Thursday, October 20, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week #16-First Week of Taper

Monday was thankfully a rest day. I woke up sore from Saturday and Sunday—quite the normal fatigue after two days of back-to-back long runs. I was prepared to scratch out the next day’s workout had it turned out that I was still sore. But I was glad that the soreness faded away by nightfall.  Recovery was fast this time.  Yippee!

Tuesday’s run was a midweek long run consisting of 8 miles. It was supposed to be an easy effort. I stuck to the comfortable pace from the first half and stepped on the pedal for the last half just a tad. Still fresh from the long run, the legs weren’t 100%, so it was a little slow going today. All in all, the pace was 9:48 (first half was 10:11, second half was 9:26) with a negative split, having shaved of 45 seconds per mile in the in second half. A good workout!

Wednesday’s run consisted of 6 x hills.  I went back to my usual hill approximately 6-7% grade and about a fifth of a mile long, near my neighborhood. I ran it after work to ensure cooler temperature. The recovery intervals were of the same distance. I walked a quarter of the way down and slow jogged the rest until I got to the bottom of the hill. The results of this workout surprised me again. My splits were as follows:

8:39 / 8:32 / 8:15 / 7:57 / 8:01.

I cut it short by one repeat because darkness came too soon. I thought I had more time and I didn’t want to risk my safety on the road.  I was two miles away from home and had no reflective gear on me. It’s starting to get darker much earlier.   Anyway, back to the repeats.  This was a great workout because this is the first time that I was able to start slower and crank it up as the repeats progressed.  My last hill repeat of 7 x hills, 3 weeks ago from week #13, was the total opposite: I started out fast and ended slow—because I was getting tired:

7:41/ 7:41/ 7:55/ 8:14/ 8:35/ 8:51/ 8:12

So far, in the last few weeks, I’ve been able to nail negative splits on almost all my runs. I was not expecting to do this on my hill repeats because it's just hard to do.  I still am on cloud nine. I don’t know how this happened. I can’t explain it. All I know is how good it felt to see my numbers. While I am running the hills, I didn’t feel any different. If you asked me how I was able to run the faster repeats, I can tell you I had no clue. One thing I did feel though.  At the end of the repeats, I felt I still had some gas left in the tank.  I felt good that I didn’t go all out.  Subconsciously, I must have the taper in the back of my mind. That was probably why the hesitancy to push through an all-out effort.  
My hill average in week #13 was 8:10 pace and tonight it was 8:15. I was much faster on the previous set but the execution this time was much better, even though I was slower. I wished I was able to do two more repeats last night to really make an equal comparison the ones 3 weeks ago with 7 x hills, as in apples to apples.  However, I am happy with the results.  I’ve never done repeats where I got faster in the end.  This was definitely a first!
Thursday-I ran with my running buddy at 6 am this morning.  It felt good to finally get into a routine of running in the morning at least once a week.  It’s hard to wake up at 4:45 and be out the door by 5:55. I’m glad I can do it once, maybe twice a week sometimes, but that’s all I am willing to give up.  I like sleeping in through 6:45 most weekday mornings and at the same time I do love the crisp morning air of the fall.  Our run today was 6 miles with a negative split: the first half was 9:29 and the second half was 9:11.  The overall pace was 9:20 min/mi, and I shaved off 18 seconds off in the second half per mile.  For a recovery run, this was excellent.

I was planning on running a ½ marathon as a tune up race on Saturday when it was canceled yesterday. At first I was a little disappointed for such late notice. The cancellation was due to some land issue. However, I got over it quickly when my best running buddy reminded me that my real race is in 16 days. I’ve been so focused on what’s in front of me that sometimes I tend to forget to stand back and look at the big picture.  I am so focused on what’s here right now, in this very moment that I tend to get sidetracked.  Glad she pulled me out of this funk. Maybe it’s a sign. I’m taking it as sign that I am not supposed to run a race two weeks out from my A race.  What I am going to do instead is to run my normal 12 miles and run it close to MP as much as possible.  I’ll try to run it as evenly as I can although I’ve yet to do that. I’ve been able to run it slow the first half and faster on the second half and do a negative split. We’ll see how it goes.

So far nothing hurts—my piriformis hasn’t barked since January. I am doing well with the training.  I haven’t gotten a cold or flu. I am a bit worried about that. What if I catch something on the plane?  I’ve been washing my hands, and hand sanitizer is within my reach.  Vitamin C is at my disposal. So far all systems go.
Tapering is going really well. I haven’t freaked out yet. I am surprisingly relaxed.  This will be my mantra this year: calm, poised and relaxed. Let the chips fall where they may.  The hay is in the barn. I am as ready as I will ever be.

Happy Running!

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