Monday, September 19, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #11: Going Long


Topping off Week #11 at 55 miles with long run of 3:24:56 in the dark at 9:30 p.m.  This has to be one my more toughest weeks so far. The two weekends with back to back 19 and 20 long runs coupled with 9 miler pace run and a 10 mile on Saturdays was definitely a challenge. Adding to the challenge was other life interruptions and finding a window to run.

1st half 1:42:14 (pace 10:13)
2nd half 1:42:46 (pace 10:16)
28 seconds slower in the 2nd half.
Best mile was last mile, fast finish  at 8:52 pace
Average pace was 10:15 (66 seconds slower than my goal pace of 9:09)

The day was tough.  We had a busy day the day before with the soccer game for Little Bit and having to run to the Bay Area and back in the same day to visit my sick uncle.  We got home at 2:30 am.  Needless to say we slept in. I woke up at 9 am thinking I was ready to go, but my stomach had another idea.  I must have eaten  something that didn’t agree with my system. I had to wait around to see if it will cure itself before hitting the road—just to be safe. In the meantime, I was out of my gels and needed to get some before the run. I also need my recovery chocolate drink. On top of that my ipod didn’t charge right.  There was no way I was running the 20 without my music. Seems like everything was working against me today.  I was worried that I may not be able to complete my long run.

When the going gets rough, just work with it.  Little Bit has been wanting to play tennis, all morning she’s been asking me if we could play. Since I couldn’t run anyway, I decided to spend some time with her.  We decided to do a mom and daughter time: shopping at Target.  I got a chance to get my nutritional stuff for running, get some lunch at our favorite Chinese Restaurant and then we were off to the tennis courts.  We’re no pros, but it was fun hitting the balls around. I might have tweaked my Achilles and ankles a bit from running side to side. Note for next time: not a  good idea to play tennis before running a 20-miler.

By the time I got out there it was close to 6 p.m. I knew I was going to be caught in the dark so I brought my headlamp with me. I decided to run a tougher course with lots short hills. I ran the Baywood course in the first 6 miles and headed towards Los Osos Valley Road (LOVR).  I like this because it is a straight. There is a long gradual incline that stretches out to one mile and two steeper hill inclines.  My ankles were none too happy especially after  tennis. But I was paying attention to my footing in the dark.

It was a hard night. Somewhere between mile 14 and 15, I was thinking I need to just call home and get Hubs to pick me up. My mind was totally made up. I thought, what am I doing here in the dark? I missed my window, I still have 2 more 20 milers on the schedule anyway, I can do it then.  Make this one a short 16 and call it a night. Then I realized, I hadn’t had a gel and it was my left brain taking over.  A quick swig of water and I emptied that gel in my mouth. A few seconds later,  I started thinking, if Mike W. can whip out a 24 miler in 1,800 elevation gain, why couldn’t  my sorry ass finish this run, with only 5 more to go? Pretty soon the 15 turned into 16, then 17, then 18. When I got to 19, I knew there was no need to call Hubs, although I knew he must be worried about me.  So I did call him on my cool down to let him know I was 3 blocks away from home. While walking home, I was exhilarated that I think that I almost quit was something else.  All I was, was tired, cold, wet and hungry. After a while it felt like my shoes lost its cushion.  I felt gravel under my feet. Sure my ankles and the bottom of my feet hurt (my orthotics slid to the side, causing my arch to hurt), but other than that, I had no injuries to nurse. I had no excuses to cut the run short. I had my ipod, my gels, and my chocolate milk waiting for me when I got home.  I needed to finish this run and I am glad I did.

While contemplating about cutting the run short, I thought about missing the 55 miles for the week. I was kind of excited that I have the chance to prove to myself that I am capable of running this mileage. I’ve never come close to it. I may have run 45 miles last year during the peak of the training period for NY. This is the first time that I am running strong with no injuries to hamper my quest to reach 55.    Also, cutting the miles short would have meant that I wouldn’t be able to finish the b2b long runs.  This was sort of the last piece to the puzzle. I needed to string two long runs together with success. If I quit now, that would be it, there was no other back 2 back scheduled in the long run. This was the peak in my eyes. Everything else from here on out should be smooth sailing.  Sure I have another 2 sets of 20 milers coming up, but they are sandwiched between pull back weeks with lower mileage.  No more back to back.

It turns out that this 20-miler is one of my more consistent even pacing run that I’d ever done. I don’t know if the factor was darkness or my body being tired that was the result of the slowdown in the 2nd half.  When I got to the 19th mile, I was back in the lights of the town so I was able to pick up the pace, also because I could see better. There is no feeling to describe when you reach that last mile knowing you almost quit and here you are crossing that boundary.  Pushing it while you are tired and hurting is only temporary, crossing that line knowing you completed however many miles it maybe--two or a hundred--is a memory that lasts forever. This is why I live to run, the hard days are ever so sweet and rewarding. I cherish it even more so knowing I could have quit but pushed through the negative thoughts. When the body says “it’s time” and the brain negotiates “little bit more” and then finally the brain wins, you win.

For week #12, Hal Higdon’s Marathon Training Advance 1 looks like this:

Mon —Rest
Tues  —6 easy
WED —6Yasso
Thurs — 2 easy
Fri—12 easy (moved it to Friday since I have a 10K on Sunday)
Sun—10K Heritage Oaks  (this will take the place of my 6 mi pace run

Happy running and I hope your training is going as well as mine! We have 47 days left!


  1. Great run Aileen and thanks for the shout out! You are really firing on all cylinders with your training right now! 55 miles is awesome! You are looking great heading into the final stretch!

  2. Thanks Mike! I am knocking on wood. The training is going so well, I can't help but think something's got to give. :-)