Week 9 – 3 weeks out (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) – week of February 24, 2014
This week was my final peak week, and I’m ready for it. It kinda blows my mind right now that the bulk of my training is over for Oakland–how has 9 weeks already passed?–and, related, I have no idea how my family and I have lived in California already for over two months now. I think it’s still a little premature for me to look back at my training this cycle–forthcoming–but I found myself internalizing things a bit on many of my runs this week because we’re in race month, folks, and I’m beginning to think a lot about failure.
Like I wrote about on The San Francisco Marathon’s blog, about going after crazy-ass goals, when you publicly admit your goal–crazy-ass or not–you’re really putting yourself out there and, to an extent, putting a lot of stuff on the line, like your ego, pride, all the good stuff that can really build a girl up or knock her straight on her ass. In my humble opinion, public proclamations make the pursuit of the goal(s) that much more… visceral, I guess is the right word for it… yet the heightened stakes from folks knowing what you’re going after can also be a bit anxiety-inducing.
The hell am I talking about?
I’m going after a 3:15 this year (hello, sweaty palms), a good five minute-ish PR from my current 3:20:06. I’ll go after it in Oakland, which, for perspective, I’ve read that Boston has nothing on Big Sur, and Big Sur has nothing on Oakland, in terms of course profile. I’ve not yet run BS, so I can’t testify to the accuracy of that claim, but it’s definitely in the back of my head. Anyway, since I’ve proclaimed to the world that a 3:15 is my big goal this year, I have been thinking a lot about it and what I need to do to get there… and how I define failure. Will I have failed myself or my training if I don’t go sub-3:20 in Oakland? If I don’t hit 3:15? I have no idea, and really, I don’t know when or if I’ll have any answers to these questions.
I write this only because I think it’s enormously important to not only talk about this stuff and be real about it but also because it–doubt, anxiety–comes with the territory of marathon training and going after a goal, a crazy-ass one or not, that matters to you. Though I’m beginning to get a little jittery about this stuff, I’d probably be more jittery if I weren’t in the first place (catch that? complicated sentence structure).
Getting through our doubts and anxieties about realizing our goals is part of the ‘mental callousing’ or ‘mental training’ that’s paramount to marathon training. This stuff, this mental business, as unsexy and a bit unsettling as it is, is an important element to this marathoning game. I’m all for being confident in your ability to realize your goal(s), but I think it’s also important to train your mind to deal with doubt and anxiety, those little voices that make you second-guess yourself. Brain-training FTW, folks. The pros do it, too.
Despite everything I just said, though I likely sound incredibly doubtful of virtually everything, training has gone GREAT. I am absolutely stoked to race my favorite distance in just a few weeks.
And with that… training!
Monday, Feb 24
Nice lil’ rest day.
Tuesday, February 25
p: recovery double: 6 a.m.; 4 p.m.
a: yup, recovery double: 6.01 in the a.m.; 4.01 in the p.m.
Felt pretty well post-long LR on Sunday, but it was nice to have a recovery day so early in the week. I took a different route in the morning and found myself at Costco in the pre-dawn hours–interesting–and also was quickly reminded why I go my usual routes when streetlights were non-existent and not all sidewalks were ADA-compliant. Those factors, plus the issue of my slowly-dimming headlamp (that I didn’t realize at the time), necessitated that I literally tip-toe on the run because I couldn’t see for shit… which got old quickly… but otherwise, a nice run. In the p.m., I just ran big loops around my neighborhood and, in the process, was momentarily chased by an off-leash Chihuahua. I love animals just as much as the next vegan, but that little effer was lucky a car or I (which, to a small dog, probably feels the same) didn’t run him over. Anyway, nice easy runs.
Wednesday, February 26
p: VO2 max 11 miles with 6x1000m at 5kRP with 2 min jog recoveries
a: MLR 15.03 (8:30 average)
Midweek quince that got bumped to early in the week thanks to the weekend’s 8k I’d be subbing for my speed. This run was a bit rough because of multiple pit stops (late dinners are bad ideas for vampire runs) and fierce-for-SJ wind. It was definitely a morning where the effort didn’t match the watch, but it’s all good. It was nice to run on the GRT during the week and in the early morning hours for a change, too. Oh, and besides seeing 10 feral cats, I tried to convince a chicken to stop crossing the street by SJHS so she wouldn’t get slaughtered by cars, but despite my clapping and yelling, she insisted on just running deeper into the intersection. Natural selection, you win.
Thursday, February 27
p: MLR 15
a: 11.1 miles GA + recovery (8:47 average)
In the interests of not doing double-days of speedwork this week, I changed the VO2 max workout to just a GA 11. I made a deal with my legs (you do that too, don’t you?) that we’d run the first 8 as a slow GA pace and then the final 3, in big loops around my ‘hood, as a recovery. On the final .5, I included some strides to freshen things up a bit, and those felt good. It was challenging to not get mentally discouraged about downgrading part of a GA run to a recovery, but it was also one of those instances where I knew that listening to my body was a must — and especially during peak week and especially so close to my marathon.
Today’s bonus: getting my Chicago Marathon ’13 official results book and seeing our BRC name in print for winning our division.
Friday, February 28
p: GA 8
a: recovery 6.05
Another easy recovery run around the ‘hood in the predawn and very rainy hours. I was soaked by the time I was finished, and it continued to rain here for almost the entire day. #whatdroughtCA?
Saturday, March 1
p: recovery 6
a: LR 20 (8:10 average, 9:14, 8:37, 57, 35, 39, 44, 25, 23, 00, 09, 01, 759, 51, 812, 751, 805 for .11, 751, 43, 35, 22, 714 for .89)
Final 20 for the Oakland cycle! Originally, Stone and I were going to meet up for this 20 here, but when work schlepped her off, I was on my own. I decided to return to Hellyer/Coyote Creek as I did a few weeks ago, and the morning was a bit of a clusterfuck with me leaving nearly an hour later than I planned–toddler issues at 4:30am–and some fierce-for-SJ winds and sideways-blowing rain. I had a hearty headwind for the first half of this, and the rain persisted until mile 14 (wherein I immediately saw, and then ran under, a rainbow– SO COOL!!!). I figured I’d probably go for a fast finish on this run, but I wasn’t really committed to anything; I just wanted the miles and the time on my feet.
Anyway, at times the wind was just laughable–that type of wind where you take 3 steps forward and feel like you get pushed 2 steps backwards–and rather than fight it, I just went with it. I managed to get to Hellyer, and then leave, right before a half marathon there began. An ankle-deep puddle on the trail necessitated an early turn-around, but not before I accidentally flashed some race hikers when I dropped trou, one of my finer moments for sure. I’ll take running with friends over sola pretty much every day of the week, but I think all this nonsense was sufficiently entertaining that this 20 actually kinda went by pretty quickly. And! most importantly! Even with the fast finish, I felt like there was a good bit left in the tank–and I felt really good for the rest of the day, even with standing on my feet to volunteer at the 408k packet pickup all afternoon. WIN.
Sunday, March 2
p: LR 20
a: 3.05 mi WU & CD; 8k (4.97mi) Run to the Row (35:06, 7:03 average)
First time racing in SJ, first time wearing the Wolfpack singlet in a race, finally running one of the races I was a local ambassador for… just a very fun morning. The course began at the SAP Center downtown and wound through some ‘hoods before the final ‘Mariachi Mile,’ that had about 5 different Mariachi bands — very cool — and finishing at Santana Row, a shopping district. I was really excited for the race and entered it with virtually no expectations besides just getting some semblance of speed in this morning. Of course, I always want to PR–who doesn’t–but I focused more on keeping this effort honest and as-speedy-as-I-could-muster on peak week legs that already had 65 miles on them, twenty of those being fewer than 24 hours prior.
Pre-race, Bernadette, another 408k ambassador and local leader of a moms’ running group here, and I hung out for a bit before I connected with Coach Lisa and other Wolfpack runners. I love race day mornings because the positive energy is just palpable, and for a very short time, the race suspends reality and seemingly (or actually) allows runners to rule the streets. I totally felt like the new kid at school because I knew nothing about where we were running and virtually nothing about the course, but that’s part of what made the race so fun. Uphill? Downhill? Hairpin turns? Sure!
True to form, I remain pretty outrageously horrible at pacing shorter stuff (6:43, 703, 10, 22, 26 for .97), even if I think I’m doing it satisfactorily, but I’m happy with how this went. We had another windy-for-SJ morning with some almost-rain, but it was a nice morning for a jaunt. I enjoyed running a new-to-me race and meeting so many Wolfpack teammates in the process; these folks are FAST. Immediately seeing C and A once I finished was a treat, too, and apparently, they saw me cross the finish line (but I didn’t hear them yelling). All told, I was 5th in my AG and 13th woman OA (out of 612 and 4,577, respectively). It was my slowest 8k in a while, but post-20 miler? I’ll take it. I’m thinking bigger picture here, folks.
I wouldn’t necessarily advise anyone to try to race the day after a LR, but this fit into my schedule pretty nicely, and getting the ambassador gig was a treat as well. I will likely do the other two events in the Run the Bay series that Represent Running hosts, but they’re not until much later in the year.
So! Another week down, another week closer to Oakland, and best of all: TAPER TOWN!!!
What say you? Do you think about failure when you’re training for your goal race? Do you think it’s important to do so or mostly just depressing? What ‘rainbow,’ real or otherwise, did you see this week on your runs? Tell me everything!