Week 11 was my second-highest mileage week so far, following week 10’s third-highest. I’m really getting into it now. I’m doing it. I am, without a doubt, in the best physical shape of my life (and no, I’m not the lightest I’ve ever weighed). I don’t mean that to be a brag; rather, I’m in shock that I’ve gotten to this point. I languished in my 30s, bursts of diligent workout periods peppering long stretches of laziness with its always accompanying guilt. Never again. I really like where I am now in a lot of ways. I feel healthy. I am strong. My posture is good. I like how I look in jeans. I haven’t always been able to say those things. I prefer it on this side. I think I’ll stay.
ANYWAY, that’s how I’m feeling. So let’s talk about week 11 of my 16-week NYRR Marathon Virtual Training Program! I ran just 5 days this week but nothing under 6 miles. And it included my longest run yet.
WEEK 11 (Sept. 24-30)
Monday was my usual day off from running and an upper body workout courtesy of Fitness Blender (plus crunches). Pretty much every Monday is like this. While I love to run, I’ve been doing it so much of it that I welcome days off. I also like to do laundry on my non-running mornings since I can put in the wash before I walk my dog, put it in the dryer when I come back, and then be able to get it out of the dryer since I’m in my apartment and not out for a run. Time management FTW! I’m still lifting 8/10/15 lb. weights. I really believe that having a strong upper body is helping my running, especially up all those dang hills.
Tuesday was a prescribed 6 mile “regular run.” Those are a little faster than “easy runs.” It was raining this morning, but no matter. When it rains, I just put on a hat and leave the headphones at home. For this run, I was supposed to maintain a 9:07-9:18 pace. This “regular run” pace has changed since last week, when it was 9:12-9:24. Now it’s 5-6 seconds faster. This is an example of the program adjusting to fit my progress: I’m indicating that faster paces are an easier effort, so now it’s telling me to speed up. This wasn’t a problem, as I ran 6.15 miles at an average 9:13 pace, miles 3-5 between 9:02-9:05 pace. I ran this in Central Park and my legs felt good. No “cons” for this run. Even the automated “coach’s comment” said “Uh huh, yeah – this run was perfect. Well done – you are one step closer.” Thanks automated coach’s comment!
I took a post-run self-portrait in my building lobby. You can’t tell I’m soaking wet but I am! I also finally wore the NYRR socks we got for running one of the training runs this past summer; I can’t remember which. And my NYRR volunteer hat. They give us a lot of clothes.
Wednesday was an 8 mile fartlek! This was prescribed as such:
- Warmup: 2 miles (9:54 per mile)
- Fartlek: 2 miles of 60 seconds hard followed by 30 seconds easy
- Marathon Mile: 1 mile at marathon goal pace (8:39-8:50 per mile)
- Warmdown: 3 miles relaxed pace (9:54 per mile)
This is a fun fartlek and after last week’s intensity, you need a break.
First of all, I absolutely LOVE that an 8-mile fartlek run is considered a “break.”
A common question is “How hard is hard and how easy is easy?” Everyone will run these slightly differently, but as a general guide, try to run your hard sections at around 8:03 per mile and your easy sections at slower than your Regular Run pace.
The instructions go on to say that we shouldn’t worry too much about exact pace and to just have fun with it. So naturally, I programmed this as a workout into my Garmin app, doing the math to determine exactly how many 8:00-pace 60-second intervals followed by 10:00-pace 30-second intervals I could fit into 2 miles (the answer was 11). This way, I wouldn’t have to be constantly looking at my watch for time – it would just beep whenever I had to change it up.
I’m all about having fun, but I am also a nerd.
The easy part of this run was hitting all of the hard paces – I mostly stayed between 7:47 and 8:15, with two 8:27 outliers in there (I think up hills). The hardest part was actually slowing down every minute. Every time I’d finally get into the groove of a harder segment, I had to slow down again.
I ran the marathon mile in 8:42, and that included going up Cat Hill, which I am happy to report I have made my bitch. I ran the cool down miles faster than 9:54 because it’s very hard to come down after all those fast paces. It rained on and off during this run, but as usual, it didn’t bother me. I wore my hat.
Thursday was a 6 mile shakeout run at easy pace. I ran down the Hudson River for this one, and felt great as I headed south to the pier at West 70th Street – almost right across the street from where my sister used to live and where I used to walk her dogs when I stayed with her. I even stopped for a few seconds to snap a pic.
It actually didn’t rain this morning, the weather a blissful mid 60s with low humidity.
Running back up north was harder, as the headwind coming at me was crazy. It almost felt like I was going uphill even though it’s a pancake-flat course. I averaged a 9:40 pace for this one. Easy peasy.
Friday was a scheduled Flex Day (options were a 4 mile run, cross-train, or day off), but I knew Saturday was going to be tight, schedule-wise, so I decided to switch the two days and do Saturday’s 7 mile regular run on Friday.
I’ve been trying to get in a 30-minute Fitness Blender squats & deadlifts workout once a week, usually later in the week right before a run. I’m finding that separating my harder days and my easier days seems to make more sense than an even effort every day, so I opted to do the workout and run today, leaving the lighter day for Saturday. The squats & deadlifts is such a simple, solid workout. I use 10 lbs. weights for the first set and 15 lb. weights for the second. There’s no jumping involved, but by the middle of it, I’m sweating like a pig. (Sorry, pigs.)
Then I went to Central Park for the run. Starting and ending on the corner of my street and doing a full loop of the park is exactly 7 miles, so I don’t really have to do much calculating if I know I’m doing 7. Once again, there was a light rain. I felt really strong this morning, and wasn’t sure if I should attribute it to actually getting enough sleep or the squats & deadlifts or what, but I enjoyed it. No “cons” for this run. And I’m getting up those Central Park hills better and better. Even on easy runs, I’m making a good effort to pass every other runner going up both Cat and Harlem Hill. I usually succeed.
My target pace for the run was 9:07-9:18 and I wound up doing an average 8:57 without feeling like I was pushing it. It’s getting easier.
Saturday left me no time to work out in the morning, so I just did a Fitness Blender upper body workout later that day. I had an early train to catch to Long Island as I was FINALLY getting rid of the car that I had leased the summer before last. I wound up giving it back to the dealership at a small cost to me, but I am so relieved to have it over and done with. It had been sitting at my sister’s house ever since I moved last May.
After that was taken care of, I went out to eat with my sister’s family at a great place in Kings Park called Relish. I had a salmon quinoa wrap with onion strings. My nephews had pancakes. They are very silly and cute (the nephews, not the pancakes).
Sunday was my big day: a 20 miler. My first 20 miler, ever.
I was excited and a little nervous. I just wanted to be able to complete it without any weird soreness cropping up. Also, this wasn’t just any long run. We had to focus on pace, getting steadily faster through mile 13, where we had to stay at marathon pace for 4 miles before slowing down for the last 4.
The workout was broken up into 4 mile chunks which actually wound up helping me, mentally.
- Miles 1-4: from 9:54 to 9:18 pace
- Miles 5-8: from 9:18 to 9:07 pace
- Miles 9-12: from 9:07 to 8:50 pace
- Miles 13-16: marathon pace (8:39-8:50)
- Miles 17-20: regular run pace (around 9:15)
That’s what was scheduled.
I actually programmed this as a workout into my Garmin only so that I could be notified as to what pace I was supposed to be running at each mile. I didn’t feel like taking up brain space by memorizing it and then forgetting what pace I was supposed to be doing.
The weather was great for this run: mid 50s, low humidity, sunny. I wound up going faster for most of the miles: 7 through 16 were all 8:56 pace or under, and my 4-mile marathon pace segment was 8:41, 8:47, 8:45, 8:34. So right where I wanted it to be and then some.
I also liked the 4-mile chunks because I like eating every 3-4 miles, and decided that this would be a good opportunity to eat something every 4. I alternated one Gu and half a fig bar every 4 miles: Gu at mile 4, fig bar at mile 8, Gu at mile 12, fig bar at mile 16. And I stopped at water fountains a few times, probably once on each side of the park. This was all the fuel I needed during the run (I had my usual bowl of hot oat bran before it) and I think I’ll probably wind up doing exactly this for the marathon.
This is what I had:
(I had one vanilla Gu and one espresso Gu on Sunday but I love the salted caramel, too.)
The only downside to this long run were some aches in the first few miles, when the back of my right leg was annoying me, and the last 4 miles, when my ankles had started to ache. Interestingly, I felt fine during the middle faster miles than when I went slower.
I’m a little worried about what my ankles are going to feel like in miles 20-26. I do have another long run planned soon so I’ll see what happens then.
So that’s it. That was my week. I topped off Sunday’s 20 miles with a self-portrait on a rock and then a nice plate of banana pancakes.
Week 11: 47.38 miles