Ventura Marathon: Training Cycle Review

As is tradition at Run Mary Run, it’s time for the training cycle review. (OK, I know twice is hardly tradition and that last time the “tradition” was to do it before the race…fuck tradition.) Below is the self-assessed report card of my training for the Ventura Marathon: The Slow, The Fast, and Vegas.

Total Miles Run in 11 weeks: 459! I averaged over 41 miles per week – even with having a calf strain one week and taper another. Hurrah! Me.Strong.Ish.

Me have strong calf.
Me have strong calf.

I attempted to make some changes to my training since Mountains2Beach in May:

  1.  Change my tempo pace from 9:20-9:30 to the 9:10 range.
  2.  Change my MP pace from 9:55 to 9:40.
  3.  Add in one more 20-mile (22) run, for a total of two.
  4.  Increase my highest mileage week from 48 to 52 miles.
  5.  Run the race course.

Must we review how these good intentions panned out? Ugh, fine.

Tempo Runs. These mostly went well. There were only five tempo runs on the schedule, and I was able to complete four of them at the faster pace (except for a couple outlier zone-out miles). The one 10-mile tempo run that did not meet goal pace was done at former tempo pace, so not too bad.

MP Pace. Boo. Easily my greatest disappointment in this training cycle. I was terribly inconsistent in the amount of MP miles I did during my long runs, and there were three weeks when I did zero of my long run miles at marathon pace. In addition, I tapped out at 13 MP miles in my last training cycle, but only reached 10 in this one. At least during the few long runs in which I did some MP miles, the pace was around the faster 9:40 pace. Super disappointed in myself.

The additional 22-mile long run and the increase in weekly mileage were done easily and without negative consequences. Phew. And being able to run the course that saw me first injure my IT band was a relief mentally. I was worried that there may be a weird slant to the pavement, but even if there is, my knees were able to handle it, and this dress rehearsal took that little weight off my mind.

Ventura Pier.
Ventura Pier.

Here’s how I did in the other categories on the big training pie chart.

Cross-Training. Meh. I deluded myself into thinking that I would do more this time, but chalk it up to the Long Hot Lazy Summer, but my cross-training remained a solid C+. Now I did make a valiant attempt at upping my cross-training by getting a trainer, and, well, see Week 7 and how that turned out. So basically there were some leg exercises, a sprinkling of Pilates, and a lot of thinking about cross-training.

Diet. Ha! Two words: Vegas Buffet. Another two words: Birthday Celebrations. Not only was it my birthday, but also a couple others, and that was a lot of dining out. I think the healthiest thing I ate at one dinner was a fried blue cheese olive (it’s a vegetable, right? a good fat?). So of course I can’t blame all my poor nutritional choices on these special events, but it didn’t help. I ended up…oh, the shame…gaining two pounds for this marathon. Another disappointment.

All of the desserts. Mine!
All of the desserts. Mine!

And there were a couple unexpected happenings this training cycle.

Low Point. This freak upper body injury I got with a week and a half to go until the marathon! What an odd thing to happen. The exact low point was on the Thursday, ten days before the marathon, when I lay in bed surrounded in cake crumbs and greasy chips, binge-watching Snapped and wondering how I’d be able to run something that I had trained eleven weeks for when I was in so much pain. Super down, super bloated.

Things I Missed. Running with people. I was a solo runner until this year, but one of my 2015 goals was to be open to running with people. I ran with four new people at various times during Mountains2Beach training cycle, and while they’re weren’t regular running buddies, it was an unexpectedly fun experience to share a few of my weekend runs with people I’d otherwise not have gotten to know better. I also missed running the marathon with a pace group to keep up my spirits and take my mind off, well, the fact that I was running a marathon. I’m still bent towards running alone, but running with people was better than I thought it was going to be. Spoken like a true borderline misanthrope.

Worst Revelation. Do not get $20 massages! Do not pay $$$$ for Beyonce Vegan food!

Best Revelation. Doing track work won’t necessarily injure me. I can do track! Yay!

I hoped the KT tape would work, but nope. Looked cute with the pink headband tho.
I hoped the KT tape would work, but nope. Looked cute with the pink headband tho.

Overall, I hate to say I’m disappointed in myself, because I made it through a second training cycle and consecutive marathons without a running injury, and that’s pretty cool, especially at my age and with my recent injury history. And I get that it can be difficult getting motivated in the summer, but I really hoped to have a better training cycle and kill it at Ventura. I just never seemed to get in the groove with my running, cross-training, or diet. However, my body – minus my left chest and forearm – felt strong and the marathon distance seemed to take less of a toll during and after the Ventura Marathon. I’m hoping that completing these training cycles and staying injury-free will build upon each other, and that I can continue to see improvement even as I stare down 50. In lieu of a letter grade, let’s give the Ventura training cycle an encouraging note of “Needs improvement.” So lame, so not-Asian.

Anyway, I’m off to continue recovering. Thanks for reading the weekly updates, friends!


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