Marathon Training Week #14 – Breathing easy again and finally cooling down!
I admit it. I struggled last week with running. Not so much with the race at Disney…but all the running at altitude really sapped my energy level. In fact, I ended up with a mild case of altitude sickness due to jumping into 12.5 miles in Boulder the day after I arrived. Not the smartest thing I ever did, and unfortunately, the runs I did after that one all sucked…mightily. It was a struggle to push through them. I found myself stopping often, downing water, continuing, and stopping again…to catch my breath…to just rest…my body was not enjoying a moment of any of those runs.
And it really messed with my head.
But…I continued on my training plan and rounded out another week, only to have to start this one still at altitude. And, I think I did okay with it…but it was still a struggle to get through the miles before getting on a plane and heading home. The difference I felt though…made me confident once again that I hadn’t lost anything while in Colorado, save for lung capacity or something.
Let’s take a look at how this week unfolded!
Sunday was the day I was going to be leaving Colorado and heading back to Louisville. However, I wasn’t due back until very late due to the flight schedule. So, I got up early (I never sleep in…ever!) and went to do one final run in Denver, Colorado. I kept an easy, slow, steady pace, but continued to struggle. My energy level just never got back to normal after that run in Boulder on Thursday morning, so the proceeding runs all just felt…awful. This one was a little better, but I was still fighting for air, for strength, for anything to validate that I could still, indeed, run. I ended up managing 11 very tough miles, earning one last merit badge in the trials of running at altitude. I was proud of myself for that and headed back up to the hotel room to shower, change, devour a good breakfast, and then get ready to fly back to Louisville, Kentucky in a couple of hours. The important thing was…I got all my necessary runs in…even if they were slow, and hard, and made me feel like a failure when it came to running.
Monday…was…in a word…interesting. No…seriously. Here’s why. The flight in from Atlanta ended up arriving later in Louisville due to waiting on a couple of passengers whose flight was running late. So, our ride picked us up later than anticipated and we got home later than planned. I still needed to get a few necessary items for lunch and snacks at the office from the grocery store. My roomie went to bed and I went shopping. By the time I got home, it was after midnight. And all the travel on Sunday and the long run in Denver hadn’t worn me out enough because I was wide awake. Being that it was now officially Monday, I slipped into my shorts, a tank top, and laced up my shoes. With all my reflective gear on, this weary traveler went out and did her 6 easy miles for marathon training. Instead of waking up at 4 a.m. to do so, I just got it done a little past midnight. What a difference the (albeit humid) river valley made. I felt like a rockstar out there running. My breathing was easy. My strength felt like it was there. And I churned out a great run in the end. I headed back upstairs and took a shower. This put me climbing into bed around 2 a.m. I got up to get ready for work around 4 a.m. to bake cookies for my first friend I made in the running community as he was moving to Dayton, Ohio for a girl…and a new job. I also had to get breakfast ready and finish putting together lunch and snack items. So, running on fumes all day, I, naturally, have to do my Daily Double as is tradition on Monday nights. My fun run group was meeting and it was Keith’s last night. And I made amazing gluten-free chocolate chip cookies in his honor. I also chose this run to be my first time running in my new Newton’s I bought while in Boulder, Colorado. I LOVE THESE SHOES! They do take some getting used to and my calf muscles were feeling them for the next few days. Apparently, I shouldn’t be rocking out 3 miles yet in these shoes. Instructions I later read in the box said to start with a mile until they feel comfortable and then gradually add on. Whoops. Needless to say, I felt, for the first time in a long time, that I rocked the fun run. And I was taking it easy due to fatigue and everything. But another 3.3 miles felt amazing that day. After enjoying a cookie and wishing Keith well with his future endeavors…I went home to shower (again) and get some rest.
Tuesday morning didn’t mean sleeping in. Nope. It was cross-training day. And I hit up the gym as always…except as I am now a month away from my marathon, I ease up on the cross-training intensity because I don’t want to get injured pushing it at the gym. How embarrassing. So, while I finally took my first day off from running in a week, I wasn’t taking a day off yet. Since it was Tuesday, this meant it was the day of the Arc Trainer. I love this machine and hate it at the same time. For some reason, the gym was stupid hot that day, so Cathy turned on the fan behind the machines and it was a great boost with some cool air. I did 2.3 miles on the Arc Trainer on Program 7 – Strength – at Level 5 in 45 minutes. Not bad considering how difficult the resistance gets at that level setting. Yikes. Then, it was over to the rowing machine for 10 minutes. I managed 1.17 miles rowing, which isn’t bad given how tired I was. Then it was downstairs for some strength training before heading into the office for work. After work I would normally do my circuit training, but my body was telling me that wouldn’t be a good idea. And I listened and gave this exhausted body a break that night. Actually, I made a deal that I would not circuit train at all this week and get back to it this coming week. So, game on. The plan was to go to bed early…but that didn’t happen.
Wednesday morning, as always, brings about the speed work/pacing portion of my weekly training schedule. This week I was to do a 5 mile tempo run. Doesn’t seem too bad, right? Nope. Except with how humid and hot it was in the morning, my legs felt like they had no energy at all. I knew by body was tired, my legs were really pushing it, and while I ran faster than I thought, I didn’t quite nail that tempo pace. I wasn’t all over the place, but I wouldn’t call the paces for each mile close enough in speed to be at tempo pace. Ah well…you win some, you lose some. Given the circumstances, I was happy with what I managed. I, once again, intended to go to bed early…and once again…that didn’t happen. Hey! The Master Chef finale was on and I wasn’t going to miss that!! Priorities. Anything with Gordon Ramsay is a priority!
Thursday morning came with another early rising. I had another 6 easy miles to put in and I got up and out the door in good time. Once again I was greeted with stifling heat and humidity. It was just nasty out there. My legs, once again, felt heavy and just completely wiped of any energy. I started off slow and just tried to maintain that, fueling (because I really needed it) halfway through. I hydrated every mile, alternating water and my electrolyte drink. When all was said and done and I pushed through to my full six miles, I discovered I actually ran it faster than I did on Monday. And I hit negative splits. Sometimes the body just surprises you. I felt on top of the world after that run. After that…it was the second day of gym time. Thursdays always means the ellpitical, so I set it for Level 7 as always and just did my best to get through the 49 minutes (I do a 4 minute cool down) I do every week on that machine. I managed 9.06 miles on Level 7 this week…which isn’t my best by any means, but I’m taking it easier and keeping things at a decent intensity to stay healthy and on my feet. After that, it was over to the Cardio Wave machine, where I did an impressive 4.04 miles in 10 minutes. I guess my legs liked the change of movement, not going forward and back for once. After that…downstairs for strength and then into work. Once more, I intended to get to bed early…but, of course, it didn’t happen.
Friday is the rest day that I am to keep holy. And…I did. Sorta. Kinda. Not really. I KNOW!! BAD!! BAD ME!! Normally I take a walk in the morning, just to take the edge off of not being able to run. But this morning, I wanted to break in my Newton’s a little more. So, I justified that by taking an easy jog in them. I did 2 miles at a comfortable pace, then slowed it down for one more mile. It felt good and I wanted to be out there longer. Maybe it was the gorgeous 66° weather that morning. Maybe it was the way I was easily finding my stride. Either way…it was the perfect morning, but I stayed to the 3 miles I intended and then went upstairs to get ready for a busy day at the office. I knew I was getting up early for my long run on Sunday, so I thought to go to bed early…but I got wrapped up in watching Dr. Who…and once again, that didn’t happen.
Saturday is the morning of my long run. This week, it was supposed to be 13 miles. But…no one in my running group was really doing that mileage. But, there was a group doing 20 miles…so I joined three fabulous ladies at North End Café on Frankfort Avenue at 6 a.m. to rock out my second 20 miler. It was 51° this morning and I was loving the brisk, cool air. It just made the run feel so much easier. I kept it slower than I normally would, which is what I should be doing on these long runs anyway. And I had some great conversations and enjoyed getting to know Nikki, Lindsay, and Abbey in the process. We ran a route I had never done before, starting and ending in the same place and having one of the most incredible 20 mile runs. We ran the last 4 miles of it with better speed, getting faster with each one. None of us felt like we were about to die at any point during this run. It was fantastic. I enjoyed the company, the distance, and the way I felt while running and after running. It was just the 20 miler I needed. After walking it off a little afterwards, I headed out to grab some breakfast at Annie May’s Sweet Café, order my birthday cake, get groceries for the week, and treat myself to some ice cream before heading home and collapsing for a little bit. It’s been a busy week…but my adventure continues tomorrow with another early start.
No rest for the trainee…
Maybe a nap tomorrow. But…unlikely. I am not good at napping.
Anyway…my return to the Ohio River Valley made me feel confident again in my fitness level, my running, and all the miles I’ve been logging for training. This coming week I have some challenging runs ahead of me, but I’m feeling good about what I’m doing and accomplishing. Some days are easier than others, and not having adequate rest this past week has definitely drained me in some ways. But I feel so good after coming back to this area. I just got a boost from getting out of the high altitude. So…it all just seems to be falling back into place.
And that’s good. Because after next week…I start to taper. And that might not be pretty…