For having a running blog, I haven’t blogged too much about running lately. For being about to run a marathon in 20 days, I also haven’t blogged too much about training!
The past two weeks have been a whirlwind, that’s for sure, with quite a few highs and lows along the way.
While in San Diego I did some absolutely spectacular runs along The Strand, which is the strip of land connecting Coronado Island to Imperial Beach. That was definitely something to check that off the bucket list!
In the Spring of 2011 I actually lived in Chula Vista and worked at the Hotel del Coronado, so I drove The Strand daily. Back then I wasn’t a runner and didn’t take advantage of that beautiful trail even once. My one goal for my return to the area was to make up for lost time and get some miles in out there! Mission accomplished.
I figured go big or go home and decided to recreate my own version of the Goofy Challenge. You know, where you do a half marathon one day followed by a marathon the next. I really just wanted to see if I was up to it. So Monday of last week I headed out for my own half marathon. Easy breezy and I finished first – haha!
The next day I woke up at 4 a.m. and went out for the second half of the challenge, running 23 miles.
Sure, I was 3.2 miles short of the total challenge, but I proved to myself that I could definitely handle doing 13.1 + 26.2 miles back to back.
For the 23 mile run I started at The Del and ran almost the entire way back to my apartment in Chula Vista. That was a fun throwback to all the drives home from my internship at the Hotel del Coronado that spring.
When it came to the actual run though, I was a little worried because there was almost no elevation gain the entire route, so I felt like I was cheating myself.
That is, until I looked up the elevation map for the Marine Corps Marathon, which is almost equally as flatline. After I saw that I went from thinking it was inadequate training to perfect training!
Recovery was surprisingly not too bad. Obviously after the 23 mile run I went back to the hotel, collapsed into bed, and didn’t move for about 4 hours. But that afternoon I was up and out on the town with Abe. The next day I would say I was at 85% and by the next day I was at 100%.
The run marked the peak of marathon training for me. While I was thrilled to have topped out the miles, I almost instantly felt a mentality shift. I could feel my motivation begin to taper off along with my training.
Anyone who has run a marathon will tell you that the race is almost secondary, it’s the training and the process that is the most meaningful. For me, entering the taper stage was almost like starting the final chapter of a good book. I’m excited to see how it will end but am already lamenting the fact that it actually does have to end.
Feeling a bit deflated, this week I ended up taking two days off back to back on Monday and Tuesday. I was definitely in a weird funk, feeling sad and anxious about the marathon and just plain antsy! I knew I had to snap out of it though – two days are really the most I can take off in a row before I let it become five days and then two weeks off and I didn’t want to end up sacrificing 16 weeks of hard training!
My runs this week were brutal. No sugar coating – they were hard and slow. We were in Santa Clarita, CA which seemed to be in the middle of the mountains! There was an enormous hill to summit in mile one and although I got to run down it during mile two it just meant another climb on the way back! On a cool note, I did see a TARANTULA one night on my run.
My pace has gone to hell lately too, which has me concerned. If anyone has any suggestions for why this might be or how I can get that pace back down I definitely want to hear them! I had been training at an 8:40 pace for my shorter ~5 mile runs and around 9:00 for my longer runs. This week I could barely maintain 9:00 and truthfully creeped into the 9:30 range for many of my miles.
Luckily, on my long run, some kind soul had chalked some random inspirational sayings along my route. I don’t know that I would have made it without these little pick-me-ups along the way. There were about 5 of them!
Here’s what I’m thinking. I’ve probably (read: definitely) overtrained. My long run this week (13 miles – I was going to do 16 but didn’t think I’d survive) was the worst run I’ve done in my life. My legs were SHOT.
I’ve also gained weight, which could also be contributing to the slow down. Yeah, whhaatt? As someone who has struggled with weight gain, weight loss, and weight maintenance, this has definitely contributed to my weird mood lately. I run 50 miles per week and gain 5lbs?
This week I have one focus: recovery. That long run this week was so miserable that I know my legs need some TLC and that means taking it easy. So while I’m clamoring to get my pace back down, I’m hoping that if I invest in slow runs now it will pay off with a better pace on race day, which is when it counts.
So here we are, 20 days until race day! I’m thinking about posting a motivational quote each day just to keep me pumped up and avoid getting too taper nutty!
Good luck to everyone else training for fall marathons and congrats to anyone who has run one, especially all those folks at Chicago this weekend!