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20 Miles and Peak Week #1

Posted Oct 04 2012 9:19pm
Last week marked my first official high mileage week of training
Monday: 6 miles
Tuesday: 5 miles, including a speed workout (4 x 800/2 minutes rest in between)
Wednesday: 9 miles easy (this felt really hard, holy humidity)
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 5 miles
Sunday: 20 miles, 15 easy to medium pace (9:00-9:15), last six at or around marathon goal pace (8:45), 9:05 overall pace
Total: 50 miles

I bailed on what would have been my last club run before New York when I saw the forecast included an all-day flash flood warning for Saturday. I know you can't plan for what will happen on Race Day, but honestly, torrential downpour during a marathon would be my worst nightmare. (Actually, it was my worst nightmare in 2010. Holy chafing, right?) I knew 20 miles in those conditions would not have been a good time, and mentally, I needed some solid long run miles. Since I'd already taken a rest day on Friday, I switched things out and ran an easy five miles on Saturday when the rain let up  and mapped out a new 20 mile route to cover on Sunday.

Strategically planned around cold water fountains for bottle refills: Whole Foods. Memorial Park Tennis Center. Shell station. Whole Foods again.
And then Sunday morning got off to a rocky start. Thanks to an iPhone glitch, my alarm went off silently and I woke up five minutes before I was supposed to meet my friend Rose. Two miles away. And I still needed to eat breakfast. $#!%! Like me, Rose doesn't run with her phone, so thinking quickly, I drove to our meeting spot, told her to get a head start and that I'd see her in 30.

Back at my apartment, I snarfed my breakfast. (Coffee, two Trader Joe's granola bars and a Honey Stinger gel. This training cycle is so not about consistency...) Then I made sure I had everything I needed for ~three hours of running (fuel, Gatorade/water bottle, emergency cash) and headed out.

Still not sure about what I'll be carrying on Race Day. But one thing is for certain: variety is key.
On my way to the Rice loop, I was freaking out inside.

"Rose must think I'm such a flake."
 "Omg, it's going to be so late when I finish."

Rose was only running nine miles for the day, so we split up less than three miles in so that she'd end her run at home. At this point I noticed that I was actually feeling pretty good my legs felt light, and I felt alert and well-rested. (I guess I should have, after 10+ hours of sleep!) Suddenly remembering that it actually wasn't supposed to get hot and humid that day, I plugged into my iPod and got my mind to shut up and relax about the inevitability of finishing this run close to lunchtime.

The first half of this run flew by. I took short fuel and water breaks at Miles 5, 10 and 15. At Mile 13, I got a sudden burst of energy I think my legs were just happy to be headed in the direction of home and I finished it up by running my first set of consistent marathon goal pace miles in a long run for this cycle.

Boom.
Yeah, I've ran three marathons already, with past training runs of up to 22 miles. But after jumping almost immediately into training right after the injury and struggling through a very disappointing 18 miler, I just wasn't ready to tackle my first 20 of the season three weeks ago, as originally planned. Cutting back that weekend and slowly building the long runs back up was the best gut decision I could have made, even if I was worried about falling even more behind in training. This 20 was gave me just the mental boost I needed, and now, exactly one month out from the big day , I'm finally starting to feel ready.

This weekend I'm running the Buffalo Stampede Half-Marathon with Boyfriend as another cutback long run. I've been conferring with a couple of seasoned speedsters all week about how to tackle it ("I'm not in PR shape, but I think I can do better than just EP/MGP, what should I do??") and I think I've figured out a good plan.

Don't start out too fast if in the end you want to fly.
Like last year, this weekend's race marks the start of " racing " every weekend until NYCM, including a 10-miler, 10K and a half-marathon relay as a team with Boyfriend. I'm 99 percent certain none of these will be PRs; if anything, they'll just save me from getting bored of my usual routes.

Question: What's your favorite type of long run/mid-race fuel? I'm going to continue experimenting over the next couple of weeks, but I think I found at least one winner in Honey Stinger gels. They get major points for tasting like real food and not like...sludge.


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