First of all, sorry for my long absence. (I feel like I say that at the beginning of every post nowadays.) I would have done a training week recap this week but last week was very much a bust in terms of training. I had done my long run on Sunday instead of Saturday and so was feeling pretty rough when I tried to go back out for my short runs, so I took one day off, and then I got sick, and then I partied pretty hard for my birthday party… it was just a bust. But what it did do was make me come back to this current week, week 13, with a serious appetite for training. And luckily last week’s long run was a cutback long run instead of a buildup, so although that is the thing I most regret not doing, I would be more upset if it was one of my buildup distances I’ve never gone as far. So I shook it off and jumped right back in this week.
For this week’s Friday Five, Courtney, Cynthia, and Mar gave us an open-ended Five Favorites to discuss. So as we move into the fall season and I get closer and closer to race day, the Marine Corps Marathon and my first full marathon, I’m taking a look back at the last 13 weeks. I’ve written before about how training for the Marine Corps Marathon isn’t just about October 26, race day. It’s about keeping myself accountable and pushing myself to my limits. Enjoying the journey, not just the destination. So looking back, these are the five training days that stand out as being some of my favorites.
1. 6 miles on the evening of Wednesday August 6
We had an exceptionally mild August, which will probably translate into a murderously awful winter, but I enjoyed it while it lasted. I remember this evening clearly, because it was the first time I really ran more than a few miles in my new neighborhood instead of running to the part of Rock Creek Trail near my house and just sticking to that. This time, I was running sidewalks around my neighborhood and it really gave me a sense of how big my neighborhood is, how to navigate it if I take a wrong turn one day, and just how much of my little slice of Rockville is within foot traffic distance from my house. This was definitely my favorite part of the run, pictured above. I had no idea this little flower garden full of tulips and daffodils was tucked away on this side street I took to get some extra distance in.
I absolutely love running the 5-9 mile distance. I’ve said a million times before, it’s a good workout without leaving you feeling broken afterward. I remember getting back to my house just as it got dark and loving every second of the runner’s high as I downed a glass of ice water. 6 miles is just the sweet spot.
2. Morning yoga on Tuesday, August 19
When I planned out what cross-training I would do on my non-running days according to the Hal Higdon plan I downloaded for marathon training, I’d planned to do yoga at least every other Friday if not more often. My studio offers yoga for $5 on Fridays, and they have a 5:30 session. It’s an absolutely perfect way to end the work week and start the weekend. The problem is, I am almost always too exhausted from the work week by the time I get off work to think about doing anything besides throwing myself on the couch and watching Netflix. So I had some yoga to make up for. Non-Friday drop-in sessions at my studio are more expensive, but they do have Tuesday morning yoga I can fit in before work. To make up for a Friday I missed, I decided to try and start my Tuesday off like this. While it didn’t make me more energized to be at work (mornings are tough, regardless of how I start them), it did keep me calmer throughout the day. I always describe yoga as “delicious.” It is a delicious feeling for my body.
3. Speed work with Courtney and Julie on Tuesday, July 15
At the beginning of the summer, Julie and Courtney and I had these big plans to do speed work together every Tuesday. Eventually we realized it was just too tough with me living in Rockville and their living downtown to do it together every week, plus as I’m training for the marathon distance just to finish, not for a time goal, speed work was less necessary for my training than running hills and plain endurance. But back in July we were all about it, so much so that when C and J came out to Rockville on a night that was thunderstorming on and off, we decided to say “screw it” to the track and took shelter at my gym. Lining up alongside each other on three treadmills, we programmed in our goal paces and went after some tough 1200 and 800 repeats. They were tough but having the girls there to cheer each other on between repeats made it not just tough but fun.
4. 10 mile long run at the Annapolis 10 Miler, Sunday August 24
I would be remiss if I did not include my biggest official achievement of the summer, which was PR-ing big time at the Annapolis 10 Miler at the end of August. It was perfect timing for the race, as my plan called for 10 miles exactly that weekend and a bunch of my buds from Team RWB were running the race too. I’d heard that the course was infamously hilly and tough and August could have given us much more worse weather. So I didn’t want to run myself into the ground trying to PR, but I was tempted anyway. There is something magical about race day. When running outside, my pace has been over 11 minutes for most of my training runs. And for longer runs, I’m taking high 11’s. But somehow, race day magic threw my pace into the 9’s for most of the race, only pushing me into the 10:30 range for like two out of 10 miles. It was just such a triumphant feeling to not only PR, but PR BIG time, by 5 1/2 minutes. My official chip time was 1:41:29, which means I’m gunning for a sub-1:40 10-miler here soon. (But maybe first I should focus on a sub-1 hour 10K and breaking my half marathon PR.)
5. 9 miles mid-week on Wednesday, September 17
It’s funny, including a run that felt maddeningly slow where most of my body hurt for most of the run. The thing is, this run was the epitome of why running is a mental sport. Physically my body was protesting, but I got all 9 miles in at a pretty steady pace just because my brain really, really wanted to run on a gorgeous fall evening. The other thing that put me in a great mental place for this run was that I went home for it, and by home I mean my Mom and Dad’s house. Last summer when I was moving up from 5K’s and getting ready for my first 10 miler and eventually my first half marathon, the roads surrounding my parents’ house were my turf, like a study buddy I’d meet for coffee four nights a week doing my running. So being away from them a while made it feel like I was catching up with an old friend over coffee. I know every crevice and every little uphill and downhill, even the slightest little indent in the route, like the back of my hand, and it just made the run fun even though it was physically tough. Yes, running new routes and different terrain is important, but sometimes, you just want to go home for a little bit, even if home is 9 miles long.
So that’s my Friday Five. Make sure to visit either Courtney (linked above), Mar‘s and Cynthia‘s posts (I loved all of them this week) and add your link to your own Friday Five themed post today. See you on Monday with my Marathon Training: Week 13 recap. (Promise!)