Saturday, January 18, 2014

Phoenix Marathon Training Weeks 9-12

To run or not to run when you're sick?  That is the question. 

Training for a marathon in the winter, and living with 3 little germ magnets, is almost a guarantee that I'm going to get sick at some point during the 18 week program.  That time came on Christmas Eve in the form of a sinus infection.  I got home from my easy run, and later realized I had a fever and I couldn't stop sneezing.  On Christmas day we had a 7 mile tempo run planned and I was pretty miserable, but being the Type-A person that I am, I couldn't bear to miss it.  I did, however, agree to shorten it.  We did 5 miles fast (7:45ish pace) and I felt okay, besides the heavy breathing and snot running down my face.  By that night, the coughing started.  I've always heard if you are sick above the neck, it's okay to run, but once it gets in the lungs you need to rest.  So I abandoned my easy run for the following day and decided to rest.  We had a half marathon scheduled for our long run in a few days and I was hopeful I would be well enough to do it.  For the next 4 nights though, I was up all night coughing.  I had no business running.  Although it killed me to miss a long run, especially the one where we were going to test our marathon pace on a half marathon, I knew it would be better in the long run (no pun intended!) to rest.  I would rather miss a few runs and let my body get better, than to keep running sick and end up missing even more.  While at the time it sucked to miss a few runs, looking back I am glad I did.

The week after Christmas we went to Colorado Springs to visit some friends.  After taking a few days off, I was itching to run again.  Especially on the beautiful trails that I had heard so much about.  They definitely lived up to the hype.  I did an easy run in Cheyenne Mountain State Park, a tempo run on a trail along a creek, and another easy run on the same creek trail but at a different spot.  It was nice to see some different scenery. 

Our long runs have gone up to 17 and 18 miles.  We usually do them at a pretty comfortable pace, going off of heart rate.  However, last week I had a little moment of panic about how slow we were doing them.  How can we possibly expect to run a marathon at an 8:30ish pace when our long runs are done a minute slower than that???   Our tempo runs have been solid at a 7:35ish pace, but the longest tempo run is only 8 miles.  So we had the genius idea to ignore both pace and heart rate and just run at a pretty solid effort for our 18 mile long run.  I didn't look at my watch at any time, and the whole 18 miles felt hard.  At the end, I was a little disappointed to see that our average pace was only 8:45.  The first 9 miles were 8:20-8:30, and the last 9 miles were 8:50-9:15.  For how hard it felt and how spent I was at the end, I thought our pace should have been faster.  But I did learn that it's not smart to do long runs at a fast pace, at least without building up to it first.  There's a reason most training plans tell you to do them slow and steady.  I think from now on we will start out slow (going by heart rate) and then add a few miles in at marathon pace. 

From our 8 mile tempo run.

Although we won't do our longest run of 20 miles for a few more weeks, we did reach our highest mileage week of the training plan at 36 miles.  And we did it like champs, even adding in weights and yoga on the off days. 

Barring some unforeseen disaster, we will continue to improve and finish this training strong.  Only 5 long runs left until race day!  I even had my first marathon dream, and it was a doozy.  I went into labor the night before the race and still wanted to run it.  I would love to know the interpretation of that dream.

After 13.1 mile long run.  Always happy to see these guys.

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