Week #1 of my “qualify for Boston” training plan is on the books and let me tell you, there were already some definite highs and lows. Since this was my last week of my unlimited monthly Dailey Method package, I got in 4 Dailey Method classes, all of which were great classes. I can tell I made some big improvements in my flexibility and strength over the course of the month and I think these classes are a great supplement to running. I enjoyed an easy run down the coast on Monday night with a friend as part of the Moving Shoes meet-up run and also had a really great 8 mile hill workout on Tuesday followed by an easy and nice recovery run on Wednesday with my good friend and coworker Allison. Thursday things went a bit south when my “general aerobic 9 mile” run was hard to get through. Heavy, heavy legs, most likely from the 8 miles of hills on Tuesday as well as Dailey Method classes.
After another Dailey Method class yet no running on Friday, I thought maybe I’d be recovered enough to have a good run on Saturday. The plan was 13 miles, 5 of which would be at marathon goal pace of 8:15 (which in my case is also my half marathon goal pace for Long Beach in a few weeks). I convinced Allison to run with me and the plan was to run 2 miles to her house, run another 5-6 miles with her and then pick up the pace and finish strong. As soon as I started running, my legs felt like bricks. It doesn’t help that in order to run to Allison’s house I have to pretty much immediately descend and then climb an incredibly steep hill before I was even warmed up. The first mile was a 10 minute mile. Not a good sign. By the time I got to Allison’s, I was nearly 2 miles in and I knew it wasn’t going to be great.
Luckily, the next 6 miles went by quickly since I had a friend to chat with. One thing I struggle with is running long alone, and it was nice to have someone to help the miles tick by. I certainly wasn’t feeling great and our pace was in the mid to high 9s. Although I was carrying a handheld water bottle stocked with Gu, my stomach was not happy with me. Just 20 minutes before the run I had a bagel with peanut butter and it felt like a brick in my stomach. So, I decided not to fuel up. Once we arrived back at her house just as I hit 8 miles, I filled up my water bottle with icy water and decided that despite feeling crappy, I would at least run the 2 miles home at a respectable pace and then go from there.
I also forgot to take any fuel at this point. Once I started running hard, I really didn’t feel like eating anything. I justified that the bagel certainly was enough calories to get me through the run and decided I’d try something I had been reading about lately, and skip fuel all together for this run (more on this non-fueling long run concept later). I actually felt pretty good for the first mile and a half (clocking about a 8:25 min/mile) but then I hit that same hill again that I had to run down and up on the way to Allison’s. As soon as I started running up it, I lost all energy. I told myself to be tough and keep running. I always run up hills! I don’t give up! But I did. I walked at about half way up. Then I stopped my watch and stood on the side of the road catching my breath. Booooooo.
Despite the fact that I was 1/10th of a mile from home and feeling like absolute crap, I decided to finish the run. I still had 3 miles to go to get to 13 and I rationalized that I could slow down and get them done. So I kept going. My pace actually stayed in the 8s for the next two miles but then around mile 11.5 is when I hit the wall. My body was not happy that I had denied it any carbohydrate for so long, and went into mutiny. My pace slowed, my body felt like I was running through mud and my mind was in the gutter. It was about as close as I’ve gotten to the feeling I had during the Ironman marathon. The wall!
I told myself that this was good practice. I told myself if I can get through this last mile, I’ll be able to use this as a memory of making it through a tough run. So I kept going, slowly. At one point about 1/2 a mile from home, I just randomly stopped running. I never do that. What was happening!? I willed myself to keep going and even when I hit my scheduled 13 miles, I went for that extra .1 just so I could say I ran a half marathon today.
When I arrived home I was drenched in sweat – literally dripping (I’m not sure if you heard but it’s still summer in San Diego – Fall is lost somewhere and it doesn’t look like it’s coming any time soon). I was so happy that the run was over and also disappointed that I wasn’t able to get in the workout I had hoped. However, I also knew that it had a lot to do with my terrible nutrition strategy and my decision to pile the workouts on this week.
I know I have a lot of time to make progress toward my goal, but I also have some doubts about it happening in February. I really thought that coming off a 3:49 marathon last year and then going into Ironman training would make it easy for me to shed another 14 minutes off my marathon time. I thought I’d come out of Ironman training with increased endurance and speed, but it seems to be the latter. I certainly know that the heat has been a factor, but there is definitely a loss of fitness that I’m struggling through. I don’t regret taking time off after the Ironman to relax and focus on other aspects of my life. Clearly qualifying for the Boston marathon isn’t easy (especially with these new qualifying times!) and I don’t know why I would ever expect it to be, Ironman or no Ironman!
I’ve already learned in week 1 that the Pfitzinger training plan may look manageable on paper (“only” 5 days of running, nice easy recovery days,etc) but the workouts are tough and it’s going to take some serious work to get through it. I’m up for the challenge and I hope that runs like this will be put into my memory to be pulled out during the race as a reminder that I can get through them.
Have you ever had a run kick your ass like this one? What do you do when you just aren’t feeling great and you have a hard workout scheduled?