Marathon Training Week 12: Sh-t Just Got Real

Weekly Summary 3/9/15 to 3/15/15

I have a couple weeks to go before hitting the next phase of training – the sharpening phase – so I thought I still had plenty of time to “get it together” for the marathon. But I checked out my schedule, and holy sh-t! Only ten weeks to go until the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon! Which means really only 8 weeks of training because of a two-week taper, and one of those weeks is light because I’m doing the Hollywood Half Marathon. Eeks!

So this is a weekly summary, but also a glance behind at the first half of training, as well as a look ahead.

This week I can honestly say that I buckled down on my two areas that I’ve been most inconsistent with: my nutrition and strength/cross-training.

I only had dessert once this week*, and it was right after my long run. Yay me! I feel like I should get a parade for doing something I know most people do on the routine. But you don’t understand – they’re not like me! I have a serious sugar problem! Like I have totally lied to my husband and told him I had to grab something out of my car just so I could go outside and stuff a couple cookies into my mouth. (I guess I was too embarrassed to do that in front of him?!?)

Anyway, I only had dessert once. Now, I still ate a little more than I needed to, so the needle barely budged. A net loss of…drumroll…four-tenths of a pound. Well, it’s better than a gain.

And strength training wise, not only did I do a lot more leg exercises, but I didn’t let the other parts suffer. Meaning, I did my ab and upper body workouts too. Plus I added 20 min. on the stationary bike on a non-running day. I’m trying to sneak in more strength training by doing one-legged cycling drills and interval exercises on the bike.

I’m really glad I kept up with the leg exercises, because this was the highest mileage week I’ve had yet: 42 friggin’ miles, including a hill and trail workout. My legs were toast by the end of the week, and I felt a little twinge in my right knee (the last one to be victimized by IT band syndrome), so there’s some motivation to really continue and increase that facet of my training as things only get more intense from here.

The best run scenery-wise was up in the Santa Monica Mountains on Saturday. Holy Gorgeous SoCal. This is why I put up with the ridiculous cost of housing, time suck of traffic, and high price of aging. This is March in LA.


But my funnest run happened on a pretty mundane mid-week run. I decided to go up a little hill, and lo and behold, I came upon where the boys at the nearby high school like to get stoned before class. Haha. I of course kept running, but snapped a photo of me near their special spot – they’re just down the slope and fifty feet away. Awesome.


My long run was a little different. I had 17 miles on schedule, with 8 of them to be at marathon pace, 9:55. My MP miles on my long run have consistently and somewhat significantly been at a faster pace, about 20 seconds faster. I figured the times would go down as I added more miles, but so far they haven’t. This Sunday’s long run was a birthday run – my dear running buddy A’s 40th birthday! – and so after seeing that the girls weren’t having a particular speedy day, and that their pace seemed to be in the 9:39-9:49 range, I decided to just kick it and do the entire last ten mile run with them, rather than split after eight miles. I didn’t want the pressure of having to check my Garmin, and I also wanted to hang with my friend on her special day. Anyway, their lack of sleep caught up with them, and we had some slowish miles in there, so I decided to take charge the last three miles. I picked up the pace and then floored it for the last two. Overall, I did 10 miles at 9:49 pace, which is pretty close to marathon pace, and even though it wasn’t 10 miles at 9:55 or faster, I thought this might be more of a real race simulation since some miles are a bit faster/slower depending on whether it’s a fueling mile, hilly mile, etc. At any rate, I was very pleased to finish so strong on a 17-mile run. The totals were 9:39, 9:49, 10:22, 9:36, 10:10, 10:16, 10:28, 9:46, 9:08 and 8:58 (what!?).

So looking behind, I’m quite happy with how well my legs are handling the added marathon paces to my long runs. I thought I’d be struggling more, and I’m pleasantly surprised with how each week is building upon the last. I’m also super grateful that I have not had to miss one run – nay, not even one mile — because of injury. Not one. My old body has been good to me.

But, looking ahead…well, I have my work cut out for me.

  1. Nutrition. It looks like I won’t be at goal race weight for my marathon, but I can still be at a lower weight and every bit helps. More importantly, I really have to nail down my pre-long run meal. I’ve been dicking around with it and not paying much attention, but this week, I had an upset stomach on the morning of my long run. My dinner the night before was pretty uninteresting – turkey burger, rice, veggies. However, I might do better eating my pre-race dinner, which is typically the veggie rice primavera wrap with side Caesar salad from California Chicken Café. That meal works well for me, and I’m not really sure why I went away from it, other than maybe I was trying to cut carbs. Not worth it.
  2. Strength Training. My previous post about prioritizing my life and saying “no” to some things right now, also includes strength training. In some ways I’ll need to add some things, like time spent on it. But, I am also subtracting. Like I had this fantasy of doing the 100 push-ups challenge. Well, truth is, I will never need to do 100 push-ups in one go-round to be a strong runner. Yes, I need to do some upper body work, and I like to do some push-ups (about 3 sets of 15) to maintain, but this has to be pushed to the side right now. I need to focus on my leg strengthening and core, a little upper body stuff, but mostly leg and core. And that means back to Pilates regularly. That’s the fastest way to get my core in shape and ready to withstand and hold up the rest of my failing body at the end of a marathon.

So that’s what’s on the agenda for the next half of training. Dammit, it snuck up on me!

Hope everyone has a great running week!

*After re-reading this post, it hit me that I also had a few bites of dark chocolate but have blocked that out as counting as dessert. It’s dark chocolate for chrissakes — no one thinks that’s dessert! It’s practically coffee. Anyway, my sugar denial slash obsession runs deep.

Total weekly mileage: 42
Long run: 17 miles; 10-mile average at MP (sub-9:55)
Cross-training: Abs (6x); Upper Body (2x) plus push-ups (3×15); Leg Strengthening (27!! exercises-15 ea.-3 sets); 20 min. on bike

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