Weeks 15 and 16 of Richmond Marathon Training: The Taper Weeks, 10/30 – 11/10

I drafted this on the train home to Richmond on 11/9 and meant to post it on 11/10 but was busy carb-loading and furniture shopping. I’ve changed almost nothing to keep my original feelings of nervousness intact. I also took no photos on my runs in this two-week period, which really says something.

After my midweek 20.5 miler on the 25th, I was cooked physically and mentally. But I still had another 2.5 weeks to go before the big race. I got what Elle calls the Taper Lazies (as opposed to the Taper Crazies). I wasn’t crabby or antsy, but I did want to eat everything. Oh, and I moved apartments in this time which sort of rechanneled a lot of would-be running-related stress into moving stress. 5 days later and I still can’t find my speed shoes!

10/30 – 11/5: Just a couple runs once the long run DOMS ended. I wanted to try and get that 10-mile run in that I had missed, but it made more sense to just do 8 one week out before shortening my runs. I spent Sunday the 5th in my favorite race activity of cheering my heart out during the NYC Marathon. It was so inspiring to watch my friends and teammates crush it. Well worth the spitting rain and cowbell blisters. I had some celebratory drinks and cookies with folks afterward and was overcome with excitement.

Cheering my heart out at Mile 7 of NYCM


More cheering and Levain cookies at Mile 21

11/6 – 11/10: A few treadmill 3-milers Monday and Wednesday, then just 2 Thursday before packing and hopping on the train down to Richmond. Compression socks on just in case (to be laundered and worn again after the race). On Friday the 10th, I did a slow 3 mile shakeout with my Dad riding alongside on his bicycle to calm my nerves. With 11 miles this week and fewer runs (but longer ones) the week before, I was definitely worried I was overdoing it too late in the game.

Race report and separate ~training schedule feelings~ posts to come after the marathon!


Week 6 of Richmond Marathon Training, 8/28 – 9/3

So this was supposed to be a build-up week of 36 Sunday-Saturday miles, but I hit over that last week. Due to this and my vacation at altitude, I decided to make it a cutback week. I know, 6 weeks into the program and I’m being a real renegade here.

8/28: Unplanned rest day. I was feeling beat up physically from such a tough but awesome Saturday, especially with shorter miles Friday (my usual rest day) and Sunday.

8/29: 5 easy miles @ 10:52 pace on the treadmill at the gym. It was raining all afternoon and evening and I was just not feeling a soggy run after traipsing around Flushing and my neighborhood in the rain. My feet were already wet and cold.

8/30: 2 miles with the beer running group. We were taking photos to be part of the leader’s Airbnb Experiences, so after the staging of the photos and then drinking a beer, I was out of time to get a loop of the park in before my fantasy football draft. This is my 6th season playing and I’m trying to score some winnings here. So I ran home.

8/31: Flight to Denver and lots of walking around. Got some cool new hiking tights at REI, ate some delicious food, and tried a ton of local brews.

9/1: Rocky Mountain National Park tour

Sprague Lake

9/2: 13+ mile long run with Kate who was in town and planned out a beautiful route through 3 of the city’s parks: City Park, Cheesman Park, and Washington Park. We started before 6:30am so it was nice to be done by 9am and escape some of the heat. Apparently NYC was cool and rainy over much of Labor Day weekend, but Denver was 90+.

I had lunch at Biker Jim’s Gourmet Hot Dogs, where I got to try both reindeer and bison hot dogs. And some fried macaroni and cheese bites. And some prickly pear soda. After 13.25 miles, I was hungry.

9/3: Broncos 7K with/thanks to Laura. She had put a code on her site for this race and I realized that the race totally worked for my schedule, so we got in touch to meet up after. I ended up in the B Corral based on my proposed 10K time (I had no hopes of replacing my 8:00 5K time from last week but was shooting for high 8’s). I ran 2.5 miles from my hotel to the start, then we were off…uphill.

As you can see, I took it slow then hoped to pick up the pace in the later miles. This was day 4 at altitude, so I was more confident that my lungs wouldn’t explode but still a bit worried. The finish along the tunnel was really cool, too! We bopped around the expo after to grab some swag. The line to meet Denver Broncos players was very long, so that was skippable since I don’t currently have any of their players on my fantasy team.

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 9.36.49 PM.png

Check out those huge medals

Then off to Evergreen for a wedding with the best food ever. 6 different mini desserts, a make your own Smores bar, and a 20 pound peach and huckleberry pie.

Total: 27.5 Mon-Sun miles plus some light hiking. No altitude sickness, though!

Running Into the Void

I originally wrote this in April and it’s more appropriate than ever with marathon training in full swing. I’m currently in Las Vegas for the Trivia Championships of North America and am squeezing in some treadmill runs because of the 100+ degree heat.

As I slowly and cautuously add miles to my runs over the weeks (which is really fun to visually examine on Strava and MapMyRun), I’m finally getting to the kinds of distances where the psychological benefits of running take hold. I was perusing http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/04/how-neuroscientists-explain-the-mind-clearing-magic-of-running.html a few weeks ago and found myself nodding in agreement.

I purchased Haruki Murakami’s book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running in April 2012 when I wasn’t racing and my longest runs ever were a 5K. I was in an objectively not-great place in life, done with grad school and still looking for gainful employment while my student loans accumulated interest. I was unsure if I was going to stay in NYC but desperately wanted to stay and put down roots here. My personal life was a bit messy and confusing but I was hopeful. My runs reflected the rest of my circumstances somewhat; brief uneven jaunts along the East River. I moved from the UES to the LES that May and started a longer-term temp position that temporarily quelled my job anxiety. And I read this book. I had read Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles for a book club in 2009 and quickly followed suit with Norwegian Wood and my personal favorite to this day, Kafka on the Shore (loved 1Q84 as well but that came later). But this was different. It was about running. And Murakami as an author. I’ll be honest; I zipped through it but didn’t really take away much, possibly because my runs weren’t very long. Or because I wasn’t running to find anything. Or to escape anything.

I re-read What I Talk About… last year while training for a half marathon and suddenly, it made sense. Whether it’s age and experience, loss, or just double-digit long runs, I had a much firmer grasp on his feelings this time around and was able to identify some of my own. I had a run at night (on a Monday after barre class because that opens up my hips and activates my glutes) a few weeks ago where I was running in order to escape. It was also a little bit of running to celebrate that I could. After so many months off, it feels amazing to go again. The first mile brought with it the small victory of knowing that my total run would be 3 based on where I turned around. But then came the feelings I was trying to escape. The lump in my throat rose and I tried to swallow it down while choking back tears. I felt like I had run straight into what I was trying to avoid. My emotions subsided after the second mile when I was on a downhill final mile home. I had failed to (literally) run away from my problems, even temporarily. Runs that start and end in a perfectly neutral place are my norm (well, for long runs, not speed training). But maybe sometimes I won’t be able to escape.

From Murakami:

“I just run. I run in a void. Or maybe I should put it the other way: I run in order to acquire a void. But as you might expect, an occasional thought will slip into this void. People’s minds can’t be a complete blank. Human beings’ emotions are not strong or consistent enough to sustain a vacuum. What I mean is, the kinds of thoughts and ideas that invade my emotions as I run remain subordinate to that void. Lacking content, they are just random thoughts that gather around that central void.”

It feels weird (a little refreshing too if we’re being honest) to write about feelings and not just times and numbers on here, but I would love to hear everyone else’s takes on running, voids, and/or Murakami.