26 March 2012

Week 12: 32 miles

Four runs a week is starting to agree with me. I used to prefer five or six, but with the long runs creeping up in mileage and my ankle tendons a semi-consistent source of semi-pain, it's making more sense for me to stick to four. I'm supposed to cross train on one of my three days off, but I prefer to watch The Biggest Loser and lay in bed. Can I consider it cross-training when I get up to refill the ice bag? The only awkward thing about taking Sundays and Mondays off is that my mood take a dive on Mondays and I forget to breathe sometimes. But I'm learning to remember that it's second-day-off syndrome, so I shouldn't beat myself up over eating four candy bars in an hour. Right?

Speaking of candy bars, I think I forgot to mention that in Week 11 I experimented with a wheat-free sugar-free diet. Sometimes when I have MS symptoms (like the random tingly foot I had a couple of weeks ago) I convince myself that some extreme dietary measure will save me. This usually takes the form of eschewing dairy, wheat, and/or sugar consumption. In Week 11 I avoided all those things and, aside from achieving freakish bowel regularity, I didn't feel any different. As a result, I ate everything in sight during Week 12. It was crazy and a little grotesque. I should be less extreme and more consistent. After the marathon I might blow up like a balloon, which is what happened when I stopped hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2001. I might be the first marathoner to be on The Biggest Loser. We should all have a dream.

In Week 12, I did all my runs as prescribed by Dr. Hal. I did my final "longish" pace run (8 miles) at my target 9:00 pace, which as I've said a few times is really more like a tempo pace for me. I felt pretty proud after that one. I don't kid myself that I'll run the entire marathon at 9:00, but it's good to have a challenge. From now on my pace runs are five miles or less, while my long runs stretch to 20 miles.

For my long run this week ("only" 13 miles), I met up with Kat from Eating the Week. We ran the Boston course, although we were too early for the crowds, water stops, and general fanfare that accompanies the last long run for Boston hopefuls. I ran five before meeting her, and we ran eight together. I have never experienced eight faster miles. Not pace fast (duh), but blink-and-they're-done fast. It was great, especially since my stupid ankle tendon was sore the whole time. Maybe those shoe experiments from last week weren't such a good idea. Or maybe I'm going to have ankle issues no matter what shoes I wear. Anyway, running alongside Kat was like running with an old friend. We chatted about all sorts of fun stuff like Viagra! And vomit! Afterwards, we had donuts at my dining room table with her family and Maple. I really hope to run with her again soon because it'd be nice if 20 miles felt like four.

On Sunday, Maple and I ran a mile together in the rain. That was the farthest she's ever run. I'm so proud. I now know what it's like to really really wish your kid takes after you. Well sort of. I hope she's faster than me.

Pace range for this week: 9:00 to 10:09
Temperature range: 41 - 60 degrees

Details for Week 12 (Mar 19 - Mar 25):
Monday: off
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 8 miles (pace)
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: off
Saturday: 13 miles
Sunday: 1 mile with Maple

19 March 2012

At the Track

Maple and I went to the track yesterday. We took pictures.

maple runs the 100m

track me

Week 11: 28 miles

Whew! This was a roller coaster of a week. My MS symptoms were mostly gone, but I started having issues with my right leg and thought I might have to have to take a week off and (gasp!) cross train. This is basically my worst nightmare. This was the first week that I only ran three times, and my paces were slower than usual, but the week ended well with an 18-miler on Saturday. And after all that worrying over my leg, it's feeling good now.

For the first 12 weeks, my training plan has three-week cycles; I do two progressively longer long runs on Saturdays, and then there's a cutback week with a shorter long run. I switched things up a bit when I ran a half marathon a week earlier than the schedule called for, which meant I had to do three progressively longer runs in a row after that; 15-17-18. After the 17-miler last weekend, I had some aches and pains in my right leg, but I felt fine after my easy 5-miler on Tuesday. Wednesday I had an 8-miler scheduled, but my ankle (posterior tib tendon) and shin hurt, so I walked once a mile and massaged my shin, but eventually stopped after 6 miles.

It was demoralizing to have a training run cut short by pain, but I was determined not to end up with a real injury. After dealing with my ankle injury last fall, I'm paranoid about getting injured again, since last time I ended up with an MS relapse when I took a week off. The injury and the relapse might not be related, but with MS you never know why anything happens, so you make lots of connections that may or may not be real.

After Wednesday's debacle, I took Thursday off, which was supposed to be a 5-miler. I rested (and iced, and stick-ed and foam rolled) on Friday as well and hoped that my legs would hold up for 18 on Saturday. Mysteriously, my shin/ankle pain turned into a clicking knee pain during my two days off. It didn't hurt too badly, but it was the first knee pain I've ever had. By Friday night it hurt more (and more often), and I was really getting freaked out. Sean convinced me to do 13 (instead of 18) on Saturday, but I felt like a failure skipping one of my "long" long runs.

After everyone else was asleep Friday night in our big cozy family bed, I had a little talk with myself. "If you are manifesting these mysterious pains because you are scared to run 18 miles, you'd better cut that shit out and get 'er done tomorrow." Maybe that worked, because the pain was almost unnoticeable during and after the long run. Yes!

It's hard to know how much of the toughness of training is just that running a (first) marathon is hard, how much is that I'm old, or how much is that I have MS and I'm scared to push it too far lest my brain explodes. I still have the mindset that I'd rather make it to the starting line injury-free and run slower than I think I can, than try to push myself too hard in training and not get to run the race.

This journey has been almost as much mental as it is physical. It doesn't even occur to me now that I might not be able to do this. I know can do it, incurable degenerative brain disease and all.

Pace range for this week: 9:42 to 10:39
Temperature range: 47 - 50 degrees

Details for Week 11 (Mar 12 - Mar 18):
Monday: off
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 6 miles (ugh)
Thursday: off
Friday: off
Saturday: 18 miles
Sunday: mini track workout with Maple (2x400, 4x100)

A shoe epilogue.
I went to the running store the other day with the intention of getting some cushier shoes, since the longer runs make my feet ache a bit, but I left with a pair of Asics DS-Trainer 17s. Damn salesman. I think I like them, but I need another run to break them in a little more. They kind of squeeze my bunion, and they aren't really cushier than my Ravennas. I'm still obsessing over a pair of Asics Nimbus; that's what I wore when I started running last year. They're like strapping clouds to your feet.

11 March 2012

Week 10: 35 miles

This week I dealt with the return of some MS symptoms (mild disorientation and dizziness) and a "cold" whose major features were a low grade headache and general fatigue. It's not great to run through that stuff, but I did, and I ran my highest mileage week to date. I'm glad this week is over and I'm feeling better and looking forward to Week 11.

I had an 8-mile pace run on Wednesday; my longest pace run yet. I was sick and couldn't manage more than 9:31 pace (target is 9:00). But then I did my longest run (of all time) yesterday: 17 miles. I couldn't stick to the 10:00 pace I aimed for, but I'm still proud of running 17 miles. I'm not sure if I'm being too easy on myself about not hitting these paces or if it's normal to go slower when you're sick.

The great thing about this week's long run was running the Boston Marathon course. I've probably mentioned this before, but I live one block from the 10-mile mark. We didn't intend to buy a place right near the course, but now it doesn't seem accidental. I remember when we moved here from Washington almost five years ago, I really didn't want to move to Boston at all. I still don't really love this town. But we've watched the Boston-bound run through our neighborhood for four years, and in less than two months I'll be running a marathon. Coincidence?

Doing a long run on the Boston course on a Saturday in March really makes you feel great about being a runner. There are hordes of other runners, tons of great shoes and gear flying by, frequent water tables, and yesterday there were even free gels in front of Marathon Sports. I was one of the only solo runners out there, which was sort of lonely but I doubt anyone else could have matched my blistering 10:23 pace.

In the last couple of weeks, I've started thinking about what I might do after the marathon. I absolutely want to keep running and get faster. I wrote before about my two potential running goals for 2012: run a marathon, or beat my 5k time from college cross country. I decided on the marathon, but this week I realized (duh) I can meet both goals this year! I don't know why that didn't occur to me before. As soon as I'm rested from running this marathon, I'm going to run a 5k every other weekend until I have a new PR.

Pace range for this week: 8:43 to 10:23
Temperature range: 29 - 38 degrees

Details for Week 10 (Mar 5 - Mar 11):
Monday: 2 miles
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 8 miles (pace, sort of)
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: off
Saturday: 17 miles
Sunday: off

03 March 2012

Week 9: 30 miles

Just when I was saying marathon training was amazing... week 9 happened. I only ran 4 times this week. The first two of them were good, the last two were... well, they were better than not running, but that's about it.

It's important to point out that I have nothing serious to complain about: I'm not injured, I'm relapse-free and mostly symptom-free. I'm officially halfway done with my training. But for some reason my mood about things has tanked. I'm not really sure exactly what it is; probably a combination of hormones (or lack thereof) and a cold that I thought I kicked but has come back to visit. 

I don't usually examine every run in the weekly recap, but when things don't go well, I like to write about it in gory detail. And apparently in reverse order.

Today's long run was 15 miles, and thanks to a winning combination of rain, snow, slush and ice, I ran all 15 miles on the treadmill. Running has never felt so sad. During this whole training cycle, I think I've done one or two treadmill runs. It just ain't my thing. I tried to distract myself with an Ice Loves Coco marathon, but the tv stopped working around mile 4 and I finished the run with Pandora and my own reflection in the broken tv screen. It just didn't feel good. For the rest of the day I've been sitting in bed, watching tv with Maple. I feel like the lamest mother and wife. I haven't cooked or cleaned or done anything fun. I also have a bit of brain fog or disorientation - one of my hard-to-describe MS symptoms.

On Thursday we had a slush-storm and I ran 4 miles in my Yaktrax, in the grossest conditions I've ever run in. It was like running in mud or soft sand. Every time I thought I was putting my foot down on solid ground (well, with a layer of slush on top), it went down down down into a cold puddle that rose up over my shoe. I ran in the middle of the road to avoid the worst icy patches, dodging my way around cars and fearing for my safety. I was incredulous that I averaged 10:32 on this run, considering the conditions.

This run was amazing. I did my "marathon pace" run on Wednesday - a 7-miler. I usually aim for 9:00 pace for these runs, which is really more like a tempo run for me but I like trying it. I hit 8:52 this week! That felt great. After the half marathon on Sunday and this run on Wednesday, I was on top of the world.

One of my two shorter runs this week was a nice recovery run with the girls from work. The Tuesday 4-miler has become a regular thing and it's so nice to run with those ladies. They are both significantly more athletic than I am, but we all stay together and I really enjoy their company.

It was a solid week of training.

Pace range for this week: 8:52 to 10:32
Temperature range: 30 - 41 degrees

Details for Week 9 (Feb 29 - Mar 4):
Monday: off
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 7 miles (pace/tempo)
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: off
Saturday: 15 miles
Sunday: off

01 March 2012

Week 8: 30 miles

Something changed in Week 8. I felt great on every run. I ran a half marathon (my first) and it didn't kill me (or trigger an MS relapse). After that race, I stopped hoping I could run the marathon. I started to believe. Maybe it is possible. Maybe a lot of things are possible.

I used to yell at myself when I ran. Thinking I would motivate myself that way, I would tell myself I was slow, I was lazy, I was out of shape, I was pathetic. Last year when I started taking myself seriously as a runner, I quickly stopped berating myself when I ran. I started taking pride in my abilities (so what if I'm slow, I'm out here running!) and celebrating what I could do instead of fixating on what I can't. This week, I realized I'm becoming more positive about things even when I'm not running. This is pretty exciting because I've always been really negative. I can find the one bad thing in a sea of good stuff and really hone in on it, to the exclusion of all else. But things are changing. I'm stronger and leaner and faster than I was two months ago. And better than that, I'm different.

Training for the marathon is amazing.

Pace range for this week: 8:40 to 9:50
Temperature range: 19 - 43 degrees

Details for Week 8 (Feb 20 - Feb 28):
Monday: 2 miles
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 7 miles 
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: off
Saturday: 13.1 miles (race!)
Sunday: off