Marathon Training Week 13: What Wall?

Weekly Summary 3/16/15-3/22/15

I started my second-to-last week of base phase with lead legs. I usually don’t run on Mondays and Fridays, but because of a hair issue, I had to start my week without a rest day. This meant I started my highest mileage week to date by running five days in a row, for a total of 43 miles in 5 days. Damn. Unfortunately, not only were my legs toast (but not injured – yay!), my lower back and hips were super tight. I think I unintentionally found my current tipping point. This resulted in an impromptu massage session after my Wednesday morning run in the hopes of putting Humpty back together again.

Luckily, I then got a sweet and rare two-day rest due to my tri-annual keratin straightening. I get my hair treated, so I can wash my hair every day that I run/workout and don’t have to style it. Everything, even my, ahem, “beauty” routine, revolves around running. Anyway, whenever I get the hair-thing done, it means I can’t work out for two days, but it’s so totally worth it because it basically means I can shower, blow dry my hair enough so I don’t go out with wet head, and go. More running time for me!

It was pretty much another grind-it-out week, except for one thing: my long run. My legs have blown up on my last two marathons. At Ventura, I felt great, but then my left knee inexplicably gave way to IT band syndrome, and I finished the race hobbled. In M2B, my legs got beat up on the downhill and were finished once I hit flat land, making for a painfully slow final 8 miles. In order to get my legs ready for M2B this May, not only were marathon pace miles added into my long runs, but my FMC also suggested adding at least one run of over 20 miles (my usual longest long run) to get my body better prepared to go past that threshold.

Turns out my mind also needed to wrap around the idea of going past twenty. What a mind fuck I went through on Saturday getting ready for it. Why??? I’ve run 20 miles a dozen times – it’s only two stupid miles more! I’ve felt dread before a long run, but this past Saturday, I actually felt nervous. Perhaps I was worried about injuring myself. Having gone through two seasons of IT band issues in both legs, I might have been worried that I was pushing it by trying to do the extra two miles AND adding another mile at marathon pace. Could these old, tired legs do it?


The night before didn’t bode well. California Chicken Café blew my order and gave me something totally different from what I asked for. I almost threw a fit. You know how it is, when you want everything to go perfectly because you’re facing something daunting. Anyway, that didn’t happen, and I had to improvise. At least I got a good night’s sleep. Woke up to my friend’s text that he wouldn’t be able to make the run. Normally, this isn’t a big deal, but I had been counting on some company to urge me along in case … I don’t know. Just in case. Strike two. Off I went.

Things started just like any other long run. I threw my nine MP miles in during the middle and did sub-9:55 at miles 6-14 (9:39, 9:33, 9:31, 9:42, 9:49, 9:46, 9:43, 9:25, and 9:16), and then hunkered down for the last eight. I had four miles in the middle that were brutal. It really was the mental part of knowing “I’m not done at 20” that screwed with my mind. I was reminded of that saying “Running is 90% mental. The other 10% is in your head.” I listened to a running podcast to get me through, and hearing Josh Spector talk about running and finishing the Badwater 135 motivated me a little. I mean, if he could run more than six times the distance I was doing in the blazing heat, I could probably finish an extra two miles on this perfect overcast Los Angeles morning, right? Well, that podcast ended and soon followed the interminable trudging part. Until the fall.

As I struggled along (11:55ish pace), my feet were picking up less and less. I was soon doing a shuffle and – SPLAT – I went face first into the asphalt at a little over 19 miles. I got up and saw that my knee had received a nice little gift. (BTW, shout out to industrial strength sports bras.) Strangely, this wipeout woke my ass up. I bent over and tried to get the bleeding to stop and just took a moment. Something shifted, and when I got back on the road, my legs felt strong and my mind was clear. I finished mile 21 in 11:09, gave a scream and threw my fist up, and ran my last mile in 10:19. I felt like a winner.

This is my only 20-plus mile run I’m doing this training cycle as the schedule just worked out that way, but I’ll make sure to incorporate a couple more into the next one. It was invaluable for my confidence both mentally and physically. I will enter this race knowing that my body can run well after I hit the 20-mile mark. I ain’t scared of no wall. Besides, if things start to go wonky, I can always throw myself face-down on the pavement as a last-resort racing tool.


Total weekly mileage: 45
Long run: 22 (!!) miles; 9-mile average at MP (sub-9:55)
Cross-training: Abs (7x); Upper Body (2x); Leg Strengthening (16 exercises-15 ea.-3 sets)

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