Sunday, September 28, 2014

CIM minus 10 weeks: aiming high

Weekly summary:

70 miles
1 speed workout: 5 x 1000m/3 min recovery (3:26 ave.) + 6 x 200m/200m recovery (34 sec ave.)
1 long run: 20 miles moderate (7:05 pace)
6 hours strength training (3 x hot pilates, 1 x kettlebells, 1 x barre, 1 x bikini butt) 

This has been an interesting week in a number of ways. I was anxious in the first half of the week about the speed workout I had lined up for Wednesday. I haven't run many speed workouts in the past several months and the last attempt (3 weeks ago) went really badly. For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you are aware that, relatively speaking, I am much faster at the longer races. For example, my marathon PR equates to a 16:57 5k, but I have only barely broken 18:00 for that distance at my fittest. The main reason for this disparity is that I don't practice at 5k pace. I started running as a marathoner and have focused on that distance at the exclusion of all others. I am very comfortable with the discomfort of running a lot of marathon paced miles but am very uncomfortable holding 5k pace. That's why I was anxious.

My paces for this workout were also very ambitious. 5:24 pace is fast for me, but I wanted to give it a shot. I asked the Genius if he wanted to do the workout with me and maybe help pace me for some of it. Thankfully, he agreed. I'm not sure I could have pushed myself that hard without help. I was pretty sure I could hold 83 second quarters for this workout and that was my goal, even though my training plan called for 81. My fastest 1000m workout ever averaged 3:35. So, this would be new territory. I wondered whether I had ever really pushed myself in an interval workout and I really wanted to try to do that here.

We started off the first 1000 and I was right on The Genius' heels. Despite getting a slight tingling feeling in my fingers at the end, it felt reasonable. First 1000m = 3:22 (81 sec/400m). We jogged the 3 minutes (which is a long time) and started again. This time, I started to fall behind my pacer. I felt like I was going backwards fast. I didn't look at my watch, but he pulled away from me in the last 200m and I started to feel heavy-legged and tingly as I tried to keep up. Second 1000m = 3:22. The Genius was speeding up, which made me feel better. However, I also realized the signs of oxygen debt coming on too early in this workout and decided to dial it back a bit. I ran the next three 1000m repeats in 3:30-3:31. I didn't take my splits during the repeat for these but just tried to concentrate on holding a hard but steady pace. I was happy that the early fast intervals didn't compromise the final miles of this workout. I felt good at the end. I finished the last 200m of the last repeat with a very strong mind repeating my new mantra, 2-4-2, to myself as I pushed it to the line. We finished this workout with some fast 200s. I ran all of them in 34-35 seconds and they felt great. 

Much like the threshold pace run last week, this workout was a huge confidence booster for me. I lack confidence at the shorter distances so this was a really important training experience. To know that I can push myself and even start out too fast and still hold it together was big. 

I had a straight up, easy to moderate paced long run of 20 miles on Saturday and wanted to try to get my legs a bit tired before that run so I could work on running long on tired legs. So far, my mileage for this cycle hasn't taken me to a point where I experience muscle fatigue during my runs. I decided instead to use strength training to tire my legs out before this long run and see how that felt. I did back to back classes at P2O Hot Pilates on Friday night taking Bethany's Kettlebells and Barre classes. These were great workouts and my legs did feel pretty tired. I want to add a caveat to this experiment, and say I would never tire myself out with strength work the day before a hard workout (meaning a workout with faster paces in it). In fact, I try to "protect my workouts" by doing easy strength work two days before a planned workout and none the day before. Last week's botched midweek workout taught me an important lesson about how long it takes me to recover from strength work. 
I met my speedy friend, Juliet, again this weekend for the first 10 miles of my long run. She needed to be home early so we started at 5:15 a.m. I am always willing to wake up super early on the weekend to meet a good friend and training partner! We negative split that first 10 and had a great run. I was able to lose my headlamp at the halfway point and take in another dose of Generation Ucan before heading back out for the second half. I also negative split that 10 miles and averaged 6:37 pace for the last 5 miles. My legs did feel tired at the end, but they were still very capable of running fast. The bonus of starting so early was that I was done by 8:00 a.m.!

I had someone mention on Facebook that she thought it was great that I was putting my goals out there so boldly. My goal of running 2:42:XX is absolutely a stretch goal for me, but I believe I can run that time if everything comes together. It is absolutely a gamble to put it out there in the world though--telling people that I am trying to do this huge thing. What if I fail? Will people think I was stupid for trying? While I risk taking a hit to the ego if I come up short, I think putting my big goals out there will help me more than hurt me. Every time I tell someone I am trying to run 2:42 for a marathon, it makes that goal a little more real. It keeps me honest in workouts and even in my strength training where I use my mantra of 2-4-2 when I start to shake in the last few reps in a tough class. It is becoming part of my psyche right now. I am gaining that mental focus that I remember developing before I ran my qualifier in Chicago. 

Running healthy again has given me perspective. The last 9 months of health problems kindled a fire inside me that is helping me accomplish extraordinary things in this training cycle. I am running faster than I ever have and am challenging myself in new ways. It is both exciting and scary. I never want to experience health problems like that again, but I am grateful for the perspective it has given me.



  1. Took me a while to catch up. Some great workouts there! The 5 x 1000 was excellent and I'm sure you'll chip away at those times over the coming weeks. Even if you don't race a 17:30 5 before CIM you'll have that sort of speed, which will make 2:42 pace comfortable enough. The 20-miler was great too. Exciting times!

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