Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Few Curve Balls

This final week of intense training has been rather complicated. But I guess if there was ever a time for things to go awry, it would be once most of the training is over, but not close enough to the marathon to affect the race. So, now!

Monday: 8 miles easy @ 8:48 average
Running during a "high wind watch"
If you read my previous post, you'll know that I was struggling with an odd pain in my right foot after my last long run. Also on Monday morning, we were experiencing a "high wind watch" which meant that "sustained winds of at least 40 mph or gusts of 58 mph or stronger may occur." Given these conditions and the fact that I wasn't sure about my foot, I didn't think it would be a great day to run my prescribed track workout. So, I did an easy run instead and pushed my track workout to Tuesday. The winds ended up being not all that horrible-- the worst of it occurred over night, resulting in quite a few down trees and power outages. I typically run easy on Mondays anyway, but this week my coach wanted me to do the track on Monday, presumably to give me sufficient recovery time for a harder workout later in the week.

Tuesday: 11.1 miles, including 7 x 1600m
The foot ended up being just fine during Monday's easy run and the weather was practically perfect on Tuesday morning-- 30 degrees with no wind. When I saw 7 x 1600m on the schedule, I almost fell backwards in my chair! 5 x 1600m is the most I've ever done, and that's really intense. So we skipped right past 6 and moved onto 7!

Given that I'd never done 6 or 7 mile repeats, I figured I would start conservatively so as to not be dead by the end. Also, I had been waking up in the middle of the night every night for the past week with a sore-ish throat, so I didn't want to kill myself. My Garmin is not accurate on the track so I have to run all of my intervals by feel. My splits were: 6:57, 6:52, 6:47, 6:47, 6:43, 6:37, 6:39. Surprisingly, this was not as tough as I expected. I probably could have started out quicker and been sub 6:50 for the whole thing, but better safe than sorry. Afterwards I didn't feel tired or have any lingering soreness. This was such a great sign of my endurance! To have run such a long hard track workout and not even feel tired or sore afterwards!

Blister on Monday: Didn't hurt while running!
There was one nagging, problem, however, in addition to the low-grade sore throat: a blister. The blister started as a small bump on my big toe after having worn ill-fitting high heels to work one day. It had been there for over a week, not causing problems, but I researched it and foolishly believed it to be a corn. So during last weekend's long run, I put a corn comfort pad on it, and it blew up in size to be about 5 times bigger!  Thankfully, it didn't hurt while running because I could put band-aids on it and wear Injinji toe socks. I wasn't quite sure how to deal with it during the day and prevent it from rubbing the toe next to it, so I just left it open.

Wednesday: 5.2 miles easy @ 8:34 average
The plan called for 70 minutes, but I cut that back to 45 because my sore throat had gotten a lot worse. Even though I felt like crap when I woke up, the run actually felt good. But then I felt horrible again after the run. I went into the office for an important meeting at 9:00am and went home shortly after. This allowed me to take two naps, which were extremely helpful.

Thursday: 3.6 miles easy @ 8:29 average
Thursday's workout called for road intervals, but I figured that I should play it safe and run short and easy. I probably could have done the road intervals, but it was cold and windy and I didn't want to put my immune system through that while it was trying to fight off this cold/sore throat. The good news is that I felt quite peppy during the run. But afterwards, I was back to feeling blah.

Blister on Friday: Still didn't hurt while running
Meanwhile, the blister had worsened. I wasn't sure what the best approach was to get it to heal, so I kept alternating between band aids with Neosporin and just leaving it open. It was freezing out and I wore open-toed shoes to work!

Friday: 7.8 miles easy @ 8:35 average
I was finally starting to feel somewhat recovered from my cold, so I ran longer than I had on
Wednesday and Thursday. Greg, who had been on a business trip, came home and looked at my toe and was instantly worried. I emailed photos of the toe to Greg's parents, to my coach, and to my friend Stephanie who is a doctor. Everyone agreed that I should see a doctor ASAP because the blister looked infected.

Saturday: 20 miles @ 7:55 average
I planned to go to my doctor's walk-in clinic immediately after this run, so I was sure to get an early start. I put two band-aids on the blister with Neosporin, and secured them with a heavy-duty band aid over top. I put the Injinji toe socks over that and I was good to go. Didn't feel a thing during the run, believe it or not! In terms of the cold, I still had hints of the sore throat, but I felt mainly recovered.

This workout called for: 5 miles easy, 3 miles of (1 minute hard, 1 minute easy), 6 miles at marathon pace, 3 miles easy, 3 miles hard, 1 mile easy. It was only 28 degrees at the start but it would end up being 50 by the end. Greg ran the first 13 miles with me and we each parked a car on different parts of our 5-mile loop. This would allow us to shed clothing and get water. I wanted this to be a dress rehearsal so I wore my race outfit, plus a jacket over it for the first three miles.

Saturday, February 19th: wearing my marathon outfit
We tried to keep it slow and easy at the beginning, but since it was so cold, we couldn't help but going a tad faster than planned: 8:26, 8:28, 8:24, 8:25, 8:23. Then, I had my Garmin programmed for 3 miles worth of 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy. The "hard" portions ended up being around 6:45-6:50, and the easy portions at about 9:00. As luck would have it, we did not get an easy minute before transitioning directly into the six marathon pace miles. Marathon pace felt much easier than the 6:50's but once we settled in, it felt more challenging: 7:37, 7:31, 7:39, 7:33, 7:34, 7:22. Greg ended his run after 5 of these and I guess I must have gotten a burst of energy to finish up in 7:22. I took my UCAN gel during these miles and it definitely re-energized me. I had been struggling a bit before taking it.

I tried to take the next three easy miles nice and slow, but my Garmin kept reading out paces that didn't match what I felt! 8:37, 8:25, 8:30. These felt ridiculously slow, but hard since I had 16+ miles on my legs. Next it was time for 3 miles as hard as I could. I logged a 7:15 and a 7:11, and then decided to quit on the last one. Totally unlike me, but I just didn't want to overdo it. Turns out, after I ran a half mile easy, I had juice to hammer it home, so the final mile was 7:53-- a nice compromise between hard and easy!

It was a huge confidence boost to run 20 miles at an average 7:55 pace and not feel tired afterwards. I didn't have any lingering soreness in my legs either. In fact, I felt so great afterwards that I was able to shower, drink a smoothie, and be ready to go to the doctor's office in just 25 minutes to check out the blister.

The doctor told me that she thought the blister looked infected so she prescribed antibiotics. She told me to keep it open as much as possible and to make sure that the big toe wasn't hitting the toe next to it. I ended up concocting a solution of rolled gauze in between my two toes, held down with tape. She also told me to soak the blister in Epsom salt as much as possible.

Sunday: 3.4 miles recovery @ 8:49 average
Thankfully, everything felt great today. The blister continued to not hurt, the right foot didn't hurt, and I didn't feel impacted by my cold. Phew.

Total mileage: 59.1

If it hand't been for the sore throat, I probably would have been in the upper 60's, but I know I made the right choice. I've now been running for 44 days straight without a rest day, averaging 9.5 miles a day. I think this bodes very well for my marathon in just two weeks.

I'm  happy to have survived this week in one piece, and to have logged two very challenging workouts hitting my target paces. My mileage will gradually taper off over the next two weeks so I can go into the Myrtle Beach marathon feeling rested and ready to run hard.


  1. If you don't mind my asking, what antibiotic did she prescribe? What you are taking can affect how you run or recover or prepare.

    1. Cephalexin, for 7 days. So it will be out of my system well before the marathon. But I know I may feel tired from it.

  2. I'm glad you were able to keep running with that blister! Nice that it happened now and not the week of the marathon!

    1. Exactly! I'm hoping it's completely recovered by race day.

  3. Sorry, but I had to skip over the pics of your blister. But thanks for posting that, as it made me put the M&Ms away (darn Valentine's Candy deals). Sorry that you had some setbacks this week but you still managed some incredible mileage and workouts. Just look at it as a slightly longer than usual taper. Things never go 100% our way in any training schedule, but you've made it this far without any major setbacks and you're in the home stretch now. See ya in less than two weeks... maybe I'll be running. Who knows?

  4. Well Elizabeth, you continue to impress me with your impressive training. 20-mile LR in less than 2:39 at 7:55 average pace says you going to go into that upcoming marathon with great potential to run really fast! Your "easy" pace would probably be the best I can hope to sustain as marathon race pace at this stage. But speed is relative to many factors, and it is your training and your discipline to nail these challenging workouts so well that is really starting to impress me. Says you have come a long way in the aftermath of your book!

    A few suggestions regarding that blister. They sell these gel toe wraps for corns that will work well to buffer that blister when running...or when in shoes about and/or at work. Smart Sense gel-corn pads or ProFoot vita gel corn wraps are brands I have used. Should be able to find them at Walgreens.

    Also, regarding the blister...don't wear socks at night as toe exposed fully to air best means I know to heal it fast. Regarding the soaking in epsom salts...add some Povidone iodine or 4% Chlorhexidane Gluconate solution to the water as a disinfectant. That should help heal it up faster.

    Hopefully that sore throat issue fades as you head in to taper. Glad to hear you are tapering back the last few weeks until race. Wish you the best and all good luck come race day!

    1. Thanks for the support and advice! The blister has improved significantly in the past 48 hours and I think it should be totally gone in just a few more days!

  5. Ahh I had to quickly scroll past the photos!! Hope you're alright though. Great paces and running despite the toe!

    1. I would have thought that runners like looking at stuff like that. LOL. Sorry if it was too gross to post, but words just didn't do it justice. Thanks for reading!

  6. SOLID workouts despite the sore throat and blister! Glad you got those antibiotics! Hubs has had to hook me up a few times with antibiotics bc I'm prone to infected toenails when I'm in marathon training. When you said that you were soaking it in epsom salt...I had just been thinking if she lived in FL, the ocean would be the perfect remedy! As for Monday winds, despite the blister and sore throat, I would have cancelled that run...I hate wind when I run! Love your cool to see the distribution of your training!