Weekly Wrap-Up: October 9-15

The New York City Marathon is three weeks from today. A lot can happen in those three weeks, and a lot can happen on race day. I still don’t know how it will go. What I do know is that, if I cross the finish line and beat my goal, I can look back on this week, and say, “That’s when I earned it.”

Weight Check: 165.7 pounds, down 1.5 from last week. It’s mostly due to the miles, but I’ll take it. As usual, I need to cut back on the Mountain Dew (especially since my mileage is about to drop), but other than that, I guess my diet isn’t too terrible.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday 7 miles easy 7.01
Tuesday 8 miles at marathon pace (10:50-11:10/mile), using the first mile to ease into pace 8.01
Wednesday 7 miles easy 7.01
Friday 6 miles easy 6.01
Saturday 20 mile long run 20.02

Total: 48.06 miles

Normally, I’d just cut and paste the comments that I put out there for my coach (and I’m doing that for Wednesday and Friday, since they were pretty uneventful), but there’s a story here.

We got hit with an October heat wave at the beginning of the week. The afternoon temperatures were pretty warm, but the worst part was the morning temperatures. For four days (Monday through Thursday) we set a record for the highest recorded low temperature. And since I run in the morning, that meant that I got to experience those low temperatures that weren’t really low.

Monday was 75 degrees with 90% humidity. On October 9 at 6:53 AM. And I was coming off one of my worst runs ever last Saturday. But first, a little background.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here, but one of the things I do during my neighborhood runs to occupy my mind is to look out for the neighborhood cats. There are several that I almost feel like I know from seeing them in their front yards watching me run by.

Also, I don’t remember the exact day that it happened, but about two weeks ago when I was out running, I noticed this black pickup truck with an Irish flag license plate driving around. I saw him several times during my run, which I thought was odd. Near the end of my run, the driver flagged me down and asked if I had seen a black cat. So that explained why I had seen him so many times, he had been driving around trying to find his cat. Luckily, on this day, I remembered seeing a black cat where I hadn’t seen one before. I wasn’t 100% that it was the cat he was looking for, since black cats are pretty common, but I gave him directions to where I saw this one. Since it was near the end of my run, I kind of forgot about it.

Well, I went out there Monday, and even though my long run last Saturday was a lot shorter than planned, it didn’t seem to help my legs. And the weather was just brutal. I slogged through two miles, and was really starting to question everything.

Then I saw the pickup truck with the Irish flag license plate, and the driver flagged me down again. He said that he had been looking for me, because he had found his cat, and he wanted to say thanks.

That was exactly the boost that I needed. The rest of my run was still hot, and it was slow, but it was just a little less miserable.

Tuesday was 73 degrees with 100% humidity. And I was supposed to run 8 miles at my goal marathon pace. I wasn’t really sure that was possible in those conditions, but I figured I’d give it a shot. I should mention that, for some reason, I had 11:15/mile in my head as my goal pace.

I got to the end of the first mile, and I saw my time: 11:11. At that point, I thought, “Hey, maybe I can do this.” I kept pushing. I had left a water bottle outside in front of my house, and I stopped for a drink during mile 4, which ended up being 11:18. Every other mile was under 11:10 (you know, my actual goal pace), and the very last mile was my fastest, 10:32.

I’m kind of glad that I thought my goal pace was 11:15, because thinking that I beat my goal pace by 4 seconds on the first mile gave me a huge mental boost. Granted, if I thought (correctly) that I missed it by 1 second, I don’t think it would have crushed me, but still. And I know I can’t do anything like that on race day. 11:26/mile is the pace I need for a sub-5 hour marathon. That number is burned into my brain, and no amount of mental gymnastics will trick my mind into thinking it’s anything else.

I still can’t believe I did that in those conditions. (Side note: It’s good to have what in all likelihood will be the month’s Best Run on the 10th.)

Wednesday’s weather was even worse, 74 degrees with 100% humidity. My legs didn’t feel great, but I expected them to feel worse after Tuesday. It wasn’t a great run, but I survived.

On Friday, it finally started to cool off a little bit, and it was only 68 degrees. (That’s still way too warm for 7:19 AM on October 13.) The humidity was 100%, but it felt worse because it had rained during the night and everything was still wet. My legs felt meh at first, but they got a little better as I went along. I kept the effort “easy” until the end. I survived.

So, Saturday. This would normally be a pretty important run, since it’s my last 20 mile run. After last Saturday’s disaster, I had to make sure I could get through this run, and I had to make sure I didn’t have any stomach issues.

I had discussed last week’s run with my coach, and the best theory we could come up with was that I needed to leave a little more time between my pre-run snack and the start of my run. So when I got up Saturday morning, I ate first, then worried about getting dressed and gathering all my stuff. I finished my snack right around 6:35 AM. My run started at 8:05 AM, so I had right around a 90 minute gap, while the previous Saturday, it had been closer to an hour. (Also, I know that on race day, I’ll probably finish my pre-race snacks around 9:30 AM or so, and my race will start at 11, so 90 minutes is pretty close to what will happen before the marathon.)

It was 64 degrees and about 90% humidity. Not ideal, but compared to the weather at the beginning of the week, I couldn’t complain too much.

As I started, I paid very close attention to my stomach. I’m sure there were a couple of spots where I thought I felt something, but during a normal run, I wouldn’t have noticed. I did get a side stitch at one point, which is definitely different than what I experienced a week ago. I applied a little bit of pressure, and it went away fairly quickly.

By the halfway point, I felt like I was in the clear, stomach-wise. Now I just had to get my legs through the rest of the run.

It wasn’t easy. Around the 16 mile mark, my legs started feeling really tired. I kept plugging along, though. I managed to not take any walk breaks except whenever I stopped for water. My pace was pretty slow for those last few miles, but I managed to speed up just a little on the last mile.

At the end, more than anything else, I was relieved. I made it through 20 miles in less than ideal weather with no stomach issues. Whew.

Also, this run put my 2nd pair of Brooks Adrenaline 17s up to 403.8 miles, so it was their last run before retirement. They went out with a bang. They got me through the Teal Diva 5(ish)K, they made the trips to both Connecticut and Portland, and they got me through two 20 mile runs.

Finally, this run put me over 6,000 miles in my running career. I didn’t think it was worth a full post like 5,000 was, and I didn’t take a picture, but it’s still a milestone.

And now, my taper begins. I still have a 7 mile tempo run and a 16 mile long run next week, but I’ll only end up with 40 miles total. Also, it’s supposed to finally cool off. I’ll believe it when I see it.