St. Jude Memphis Marathon Training – 5 Weeks to Go

Here’s the first in a three-part series of training and travels I have not yet blogged about. I’m starting with three weeks ago, which was Marathon Minus Five Weeks.

Total miles: 45

Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: 7 miles easy @ 11:06/mile; strides
Wednesday: 10 miles // 1-3 easy; 4-8 tempo; 9-10 cool down

There is a slightly-longer-than-half-mile gravel track in a nearby park that I’ve been using for tempo runs. I did a boring record 10 laps around this oval during this run. It’s actually quite a pretty spot for a run, but I was decidedly unaware of the scenery while pounding out tempo-pace-miles.

piedmont park

Piedmont Park Active Oval // photo courtesy of Delta Sky Magazine

Once I got to the tempo-pace miles, the first one felt amazingly easy, like I could run a half marathon at that pace (spoiler: I did). The second mile was unremarkable, but the third felt like holy hell. Thankfully I’ve read enough articles in Runner’s World that I’ve heard of this nifty trick called visualization, and I imagined myself giving it my all in the last three miles of my upcoming half marathon. I’ve never been into visualization (it strikes me as something this weird guy from my grad school class would have liked) but in that moment it was very effective. I may be a visualization-convert.

tempo run

10 miles / 4-8 at tempo pace

Thursday: Rest day
Friday: 7 miles // 1-3 easy; 4-7 steady state

This run was tough because I woke up at 5 to get the run in before going to the office and taking a conference call, then I had to go to the airport and catch a noon flight. Of course it was dark and chilly, but I also felt soooo sleepy. In the first mile at steady state pace, I felt like I was dragging and was 0:20/mile off the pace I was aiming for. Once my legs woke up, the rest of the run was good; I was aided by a slight downhill in mile 6, and ended mile 7 on the 10th Street Hill of Death before jogging home.

steady state run

7 mile run // 4-7 steady state

By 1:00 in the afternoon, I was in my old homes in Texas (Dallas then Waco), reuniting with wonderful friends, eating Mexican food, and visiting our old campus haunts. Besides being Baylor homecoming weekend, this was a special weekend because it was our friend Switz’s last weekend in Texas before making the big move from Dallas to Lusaka, Zambia. Check out her story here and here and prepare to be impressed by this woman.

Baylor

Waco reunion essentials: Tex-Mex and cheesy Judge Baylor photo

We were so fortunate to be able to stay right by campus in an apartment with a couple of college girls. Jess and Anna were the hostesses with the mostest, and I wish I’d been half as cool as these cats when I was their age.

Saturday: 18 mile long run @ 10:32/mile

On Saturday, I ran in the morning before the 3:30 football game. The conditions for running couldn’t have been more perfect – low 50s, sunny, and most of all, FLAT Texas terrain.

Waco Lasalle

Mile 1 of my run; aka Asphalt Pancake

For those of you who are familiar with Waco, I ran from campus to Cameron Park (about 5 miles on the route I took), along the River Trail for about three miles, headed back downtown and wound around the downtown streets for a while before heading back to campus and doing a couple loops of the Bear Trail. It was all flat and paved except for the  River Trail, which got a bit tricky several times.

Waco is known more for cults than natural beauty, but Cameron Park has unexpectedly pretty scenery.

Cameron Park

Cameron Park River Trail

Brazos River

Brazos River from Cameron Park

Because it was game day, I went with a green and gold themed outfit, because I can’t help but be cheesy like that.

Runootd

Team spirit #runootd

When I got back to the Bear Trail, my old campus stomping ground, I knew it was prime time for a fast finish and cut the pace down to 9:50/mile by the time mile 18 rolled around.

Baylor bear trail

The Bear Trail. Homecoming.

Long run splits

Long run, Waco edition. (KD Cannon is a speedy Baylor wide receiver)

Saturday ended up being a gorgeous day for football, and our team won in a blowout. The real highlight for many of us was seeing the gorgeous new football stadium in its inaugural season.

Some young whippersnappers or people who don’t follow college football wouldn’t know this, but Baylor’s football team was miserable when we went there. I remember going to games that ended in out opponent scoring more than 70 points (although I probably didn’t stick around for the fourth quarter). The team’s play on the field was matched by an equally unimpressive stadium off campus.

Attending this game made me think, I didn’t go to school here. I’m glad for all the young kids who will look back on their college years and remember a shiny new stadium and a team that put together a damn good resume for the College Football Playoff (no matter what the committee decides or how they want to justify it). But I’m also glad to have seen the really low years, because I think it is that much sweeter to witness a complete transformation. I returned to my alma mater and didn’t recognize it because it was more amazing than when I left. I’ll take that kind of homecoming any day.

McLane Stadium

McLane Stadium

We also had an unplanned pledge class reunion. Yes, I was in a sorority. It’s silly, yes, but I bought made some great girlfriends that I might have never met otherwise.

reunion

Spent at least a quarter of the game catching up with these ladies.

I made it a personal mission to eat as much Texas BBQ as I could during the weekend. Getting to go to one of my all-time favorite spots, Vitek’s, was a huge treat.

Vitek’s is a former grocery-store-turned-BBQ-restaurant in Waco known for its signature menu item, the aptly named “Gut Pack.” This delicious combination of brisket, homemade sausage, pinto beans, cheese, BBQ sauce, corn chips, pickles, onions, and pickled jalapenos is worth the acid reflux, if you get that kind of thing. The Gut Pack is kind of a big deal: it won the Cooking Channel’s Best College Eats competition.

Vitek's Waco

The Gut Pack. Photo courtesy of the Cooking Channel.

the best

Friends & Vitek’s = the best.

Sunday: 3 miles easy @ 10:32/mile

I ran the Bear Trail again on Sunday. I loved every second of being back at Baylor and felt super strong just a day after my 18 miler. This week of training was that aha moment when I realized I really will be ready for the marathon.

This was the best week/weekend I could have imagined. Our Texas reunion for Switz was so wonderful, and I managed a solid week of training around it.

Football fans: how’s your team doing this year? Love or hate the new College Football Playoff?
Is there anything better than a long run around your old stomping grounds or a delicious greasy treat from your younger days?

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