St. Jude Memphis Marathon Training – 10 weeks out

Training this week, in summary:
Monday: rest from Sunday long run; feeling no good from a head cold
Tuesday: 6 miles easy (10:53/mi)
Wednesday: 8 miles/workout: miles 4&5 @ tempo pace (~8:45/mi)
Thursday: 6 miles easy (10:52/mi); strides
Friday: 3 miles easy (10:54/mi); strides
Saturday: 15 miles (10:19/mi)
Total: 38 miles

I started the week with a cold, a holdover from the end of my week in Milwaukee. I shifted around the running schedule by a day to try to promote recovery/avoid running hard while feeling bad. The long run last Sunday ended up being just a get-in-the-miles run because I was definitely less than 100%. I took it easy and only looked at my watch at mile splits, which looked like this:

13 mile splits

Long run with a cold. Taking it reeeeaal easy.

I’m really just glad I got it done.

When I got back to running on Tuesday, I felt the cold hangover for the first three miles of my run (per mile paces ranging from 11:00 to 11:18), but I started feeling better at the end of mile 3 and my mile splits reflected it. I began running closer to my normal paces at an easy effort.

My workout this week was an 8 mile run with 3 miles at tempo pace, but I misread the plan and only ran 2 miles at tempo pace. I felt almost 100% for the workout. The paved trail I’ve been using for workouts is slightly uphill going south and slightly downhill going north, so I split the difference for the two tempo pace miles and did the first downhill and second uphill, as you can tell from the difference in paces.

Tempo run splits

Tempo run splits

The best thing that happened in the workout was in the last mile as I was running home. I live in an unfortunate spot of Atlanta that requires running uphill at the end of a run from almost any direction. The route that I most commonly take has a 77′ elevation gain in the last 0.5 miles, with 38′ of the gain coming in 0.18 miles. I HATE that hill.

(Atlanta friends, this is the hill on 10th Street heading west from Monroe through the Charles Allen intersection, which I shall henceforth call the “10th Street Hill of Death.” For context, Heartbreak Hill in Boston gains 91′ in 0.52 miles, and Atlanta’s Cardiac Hill gains 121′ in 0.8 miles.)

I don’t think I’ve ever “run easy” up the 10th Street Hill of Death in the nearly 2 years I’ve been running up this hill. I’ve run it plenty slow, but it’s never been “easy” in the meaning of a nice conversational effort level. EDIT: I’ve never run easy up the 10th Street Hill of Death until Wednesday’s run (booyah!!). I took it slow with short strides, good posture, and all that; it just clicked. I said “Good Morning” to a couple of people without gasping for air. I was running, waiting for my effort to become difficult, and it never happened.

Quick pause for amazement at the human body and its ability to respond to training.

I typically have a rest day scheduled after my workout, but I wanted to get back on my Saturday long run routine, so I cheated a little bit and ran on Thursday evening. I could feel the lack of rest on the run and saw that I was again running slower than normal. Same for Friday’s 3 mile run; I felt slow and my legs hurt. That’s the point of marathon training though, amiright?

At 15 miles, my long run this week was my longest run ever, to date. My training plan has had back-to-back weeks with the same long run distance for the past few weeks, so I’ve been doing the first week on the flattest route I can find, and the second week through the city of Atlanta (no such thing as a flat route). For this week’s long run, I drove out to the Silver Comet Trail, a rail-trail that is over 90 miles long and extends from Smyrna, GA to Anniston, AL.

Autumn foliage

Fall foliage has arrived on the Silver Comet!

Course elevation Memphis

Top: elevation for 15 miles on the Silver Comet. // Bottom: elevation for the Memphis Marathon. So much for a flat long run.

Mentally, I split the run into 3 5-mile segments. This run-splitting was helpful for distracting myself with math (“you’re 50% through the first third!”). I also (not coincidentally?) slipped into a bit of a groove for each third of the run.

Long run splits

Long run splits

I didn’t have any up-tempo running planned for this week’s long run, but as the run progressed, I felt super strong and decided to push it a bit. I thought I’d do the first half of each mile from 11-13 at goal marathon pace, but with a bit of a downhill on my route, this felt super easy so I pushed it a little faster, trying not to get below half marathon pace. I also kept up the effort into mile 14. I tried to keep the second half of each mile a bit easier, which generally ended up being around goal marathon pace (with the boost from the downhill). The last mile has about an 80′ elevation gain, so I just tried to hold on and run strong through the pain to build up the good ole running-on-tired-legs-tolerance.

I felt really good about the run and my overall fitness level. I’m confident that I have a half marathon PR in me right now, and although most of my focus is on the marathon, it would feel really nice to have a great race in Savannah next month!


7 thoughts on “St. Jude Memphis Marathon Training – 10 weeks out

  1. Thanks so much for the encouragement. I’ve been lucky so far not to have too many distractions during this training cycle.
    This time last year, I was not so fortunate: work got in the way, in a bad way. I’m a competitive person, but I had to remind myself that running is a hobby and it’s supposed to be fun! Your post from last week reminded me of that.
    I hope you enjoy MCM, and I bet you will surprise yourself at how well you do. Are you aiming for a specific time goal?


  2. so glad you found me!! And, I know that hill!! 🙂 We have similar running routes it seems. I often find myself thinking of old runs and how hard the same route used to be. It will only get easier!


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