NJ Marathon Training: Week 9

Woo-hoo, I am officially more than halfway through this 16-week training plan for the New Jersey Marathon! All I ask is that the warmer weather we’re finally experiencing in week 10 stick around. Please don’t leave. For the love of all that is holy. Bring spring.

Week 9 was not supposed to be a down week in terms of mileage (or anything else) but it turned out to be. I had intended to run about 56 miles. But this was the second week in a row I had a disappointing long run I cut short. The good news is that I am nailing my speed and tempo workouts on the track. Those are going GREAT. But my easy runs and long runs have tended toward the sluggish. And this week’s long run – oof. It was, in the words of Ned Ryerson, a doozy. More on that below.

IMG_3262 NJ Marathon Training Week 9

WEEK 9: March 4 – March 10

Monday was my usual day off from running, Just a Fitness Blender upper body workout. I had considered running a few easy miles today (since the previous week’s long run was Thursday with my day off Friday) but the back of my right calf was still a bit stiff from the Washington Heights 5K. Nothing terrible, but enough that I figured I’d stick to my usual schedule and take it easy. I decided that the body I have on April 28th (marathon day) will not care if I ran 5 miles on March 4th. But it will know if one of its calves is stiff.

Tuesday I eased back into it with 6.01 miles in Central Park at a relaxed 10:15 pace. Just a regular old run. There are a lot of these. As it would be for the first half of this week, it was in the low 20s. I don’t know why I expect March to be warm. I guess because it is the month when spring happens.

Wednesday I was back to Riverbank State Park for a track workout. I really love it here. There was nobody else on the track because it was so cold (and windy!) so I reversed direction halfway through. This was a great workout: 10 x 800 at 10K pace with 2 minute recovery jogs. Two miles there and two back for a total of 10.95 miles. My 800s started out a little slow but I soon found my groove. Split paces: 8:10, 7:59, 7:51, 7:53, 7:49, 7:41, 7:36, 7:51, 7:47, 7:39. Not too bad. Turns out 10K pace is very comfortable when you’re only doing it for half a mile at a time. My plan says I’m supposed to be aiming for 7:53 but I think maybe it should be faster – and knowing I ran my last 10K at a 7:43 pace, maybe it should be?

After the track I did a lower body workout with no weights. Just an easy 20-minute lunges/squats/leg lifts routine using only body weight.

Thursday I ran an easy 4.55 miles at 10:12 pace in Central Park. This was supposed to be on the short side as I had a massive long run planned for Sunday, and Thursday just usually winds up being the short & easy day. After the run I did an upper body workout. I’ve decided to only do two of these a week from now on, and do two lower body workouts instead of one.

Friday was back to the track for a tempo run: 1 mile @ marathon pace, 2 miles @ half marathon pace, 1 mile @ 10K pace. I didn’t really need to do this at the track. I did consider just heading to Central Park, or even just going down and up the Hudson River Path, which is relatively flat. But ultimately I wanted to go to a place where I knew I could have complete control and nothing could mess with my paces. Plus, have I mentioned how much I love the track? Happy to just about nail my paces: MP 8:34; HMP 8:16, 8:21; 10KP 7:52. This workout went by quickly, as it was only 4 miles on the track. I stopped to take a sip of water/Gu in between each segment but that’s it, no jogging.

I followed this workout with my weekly squats & deadlifts routine. Hard days hard, easy days easy.

Saturday was 4.4 miles at an overall 9:32 pace in Riverside Park. I wanted to keep it easy today to be ready for Sunday’s long run and hadn’t meant to run this fast. A 9:32 pace was my easy pace while training last summer and fall and lately I’ve kept it much slower, purposely. But I made a silly mistake during miles 2 and 3 of this run. My first mile had been in 10:30. I sped up in mile 2, glancing at my watch, seeing I was running 9:45 or 9:40, but it felt harder. It turns out I was looking at my overall pace, not my current pace. I did this for two miles, only later realizing miles 2 and 3 had been in 9:07 and 9:09. Oops. Honestly, it was fine, as I kind of miss running those paces and it’s nice to feel them every once in a while.

Sunday was my epic long run FAIL. I’ll write about it in more detail below, but I did manage to run 12.33 miles at a 10:22 pace. I should mention that it was raining during most of it, it was very windy, it was about 40 degrees, and my hands were very uncomfortable. A solid effort considering the elements, but not the run that was supposed to happen that day.


Some Noteworthy Things

As I mentioned last week, I’m no longer joining my beloved running club, the Harriers, for workouts this training cycle. They’ve been gearing their workouts toward the Brooklyn Half and I’m headed to the NJ Marathon, so I’m using their marathon training plan which differs from their schedule. Hence all of my solo workouts lately. I’ll rejoin the team for morning runs when we start working toward the NYC Marathon in July.

My big change-up this week, as stated earlier, was my decision to take my upper body workouts from three to two, and my lower body workouts from one to two. I’m also starting to lift heavier weights with my upper body: where I formerly used 8 pound weights, now I’m using 10; where I used 10 now it’s 15. I’m thinking maybe heavier weights over two weekly workouts will have more of an effect than lighter weights over three. I’m not looking to be *ripped* but it would be nice to look like I do something as opposed to look like I have limbs that just… hang there.

I’m still enjoying podcasts on easy runs and music at the track. I like switching it up. I think part of why I like the track is that it’s still a novelty. I’ve done god knows how many runs through Central Park in the past year. It’s just nice to change it up.

On a non-running note, I took some fun pics of my dog licking peanut butter off a spatula this week. I’m getting back into doing freelance photography and wanted to take advantage of living with such a good model.


So about that long run!

This run was supposed to be 19 miles easy followed by 30 minutes at marathon pace. My first extended marathon pace long run of the cycle. I had done some MP intervals following a long run on February 17, but this was going to be a true test: could I hold on to an 8:35 pace for 30 minutes after running 19 miles? I was a little nervous and also excited to find out.

Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. The weather was bad early that morning, possibly on par with Boston 2018. (Maybe not that bad, but close.) I considered doing the long run Monday and just doing an upper body workout today from the warm, non-windy, non-rainy confines of my cozy apartment. But that felt weak. Like I’d be chickening out. Here’s how I feel: you can’t control the weather on race day. So you need to be prepared for anything. Which means you need to run in everything. I wanted to face this head on, be satisfied in knowing that I did it and confident that I could do it again if necessary.

So I put on a baseball cap, put up my hood, and headed out. I wore the gloves my dad bought me after my hands swelled up while running the Fred Lebow Half with no gloves. These gloves are good, and somewhat waterproof. Like all other breathable clothing, they are not completely waterproof.

At first, the rain wasn’t bad. It was light, and on and off. Soon, it came down harder. The wind and cold didn’t help. Luckily, my jacket is great. It’s the Brooks Canopy – the same jacket Des Linden wore while winning Boston in weather similar to this. I’m so glad I put up the hood. It kept the wind from my ears and kept my headphones dry. At least I had podcasts to keep me company.

In mile 8, I stopped at a bathroom only so I could run my hands under the hot air dryer. But the door was locked. This was surprising – it was definitely after 9 am by this point, so you can’t even blame the fact that it was the first day of (the very stupid) Daylight Saving Time. To make the best of a bad situation, I used the opportunity to take a selfie (see this post’s header pic) and blow on my fingers in an attempt to warm them.

After I got back on the path, I spent some time running with my hands tucked into my armpits to thaw my fingers. It kind of worked, but made for an extremely awkward running experience. On the other side of the park, the bathroom at the Boathouse was open, so I went in there to use the hand dryer on both my hands and gloves. It didn’t fully work. My gloves were drenched. And the air wasn’t that hot.

After a couple more miles of cold and rain (and more hands-in-armpit running), I decided it just wasn’t going to work today. I figured I’d just run 12 miles and do my 19 + 30 run the following weekend, when I was scheduled to run 17 miles.

I felt bad giving up, but sometimes you just have to listen to your body. Especially when you cannot feel parts of your body.

But 12 miles in this weather wasn’t bad. Even if it did result in a weird prickly rash all over my torso (I imagine from the wetness, not the cold). To end the day on a happy note, my aunt and her partner invited me over for a nice meal and homemade dessert later that evening. It was very good. Also, I love free food!


That made me feel a lot better.


4 thoughts on “NJ Marathon Training: Week 9

    1. Oh I forgot to mention that when I was at her place, my aunt gave me a pair of super warm gloves that her friend had used while visiting Antarctica and they have a pocket for hand warmers. But of course that was the last cold day we had! So I’ll use them next year!


  1. Hand warmers are the best! Sorry to hear about the long run, but I do think every runner needs to have these under their belt to be successful at the marathon. You need to know that you have been there before and to be able to mentally prepare yourself. Bad runs are actually a good thing! I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but you will be covered on race day. I’m also totally with you, spring needs to make a grand entrance, and soon!

    Liked by 1 person

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