Marathon training. I’ve done it one and a half times before. The first time I was set up with a fully furnished program through Team in Training, coaches and everything. All I had to do was consult my calendar on Training Peaks and my mileage was determined. It was slow and steady, and worked like a charm. I felt more than prepared for the Chicago Marathon. The second time around I went with the FIRST training program with most of my Perfect Strangers who were also training for spring marathons. Incorporating tempo runs and speed intervals, this program ramped up mileage both hard and fast (the first long run was 13 miles). Though I absolutely loved it, injury forced me to cut it short and eventually pull out of my marathon.
This time around, my agenda is a little different. Though to be quite honest, I don’t really have a straight-up plan. I’m not quite on board with the FIRST program again, as I know I’m much more prone to re-injury if I increase my mileage too fast. And at this point, I feel strong enough that I don’t need to start at square one like I did with TNT. So, in other words, I’m kind of doing my own thing, somewhere in the middle.
Like me, my friend Jaime also had some troubles with the intensity of FIRST program. Therefore, with the help of a coach, she morphed her training program into a modified version. Her focus changed from one based on milage to one based on time. For example, instead of running two 5 milers, during the week she would run twice for 60 minutes and one “long run” each weekend that progressively increased in time. Also, she became a crossfitter so that filled in the gaps on non-run days. Most marathon training programs have you increasing your weekly mileage by about 10% each week, so this program worked perfectly for her (she scored her PR at the Carmel Marathon!). Due to her success (and rockin’ bod :)), my goal is to incorporate the same time-based strategy, a weekly long run, and some sort of crosstraining to get me to the finish line on 10.7.12.
This week was the first week I’ve felt confident about my training. It started off with an hour run Monday morning that really gave me a jumpstart in the feel-good department. No worries about pace, just focus on getting those 60 minutes under my belt. It was NICE! From there, I logged four (hot) miles on the 4th of July and another 3.6 on Friday. The weather situation has been a battle all darn week, with no relief even at the earliest hours of the day. So I was proud of myself for getting out there.
Saturday morning, the ladies of the Perfect Strangers made plans to meet at 96th street at 540a (!!). That meant I left my house at 430. Welcome back to summer running. As soon as I got off the interstate, my temp gauge looked a little something like this.
Dana and I were the first to arrive. Then Martha Ellen. All of us fully clothed per usual. Then Meghan popped out of her car wearing only a sports bra and shorts. Be still my heart! I had made a comment on Facebook a few days before about having no shame re: running in my sports bra if the weather was awful. And awful it was. So when I saw Meg taking the reins, I celebrated inside. Then pulled in Christi and Meggie, both of whom were sporting their skivvies as well! Seeing those girls was all it took for me to rip my shirt off too. Ow ow. My only concern was how my fuel belt would feel on bare skin (turns out, not bad!) as I definitely wasn’t leaving home without it.
Meggie, Christi, Meghan and Dana had planned on logging 17 miles. I had planned on 2 hours, or somewhere around 13 miles. Having said that, we were all prepared for the possibility of running less, weather depending. As soon as we took off, we all commented on how “stupid” this was. Us for running in these conditions and the weather for not cooperating. We felt as though we were cutting through the air with each step. It was thicker than mud. It was hard to breathe. Our legs felt like lead. We were passed by (albeit very few) people going the opposite direction who appeared much more gazelle-like. All we could do was cringe. We were not in our best place. We wanted to quit early on.
At one mile in, we were blessed with this gem, courtesy of Ms. Christi, who brought the #perfectstranger presence to the Monon!
Standard procedure included an ice chunk in both the front and back of our bras, along with a rub down on the face and both upper extremities. And thanks to some Twitter recs, we also iced down our eyebrows and wrists. Bliss! 106th street was just magical thanks to our girl. You can be certain we made a few more purposeful stops here later on.
Our breaks continued to be regular, as our bodies felt less than swift. The ice juggled around in our tops like baby rattles. Salty sweat kept stinging the eyes (ps, no shirt = nothing to wipe with/ #fail). And our shoes eventually became squishy sloshy messes. At mile 4.5 we turned around as Martha Ellen had called out 9 miles as her stopping point. It was at that time that, though we wanted more, we all decided our planned distances would most definitely be cut short. After a few more stops at the Monon Center and the ice cooler, we agreed to call it quits at mile 11.
Per usual, we had fun despite our misery. There was laughter and emotions a’plenty. Talks of boys and future housing plans. There was even a shower!
I guess as long as we have a cute group picture, we can always chalk our failed long run attempts up to a success, right? 😉
Our new summer PS thing is to follow-up our Saturday morning long runs with a post-run pool date. A few weeks ago we hung out at Karen’s apartment complex. This week, we went back to Christi’s. After a beer run at 9a (what?), we were suited up and at the pool by 10! I loved everything about this day. Never a dull moment with my girls. Someone even asked “what drugs are you girls on?” after we sang “Part of Your World” in the middle of the pool. It’s called delirium, fella. Get on it 🙂
Today my body felt good (yay!) so I decided instead of a recovery run, I’d try out a recovery bike ride! I am desperate to find a crosstraining activity I like, so this was my first attempt. And I think I may have found it. Biking felt like pure bliss when compared with yesterday’s run. Breezy and quiet, I felt strong and enjoyed every minute. I didn’t even feel like I was working until I reached over my shoulder to scratch my back and found beads of sweat! I rode as far out as the trail would allow, at which time I turned back, logging a total of 18 miles. I’m sure I’ll have some sore shoulders tomorrow, but I’ll take it. It sure beats blisters!
With 14 weeks until the marathon, anything can happen. I just pray that my imperfect training schedule turns out to be absolutely perfect. For me. I want marathon #2.
And let it be known: I just may go shirtless again.