Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Marathon Training

As of tomorrow, the marathon I've been training for is just one month away! I had this idea of updating progress in various posts as I trained all summer, but, here we are.

Turns out I don't have any pictures that relate to running for this post. As usual, here are my adorable kids.

Training started out subpar, to say the least. I was pretty sure I was going to have to downgrade to the half. My long runs were all awful, and it seemed like the universe was trying to tell me my marathoning days were over.

I actually had a few strong runs back in June, making it all the way up to 12 miles. But then in July, I went on vacation, and after that it just all seemed to go downhill. I couldn't seem to break that 12 mile mark. And sure, 12 miles is sort of an accomplishment, it's not something I could do a few months prior, but a marathon is 26.2 miles. 12 miles is not in any way sufficient preparation.


I had to bail on a run after 5 miles because of heat stroke. Heat stroke! That's never happened to me. I once did two ultra marathons in the same week, in July. (Rosaryville and the Endless Summer 6 Hour Race.) I was fine! But, you can't exactly ignore heat stroke.

I did 11 miles, and then got hit with a bad fever and was sick the rest of the weekend. This was July. Who gets a fever in July?

My training buddy Jackie and I did 12 miles in ridiculous heat. High 90s, feels like 102. This was downtown by her house, so no shade, no breeze, just HOT and horrendous.

The ONE week I worked in early August, I somehow horribly planned and ended up only being able to get to 12 miles. I did technically run out of time and had to get to work, but it seemed like a pretty poor excuse considering I had so much time off.

The weird thing was I actually ran out of time for 3 of these runs and had to stop at 12 miles, in addition to the other reasons. It had me questioning my commitment. If I couldn't carve out the time to train properly in summer, when I wasn't even working, things weren't looking good come August when I was back to teaching full time.

Even I'd had more time, I honestly felt like I could barely drag myself to wherever the "finish" was for those runs. Each time, 12 miles destroyed me.

Things weren't looking good. In mid August, I was at the point where if I couldn't get in a decent, actually long long run, I was downgrading to the half marathon. Jackie promised me we would do at least 15 that weekend come hell or high water.

The night before was not good. Eric was bartending. We had planned to start at 6, so I was just falling asleep around 9 and......Crying. Royce was up. I went and rocked him and put him back down.

Same thing at 10. Same thing at 11. After I put him back down at 11, I decided if this continued, I would just bring him to our room. Our bedrooms are on different floors, and it's stupid going up and down stairs in the middle of the night. I went down to the basement, found the pack and play, and fought with it until it was set up with a clean sheet in my room.

Apparently that did the trick and Royce was happy in his crib in his own room the rest of the night. I passed out.

1:00am: my door flies open. Dalton had apparently woken up frightened. He's my anti sleeper. If Royce wakes up, I know he truly wants to go back to sleep, he just needs help getting past whatever is bothering him. Dalton is a different story. He hates sleep. He would be perfectly happy waking up at 1am and playing until bedtime the following night.

While I was sure it was against my better judgment, I told him he could get in bed with me. See, this same thing had happened two weeks prior, and we had spent two hours in bed together rolling around, no one comfortable, until I finally asked if he wanted to return to his own bed and got a resounding YES. But I guess this time we were both sufficiently exhausted and passed out until my alarm went off at 5am.

It turns out that just because at some point (maybe) during infancy kids achieve the holy grail of sleeping through the night, it doesn't mean they are done waking you up. Nope. And it's actually worse when it's unexpected and you are out of the habit. It really amazes me how the past summer, when Royce was a newborn, of course I was up all the time, feeding at night, and it seemed like no big deal. I was used to it. Now, after one night being up with one or both kids, I can't even function.

Anyway, after that night of surprises, I couldn't exactly pick out the perfect, weather appropriate running outfit, since I had a 2 year old passed out in my bed and I was left with whatever I could grab from my drawer without making noise. Past marathon training me probably would have had all that laid out the night before but tired, #motherrunner current me is a constant hot mess.

I met Jackie at 6 at the NCR, a nice, flat, shaded dirt trail. Not the most auspicious start, but we had the best run of the entire training cycle. The weather was, for the first time, cool, and more importantly, NOT humid. We both felt, oddly, good (we'd actually canceled doing the run the day before after a night of constant wakeups on her end). We got 16 miles done and actually felt like, if need be, we could have done more.

After that, training was officially on. We continued to increase our long run mileage, getting up to 19 miles. This weekend, my training buddies, Casi and Jackie, and I will be doing our big practice run to prepare for the marathon, the NCR 20 miler. I've done it in the past, years ago. It's a perfectly timed, small race that a lot of local runners use as marathon preparation. We plan to use it as a trial run for nutrition, hydration, doing everything we can to simulate everything for marathon day.

It's not just long runs! Jackie and I have been doing a track series put on by a local running store. Based on a one mile timed trial we did at the beginning, they group us by speed and give us very specific workouts and goal times. We also do form practice, and upper body/core work. It's horribly painful and also awesome. When I had big plans to return to my running blogger days I was going to recap, but tonight is the last night and I'm just now mentioning it.

I did record one workout to give anyone still reading an idea of what it looks like.

6:15pm - arrive, warm up independently (I usually do an easy jog, 2-4 times around the track)
6:30 - dynamic warmup moves, form practice, and strides
6:45 - workout! Example (I included my times, which were all below the goal times, woo!):
          4x200, ranging between 41-45 seconds, jog 200 in between
          1600 (aka one mile), 8:04
          4x200, ranging between 41-48 seconds, jog 200 in between
7:45ish - cool down, jog/walk around the track twice
8:00 - bridges, push ups, triceps dips

Lastly, we've been trying to be diligent about stretching after long runs (Jackie brings fancy tools like a vibrating foam roller). I'm not in my 20s anymore and all. I've been getting in at least 2 other workouts each week, usually easy runs or elliptical, and including at least some sort of strength work weekly as well.

I have pictures for that part!

Don't judge the unmade bed. Eric had just taken a basement nap. Shockingly, in a bed. 

It's not the world's greatest training, nor is it the worst, and I just hope it's enough to get me to the finish line. I'm hoping after this weekend's race I'll have a better idea of a time goal. I know it's going to be a lot slower than my previous marathons, since they were all pre-kid, and I'm just slower now. I know it, and I wish I could say I was ok with it, but I'm not. Yes, I created life, I am woman, hear me roar, but it still sucks to feel so slow compared to what I used to run. I ran several marathons all around 3:54, eventually getting to my fastest time of 3:51 before Dalton was born. Now...I know it's going to be significantly over 4 hours, probably even over 4:30 based on my long runs.

Maaaaaaybe someday I'll attempt to train really hard to get back to that sub 4 level, but that's not where I'm at now. It is what it is. This race is about finishing, which, previous paragraph notwithstanding, I am actually excited to do. 



  1. Hi, marathon twin!! I feel you - this will be my first marathon in THREE YEARS. Crazy. Will think of you on 20 miler this weekend! Also, the other night D wanted to be up from 11pm to 1am, and just sort of lay in our bed chatting and rolling, and I was so tired the next day I could barely function. I've gone soft.

  2. Good luck! The heat makes a huge difference, I think 12 miles in the heat is worse than 20 in good conditions! Also, those track 200s are hella fast. But I have to say that my favorite part of this entry is that Dalton does planks with you. The little arm weights are cute, but the core work is just impressive :)


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