. At one point while running through the marina, the sun was just beginning to shed some color on the sky, which was filled with dense, puffy clouds. Lucky for me, Lindsay had her phone and snapped these shots:

After completing the "Davis Island loop," which is just over 9 miles, totaling 12 for Stephanie and me, we still had 8 and 6, respectively, yet to run. Lindsay came onto Bayshore with us just briefly to complete her 12, and Steph and I trotted on down to to the next logical water stop, which happened to be at Bay to Bay Blvd., which happened to be more mileage than I need to then turn around and run back to my car. After hydrating and making our turnaround back to Davis Island, I began thinking, I may as well do 20. The morning was cloudy and windy and cool, and I felt like I had enough left in me. After some prompting from Steph, I decided to go ahead. It may not seem like much of a diference--18 to 20--but when you mentally prepare yourself for a specific distance, which you know will already be very difficult, adding onto that feels undoable. Plus, 20 miles is usually the height in mileage of many marathon training plans, and I hadn't thought I was there yet. But the more I thought, all I have to do is keep trudging along--it doesn't have to be pretty, the more I felt I could do it. And then I began really wanting to have that 20-mile "badge" (which is really just bragging rights). And guess what? I did it! And as you can see from the few droplets of water on my watch, we finished our run right before the storm broke:

I was so, so happy with myself. And I'm glad I was running with Stephanie; otherwise I would have stuck to 18. 

Shortly after coming home and cleaning up, I had some breakfast and then went on my way to Orlando to spend time with family. My brother-in-law, who is a member of Toastmasters International, was attending a big conference held at a Disney Hilton resort. Since the rest of my family live in the Orlando area, we thought we'd try to get everyone together for a visit (this includes three nieces ages 2 and under--the highlights of my life). As an added plus, my mom decided to get room at the adjoining hotel, the luxurious Waldorf Astoria, which I shared with her (if I could stay a this hotel after every 20-miler, I'd definitely do more 20-milers). Once the sky cleared and the family arrived, we hung out by the resort pool, which featured a lazy river (what more could you want after such a long run):

Here are two of my sweet, adorable nieces (unfortunately I didn't get a pic with the third, the "original"):

I conked out pretty easily that night, and in the morning I got up just in time to get ready for a fabulous brunch buffet, which my dad came to. After filling up on smoked salmon, crepes, honeydew-melon juice, fresh berries, waffles, and eggs, it was time for me to head back home.

I usually attend yoga in the park on Sunday, but because of preparations for the RNC in and around the park, that class was canceled. But I found a donation class at one of the studios I attend, Bella Prana, and so I planned to attend that, instead. It was a great class, geared largely toward beginners, which was great for me, because I didn't feel like doing anything too intense.

Overall, it was a wonderful week of training. But as I write this on a Wednesday night, when I'm supposed to be at CrossBoot, which I overslept for during a "power nap," I think it wouldn't hurt to have a full rest day in my week. Apparently my body agrees.


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