Saturday, August 27, 2011

Peak Week! (Part IV)

With only five weeks left until the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon I am feeling pretty good. I'll write a blog about my overall training cycle as the race gets closer, but for now I want to just focus on this week. As I've said in earlier blogs, I am running fewer overall miles with this training cycle in exchange for swimming and pool running. I've also added in core strengthening which consists of 3 planks each day.

Here have been my past "peak weeks" and their resulting marathons:
  • August 2008: 55 miles. I ended up getting really sick (maybe the swine flu) and wasn't able to run the Hartford marathon
  • December 2008: 56 miles. I bonked at the RnR Arizona marathon due to the heat/sun. 
  • March 2009: 61 miles. I bonked at the NJ marathon and ended up in the medical tent with hypothermia.
I don't have blogs for my other peak weeks, but upper 50's-lower 60's has been the norm. This week I only ran 51 miles as my peak.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to add in as much pool running/swimming as I would have liked because my pool is closed for maintenance. Tomorrow I do plan to drive to another pool for pool running/swimming. Or I guess with all the rain we're supposed to get from the hurricane, I could just go outside. . .

 I started the week by mailing my new Garmin heart rate monitor back to Running Warehouse for a refund. The "soft" strap monitor has continued to chafe me, despite massive amounts of body glide. And the readings were completely messed up too, showing heart rates as low as 60 and as high as 200 within the same minute. My readings were just all over the map. I'm now using my old HR monitor and getting accurate readings and no chafing.

Monday: 9 miles easy, avg. 9:05
I took this run very easy knowing that I had a hard week ahead of me. The weather was nice and cool and I resisted the temptation to go any faster.

Tuesday: 8 miles, including 4 x 1200m
I ran this track workout with my teammates in Arlington. I was fully expecting to do 5-6 repeats, so I started out easy. Using the pacing chart from my coach, my goal was to be at 5:12 for each repeat or slightly under. In my past track workouts, I have been doing 800's at around 5:08-5:10.

The woman who I usually run with during these workouts was on vacation, so I wasn't quite sure who to pace off of. During the first lap, I tucked behind this girl who is super fast (wayyyy faster than me) and told myself that she'd probably get ahead of me. Instead, I kept fighting the urge to pass her, knowing how fast she is. I soon realized that she was having leg issues and purposely going slower than she otherwise would. As a result, my first interval was much slower than target pace: 5:23. But I was perfectly fine with this because I knew I had 4-5 more to go. I ended up compensating for that first interval by going a bit too fast on the next: 5:03. But then the next two were more in line with what I expected: 5:07, 5:07. Instead of doing a 5th, the coach told me I was "done" because my form was falling apart. He wouldn't even let me finish it off with a 400.

I was upset, but I trusted that he knew what he was talking about. I felt like I definitely had the energy for at least one more interval. As a result, I left the track feeling like I didn't "give it my all" like I typically do after these group track workouts. Since the first one was too slow, I really only did 3 intervals that challenged me, and it just didn't seem like enough given that this is my peak week, and considering that it was a cool morning.

Wednesday: Rest
Typically I would have gone pool running and swimming, but with the pool closed (and the next closest pool closed as well) I just took a rest day. Except for the planks, of course.

Thursday: 8.5 miles, including 6 tempo
I placed a lot of importance on this run because I feel like I haven't had many good tempos this cycle. I did two of them on the elliptical (trying to prevent a foot injury), and the ones that I did on the road were in really hot/humid weather with less than impressive results.

It was about 72 degrees for Thursday's tempo and very humid. My goal was to run 6.2 miles at a pace of 7:40. If it had been cooler, I would have targeted 7:25. My plan was to start out on the slower side and then pick it up slightly in the last two miles. I ran the first mile by feel and logged a 7:46. This was about what I expected-- so far, so good. Then came 7:44, 7:40, and 7:43. With two miles left to go I was started to feel it. I got through those last two miles with these thoughts:
  • This tempo run IS important. You need a good tempo.
  • Look at your HR monitor. Stay in Zone 4. If you go above that, just slow down.
  • Your pace doesn't matter as much as getting in the full distance and staying in Zone 4
  • If you keep up the effort level, I will reward you by not making you do that last 0.2
I focused really hard and kept my HR at the top of Zone 4 and logged 7:46, 7:46. And I allowed myself to stop after 6 miles, without requiring the 0.2. I don't regret this decision-- it was definitely time to stop. The average pace ended up being 7:44, which I was okay with given how hot and humid it was. I would have really liked to see 7:40, but I'm not sweating it (pun intended).

Based on my coach's pace chart, this training pace correlates with a marathon time of about 3:33. (My track paces correlate with a marathon time of 3:25). Given that the weather for the marathon should be substantially cooler and less humid than this tempo run, I think I am realistic in expecting to run a 3:35.

Friday: 3.5 miles
Friday normally would have been a rest day, but since I took one of those on Wednesday instead of going to the pool, I figured that a really short, easy run couldn't hurt. Average pace was 8:58.

Saturday: 22 miles
I was nervous about this run. The temperature was 76 with a "real feel" of 82 and 22 miles is a long way to go in those conditions. I pre-hydrated all day Friday and even used Pedialyte on Friday evening for added electrolytes.

This run was a "test run" for race day nutrition. I ate a fairly large meal on Friday night at Maggiano's with my family. We were celebrating Greg and my one-year anniversary. I ate the same things I typically eat the night before a marathon-- lots of bread and pasta and some chicken. Usually I eat a bagel and a half the morning of a marathon, but my coach recommends more of a "meal". I know peanut butter is popular among runners, but I don't particularly like it (gasp) and I have a sensitive digestive system. I was up at 4:15 this morning and had about two tablespoons of peanut butter on my bagel. Which, by the way, I did not slice in half. :-) I took three Honey Stinger gels with me and a bottle of G2 and set off with my husband on our journey.

At mile 1.5, my husband tripped on his shoelace and fell to the ground pretty hard. Luckily, his water bottle broke his fall so he was okay, but he was scraped up on his other hand and his knee. His water bottle proceeded to escape his hand and fall down the nearby sewer, so we had to go home and get him another bottle and also clean and bandage his scrapes. So at mile 3, when we got back home, there was a 10-15 minute break in the run. But we got him all cleaned up with alcohol and band-aids and got him a fresh bottle of G2.

After that incident, the run was relatively drama-free. We ran around local neighborhoods, as usual, and made two stops at a McDonald's to refill our bottles with water. I took my honey gels at mile 7, 13 and 18.5. During the marathon, I will probably start taking them sooner, but I had the calories from the G2 in those early miles. My husband had 20 miles on schedule, so we split off at mile 16 and he ran home and I continued around the neighborhood we were in.

I typically like to speed up the long run during the last 1/3, but given that this was a 22-miler and it was really hot and humid, I decided to wait until I had just 4 miles left to speed up, and even then, I wouldn't turn on the gas too much.

The overall pace was 9:05, with an average heart rate of 157. For me (based on my VO2 max test) Zone 2 is 155-165, so I was towards the bottom.

  • Miles 1-8 avg. HR in Zone 1
  • Miles 9-19 avg. HR in Zone 2
  • Miles 20-22 avg. HR in Zone 3 
I was very pleased with this run. I have been ending my long runs in Zone 4 and really exerting a lot of effort lately, but given the extra long distance and the weather, I opted to play it safe. 

I plan to make the long drive to a pool that's actually open tomorrow and swim at least 1200yd and pool-run for 20-30 minutes.

I'm pleased with my 51-mile week. Up until now, my highest mileage week this cycle has been just 45, so it was a bit of a jump. Next week, I'll cut back the mileage slightly as I have the VA Beach Rock 'N Roll half marathon on Sunday. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I stay injury and illness-free for the next five weeks and that Milwaukee isn't having a heat wave on Oct. 2!


  1. Nice week, sorry about your interval workout, I didn't realize you were shut down. I've been there, but he's usually right. :) Nice job on your long run today, OMG, it was sooooo muggy, by far the hardest one for me yet this summer! I finally made it to a Sat and you weren't there! :(

    Also, I typically pool run at Worldgate on Wed mornings, around 5:30am-ish. I know it's not overly convenient, but if you run into a problem, let me know if you need to come!

  2. Solid week, Elizabeth. Sorry to hear bout Greg's fall, ouch! You're so lucky to have a coach watch you on those track intervals letting you know when your form is suffering, that is incredibly valuable!

  3. Nice progression run roday on your long run! great job!

  4. This training cycle is going so well, Elizabeth, and I am totally excited for you. I also see a calm and confident Elizabeth (I know marriage has also been GREAT for you!) who trusts the training. Keep that it mind when your coach told you to stop due to form deterioration. Leaving the workout knowing that you could have done more is probably a good thing. You ARE STRONG! Go, girl!!

  5. I think that 22 miler will REALLY, REALLY be great for your upcoming race. You seem to have solved all your hot weather *issues* and I am so happy for you! The hay is in the barn, friend!

  6. Just think: the 22-miler probably went that much better because of the abbreviated track workout. Though that fast runner really threw me for a loop too ;) Congratulations on a great peak week!

  7. wow! awesome long run!!!! I hope you keep feeling strong, just a few more weeks.

  8. Sounds like a great week, even if you had to shut down a bit early on the intervals. I'm sorry to her about your husband's fall but glad you were both able to finish your long run. 22 miles is impressive! Do you always do at least 1 run that long during marathon training? The most I've ever done is 20.

  9. Dash-- Thanks for the Worldgate offer. I'm not a member, and I don't think they let you pay for a one-time use, though.

    Debbie-- Thank you so much!

    LA Runner- Well, I have worked out my humidity issues, but it's really the sun that knocks me out. The 22-miler was completely overcast and that helped.

    Allison- Yes, I try to always do a 21 or 22 miler. It doesn't always work out though, due to various factors.

  10. Your 22 miler looks great, and I agree with GIM, a solid week. You are in great shape for an excellent race.

  11. Everything looks/sounds great. I think you're on your way to a great marathon!
    And great record keeping you have of past peak weeks too.
    Enjoy your taper!