Marathon Training Week 14 Recap

Twenty-six days. That’s how many days are left until the Marine Corps Marathon. That sounds scary close now. There have been many times where I’ve bitched and moaned about all the training, but now that it’s almost over, I’m a little sad. There’s a part of me that wants to stay in this moment: far enough into my training to know that I’m capable of more than I thought I was and still far enough out from the actual race that it leaves me in awe when I think about it.

But I can’t stay in this moment forever. I’m about to enter week 15 of training, also known as peak week. And that’s insane.

First, let’s take a look back at week 14.

Monday: Rest day.

Tuesday: 5 miles. Temperatures were in the mid-50s and I wore capris instead of shorts for the first time in forever. Words can’t describe how freaking excited I was to get out there. Just a month ago, I was running in temperatures in the mid-70s with super high humidity. Cooler temps would definitely mean this run would feel like a piece of cake. I felt like my old self during this run. Average pace was 9:33 and I came *this* close to getting that last mile in under 9 minutes. All my miles were under 10 though, so that was awesome.

Wednesday: 9 miles. Temperatures were a little warmer than Tuesday, but still really pleasant. We ran the same course we did last week (to Georgetown waterfront and back plus a little extra on the Mall) and I managed to do it without falling on my face. My average pace was around 10:20, about 34 seconds faster per mile than the week before. It still boggles my mind that I have the discipline to get up before 4 a.m. and run 9 miles before work. It leaves me on a high for the rest of the day.

Thursday: 5 miles. Ooops. This didn’t happen AGAIN. Two weeks in a row I didn’t do my Thursday run. That’s bad. I knew it was going to rain Thursday morning so I decided to push my run back to the afternoon. And I just can’t seem to motivate myself after work. Plus I was getting geeked out for the Redskins-Giants game later that night (let’s not talk about that).

Friday: Rest day. I decided to carbo load on pizza and beer at dinner. Turns out that’s a winning combination.

Saturday: 14 miles. Who knew a day would come when 14 miles would be on the schedule and I’d think, “Hmm, that’s not too bad.” It was supposed to be a sunny, warm day so we got up early to beat the heat. We were out the door at about 6:45. Originally I planned to run on the Custis Trail to get more hill work in, but Joe suggested we run through Rock Creek Park instead. I was up for a new view so we headed that way.

Down near Freedom Plaza, we stopped for a quick minute to watch the start of a bike race, the Cure de Tour, which raises money for the American Diabetes Association. Bikers were either going 50, 33 or 13 miles. I love seeing things like this at the start of my long run. It’s definitely motivating.

Bikes taking off for the start of the Tour de Cure.

Bikes taking off for the start of the Tour de Cure.

My calves felt super tight at first, so when our first brief walking break came up after mile 2, I used a bench to stretch out. I’ve learned to not judge a run by the first couple of miles, but I was beginning to think this run was going to be a strugglefest. Thankfully my calf loosened up and it didn’t bother me for the rest of the run.

All summer Joe tried to convince me to run in Rock Creek because it’s cooler there. I sort of brushed him off. How much cooler could it really be? Um, turns out, a lot. Being by the creek and in the shade made it feel so much nicer than it did on the hot pavement of the city. (Yes Joe, you were right. Happy now?)

Another thing about running in Rock Creek? People are so darned friendly! I was keeping my slow and steady pace, so we were getting passed fairly often. But people always had an enthusiastic “Good morning guys!” for us when they did pass. It made me super happy and like I was a part of the same community as these folks, even if they’re a lot speedier than I am. I mentally hugged all those people.

Finally, running in Rock Creek meant that we were getting some miles in on the marathon course. I think by now we’ve covered most of the course at some point or another, except for the miles in Crystal City and near the very beginning.

The first sevenish miles flew by. We stopped at a park real quick to use the bathroom and then turned around. Coming back went by even faster. The last mile or so felt kind of hard, but we were back out in the sun and running at a faster pace (around 10:2o to 10:30). We finished 14 miles right near Freedom Plaza, which was also the finish line for the bike race. Time: 2:35, an average pace of 11:02, which I was very happy with.  It was a beautiful morning, the scenery was great and I felt strong. Can’t beat that.

I'm way too fast for Joe so you can barely see me in the distance, but the sunlight in the park was gorgeous.

I’m way too fast for Joe so you can barely see me in the distance, but the sunlight in the park was gorgeous.

More pretty scenery

More pretty scenery

We came home, showered, took a quick nap and then headed to my parents’ apartment so we could go to Crabtoberfest!

Sunday: I didn’t really get much cross training (walking) in this day, but it was another fabulous day. The weather was gorgeous again and we took a great ride with my parents. This time of year is my absolute favorite.

This week I’m determined to get in all the runs since it is the peak week of training. I’ll be facing Saturday’s 20 miler alone so I’m trying to determine a great path that will provide some new scenery to keep my attention. Call me crazy, but I’m actually looking forward to the challenge.