Confidence Lap

We ran a ladder workout (400, 800, 1200, 1200, 800, 400 with 400 recoveries) for our last track night of the fall training season. The weather was perfect, and I struggled to resist pushing our group faster than our training paces. We stayed perfectly in pace (7:23-7:55) until the very last 400 where we flew ahead (6:58) into what I call a “confidence lap.”

Once you’ve properly trained, racing becomes mostly a mental exercise. Being able to look back on the season and find moments where you pushed yourself harder than you imagined helps you get through tough races. Even more so, it’s important to see where you pushed yourself after struggling.

Two 1200s in a row can be tough and the last 400 of a ladder isn’t exactly a walk in the park. A ladder workout is a mental game in itself, savoring how each rep gets “easier” (shorter) once you’ve peaked out. Of course, short and easy are actually very different, but it’s a solid lesson in perspective.

The race is what you make it.

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Trying Again

The Montreal marathon did not go as planned, mostly because it did not go. I ran the half distance after the full got cancelled. I spent a few hours feeling very angry before reaching a shameful sense of relief.

Missed training runs? No worries. Sore legs on the flight home? Not a chance. The pressure to PR? Off my shoulders. After enjoying the shorter distance on a beautiful (but warmer than usual) day in Montreal, I celebrated with my Canadian beer and French marathoner jacket. I didn’t run a marathon that day, but I am still a proud 4x marathoner.

By about the fifth time of explaining why I ran the half instead of the full, I realized I wouldn’t feel satisfied until I completed my fifth marathon. Rock’n’Roll San Antonio had been on my mind so I pulled the trigger and parted with more of my money.

Sometimes you don’t reach your original goals only because there’s other goals out there to chase instead. I’m realigning, reorganizing and ramping up my training for a race day that will probably be just as warm as Montreal–except Texans can handle the heat!

Arrived in Montreal

We made it safely to Montreal only for a race cancellation. I’ve never seen a race cancelled for heat before, especially temperatures I would consider mild. The high on race day will be in the mid-80s, so Canadians have decided that’s too hot to run. I’m not sure that any of my training runs took place at lower temperatures!

The race has allowed marathoners to run the half distance, which will start one hour earlier than planned. My new focus is to PR (or PB, as they say in Canada) at the shorter distance and give it everything I have. I’m very disappointed I won’t get the opportunity for the full distance.

We ran intervals Tuesday evening for a total of 8 miles. It was hot and humid, but we pushed through for the faster paces and enjoyed the recovery. I got up for BoMF Wednesday again and did a cool 2 mile run/walk. Flying took up the rest of the day, and then we celebrated our arrival with a walk through old Montreal to dinner in Chinatown.

Race Week

Montreal is finally upon me, and my flight is less than 48 hours away. The preparation is really complete at this point. What I do the rest of the week will help me more mentally than physically.

Saturday we mixed in some race pace miles toward the end of our training run. Even though it was hot and humid, the pace felt great to me. That gave me more confidence for my marathon. After training, I added on a few miles to get a total of 12.7 for the morning.

Sunday, I was intentional about walking and keeping myself active without overexerting my body. This morning, we did 1.5 miles with with BoMF. I have just a few workouts left until race day. Now my biggest question is what to wear for race day. I’ve already got the manicure to match the finishers jacket.

I Love Track Night

Hamster-style has become one of my favorite aspects of training. While most people begrudge having to run around the track at exhausting speeds, I think it’s really a lot of fun. It’s nice to go fast and there’s always a period of rest.

We ran 3 sets of 4×400 with declining rests in between each 400 (60 sec, 45 sec, 30 sec) for our first fall track night. The paces felt great and the humidity was low. This was my first real run since Saturday’s long run so my body was very ready.

Sunday I took as my typical rest day. Monday began with BoMF and finished at CycleBar. I enjoy mixing it up and working out my legs on the bike to give them a break from running. Before Tuesday’s run, I also got in a good amount of Montreal planning. The trip itself is now only one week away!

Ready to Run

This morning’s long run came long-awaited. I took Wednesday as a rest day (per our training schedule) and intended to run Thursday. A combination of late sunrise, early sunset and a busy day got in the way. Friday was my next choice but only if I could make it out for a few miles over lunch. That didn’t happen either.

Instead of wallowing (for too long) in sadness about missing my runs, I spent time planning next week’s runs and workouts–including clothes for each. I also made sure I got to bed early Friday so Saturday morning would be even more successful.

This morning, the sun didn’t rise until our last couple miles. We got in 7.1 miles by streetlight and headlamp. It really felt like September with nice cool breezes the whole run.

Calf Relief Plan

My calves have come full circle in the past week. They started to feel pain last week when I neglected to stretch following my runch. On top of that, I’ve been breaking in new shoes and focusing on improving my foot strike–which can throw everything off in how my body feels.

The pain wasn’t too bad during my run home Thursday, but I really should have focused more on recovery like taking a salt bath and spending more time rolling. I intended to run back to work Friday morning (with bursts of walking and a slow pace), but the pain was just-ran-a-marathon bad. This really made me angry because I’d only put in about 14 miles over the past three days and I had a race coming up Saturday.

In search of a quick cure, I slept in calf sleeves Friday night. For the first ever, I kept them on for racing. I’ve always thought runners looked silly wearing them but now I’m a believer. I placed third in my age group! To go from struggling to get out of bed to almost-regular paces was amazing. Of course, I know this was still more stress on my calves so I spent the rest of the long weekend with extended foam rolling before bed and daily salt baths. Sunday afternoon, I devoted half an hour to recovery yoga with an emphasis on stretching my calves.

By Monday morning, my legs were eager for a short run with Back on My Feet. Come Tuesday, they conquered hills with my training group. I resisted the temptation to hurry home for dinner and stopped to stretch before jumping in the car. My calves will thank me.

Run Commute

Continuing yesterday’s theme of making time for a run whenever possible, today resulted in a one-way run commute after work. Sunrise times keep creeping later, and I had to look nice for an event this evening. That left my only option as running home from work for a total of 5 miles.

Key to a successful run commute is understanding a good route. The best route for running will likely not be the most direct route for driving. Sidewalks are important along with looking for protected crosswalks and avoiding busy roads. Run commuting is also one of the most effective ways to really learn street names.

I debuted my new Nike ID shoes tonight, which I created for Montréal. I’m so excited about how they look, and it helps motivate me to know I’ll be crossing the finish line in these same shoes. The tongues say “26.2” and “MTL” as a great reminder of why I’m using my Flintstone-power to get me home from work. Making sure I had Nuun* in my water bottle also got me home safe with the boost of caffeine and electrolytes.

*Save 25% off Nuun with code FANDFHYDRATION2017 through Sept. 1, 2017

Out for Runch

Marathon training is sometimes about doing whatever it takes to get in the miles. That can mean taking time off in the middle of the day for a run. Instead of leaving for lunch, I headed out for “runch” today.

There’s a little jogging path near my office that enabled me to get in exactly 3 miles. It’s still a little cooler than usual for August, but the humidity caught up to me by the end of the run. My new CliniqueFIT makeup passed the test, enabling me to get back to work quickly.

Scheduling a workout in the middle of the day is a refreshing and healthy boost (and much cheaper than a Starbucks break). It’s similar to the benefits of morning workouts with the bonus of tapping into those benefits right when the typical afternoon slump would hit. I return full of endorphins and more productive.

Less Than One Month

The countdown to Montréal is now less than a month. Seeing the 24th flash across my calendar really motivated me to get in my miles.

Thursday I added on before a social run for a total of 7.5 miles, and Saturday I added on after our training run for a total of 8 miles. Tonight we ran almost five in training, but I couldn’t stop myself from doing a little bit more when I got home for a total of 5.5 miles.

The weather in Dallas has been cooler and more run-friendly, probably the only positive side effect of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation. One of the best ways to help near and far is to send donations through Trusted World and provide specific items like diapers and clothing. Local runners are also directly helping by donating our retired shoes. These will be essential to clean-up efforts, which I pray will start soon.