Ventura Marathon Training Week 4: Trial Run

Weekly Summary 7/13/15 to 7/19/15

As alluded to in this blog entry title, I did in fact do a trial run of the Ventura Marathon course this past weekend. I’m someone who doesn’t like to travel for races. I’m not a good flyer and rely heavily on Dramamine, bargaining prayers, and superstition to get me through a flight. (For years I wore the exact same flying outfit, but at some point I retired the floor-length jeans skirt and Gumby t-shirt.) Also, my husband and I generally don’t take trips separately, and since he’s not a runner, I will be hard-pressed to convince him to fly to Scranton, Pennsylvania so I can run the Steamtown Marathon. So basically every race has to be within driving distance.

It’s been my experience that even detailed course descriptions and elevation charts can’t prepare you for what a course is really going to be like, and if possible, I don’t want to be surprised. Because I’ve been surprised, my friends. Not good. The best example of this is the G-D LA Marathon. Prior to running it in 2010, all I kept hearing was “The last six miles are downhill!” Yeah, um, barely. Besides, you’re so miserable at that point, you can hardly feel the “descent.” What that course map didn’t tell me about was the long slow incline in the exposed sun at Mile 18. Listen, I drive Santa Monica Blvd. five days a week and never once did I realize it was uphill. Oh, I know now. That mile almost broke me. Now, every time I look out our office dining room window, I see Mile 18, and I REMEMBER. Arggh.

Miles 18! *Shakes Fist*
Mile 18! *Shakes Fist*

While I had already run the Ventura Marathon once before, I still wanted to do a trial run of the course. One, I am someone who finds comfort, rather than boredom, in familiarity, so the more often I can run the course, the easier mentally it is for me. Second, the Ventura Marathon is the first (and only) time I got injured during a marathon. Around Mile 15 is when my left knee started giving out to IT band, and by mile 20, I had to start the walk-run routine. I noticed when I ran it the first time that the road was slanted, and I’ve always wondered if that is what caused the IT band problem, so I wanted to check out how my knees held up on that slanty road. Luckily, the course is like a 45 min. drive each way without traffic for me, and thus perfectly situated for my 22-mile run. Talk about as close to race simulation as you can get.

Ventura Pier.
Ventura Pier

The good news first: My knees held up great! My quads are sore, which is odd, but nothing is injured. That course does not own me! There will be no raised fist when I drive down Harbor Blvd.!

The troublesome issue is that my nutrition is still wonky. I felt good about what I ate the night before, but in the morning, as usual, I wasn’t hungry. I still drank my pre-workout drink, but I didn’t take into account that it was a 22-miler and that I would be driving for 45 minutes. I needed to eat something before the run because I was starving the last seven miles of my run. Some issues couldn’t be helped. Like I had to run with a handheld water bottle, which is absolutely out-of-routine because there are drinking fountains about every 1-2 miles on my regular long run course. The handheld wasn’t big enough, and I ran out of water. Hungry and thirsty, my times really fell off the last seven miles: 12:01; 12:07; 11:54; 11:49; 13:33 (WTF); 12:30; 11:15. (I also might have just been fatigued because I had run 7 miles the day before instead of taking a rest day.) The last mile picked up because I finally hit a drinking fountain on the beach!

I’m planning on doing this route one more time in three weeks and, ahem, note to self: take money with you. There were places to stop for more water or a bagel (or donut) that would have helped. Not to mention, I’ll be eating beforehand for sure.

Overall, even though the last few miles of my long run were kind of sad looking, I feel strong. I completed another 20-plus mile run and finished a 47-mile week. My legs were sore but still able to bust out a solid six-miler the day after my long run. I’d been missing this feeling after having to take time off due to injury after my last two marathons – that knowledge that I was getting stronger. For the first time in two years, I’ve been able to build upon the prior cycle’s training. No starting back at three-mile runs and spending weeks and weeks to build up that base again. The base is there and, regardless of my splits, I can tell my body is gaining the strength to withstand the added mileage and intensity. I have for sure missed feeling this good in my training.

Muggy weather, sore legs, but I got that last run in. Yay!
Muggy weather, sore legs, but I got that last run in. Yay!

Next week I start sharpening phase. What?! Here.We.Go!!

Hope everyone has a great running week!

Total weekly mileage: 47
Long run: 22 miles
Cross-training: Pretty damn good. I hit the gym and Pilates. Need to do more dedicated leg strengthening though.

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