Marathon Training Week 9 Recap

Finally I have a weekly recap that is not all gloom and doom!

After taking some time off last week, I was ready to dive into week nine of training. I had a whole new attitude and it translated into better runs.

Last week:

Monday: Rest day.

Tuesday: 3 miles. It was pretty humid but Joe had me do some strides during this run and that translated into faster times. It took forever for my Garmin to load so I don’t know my pace on the first mile but the last two came out to a 9:27 average, which is pretty solid for me these days.

Wednesday: 7 miles. This required a 4:25 a.m. alarm, which was ROUGH. I ate a few sports chews and filled my handheld water bottle and headed out. The city is SO empty at 4:30. I think we saw less than half a dozen other runners. We changed our mid-week route and went down to the 14th Street Bridge, onto the Mount Vernon Trail toward Rosslyn, past the Lincoln Memorial and on to the Mall. It was super humid that morning and I sort of had to hold back some vomit (sorry for the graphic description) at the end. I need to prepare better for these Wednesday runs. I need to eat a few more carbs on Tuesday and maybe grab a slice of toast or something before the run to get me through.

Thursday: 4 miles. I was dripping sweat. When I tried to do my post-run stretching, my skin was so sweaty I was sliding all over the place. Again, you’re welcome for the imagery.

Friday: Rest day. For dinner this day, Joe and I went to my favorite Italian restaurant, Tortino. It’s less than two blocks from our apartment and it is delicious. It’s great for carbo loading. I went there the night before the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler and that translated into success so I figured it couldn’t hurt before my long run on Saturday.

Saturday: 10 miles. Luckily for me, this week was a step back week so we only had to go 10 miles. It’s sort of ridiculous that 10 miles now doesn’t sound that bad. Anyway, I did a few things differently for this run. When I had hit my mental wall, I asked some folks who are part of a Facebook running group I’m in for some advice on long runs. I did three things differently that I think made a huge difference. One: I planned an out-and-back course rather than one big loop. Two: I saved my music for when the run got tough. Three: I picked a new course.

Saturday morning was  a pleasant one for a run: reasonably cool, a little breezy and very overcast. The weather combined with my adjustments made this the best long run I’ve had in training. We ran to the 14th Street Bridge and on to the Mount Vernon Trail. Instead of heading toward Rosslyn, we headed toward Alexandria. I’ve only run that way a couple of times so this was refreshing. I ran further in this direction than I ever have so the sights were new to me. The plan was to take a quick (a minute or less) walking break every two miles and then turn around at 5.5 miles. I enjoyed going past Regan Airport (although we never really “passed” it because the airport takes up so much land) and seeing things from a different perspective. We got to the turn around before I knew it and I still felt amazing.

During our quick break at mile eight, I pulled out the iPod. Although I didn’t really feel tired or mentally worn out, I figured music for the last two miles would give me an extra boost. I ended up running those miles at a faster pace. In fact, I almost got my last mile in the 9:5X range. It started to rain when we were at 9.5 miles and I just started to laugh. The rain felt so good at that point. Minutes later, we were done! I never felt tired or our worn out. Although it wasn’t even close to the fastest 10 miler I’ve ever run, it felt like the strongest one. Mentally I stayed positive. It was the run I needed to get my confidence back on track for the second half of training.

So now I feel like I know the tricks to a stronger long run:

1. Eat Tortino on Friday. It’s like a superstition to me now.

2. Pick an out-and-back course with at least some of the miles being on unfamiliar ground.

3. Pull the music out at the end to push me through the tough miles.

4. Pray for cooler weather. I’ve been telling myself lately that while running in the heat and humidity sucks, I know that running in the cooler fall temperatures will feel so much more amazing.

I rode the runner’s high for the rest of the day. I spent the night at my parents’ place in Easton that night so it just felt like a wonderful day. In fact, the whole weekend was pretty fantastic.

Now on to week 10 (and a 15-mile run on Saturday, eeek!).  I just need to make it to week 16 and then the taper begins! 63 days until the marathon!