Sunday, November 18, 2018

Weather craziness and a 79-mile week

It snowed and sleeted and ice-pelleted and freezing rained on November 15th. In Northern Virginia. What is going on with the weather this year? Because I run outside every day, I am keenly aware of all the weather records we have broken this year:

Un-forecasted heavy downpour
- We had significant snowfall (our largest of the season) on March 21: the first day of spring!
- Summer-like weather started in early May, and we set a new record on May 2nd, hitting 91 degrees
- Nearly the entire month of May was well above norms for heat and humidity
- July was one of the rainiest and wettest on record, with rainfall almost every day
- Early September gave us record-breaking heat, and I raced in 74-degree temps on Labor Day morning
- Summer-like weather persisted throughout September and into the first two weeks of October
- RAIN: By the middle of October, the DC metro area had already received more rain than it's annual average.
- On October 22nd, it was 30 degrees in the morning. Just two weeks prior, it had been 72 and humid.
- On November 15th, we had wintry precipitation all day long, making it the earliest snowfall in the region in 30 years.

I'm not trying to get political or make a case for climate change, but this is NUTS and it's made running extra challenging. I fully realize it's going to rain sometimes, but not all the time. I also expect it to be 72 degrees and humid in the morning-- in August, not in October or May. I can also accept a full day of wintry precipitation-- in January, not in November. Everything is so out-of-whack with the weather and it makes it difficult to plan for training and races. Case in point, the early arrival of summer in May this year was the major contributing factor to me getting so sick over the summer. And I haven't even mentioned the weather at the Boston Marathon yet!

And with that, I give you my week in training, and how I adjusted for the weather.

Monday: 14.4 miles, 8:15 pace
Just two days after the Richmond half marathon, I was ready to go for a medium long run before work. My legs were surprisingly not sore at all from the race. Of course this made me wonder if I
could have run it faster, but then I remembered how much I struggled, so, no.

Tuesday: 7 miles, 8:38 pace
Nice and easy recovery run

Wednesday: 12 miles, including speed intervals
Originally this workout was scheduled for Thursday. However, the wintry mix was supposed to start in the early morning hours on Thursday, so I figured I would bump it up a day since my legs felt good.

One of my least favorite workouts that my coach gives me every cycle!  It’s 20 x (1 minute hard, 1 minute easy), 20 x (30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy). That’s a constant changing of gears for an entire hour! No stopping or walking allowed- the recovery jogs must be actual jogs. Its impossible to pace with a Garmin, so the entire workout is effort based. Tempo runs and track intervals can provide a nice fitness gage, and if they go well I get excited about my pace. But with this workout, the confidence boost is simply grinding it out and trusting the process. In other words, it’s not a “glamorous” workout, but it’s great for speed and leg turnover.
  • 20 x 1 minute at slightly faster than 5K effort: ranged from 6:03-6:27, averaged 6:10.
  • 20 x 30 seconds hard: ranged from 5:34 -6:19, averaged 5:52.
I am very happy with how I executed this one. I’ve gone out too fast in the past and regretted it, and ended up walking the recovery jogs. 12 miles total, including warm up and cool down.

Thursday: 7.9 treadmill miles, 8:50 pace
I really didn't want to use a treadmill because it tends to beat up my legs rather than help them recover, but I had no choice. It was icy and dangerous out, and the precipitation didn't change into pure rain until about 4:00pm, at which point the streets were coated in slush, snow, and ice. I don't mind running on the treadmill, but I don't like how my legs feel afterwards. Even though I took it very slow and easy, my legs felt more sore and beat-up than they had following the hard workout on Wednesday! UGH!

Friday: 17 miles, 8:03 pace + 1 mile cool down
I had the day off work, and since I had moved the speed intervals up a day, I figured I would move everything up a day which meant doing my long run on Friday. And then I could add in an extra rest day before the Turkey Trot. My coach was on board with this plan. With strong winds out of the northwest, the plan was for Greg to drive me to the W&OD trail in Ashburn, drop me off, and then I'd run home. That way, I wouldn't have to deal with a headwind for most of the run.

We drove 25 minutes there, only to realize that Ashburn (being northwest of us) had much more snow and slush than we did. Most of ours had melted with the warmer rain that fell overnight. The trail was a slushy mess, and I figured there would be points that would be impassable, making it impossible to run home. So we drove all the way back home (in rush hour) having wasted a lot of time, and even $6.00 in tolls! This meant I would be starting my run later than planned which screwed up my nutrition plan and I'd have to deal with the 12-15 mph sustained winds.

Despite all of this, I tried to stay positive. My coach advised me to start at a pace of 8:00 and bring it down to 7:35 by the end. Oh yeah, and it was supposed to be 22 miles! About 9 miles in, I started noticing that my legs were already getting tired. I ignored it and just kept chugging along. I was able to hold on for 15 strong miles, with the 15th mile coming in at 7:46. But then mile 16 was super tough (8:12) and mile 17 was a major struggle (8:45), and then I simply couldn't run anymore. So the 17 miles averaged 8:03 (I also ran the first mile slowly at 8:55).

When I stopped I was two miles away from home so I walked a mile and then, being impatient, I mustered all of my energy for a very slow recovery jog home: 1 mile in 9:42. Everything hurt! I was in a world of pain since I had essentially "bonked" my long run. This hadn't happened to me on a long run in over three years! I've always been able to complete my long runs without issues. My legs hurt much more than they did after the Richmond half and I figured it would take me a days to recover from this. I took an Epsom salt bath, foam rolled, used the Theragun, and took an hour nap.

Saturday: 6.2 miles, 9:35 pace
My legs were still in a world of hurt on Saturday morning. I wasn't sure if my hour-long recovery run would be possible, but I went out and tried, and was able to complete it. Very slowly. Typically my recovery runs the day after a long run are in the 8:40-8:55 range. My legs usually don't feel very beat up. But on Saturday, I had to take things really, really, slowly and gently. Afterwards, I did more foam rolling and using the Theragun, and I applied Salonpas patches. I had them all over my legs and Greg was having a hard time with the Menthol smell!

Sunday: 13.5 miles w/9.4 at 7:30 pace
This workout was originally scheduled for Monday, but everything was still bumped up a day, so I got to do it on Sunday. This was another reason I wanted to bump up my schedule: doing a hard workout on a Sunday and getting to relax afterwards.

The workout was 2 miles at 7:00, 4 mins recovery jog, 4 x 1 mile at 6:40 with 3-min recovery jogs, 2 miles at 7:00. Given the state of my legs, I was naturally apprehensive about this one. But my coach encouraged me to try my hardest and said it was okay to push hard on sore legs. I tend to be super conservative so this worried me, but I decided to just go for it.

I ran 2.6 miles warm up and everything felt pretty good. The weather was perfect, finally. 33 degrees and no rain or wind. The first two miles were slightly uphill, which I ran in 6:58, 6:54. I wasn't trying
to over-achieve and given the uphill nature I told myself I would be happy with 7:05. But naturally I was able to run a little quicker. Then it was time for the 4 x 1 mile. The first two were slightly downhill, and the next two were slightly uphill. 6:39, 6:37, 6:39, 6:40. Yay!

For my last mile repeat, which was uphill, I told myself I would be happy with 6:45, but then I just gunned it anyway and was able to pull off 6:40. During the 3-minute recovery jog, I realized I was pretty tired, but I told myself I just had to make it through 2 more miles, at a slower pace than what I had just been running. I figured they would be slower than my first two, but I was amazed at how comfortable the pace felt! I guess after having run 4 miles at 6:40, the 7:00 pace felt easy, so I ended up running 6:56, 6:51. So basically, I nailed the workout on very sore and tired legs.

Weekly mileage: 79.2
This is a new weekly high for me. Granted- I moved everything up a day to avoid running the speed intervals on icy roads. But, I only ran 18 of my prescribed 22 miles, so I also cut back on something I was supposed to do. As a reward, I get that rest day that I asked for on Tuesday so I should be somewhat fresh for the Turkey Trot on Thursday.


  1. I agree with you--the weather is wacky! We were boiling hot this summer and now we have snow. It's crazy.

  2. Good you refer to it as "climate-change" and not "global-warming" though it is based on rising average temps that big debate on depending what side of the coin you come from politically, but the majority of scientists have overwhelming evidence carbon emissions from humans worldwide driving the system and climate change is the result. It isn't that warming trend in ocean temps or such means we bake all year, the process if you follow-it seasonally just means the "extremes" get more extreme and inconsistent with former patterns! So good observation and just don't live along the coast and you can adjust!

    With that out of the way, very impressive training, and more so your drive and passion to belt out that kind of training volume and workouts in a single week. Treadmill is harder running if you don't use it regularly as the muscles function little different than in running on actual earth! And the pace/speed always feels a bit harder including its post-run effects compared to same duration/distance on actual planet earth. "Specificity" in training is the operative, but you take advantage of the Dreadmill when conditions make it fruitless to try to do the workout outdoors.

    You ran some impressive workouts and still only doing 17 or 18 miles with that LR supposed to be 22 or so, pretty awesome you just quit while the results still good in terms of average pace. Yah, maybe you didn't achieve objectives of running those last few miles sub-8, but overall that's a pretty awesome LR with that overall average pace! Your Coach might not agree that you didn't get the "fast-finish" nailed down to the total LR distance, but then again you are well aware sometimes you can't do what the schedule says...for all kinds of reasons...but you gave it best effort and tried.

    Although I shouldn't be happy you came up short in what the schedule says, I can see some value in that you are still a "mortal runner/marathoner" and things don't always go the way the plan dictates...whatever, if any reasons. Great training you doing!

  3. I think I got an idea why that long run didn't finish as planned... Ya see, you're OLD now. Just a week prior you week in your half your legs felt fine. That's because you weren't old yet like you are now haha!!! Sorry it was too tempting :)

    As for the climate talk without getting political on here, yes the weather this was was tough. I wouldn't say it was warmer on the whole but the humidity was intense much more often than in the past. As I think I've told you I keep temperature and dew point statistics for all my runs and I decided to look back for this post. Even in my limited 3 day a week evening running in NW NJ I had 24 runs where the dew point was over 70 (the first was June 28th and the last was October 2nd. Eleven of them occurred between July 15 and August 12th, including Beach2Beacon in Maine where I felt like I was still in Jersey) I can easy say that would have been 26 if I wasn't running at sunrise a couple times when the weather forecasts were for mid 90s and heat indexes over 100.

    For good measure in 2017, I had 6 runs where the dewpoint was 70 or greater (granted I stopped running Sept. 7th after multiples injuries made me lose my will to try and battle thru them) In 2016 I had 11 such days where the dewpoint was 70 or greater. 2015 there was little running and in 2014 while I took 3 1/2 weeks off after a local race in June before I started training for Philly there was yes 0 days I ran with a dewpoint of 70.

    So 2018 was dreadful for running outdoors and I would guess if I was in VA near the DC area there would have been more than 24 of those runs in dewpoints of 70 or more.

    I don't recall May being that terrible here. My local in town race it was raining (at a good clip but not like Boston and without the wind) at 48° but when I did Spring Lake Memorial Day week that was tough... Dew point wasn't quite 70 but it was pretty close and to think there were still 24 days of 70° dew points. We had a tough year for sure!! I say all that crap weather makes us stronger for the race days but race days like that we don't want at all.

    You're going to do awesome on race day in a few weeks and I guess it will be decent there for a Turkey Trot... Hope it's a great hard workout for you (I'm thinking sub 20 would be sweet if you're doing a 5K) You know I'm dreaming that up for you!!

  4. Let everyone see my grammar error lol "the weather this was was tough" haha what a dummy I am. I think everyone knows the first was I meant to say year

  5. What a week! That's a lot of mileage to accomplish, especially with half of it on sore legs. Good for you to push through. We're kind of tapering already, so I am getting a break from high mileage, but even my highest is nowhere near 79 miles! I'm impressed!