Oakland Marathon 2014 training: 9 weeks out

Oakland Marathon 2014 training: 9 weeks out

9 weeks out / week 4 – week of January 20, 2014




Last week, I wrote that it seemed ‘mental callousing’ and ‘opportunities’ were especially thematic for my runs, and this week, if I had to pick some, it’d be somewhere along the lines of trust the process and don’t freak the hell out. Throughout 2013, I worked a lot on my mental game when it comes to running and my marathoning pursuits. It’s not that I’ve ever been especially… let’s call it “delusional” when it comes to my running, or my goals or abilities, but last year, after a few game-changing races for me, I felt like I had a long way to get my head to catch up to my heart.


Rarely do I go into a run “fearing” it (as much as one can fear an inanimate object… or a voluntary physical activity…), but I still sometimes let some preconceived notions and, well, fear, I guess, get into my head. It’s entirely head trash, and while I can usually keep it at bay, sometimes I can’t. It’s aggravating when the head trash wins, but it makes me determined as all hell to not let it get to me again.


This week also marked our first full month of residency in California. That, my friends, is trippy. Guess this isn’t a vacation, after all…


you know you're staying put when you get a library card
you know it’s not vacation when you get a library card


Alas, the training week that was:


Monday, January 20

plan: R/XT

actual: MLR 15.04 [8:14 average; 8:22, 27, 15, 22, 23, 24, 14, 7:59, 8:27, 31, 34 (climbing in PCP), 8, 7:57, 51] + PUs


Mondays are typically rest days for me, but my husband’s work schedule (vacation day!) made this a no-brainer for me. If I can wake up at 5am instead of 3am, I’ll take 5. This was pretty much like a choose-your-own-adventure (CYOA) type of run, and along the way, I found a regulation-sized track, of the something-like-cinder variety, on the east side of Penitencia Creek Park, only about a mile and change from home… very exciting. The back 7 of this run were entirely exploratory because just last week, I had run on the west side of PCP and thought that was all there was to the park/trail system. Very cool – and very fun to not have a pre-dawn MLR 15 for a change.


found on my run... a track!
found on my run… a track!


Tuesday, January 21

p: lactate threshold 10 with 5 at tempo pace (15k/HMRP)

a: recovery 5 with 2 hill repeats at the end [8:45 average; 8:48, 41, 51, 33, 51] + PUs


LT are probably my least favorite type of run… probably. These are the runs that I somewhat fear, somewhat dread, because in the throes of marathon training, on fatigued legs (even if they don’t “feel” fatigued), it’s usually quite challenging for me to hit my target paces. I know it should be challenging—that’s why it’s so important, kids—but sometimes, I get worked up about it and feel like something of a failure (#drama) if I don’t hit the paces exactly as prescribed. Yeah, roll your eyes at me here. I’m doing it myself.


Well, given my volume of late, and the way my previous five or so days’ worth of training stacked up, it made the most sense to do a recovery Tuesday morning instead. I think this was important physiologically, but I also think that it was probably a crutch for me and just a way to procrastinate on doing a run that I was already beginning to freak out about.


The recovery was fun—nice and relaxed—and once I figured out that I could do half-mile repeats on a highway bridge/overpass thing a stone’s throw from our new place, I decided doing a couple at the end of a recovery run was as good a time as any to start.


Wednesday, January 22

p: MLR 15

a: Rest + PUs + glute med work


Ah, rest. Spent most of the day unpacking (long and slow process) and also began incorporating nightly glute med work into my PU regimen. My L glute med got a little mean during my Chicago training—minimally so, anyway—but I’m all about being preventative and getting my ass nice and strong before I dramatically realize I need to.


Thursday, January 23

p: recovery 6

a: speed 10 with 5 at 15k/HMRP recovery 6 unplanned rest day


Erin: 0, head trash: 1.


I thought I was setting myself up for success by having my speed sesh come fresh off a rest day, and the morning of, I was ready to go… except that I wasn’t 100% certain about my target pace range, and for whatever reason, our wireless wasn’t working between 3:30-4:30 a.m., so I couldn’t access my training plan. I’m not even kidding you, I was fully dressed, hydrated, gastrointestinally emptied, with my headlamp on my head and shoes on my feet, and once I figured out that, no matter what I did, I couldn’t find my pace, I bailed. I rationalized that it was critically important (!!) that I know exactly what pace range I needed to hit, and if I didn’t know it, then I shouldn’t do the workout, which means I should just go sleep instead, and really, I probably wouldn’t hit the range anyway because I’m tired as all fuck (poor sleep the night before…thanks, toddler), I’ve got lots of miles on my legs lately, and oh yeah, the wireless started working after I decided to bail and had already begun undressing to get back into bed, so I would be really tight on time to get home by 6, so that means I probably shouldn’t go anyway because I won’t get the prescribed mileage, a;lksjf;lajsflajsl;dfjasl;kdfja;lskdfjl;asflakflkjlkjflj


Yup. That, my friends, is BS in action.


the jibbery-jabbery note I left C in the morning
the jibbery-jabbery note I left C in the morning


Even in the throes of my bailing, and even as I was going back to sleep, I knew I’d be pissed at myself for not doing something that morning. Ultimately, I was pissed because I knew that whatever bullshit rationalization I concocted was really just a cover for some insecurities.


Tempos are tough.


Running fast when you’re not 3000% fresh isn’t all unicorns and rainbows.


Running fast is fun, yes, absolutely, who doesn’t love to feel the wind, but running fast and after a target speed necessitates concentration that a MLR doesn’t, and if your head isn’t in the game from the get-go, you’re setting yourself up to lose.


Ultimately, my master plan was to do the tempo once C got home from work that night. Throughout the day, I relegated myself to doing another recovery 6, and of course, his arrival home was later than usual, my (home-cooked!) dinner was ready, blah blah blah… unplanned rest day it was. Not the end of the world, I rationally knew, but emotionally, I had gotten my panties in such a twist about the tempo in the first place and my failure before I even attempted it that **not** running on Thursday just heightened everything 100-fold.


Rationally, I know that one poor run does not a lousy runner make, and that it’s the work over time, the un-sexy, day in and day out stuff, but sometimes, I need a taste of my own medicine, the stuff I regularly prescribe to my runner friends when they freak out about taking time off. Much easier saying than doing, that’s for sure.


Live to run another day, my friends. The world still turns; life does, in fact, go on.


Friday, January 24

p: MLR 13

a: lactate threshold: 10.15 miles with 5 @ 15k/HMRP (7:56 average; wu: 8:47, 18, 11, LT: 7:17, 05, 09, 04, 14 [target range: 7:13-21], cd: 9:22, 8:51 [threw in some hill repeats]) + PUs + glute med work


Finally. After yesterday’s mental breakdown throw-down, I was determined to do as well as possible on this tempo and to just fuckin’ relaaaaaaaaax; this is supposed to be fun, remember? I had an idea of a course in mind, but because I got to run later than usual (6am, instead of 4am), I had to contend with vehicles and traffic lights, and during all of my tempo miles, I had to stop at least once/mile for the aforementioned. Though I was hitting my targets and, at times, even going faster than I needed to be, I felt like the constant starting/stopping might have negated the speed.


At any rate, I felt like I still achieved the purpose of the run, and when I was tempo-ing, I felt very strong and weirdly ‘light’ (weird only because I’m not a lightweight runner by any stretch of the imagination).


Thanks to some pep talks from some dear friends, I think I went into this tempo with a much healthier mindset than I had earlier in the week. Writing my target on my hand wasn’t a bad idea, either.


focus, grasshopper
focus, grasshopper


Once I realized that my tempo target was right around where I typically run the final miles of my long runs at (and that my tempo miles were even slower than my last few miles of the NYCM), suddenly the big-scary-tempo-monster didn’t really have a leg to stand on anymore.


Erin: 1, head trash: 0. Booyah.


Saturday, January 25

p: LR 20 in Mountain View w/Running Addicts group

a: MLR CYOA 15.01 in SJ (8:22 average; 8:39, 13, 27, 21, 35, 18, 35, 47, 32, 26, 27, 06, 7:59, 46, and a missing split…) + PUs + glute med work


I was so excited to run with Linh and the folks from the Running Addicts group in Mountain View that I, uh, drove myself to the trail 24 hours before the group run. Oops. Back home I went, where I promptly fell asleep for two more hours, so I didn’t begin my Saturday run until nearly (gasp) 8:30 a.m.


My plan was to not have a plan, so slowly, the run built from being an hour, to 10 miles, to 12, and finally, to 15. I did some investigating and found the three tracks that Google Maps showed me within 3 miles of my place—awesome–though I couldn’t access one of them, and the other two that I could run on are probably iffy for pre-dawn runs, unless I want to hop some fences. Time will tell.


as lovely to run on as it is to look at
as lovely to run on as it is to look at



SJHS track in Little Portugal
SJHS track in Little Portugal


For the most part, I kept this run at a nice GA or recovery pace, and during the final 3.5 miles, I threw in 7 hill repeats near my place because… why not. Plus, I think runnin’ those guys at the end, or in the middle, of my runs is good mental (and physical) training for that which I’ll cover in Oakland.


Sunday, January 26

p: LR 17

a: LR 20.40 with Linh, Amy, Deanna, Johnny, and Ko (Running Addicts group)  [8:20 average; ~820-1120 elevation gain; 10:04, 9:33, 8:52, 53, 29, 05, 24, 19, 08, 32, 8:37 (319 ft – think I hit my watch here on accident or something), 9:22 (here begins the climbing), 23, 8:32, 6:59 (fun), 7:16, 8:22, 7:31, 32, 32, 20, 14 for .34] + PUs + glute med work


Back to Mountain View, to Shoreline Park, to actually meet-up with the run group on the correct day. After a 3.5 mile warm-up in Shoreline Park in Mountain View, we made our way over to (and through) Palo Alto and Stanford before trekking over to the (enormous) Stanford Dish. Linh, our fearless leader, billed this run as a good Oakland course simulation, since we wouldn’t do any significant climbing until about miles 9-13, once we got over to the Dish.


the Oakland full course profile
the Oakland full course profile



our elevation profile from our 20
our elevation profile from our 20


The hills were definitely challenging, but they were 100% fun. And besides, what goes up…


one of many descents
one of many descents


yay running downhill
yay running downhill. Thanks to Linh for practically all of these pictures.


This run was fantastic–thanks, no doubt, to the company, the scenery, the change of terrain and elevation, everything–so I’m stoked to do this one again soon. I didn’t know how much my legs would enjoy today, since I was coming fresh off a lot of miles in the back half of this week, but they responded and feel no worse for the wear. This is a very, very good sign.


Coyote (and bobcat) alert. The advice is awesome; read closely.
Coyote (and bobcat) alert. The advice is awesome; read closely.


saw him!
saw him!



Farmers' market on Jan 27. Mind. blown.

Running through an outdoor farmers’ market on Jan 27. Mind. blown.




'I have to take this for my blog' (but they all turned out poorly!)
‘I have to take this for my blog’ (but they all turned out poorly!)


at the top, or near the top, of the Dish hill
at the top, or near the top, of the Dish hill


Overlooking Stanford, Mountain View, and Palo Alto
Overlooking Stanford, Mountain View, and Palo Alto, with my weirdo awkward stance


mid-run robot dance
mid-run robot dance, apparently


the (enormous communications) Dish at Stanford
the (enormous communications) Dish at Stanford


throwin' up signs post 2-0.
throwin’ up signs post 2-0.


Overall, from the week:

Feeling strong and optimistic; definitely no complaints. I’m looking forward to peak week #1 coming up, though as usual, I’ll have to do some schedule shuffling to accommodate life… which, this week, includes running the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon in Golden Gate Park (in San Francisco) with Stone and Austin and possibly Meredith! Very, very excited.


kaiser half

Weekly Mileage

p: 65

a: 65.60


Do you ever have crazy freak-out moments before your runs because of [insert delusional, bullshit reason here]? What do you to get over yourself? How’s your training going?

8 thoughts on “Oakland Marathon 2014 training: 9 weeks out

  1. Given that I’ve been AWOL from DM for much of the last week, I’m so glad I was able to read this to catch up on your training. Way to work all of your miles in (even if your workouts weren’t according to plan)!

    The other day, I had a crazy freak-out moment with my Garmin. I had a busy day lined up, and my watch was taking forever to start. I was losing patience with it and debated bagging my run. Buuut I decided to just do it. And it wasn’t bad. (I also had a battle on Tuesday because it was cold and dark and I was tired, but I/the run lost that one.)

    Kaiser though. Woot woot! We’ll talk soon about logistics (e.g., planning the reunion)!

  2. A is growing so fast!!

    I love the photos from your Sunday run! Especially the contrast in outfits. Someone has winter skin.

    Looking at your week from a broad view, you had a KILLER week of runs, and no injuries, kinks, and your weekend miles were wha whaaaat! Your goals are more than within reach!

    The coyote sign needs to add, stand tall, and spit on them if you are a runner, since that’s all you guys seem to do.

    I miss you guys! Take care

    1. Thanks, Declan! And yea, A is getting HUGE. It’s unreal. and nice observation about the difference in winter running apparel for someone from the midwest versus someone from CA… I also said as much on the run 🙂

  3. Ahhh the mental freak out, the self trash talking, etc….. it happens, and you more than dealt with it.

    I want to do that 2-0 with you. I must coordinate LR schedules with you.

    1. Thanks, E 🙂 and yes! Let’s do the 2-0 together. I could get navigate us for almost all of it… the part of the Shoreline Park we ran in the dark might be questionable. 🙂

  4. I just started training and so far so good. Well, slower than I would want, but I’ve been taking my dog out with me so he can get some miles in too.
    I get lost in my head and freak out too. It’s hard not to, especially when there’s a run ‘looming’ over you. I tend to try and push through and negate the negative talk in my head and try to enjoy what I can on each run.
    I haven’t done the Dish trail before and I have lived here all my life. I must try it out 🙂

    1. Sonia, that’s awesome you can run with your dog! That can be really difficult! And yes, the Dish trail is really awesome; you should totally check it out. Lots of good climbing over by Stanford!

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