And so another week of training has passed.
This past week was almost exactly what I hoped it would be – back in the flow of training. Not every run went perfectly, but that’s training on tired legs.
Total miles: 41
Monday – Rest day
Tuesday – 6 miles easy @ 11:01/mile
Unremarkable easy run. One week later, I don’t remember it at all.
Wednesday – 9 miles / workout: miles 4-7 @ tempo pace
Workouts like this one, among other things, are why I love running. It was perfect running weather, and I was so happy, I found myself smiling for no reason. Don’t get me wrong, the workout was tough, and there were some weird people sitting in the park as I ran around my flat-workout-loop. But I felt so in the zone – my first three tempo miles were within 0:01 of each other (how crazy is that?) and I felt like a total champion. I was totally ready to be done, but could have pounded out another mile if the plan called for it (spoiler: the plan calls for it this week).
Technically I ran 8.88 miles, ok? I round some down, some up, and I’m sure it all evens out in the end. I binge-listened to Serial as I ran, and I think it may be one of the best running podcasts out there right now. More on this later.
Thursday – Rest day
I was going to skip the rest day to get back on a Saturday long run schedule, but work got in the way. Jeff says to respect the rest day. I should really seek his sage advice more often.
PLAN: 6 miles w/ miles 4-6 @ steady state
ACTUAL: 5 miles @ 11:01/mile
On this run, I felt as lethargic as I’ve felt since beginning marathon training. I scrapped the steady-state miles and cut it down by a mile, thinking there was no point in slogging another awful 11:00 mile the day before my long run, since I was determined to do it on Saturday.
After my run, I couldn’t stop thinking about steak. This is odd for me, an infrequent eater of red meat, except that the couple of times I’ve been anemic I recall having similar cravings. (By anemic, I mean diagnosed by the doctor, not just “I think I have low iron,” which is what I have self-diagnosed at this point.)
One of my best friends just moved to a super cute house in the suburbs (*bittersweet tear*), so we traveled outside of our intown Atlanta comfort zone that night to see the house and hang out in the burbs. I didn’t see it coming at all, but we stayed out past 1 am, which is beyond unusual for me even when I’m intown. I was up until nearly 2 preparing for my long run (oats in slow cooker, garmin charging, podcasts downloading), so I shouldn’t have been surprised to awaken at nearly 10 am on Saturday!
Saturday – 4 miles @ 11:13/mile
Hmmm, staying up til 2 am the night before you plan a long run – not the best-laid plan. I really wanted to get the long run in, so I ignorantly headed to Stone Mountain Park to get in a long run on more challenging terrain than usual. “Ignorantly” because I was unaware that Stone Mountain Park was hosting a “Country Living Fair.” Ignorantly, because I thought the traffic jam to get in the park was because so many people were there to enjoy a beautiful day jogging or cycling. This is America, Sarah. You know better than that.
I scrapped the plan when I finally got in the park and saw the madness. I could have probably made it work, but by the time I was ready to run it was pretty warm, and country living fairs generally blare music that I don’t want to hear on a long run.
Plan B was to go back to the original training plan and do a short easy run. Piedmont Park near my house in midtown Atlanta usually has some kind of festival going on every weekend during the fall, but it’s usually a little more “intown-ish” than what I’d just seen in Stone Mountain. Not today, folks. As I entered the park, I was greeted by none other than “Redneck Woman” blaring from a festival tent. Sigh.
The run itself was not great, as none of the short easy runs the day before a long run ever seem to be. It was pretty warm, and I felt uncommonly lethargic yet again. It was also my first run to break in my new/old version Kinvaras, which I’m hoping will work out as a marathon shoe (planning to post on this later, forefoot cushioning/premature worn-out-ness in my Wave Riders has become a problem).
Sunday – long-race-run – 17 miles total
5 miles @ 10:59/mile
10 mile road race in 1:39:18 (9:56/mile)
2 miles @ 10:43/mile
In an effort to put more pep in my long-run step, I registered for the Atlanta 10 Miler, which I decided to incorporate into my long run.
Going into the race, I had to really emphasize to myself that the goal was NOT to race the 10 miles, but to get some quality miles in, possibly at goal marathon pace if I was feeling good. My mantra for the race was “you’re training, not racing.”
I’m going to keep it brief because I think I’ll write a race recap later in the week, but I was able to do exactly what I wanted to do in this race. The course is pretty hilly, and while it advertised a challenge on the Peachtree Road Race‘s notorious Cardiac Hill, it included some other hills along Northside Drive and Peachtree Battle that I think are just as bad. My average pace was right in the neighborhood of goal marathon pace, and most importantly, I had gas left in the tank. I also had the opportunity to take fuel and use aid stations at that level of effort.
Achieving this result after deciding to run this race at the last minute was a revelation that I’m on track for my goal. I’m far more confident today than I was last week that I can run this marathon in the neighborhood of my goal. I’ve never been uncertain that I could finish the marathon in the absence of injury or health issue – with decent training, enough time, and determination to get it done, finishing is just not a concern for me. But I’m violating one of the Internet’s rules for first-time marathoners – I have a time goal. And I think I can achieve it.
I also think I can fail to achieve it, but the fear of failure has lost its grip on me for now. I mean, the worst thing about failing to achieve my goal is facing my enormous blog audience after the race right? No big deal.
Podcasts/Audiobooks this Week:
SERIAL. I’ll keep this brief, but if you like what you read here, there is limitless discussion on the internet about this podcast. Better yet, just listen to it. The premise is this: Sarah Koenig, a producer from This American Life, endeavors to learn more about a 15-year-old murder case in which a high school boy was accused and convicted of strangling his girlfriend. She finds lots of interesting characters, angles, and contradictions, but a convincing motive is elusive. The makers of the podcast are very resourceful in unearthing and explaining relevant evidence and connecting it to what’s already been revealed.
This podcast is great for running because it doesn’t have a ton of background noise, so I find that I can stay engaged with the sound of my breathing, footsteps, and surroundings, while also being engaged in a fascinating story. I only wish the new episodes were released on my tempo run day.
Thoughts on Iron Deficiency
As I mentioned before, I’ve had a couple of brushes with actual diagnosed anemia (though not extreme in severity), so when I craved a steak after a lethargic run, then had another lethargic run, my suspicions became heightened that iron could be a contributing factor. I found this really helpful article on iron supplementation from pro marathoner Camille Herron’s blog. Basically, running high mileage (unclear if “high mileage” in this context is relative to your normal mileage or absolute) puts distance runners at risk for iron deficiency, as iron is lost through footstrike hemolysis.
In addition to eating more red meat and leafy greens, I’ve started supplementing with ferrous sulfate (a 65 mg dose of iron, which is about 360% of the daily FDA recommendation) and orange juice once a day since Sunday. It might be a placebo effect, but I felt really great on a 7 mile easy run this morning, and found that my paces were a bit quicker than usual at an easy level of effort. Nothing conclusive as of yet, and I should really get my blood checked. But for now, it’s an interesting thing to keep an eye on.
Congrats to all of you who ran the Marine Corps Marathon last weekend and good luck to those running NYC!