Sunday, August 2, 2015

The 9th of 18 Weeks

The ninth week of the marathon training plan went like this:

Monday8-13k E. I can't believe that the Monday recovery runs are now up to 8 miles in length! It's good to always remember just how difficult it was way back when for me to just complete ten consecutive kilometres to put this whole marathon training thing in perspective. The run itself was fine. I made it out early enough that the heat was not yet much of a factor and ran an even effort at a comfortable pace to complete 13k E at 5:25km. Later in the day I went to the gym for some running specific strength training followed by rolling and stretching.

Tuesday5x1000m or 6x800m. Holy cow do these legs feel like buckets of lead these days! After that decent easy run on Monday I thought that my legs would feel good for the second last speed session of the plan. Instead, it was a struggle just to jog the two kilometres to the track. After last week's 3x1600m I thought the 6x800m workout would be a cakewalk. Instead, I had to tough it out, and I did. Looking at the splits it actually was a very successful session. Each of my repeats was well under the goal pace of 4:10/km (3:20/800m) and after the first two repeats I got faster by quite a bit. In the fourth week when I ran this workout I averaged 4:10.45/km (3:20.36/800m). Today it was 4:00.96/km (3:12.77/800m)! The splits for the first four repeats were 3:16.0, 3:17.0, 3:14.2, and 3:13.2. And my last two splits were the fastest yet of the entire training plan at 3:09.4 (3:56.75/km) and 3:06.8 (3:53.50/km). Pretty happy with these results especially taking into account how my legs felt. The total for the session was 11k SP at 5:18/km. At lunchtime I went to the gym and did 45 minutes straight of rolling and stretching to try and help these legs recover a bit.

Wednesday: OFF. What a day! Work was totally nuts, but I had just enough time to get to the gym for a strength training session followed by some rolling and stretching. Other than that, this was most definitely a day OFF only from running. Whew...

Thursday13k T. Sometimes one comes up against runs that really make one think about their ability to complete the task at hand. Sure, there are always thoughts related to this before every workout of any substance. This time I came up against not only a tough run, but a hot and humid day as well. My legs felt strange early in the run and I did not have the usual energy that at least is there to some degree after and off day. Then, early in the tempo portion the heat started to really take its toll and I began to doubt my ability to not only hold the desired pace, but to finish at all. Ultimately all of this was a mental exercise as I did finish and my pace was well under goal. I averaged 4:32.96/km for the tempo portion and ran 16k T at 4:43/km total. As has become the norm it seems, the average pace including warm up and cool down ended up being below the goal tempo pace of 4:45/km. Nothing to complain about I guess! Just the bloody heat and humidity I suppose. At lunch I found some time to go to the gym to roll and stretch out my aches and pains a bit.

Friday10-12k E. Another beautiful Summer morning, and another well executed Easy run. This time I went off with the coming long run on the weekend and a pair of tired legs that really were craving a break. So I ran very easy and the pace improved throughout the run despite the fact that I kept this in the sightseeing effort range. The total was 10k E at 5:29/km. Later in the day I went to the gym for some strength training, rolling, and stretching. Other thing worth mentioning for posterity is that I hit 315km for the month of July, which for me given the past history of injuries and such is significant. But the real story is that I feel good. I keep describing it as feeling "solid". Yes, I am sore and tired, but no one part of my body is appreciably more sore or tired than any other. This is particularly true of the legs. In any case, I am in a good spot at the moment with the whole running thing and hope it continues.

Saturday8-13k E. After a bad night of sleep, perhaps influenced to a certain degree by the trade deadline acquisitions of Troy Tulowitzki, LaTroy Hawkins, Mark Lowe, Ben Revere, and of course David Price by the Blue Jays, and an 11th inning walk-off win to boot, I managed a decent 8k E at 5:10/km. The legs felt heavy and tired; no gas in them at all :( This run was done close to home as we'd delayed our trip to the cottage for the long weekend, but it had me wondering how I would fare on the Sunday long run when hills and heat will be added to the mix.

Sunday: 24k L. The final run of the week had me a bit more than worried about what I would experience. Thinking back to the 23k Long run I managed at the end of week 7 I was definitely expecting to have to fight through this one. The weather wasn't as hot or humid as it had been on that other run, but I still dragged my ass out of bed a bit late and didn't head out until around 8:00am. The legs felt tired, as expected at this point in the training plan, and I knew kind of what to expect at least in the first two thirds of the run. I mixed two scoops of ELoad powder into my 500ml bottle the night before and stuck that in the fridge. Before I left I had a few sips and topped the bottle off with more water. I decided to carry the bottle in my hand this time instead of around my waist and I think I prefer this method. It allowed me to take three sips every 15 minutes without too much trouble, though I still have to practice this aspect of the plan as it definitely disrupted my breathing pattern. In any case, I chose a bit of a new route near the cottage and set off. The first kilometre was faster than usual for me, which I took as a good sign, and then I was really concentrating on trying to get the average pace in the right range (4:54/km-5:10/km). When I set off I didn't have this plan in mind as I didn't want to commit to something that may have proven to be unrealistic. But after the first few kilometres I committed to the above range fully and just focused on a good steady effort with 3-3 pattern breathing. I hit the first big hill at the 8k mark and switched my breathing pattern to 3-2 until I had crested the top. Eventually I switched fully to the 3-2 pattern as the route I chose really became a set of rolling hills. Then, with about 5k left, things really got serious. At that point I was faced with my last big climb so I stopped to empty my bottle with the last few sips and then tackled that obstacle. Shortly after cresting the hill with by this point a 2-2 breathing pattern I noted that the half marathon mark was reached in 1:46:05, which was good for me. My mantra then became "shorten your stride, maintain your cadence" as things became rather tough at this point. Thinking this way helped propel me through the last few kilometres and I finished in 2:00:49 for a total of 24k L at 5:02/km, right in the middle of the desired pace range. Nice! The total time was faster than what that 23k Long run took me two weeks previously on similar terrain, so that was gratifying to note as well. Happy to have finished strong and now to have officially completed exactly 50% of the marathon training plan!

Total for the week: 82 km at 5:10/km average pace.

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