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MCM Training: Week 10: Second 20-Miler

Last week was basically an anticipatory build-up to my second 20-miler, which I initially wasn't planning to do, as that meant I'd end up with three total before the marathon. But I was feeling good enough to do it, and in a way I think I was still riding the success of the first one.

Also last week, I got two more CrossBoot classes in--one was a morning holiday session (for Labor Day), which are notoriously brutal sessions, and the other was my normal Wednesday night class. I feel really good when I can get two classes in per week; although, in the immediate days following, my legs don't feel great when I run, but I think in the long run (no pun intended), I'm getting stronger and even a bit faster.

I wasn't as good about doing morning runs last week, and in fact, I fell two miles short of my weekly mileage because my Tuesday run, which I switched with my Thursday run, was a painful one (and should have been six miles). For pretty much the first time this training season, I began to feel real pain--as opposed to discomfort--in my lower legs. I think I know the cause, though: I've been switching out my regular Brooks Ghosts with a new pair of minimalist shoes, Saucony Kinvaras. And while I only wear the Kinvaras for shorter runs, I was wearing them to CrossBoot, where we'd been doing a lot of speed drills lately. I'm hoping that's the main culprit.

Because I was afraid of oversleeping for the then necessary nine-miler on Thursday morning (which really should have been 10, but I was satisfied with nine on a weekday morning), I asked Josh to call me to make sure I got up, since he's normally up early anyway, and, luckily, he obliged. I expected to be dragging through that run, and while it started out that way, my pace actually picked up pretty significantly after halfway through.

On Thursday evening, I finally went to get my road bike fit, or rather re-fit, for my body. My hands fall asleep after a few miles of riding, and that makes me reluctant to increase my mileage. The first time I got a fitting, I went to a free service at USF, and the student employee was probably not very experienced. This time I went to City Bike Tampa, a downtown bike shop and rental store. My fitter was Kevin, who also manages the shop. He was super friendly and knowledgeable, and he made quite a few adjustments to my bike while I sat on it stationary. The fitting fee was $45, which was far more reasonable than the other quote I received from a South Tampa bike shop somewhat infamous for the staff's snobbery (hint: not the Trek shop). I was anxious to try my bike out, but I'd have to wait until Sunday to get a good ride in.

Friday was a much-deserved rest day. I still had some doubts about doing 20 miles Saturday, as it wasn't necessary for me to do that distance, but I actually wanted to.

I woke up an hour later than I had intended to on Saturday morning (5:30 instead of 4:30), and consequently I already felt discouraged. But I got up anyway and headed out for my run, which would be solo. For about the first five or six miles, I wasn't sold on the idea of completing all 20. I kept thinking, I can just turn around, go back to bed, rest my legs, and do it tomorrow on fresher legs. But I wasn't certain I wanted to quit, either, so I kept going. And after getting at least five miles in, I knew I wouldn't turn around at that point. My legs lower legs were fairly achy, but the pain wasn't getting any worse with more running. And after about seven miles--which seems to be the magic number for me--I started feeling better and was able to pick up my pace from nearly an 11-minute mile to about a 10:45, which I maintained for the remainder of the run.

I ran the Davis Island loop (total of 9+ miles) almost all the way through, and then turned around and ran it backward, and with two miles to get to DI and two miles back, that made 20. I was in the sun more than usual, but there's been a slight but tangible shift in the weather lately that made the sun more bearable. Less humidity and a faint breeze helped get me home.

This time I was prepared for my recovery. My reward for finishing a successful 20 miles was a nice, cold ice bath!

It's actually not as severe as it sounds. Because the Florida "cold" water is not all that cold, the ice melts pretty quickly, so I was just sitting in a tub of very cold water, and just waist down. I could feel the instant rush of new blood through my legs, which is the whole purpose of an ice bath, and I sat in it for about 10 minutes (15 minutes would have been better, but I'm not great at sitting still for that long).

So that wasn't my only reward (I'm not an ascetic, after all). Later, I stopped by a cupcake shop that I'd never been in before and got an Elvis cupcake: banana cake, peanut butter frosting, chocolate ganache:

(The picture is actually upright, but the cupcake is not. I was not so careful on my way home.) I'm afraid this is going to start new tradition of cupcake rewards. It was very good, but the peanut butter frosting could have been more peanut-buttery and less butter-creamy. I'll have to keep trying other flavors ;-)

Saturday night I had the pleasure of attending a friend's celebratory dinner for completing her PhD. She had a close group of family and friends attend the dinner, which was held in a private room at the Columbia in Ybor City. The food and drink and company were plentiful and delightful, but I have this problem of not being able to consume a whole lot after a very long run. My stomach just feels tight and restricted, so I had to bail a little bit early when my stomach began hurting.

I had planned to get up Sunday and ride, but it rained all morning long. I was disappointed that I wouldn't get any biking in for the week, but I took the gloomy weather as an excuse to get some cleaning and work done--things I normally neglect on the weekends in favor or training.

On my to-do list was to register for a 15K race, the 14th Annual Miracle Miles road race. It occurred to me earlier in the week that I didn't have a race scheduled into my training plan, and while I knew a couple of friends also doing MCM had registered for half marathons, I just wasn't that ambitious. So I registered for the next best thing, a 15K. And there just happened to be one in Orlando on the morning I would be there anyway for my niece's first birthday. It was a done deal. I am now signed up and actually looking forward to this race.

I ended Sunday with a donation yoga practice at Bella Prana. I wasn't sure whether the park would be a good option, as it was still raining on and off, and I like the instructor at this particular class anyway, so it worked out well. Sometimes the yoga in the park class is a little more than I want after an intense long run, and the BP class was more of a restorative practice.

Well, that's it for last week. The 11th week of training, already in progress, is going well so far. The marathon date is slowly but steadily creeping closer. I feel like I'm in the clear, as far as any major training catastrophes are concerned, but I'd hate to curse myself, so I'll just say I'm very happy with where I am now.


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