Whew. I was hoping for the weeks to feel a little less daunting and less of a grind, since I hit that last 20+ miler last weekend. But, apparently, my coach had other plans for this week. I warned you…he’s very nontraditional when it comes to the taper. That being said, I was expecting some room to breathe, so when I woke up Monday morning to my schedule (I go to bed before children go to bed…and sometimes I don’t have my schedule Sunday night before I go to bed…and this week, it came through 2 hours after I had already gone to bed), I was a little bit surprised. I wasn’t thrilled with it…but I know there are methods to what my coach prescribes me in these weeks leading into my goal race…so I put my trust in him.
Take a deep breath…we’re diving right in.
Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN
I knew with every run this week having some sort of speed component in them, I really needed to pay attention to those that instructed me to run a base pace, or easy, and do exactly that. My Monday morning run is generally the same every week. So the fact that I didn’t have my schedule prior to going to bed wasn’t stressing me out at all. The only addition to this week’s Monday run was the inclusion of the strides at the end. This run went well. I kept things controlled and easy for 7 miles. I had been struggling in Florida with any sort of speed, and despite the heat and humidity, I managed to turn out some decent strides without feeling bad about my effort. I did my additional hip strengtheners during my stretches that morning. And I met with Corey, who did a full-body workout with me outside…which was insane and challenging. Let me tell you, I was still feeling it two days later. I did put in extra time that evening (after some further meal prep) to stretch and foam roll.
Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: SPEED WORK – MONA FARTLEKS W/ 1 MILE HARD EFFORT
Welcome to Day 2 of some sort of speed element in my running this week. Let me tell you, I run 6 days a week, and 5 of them included something that involved speed. This is my nightmare. BUT…at least he gave me my favorite of the speed workouts he throws at me – Mona Fartleks. If you’re an avid reader, you’re very familiar with these by now. If you’re just joining me on this journey…here’s how these work: 2 mile warm up, 2×90 sec, 4 x 60 sec, 4×30 sec, 4×15 sec (with equal recovery after each at a pace faster than base pace), 1 mile hard effort, 2 mile cool down. I felt really good during the actual workout…but I had a few bumps in the road. Not literally. First of all, there was a woman riding around on her electric scooter with a mean, yappy dog VERY early in the morning. And it was barking and coming at me, and at one point within my first mile, decided to chase me (there was no avoiding her), and it ripped the leash from the lady’s hand (and the handle cover off her scooter) and made for a very awkward situation and way to start. I actually paused for a few minutes to let them scoot on away so I could, possible, stop encountering them along the way. I don’t have a track (and it is currently WAY too warm to wait until the evening to do the track workouts with the local running store), so I do these on the road. And for a bunch of these intervals, I need to cross a main road. And this week…there happened to be a LOT of traffic at the time I chose to run. This rarely happens, but it does make me mad when it does. That being said, I did power through the intervals. The fast mile was a struggle because my legs were getting really tired and the humidity was wearing me out…but I finished it up, did my cool down, and happily went inside. I did my second day (I do 2 days a week usually) of additional hip strengthener moves with my stretches. And, progressively got a little more sore throughout the remainder of the day. That night I did attend Ladies Night at our local running store, which kept me out later than usual, but I got to hang with some amazing friends, which made it worth it.
Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.
Welcome to the one and only day this week that DID NOT include some element of speed. Thank goodness I had one. I woke up, still sore from personal training and very glad I didn’t have to push any sort of pace because of that. I got to bed late, but as this was a run for me to choose the distance, I know I wouldn’t go too far, and if the soreness got worse, I would keep it really short. I woke up later than my usual alarm (Thursday would be earlier, so it balances), got dressed, fueled, put on my gear and headed out. It took about 2 miles for my legs to find a rhythm and to not ache as much in the muscles. But they did feel better. I was very mindful of any sort of pain, but as things got easier…the run also progressed. Not with speed. I still kept that down and under control. I have enough speed happening this week…I wasn’t going to put any unnecessary energy into this run. A recovery run did me good though, because I did feel the muscles loosen up and I felt a lot better afterwards. I put in 5 easy miles…which I was thankful I was able to do and that my body allowed me to do that morning. I did my stretches I got from physical therapy YEARS ago (the ones I do every morning and night) twice this morning, as I had a sports massage scheduled for that evening. Corey texted to say he was sick, and very kindly didn’t want to give what he had to me. I was thankful for that. And I think my muscles appreciated an extra bit of time off. The sports massage…was glorious. I went to bed as soon as I got home though…because Thursday was the start of what I considered to be my hell. HA!
Thursday: INSTRUCTIONS: 11-13 MILES WITH 3 MILES FAST FINISH – GOAL 12 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT THE END.
I barely slept the night prior. I had set an early alarm…for 2:30 am, with the hope of fueling (which isn’t easy on a weekday), getting ready, and heading out the door by 3 am. I did manage all of that, but damn…I was tired. With having spent most of the night tossing and turning, I was not looking forward to doing this run. But, I told myself to just take it easy, gradually ease into it, and just prepare for those final three miles. My legs felt SO much better after the sports massage. Seriously! But I was just fatigued. I had fueled with the Maurten 160 Drink Mix before heading out and had one of their new Maurten 100 Gels with Caffeine on me to take around Mile 9.5 (which I did). It was a hot, humid morning. Every now and again, a bit of a breeze would blow, but I was not enjoying having to squeeze in a half marathon distance on a Thursday. It’s hard for me to do double digits on a work day. It’s hard enough to fit in single digit runs, and since I never sleep well before these double digit ones (they don’t happen often…but when they do…), I know the logistics just stress me out to that point. I made a good effort of keeping those first 10 miles easy. Then, I threw down, the best I could, for those final three miles. They weren’t impressively fast…but they were good enough for the day. The second one had a few more turns than the other two, so it was totally slower than the ones that sandwiched it. But…I got it done. And 13.1 miles later, I was happy to BE done. I showered and stretched and ate a protein-filled breakfast. And I really hoped I would sleep better leading into my rest day.
Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!
I did sleep better leading into Friday. That was good. I slept in. I showered. I stretched. I finished packing. I headed out to work. I put in about 6 hours, leaving the office around 2:30 pm. I went and picked up my order of “magic sushi,” loaded it into a cooler and headed up to Indianapolis for the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben. I have never done this race before. But I stopped by the hotel, dropped off bags (and put my sushi into the fridge), went to the expo to pick up packets (I was grabbing my friend’s , went to Fresh Thyme (I left my pre-race breakfast at the office in my rush to leave, so I found a good replacement with Brekki Blueberry Overnight Oats, Julie’s Real Cashew Butter (coconut vanilla bean flavor), and some waters for the room and pre/during/post race things. Then we hit up Noodles & Co. so Cathy could grab herself dinner before we returned to the hotel, turned on Food Network to watch Diners, Drive-ins & Dives, and eat dinner. I stretched and foam rolled, then…stayed up until about 9 before calling it a night.
Saturday: INDY HALF MARATHON AT FORT BEN AT MARATHON PACE
Okay…let me be the first to admit that I ran this WAY faster than marathon pace. But, it was 47° outside. And while I had another restless night…I was feeling good. I connected with Kelly first thing in the morning when we got to the giant parking lot they parked us in. So we hung out before the race, which was fun. I don’t get to hang with friends ahead of a race very often. With the fall air here, the bon fires at the start were nice and we hung there until we had to get into our corrals. I will do a full race report on this, but let’s just say this…I felt strong for the entire run, even on the giant hills. I knew I was running well because the 1:40 pacer was behind me the entire time. And in my head, I kept reminding myself that my goal isn’t to PR…it’s to run a race at marathon pace. The pacers in that group were phenomenal and while I didn’t run with them, I went and thanked them after the race itself. I would go back and run this one again in a heartbeat. Great race. And I am only 21 seconds off of a new PR in this distance. Knocking on the door of a breakthrough. After the race, I showered, packed up, went to Woody’s Library Restaurant for lunch, grabbed some goodies at the gluten-free bakery up the way, went to the Indiana State Fairgrounds for the Half Price Books Clearance Sale (books were $2 and under), before heading home. It was a lot of time in the car post-race and I did stiffen up some. Got back and swung by the office to grab the breakfast I was supposed to have from the office so I could have it on Sunday, ran into Melissa, Paul, and Carrick. Talked for a bit. then went to get wheat we came for, returned home, didn’t unpack, just changed into pajamas, stretched, foam rolled, made popcorn, watched Top Chef…and went to bed.
Sunday: 11-13 MILES WITH 3-5 MILES FAST FINISH – EASY DOES IT UNTIL THE FAST FINISH AT THE END
UGH. I didn’t sleep well leading into Sunday morning either. UGH! What’s up with these restless nights? Is it the change in the weather? I need it to stop now, please. I actually got up a few times, but nothing seemed to really work. I eventually through my comforter over me, and that helped for a bit. Maybe I need a weighted blanket. But what this did leave me with was very little motivation to do this workout today. I wasn’t feeling it at all. I really just wanted to curl up on the couch and not move. But, I eventually got up, stretched, fueled, got my stuff together, put on sunscreen, got dressed and got out the door. I kept those early miles easy. I wasn’t loving the return of the 70° weather this morning. Or the humidity. But I think it’s going away after today. The first 8 miles felt harder than they were. My legs were tired from the race the morning before. The last 5 miles that I pushed pace were trash. Honestly, they were the hardest in a long time. And, because I’m dumb, I used my hilly Thanksgiving course for the last 5 miles, which made it even harder to push that fast pace. I was dying. It was a HUGE struggle bus. But I just took it for what it was. I ran too fast yesterday and that was reflected in my performance today. I wrapped it up, hoping for a bit of a break in the workouts next week. I don’t want speed every day again. I really don’t. I’m also going to be out late because I’m seeing Dear Evan Hansen tonight. So, tomorrow should be interesting.
And that’s how I taper, I guess. I run really fast for 5 out of 6 days of training. And I’m sure the workouts aren’t done yet. That’s just how my coach does “taper.” And I trust him. With my performance at the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben, his methods are working. But, dammit, I want to sleep, and feel rested, and maybe have a week to breathe.
We shall see.