Oakland Marathon 2014 Training: 4 Weeks Out

Oakland Marathon 2014 Training: 4 Weeks Out

Week 8 – 4 weeks out – week of February 17, 2014


As I sit down to write my recap of this week’s training, I feel like this week has been years long. I’m guessing it’s more a result of the non-stop schedule the family has had since my in-laws have been visiting… and the very small detail of spending a couple days in Disneyland with a toddler (and the seven hour drive each way to get there).

Early in the week, I was beginning to feel like my left calf was being a bit janky–not especially worrisome, since it wasn’t painful, but I find it puzzling and a little disconcerting when I’m suddenly conscious of body parts that I’m usually not–so the off-ish high calf/low hammie thing, combined with the Disney hangover, gave me an unintentional significant cutback week.

The thing about marathon training though, like I’ve written before and like I’ve told my friends (and repeatedly tell myself), is that missing a run isn’t going to derail a race performance. I’m pretty type-A, in the sense that I’ll do whatever it takes to complete all, or nearly all, of my runs (hello, 3am wake-up!), but sometimes, life just… happens.  Truth be told, I likely wouldn’t have been as forgiving as I was to myself this week for missing a couple runs, but Disney + taking care of business with my calf (read: probably being a bit hypersensitive) made a lot more sense to me, in the grand scheme of training, than slogging through, and squeezing in, a couple runs just to check-off some runs on my training calendar.

Part of marathon training is learning when to trust yourself and your abilities (and your training and/or coach) and to not be afraid to alter course from the plan. Remember, these things are written in feather.

On that light note (get it? feather? light? I’m so clever)… this week’s training!

Monday, February 17

p: rest/xt

a: rest

My calendar tells me it was President’s Day on Monday, but I have no memory of what happened that day. Definitely a rest day though.

Tuesday, February 18

p: VO2 max: 9 miles with 5x600m at 5kRP; jog 90 seconds between reps

a: double-fun day! a.m.: 10.33 miles with 8×800, 3 minute recoveries (800s: 3:24, 23, 19, 16, 18, 19, 15, 15);  // p.m.: 5.1 mi recovery with Chris at PP in Richmond

The beginning of where I changed things around this week. Pfitz prescribes 600s, not 800s, but I’d rather do 800s; dare I say they’re… fun? Plus, the only time I did a 600s workout was in the dead of winter, in the dark, on the Chase Park track, and I completely fell on my ass going over a sheet of black ice on a recovery segment, so I think I just have a bad association with 600s. Anyway, I did the 800s on the PCP track and decided to go no-look until the very end, when I was hitting my watch to stop. The goal was a 3:15 or faster, so I was a bit miffed that it took me so long to hit that pace (and not until the very end, at that). By the time I finished my last repeat, I felt like I still had something in the tank, which I’m guessing means that I could have paced these better earlier on. Maybe there is something to be said for looking at your watch periodically… However, hey, look at that accidental almost-progression!

In the afternoon, I trekked back up to Richmond to meet Christopher for a double for both of us. We were much better at keeping the pace more leisurely than we had the previous week, and hey, chasing a run with vegan donuts? Yes please. Post-run, I fetched my FIL from SFO (because nothing says welcome to northern California! like your stinky and sweaty daughter-in-law) and got ready for Disney.

running and vegan baked goods FTW
running and vegan baked goods FTW


Wednesday, February 19

p: MLR 15

a: a.m. 6.21 mi (8:25 average); p.m. – nada

Tuesday’s miles put me ahead of where I needed to be by this time in the week, so I decided to cutback my MLR from 15 to something shorter. Thanks to an early departure time for Disney, I needed to have run, showered, and have my ass in the car by 5am, so that meant a quick turn-around from Tuesday’s mileage. In my little noggin, I thought breaking up the MLR into 6-4 (or thereabouts) would actually be a good idea, what with sitting in a car for 7  hours and my hamstrings and GM surely crying uncle by the end of the car ride, but without exaggeration, once we got to Anaheim, we promptly dropped our stuff at the hotel and went to Disney for the rest of that afternoon and evening… and then the rare opportunity for a date night happened… so yeah. No double today.

This was one of those days, though, where it was probably in my best interest not to double because, even though my calf wasn’t paining me, giving myself just a little bit more time to recover was surely to my benefit… and besides, I was on my feet all afternoon and evening at Disney. That’s gotta count for something, right?

Thursday, February 20

p: recovery + speed 7 miles with 6x100m strides

a: unintentional rest day

The day Disney ate my mileage. 7 miles with strides or 13 hours of Disney in one day, that followed 4-5 hours of Disney the day before (and a 7-hour car ride). That’s a whole new level of tired, folks. On the flipside, though, there is nothing like seeing your kiddo just utterly transfixed by the sight of her favorite “friends” (Princess Aurora, Belle, Ariel, Cinderella, and the like).

Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty, if it's been a while for you)
Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty, if it’s been a while for you)…and our server in the background


why yes, I was wearing compression tights for 2 of our 3 days in Anaheim!
why yes, I was wearing compression tights for 2 of our 3 days in Anaheim


Friday, February 21

p: recovery 6

a: GA 7.01 (8:03 average) in Anaheim

An earlier bedtime and a later wake-up made this run much easier to manage. I didn’t particularly plan a route for the run, though I thought running around the Disney property perimeter would be kinda neat. Basically, the plan was to run until the sidewalk disappeared and then figure things out from there. Seeing a handful of other runners out during the morning rush hour was pretty cool, too. Pretty standard run otherwise… and another fun day at Disney with some of A’s buddies. 🙂

with the sunrise
with the sunrise
she is having a BLAST
she is having a BLAST


another family shot :)
another family shot 🙂


Saturday, February 22

p: 8-15k tune-up race

a: another unintentional rest day/Disney + travel hangover

I knew I wasn’t going to be racing today, given Sunday’s 408k in San Jose (register! 90% full! come run with me!), but I figured I’d at least get in about 10 GA miles. Well… nope. We didn’t leave Disney until late on Friday night, and the 7 hour drive put us back to SJ around 2:30 a.m. You have no idea how much I seriously considered just staying up to run, but I thought that’d be against my better judgement; while running at 4am doesn’t bother me much, running at 3am just sounds worrisome.

Sub-par sleep in the car, and sub-par sleep on Saturday, since A still awoke at her usual time, meant that Saturday was a slog, and my new idea of running during naptime was shot to hell when naptime didn’t happen until nearly 3pm. Again, any other time, I’d think “what the hell” and do something, but given the weird calf niggle, which, by Saturday, had begun to feel a lot better, and my plan to go long on Sunday morning early, I voluntarily canned the run.

I’d have to look at my DM records to know for sure, but I honestly can’t recall the last time I took off 3 days in one week; I’m guessing it was probably sometime immediately post-marathon. I don’t say that as a badge of honor or anything like that; I say it only to encourage people to not be afraid to stray from the plan and, probably more importantly, to learn to listen to your freakin’ body. Recovery is damn important, folks. Off my soapbox…

Sunday, February 23

p: LR 18

a: LR 22.04 (8:08 average)

After all the voluntary time off this week, I was itching to go long to see not only how I’d feel, but also to get the time and mileage on my legs and to see how this niggle was shaking out. I plotted a course that originated at home and took me through downtown SJ before picking up the GRT and heading north, and along the way, I began to consider extending the run from 18 to 19, 20, 21, or 22 miles if things felt right. Pfitz caps his LRs at 21, and I’ve never done more than that, but a recent podcast from Coach Jay Johnson got the idea of a longer LR in my head for all the obvious (and not so obvious) physical and mental benefits.

All told, I really enjoyed this run. I ended up extending it to 22, and the calf was fine. It periodically acted like it wanted to cramp or flex erratically between miles 13-14 (I think), but besides that, no complaints. The back 5 of this run was kinda a bitch though and morphed the run into something more resembling a fartlek, thanks to all the stop-and-start action I had to do with vehicles and stoplights between downtown and my place.

And, uh, I saw roosters crossing the GRT on my back 7. My sister had a rooster once that was super mean, so I just waited for these guys to cross the road (cue all the bad jokes here) before going along my merry way.

urban cock crossing
urban cock crossing

An awesome week overall–again, experiencing Disney with my toddler daughter who adores many of these characters is so ridiculously special that it took everything I had to not cry–even with the several unintentional rest-but-not-really-rest days. If nothing else, taking a couple more days off than usual left me hungry to get back out there and finish off these last few weeks off with a vengeance because WE’RE LESS THAN A MONTH OUT FROM RACE DAY, FOLKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Weekly Mileage

p: 68

a: 50.69

 What say you? Do you ever veer off your training plan? Do you feel like a badass when you do, or does it make you a bit nervous? Spring races are coming up quickly–are you so excited!?! And have you ever yielded to unusual-for-your-environment wildlife on a run? Tell me everything!

4 thoughts on “Oakland Marathon 2014 Training: 4 Weeks Out

  1. Hey-o!

    I feel like I’m no stranger to veering off from the training plan. Why, just last week, I switched my Friday rest day to Thursday (because of some stupid head cold and being exhausted), and took an unintentional rest day on Sunday (unless learning exercises to help people achieve THEIR fitness goals counts) because PT class took over my whole weekend and I needed to carve out time for cleaning. Veering kind of makes me nervous, but not as much as any injury mid-training (I’m just a worry-wart at times).

    You have some interesting wildlife stories too! I can’t recall any wildlife stories at present (problems with city running), but if I think of any/encounter any crazy wildlife on my run, I’ll be sure to let you know!

  2. My training plan is written in spreadsheet, not feather 🙂 I do have a hard time veering too far off the plan – being so relatively new to distance running, I actually do kind of worry that I’ll just sabotage myself. Even though I know that’s probably not true. And obviously life stuff gets in the way sometimes. But playing it safe is the better choice, and of course years from now you’ll probably have better memories of the time at Disneyland than of an extra run or two. Oh, and not that you asked, but Princess Aurora was my favorite (at least, until the Little Mermaid came out). She’s really aged well 😉

    I loved seeing the roosters on your run! It reminded me of the chickens I saw while running on Kauai last year. They’re not mean or anything, but they’re EVERYWHERE. The trail we ran on also had reported wild boar sightings, which made me a little nervous since those are mean and I don’t typically carry a machete.

    1. Anne! Your comment made me laugh out loud– “I don’t typically carry a machete” 🙂 haha Little Mermaid has also aged wonderfully…

What'cha thinkin?