NJ Marathon Training: Week 12

I am officially 75% of my way through my training for the New Jersey Marathon!

It’s starting to feel very… real. I’m visualizing the race more and more. I’ve read over the Athlete Guide. I’ve double-checked that I pre-paid for the bus ride down from NYC. I’ll be picking up my bib the morning of the race. I’ll make sure to bring a clear, drawstring bag to check. I’ve been experimenting with fuel. Should I buy new racing shoes? Not sure. The Saucony Kinvaras I wore for the NYC Marathon only have 195 miles on them. They feel good and are probably fine. But I kind of want new shoes? Hmm.

Week 12 was great and one of my highest mileage weeks ever. I seem to have recovered from the weird foot thing I had early in week 11. I ran six days this week, which included one speed workout on Harlem Hill, one marathon pace tempo run in which I discovered something about myself, and one long run that began in Central Park and ended at an Indian restaurant in Queens.

IMG_4217 NJ Marathon Training Week 12

WEEK 12: March 25 – March 31

Monday, as always, was my day off from running. I did my usual upper body workout, as I like to rest my legs but still keep my arms and shoulders in shape, otherwise I would look very lopsided.

Tuesday I ran an easy 7 miles around the Central Park loop. I’m writing this a week later and cannot remember a single thing about this run, surely a sign that I am exercising enough.

Wednesday I did 4 Harlem Hill repeats at marathon pace (my goal MP is 8:35). This is the area north of the 102nd Street transverse in Central Park. For workouts, we (the Harriers) run them clockwise with recovery jogs along the quarter-mile transverse. I was really happy with how it went, running each 1.15 mile at 8:20, 8:31, 8:28, 8:36 paces. Overshot some of them, but that’s okay. I was proud of how much better this one went than the one in week 4. Although I could really feel it in my legs the next day.

I followed this with a lower body workout I hadn’t done in a while just to make this hard day even harder: Fitness Blender’s Ultimate Butt & Thigh Workout for People Who Get Bored Easily. The only modifications I did were to raise myself up on my calves instead of jump because I live in an apartment now and don’t want to be one of those neighbors. Still a solid workout.

Thursday was pretty much a repeat of Tuesday: 7 miles but at a slower 10:21 pace. Also unmemorable. I was probably extra tired from all those dang hills and butt & thigh moves. After the run I rested my legs and did an upper body workout.

Friday was my 5 mile marathon pace tempo run (with 1 mile warm up and 1 mile cool down). This was a nice run that I’ll write more about below. It started off shaky but ended great. I followed this with my usual squats & deadlifts workout, a nice routine for my legs that doesn’t involve jumping.

Saturday was an easy peasy 4.75 miles around the reservoir and back. Easy 9:58 pace. I needed to keep it chill to make sure I had enough energy for Sunday. (I used to do strength training on Saturdays, but a few weeks ago I decided to get those workouts done during the week so Saturday could feel more like a rest day before my long run.)

Sunday was my long run, broken up into two parts: 12.2 miles on my own in Central Park, 5.74 miles with the Harriers ending in Jackson Heights, Queens. More details below, with pictures of food. So much food.


Some Noteworthy Things

Early in the week, I made another batch of Superhero Muffins, my favorite post-run snack (along with a protein shake) courtesy of Shalane Flanagan & Elyse Kopecky’s Run Fast. Eat Slow.


This time, I actually followed the recipe and used almond flour instead of the dumb regular flour I used last time. Guess what? They were infinitely better. So much more moist and tasty and just much, much better. In fact, I made an easy-to-follow graphic:

superhero muffin comparison


I wanted to mention the 5 mile tempo run I did on Friday. I was nervous about it! I’ve done plenty of marathon pace (and faster) intervals these past few months, but not many long-ish tempo runs. Until now. The training plan I’ve been following has all of the important tempo runs in the last few weeks, starting with 5 miles this week, then 7 miles next week, and 10 miles the following week. Then the taper begins.

I headed north up the Hudson River Path for this tempo run because I wanted a relatively flat surface (so not Central Park) that wouldn’t be too populated with other runners (so not headed south) – I just really wanted to focus on the pace. After a mile warm up, I started running faster. I was aiming for about 8:35 a mile, but found it difficult. I don’t know if I was tired or what, or maybe I’m just not used to going this fast after only a mile warm up. Either way, the first two miles of the tempo were very frustrating: 8:47, 8:54.

A little into the third mile, the podcast I’d been listening to stopped and nothing else played. So I stopped running and took out my phone to start a new episode, and then thought “Wait, why don’t I listen to music?” I usually listen to podcasts on easy runs and music at the track, and figured maybe the music would give me a little boost.

IT DID. It was like I shifted into another gear as soon as I heard singing instead of talking. It was crazy, like my body suddenly understood what to do. I ran the next three miles in 8:30, 8:21, 8:11. (I knew those last two miles were a lot faster than the plan but I wanted to make up for the first two.)

So I guess music makes me run faster. I mean, I knew it was a nice thing to listen to when I wanted to run faster, I just hadn’t realized it actually made me run faster. I guess I should bring headphones to NJ.

This run felt the right amount of “comfortably hard.” It was right in that window of paces that I can keep up without feeling out of breath or in pain, but at the same time not what I would call relaxed. I was so happy when I was finished with those 5 miles, I almost cried. I’m anxious to see how the next few tempo runs go.


Sunday’s long run went really well. I broke it up into two parts: my own 12.2 miles in Central Park, and the 5.74 miles with the Harriers into Queens.

I was happy with how I felt that morning, despite being on my feet for almost four hours. The Harriers planned to run 7 miles around the Central Park loop, and then meet up with anyone else who only wanted to run 6 – and then the whole group would run across the Queensboro Bridge to end at Jackson Diner in Jackson Heights, Queens, where we would all pig out on their Indian cuisine lunch buffet.

I had 21 miles on my plan, so I figured I would run 15 on my own first and then meet the group for the trek into Queens. I could have met them earlier for the 7 mile loop but I wanted to focus on running easy as much as I could without having to worry about keeping up with anyone.

But I got out of my apartment a little later than planned, and with a bathroom stop during my run, I wound up running just 12.2 miles before meeting them. I figured it was fine – my long run was 14 last week, so this would still be a step up.

As I wrote about in my last post on fueling, I tried Nuun and Sports Beans for the first time on this run and liked them both. I had a good amount of energy, maybe more than usual.

The run with the Harriers was interesting. Generally we don’t all run as one group but instead split into smaller groups based on how fast people want to go. I stuck with the back-of-the-packers because they were going about 9:30-10:00 pace and that seemed perfect, especially considering I’d already been running for two hours.

Getting across the city to the bridge was kind of annoying because of all the intersections. And we wound up stopping at a Duane Reade for maybe 10 minutes so one of them could buy something, so that set us back a bit. By the time we got to the bridge, I didn’t even care that it was uphill, I was just happy to have a long, uninterrupted stretch to run on. I remembered that the last time I ran across that bridge was the day I ran the NYC Marathon, only going in the other direction and getting shat on by a bird.

Running through Queens wasn’t too bad. Some stops at intersections, but it was mostly a straight shot along Northern Boulevard (aka 25A). There were five of us and we mostly stayed together, but as it started raining, one of the runners and I started moving faster and wound up leaving the other three behind. I felt a little bad but we were both hungry and at this point we just wanted to get the hell out of the rain and into a dry space where food was.

We arrived at the restaurant at 11:45 and I was so ready to eat. I love buffets because you can pick and choose what you want and also eat IMMEDIATELY.

But first, I stopped in the bathroom to dry myself off. I took a selfie because I was covered in water and thought it was funny, but you can’t really tell that I’m wet. Here it is anyway.


The lighting wasn’t great but that didn’t stop me from photographing the two huge plates of DELICIOUS food I got:


I followed that up with two servings of rice pudding.

Unfortunately we didn’t take a picture as a group. I guess the dark interior and the rainy exterior didn’t make for a good photo opp.

Then I spent 47 minutes getting home on the train. I don’t mind the subway but it’s not all that fun when it’s 50 degrees out, it’s raining, you’re wearing a tank top and shorts, and your shoes have been wet for the past two hours. I was very happy to be home again, as was my dog.

I’m really glad I decided to join the Harriers on this run. I haven’t been going to the morning workouts because I’ve been following their marathon plan instead, so it’s nice to be social with them when I can.

That about does it for week 12. Four more to go. Can I start carbo-loading yet?

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