3

Erie Marathon training: week 8

Last week, I wrote about how I needed to reevaluate my goals and plans in regards to Erie. I decided I’m likely going to shift my goal race back to Philly in November. In the meantime, I’m still planning on running Erie as a training run, but that could still change as the race gets closer.

Making that decision was hard and means having to accept my biggest running goal for 2014 (a BQ for 2015) won’t happen. It sucks, but I know this is the right decision. On the plus side, this did ease a lot of weight off my shoulders. And without the pressure of having my goal race two months away, I was also able to see that I needed to take a few days off from running to rest and regroup. The reality is most of my rut is likely caused by over training. Because I jumped right back into things after New Jersey, I’ve been in hardcore marathon training mode for almost seven months now. That’s too much. And then pile on top the fact that my increased progesterone dosage is causing me an immense lack of motivation and energy, as well as severe depression, and I’m not in good marathon training shape. I can feel it throughout my body, it just doesn’t want to move when I’m out there.

So I took most of last week off. I ran eight miles on Wednesday and that was it. I took the rest of the time to just relax and rest my body. I can’t say if it’ll be enough yet, but it’s probably better than something. It’s likely just one week off isn’t going to magically fix all of this, but it can’t hurt. I hope. Taking time off for me is always a risk because I lose fitness almost instantly. A week off now practically destroys everything I’ve worked for. It never used to be this bad, but having a testosterone level that is only 4ng/dL will do that to you. For reference, the normal female range is somewhere between 20-50ng/dL and the male range is 300-1000ng/dL or so (these numbers can vary a bit depending on where you source your info). When I started HRT, I was around 300, I believe. Essentially, what this means is my body will pretty much do anything it can to not have any muscle.

Anyway, I’m hoping to get back into it this week. I’m going to rework my schedule for the week so as to not be jumping right into a 53 mile week, but I’m planning on getting at it hard. I also have a 5k on Wednesday night so it’ll be interesting to see how that turns out.

Not how one should be eating when they're not running

Not how one should be eating when they’re not running

 

12

Erie Marathon training: week 7 – Time to be honest with myself

McDonald's Big Mac

As far as I can remember, I’ve never had a Big Mac before, but somehow on Saturday night this happened.

Last week was not a good week of training. In fact, it was crap. Total crap. The week was scheduled as a step-back week with 42 miles planned. Unfortunately, this was based on running six-days a week for the previous few weeks, which I haven’t done, so it was only one mile less than I ran the previous two weeks (which should have been 48 miles each, but were only 43).

The week was filled with garbage run after garbage run. The humidity is partially to blame, but I also just felt awful and tired otherwise. My midweek miles were all there, but I had to make some adjustments to my plans to get them done. I also wasn’t able to do any speedwork. My long run was scheduled at 16 miles. I started the run in the rain, but, after a mile, the rain stopped and the humidity soared. I could have fought through that, but my legs felt like lead. They were exhausted and really didn’t feel up to the task at hand. When I looped back to my house in between my two eight-mile out-and-backs, I called it. I knew there was no way my legs had another eight miles in them.

So, I ended the week with just 34 miles. On the plus side, that makes it an actual step-back. On the negative side…I only ran 34 miles.

With nine weeks to go, I think it’s time to start being honest with myself about my progress towards my goal. I’m not running all my miles, I’m running much slower than I should be, I’m not doing any speedwork, and I’m ignoring my strength work. I’m working off the same plan I did for the New Jersey Marathon earlier this year. The plan was challenging, but doable for me and I made a lot of progress. I thought doing the same plan again would be the best course of action, but I’ve yet to be able to run six days a week, as the plan calls for, so my mileage is lower than it was last training cycle. Not only am I running fewer miles than last cycle, but I’m also running quite a bit slower. I can blame the heat and humidity for some of it, but not enough to ease my concerns. I’m actually running slightly slower than I did during Richmond Marathon training last year–which means much slower than training last cycle. That’s just not going to cut it. To make matters worse, with only a few exceptions, my body has been dead on every run. I haven’t had it in me to do the speedwork. I just don’t have anything to give. And each run takes so much out of me, physically, mentally, and emotionally, that I can’t even bring myself to do any strength work after running.

I’m in a serious rut right now and nothing is really going right. It’s really the same rut I’ve been in since just before the New Jersey Marathon. I’ve had a few good weeks here and there, but running has been overall more crappy than good, by a wide margin. I’m also risking injury by not keeping up with strength work. Basically, I’m barely treading water.

I feel completely defeated. I have since New Jersey and every time this rut feels like it’s coming to an end, I fall right back into it. I don’t really know how to get myself out of it at this point. I’m out there running, but it’s killing me. At this point, it’s not just physical anymore, it’s mental and emotional as well. It also doesn’t help any that, outside of running, I’ve been dealing with a fair amount of depression and lack of motivation (separate post on the depression coming tomorrow). I was positive about things for a long time, but I’ve about used up all my ability be optimistic.

What this all boils down to is that there just isn’t enough time left between now and the Erie Marathon on 9/14 (two months from today) to be able to hit my goal of sub-3:30. It may not be completely impossible, but it’s highly improbable. Even just my BQ time of 3:35 doesn’t feel very attainable right now. I’m not making progress and the race is getting closer and closer. Accepting this means accepting that, as obsessed with this goal as I have been, I have no chance of snatching my BQ in time for 2015. It’s just too far of a stretch and I need to let it go.

It’s time to weigh my options…

  • Continue working towards my goal anyway and hope this all comes together somehow. Sure, I could keep it up, but this is essentially just hoping for a miracle and ignoring reality. There’s simply too much ground for me to make up. This is the riskiest of all the options. It means pushing myself on race day without the training to really get me where I want to be. It means beating up my body and forgoing another attempt until the spring next year. Racing three hard marathons in the course of 10 months is probably the max I can handle right now. I’d have to give my body some real time off before racing another marathon.
  • Continue training, but change my goal. I could continue training for Erie, but change my plans so Erie is no longer the goal. I could run Erie as a long training run instead of racing it and then use that as a step towards a race later in the fall. Likely, I’d go with the Philly Marathon. I’ve done the race before–so I know the course–and the wife is running it so we’ve already got a hotel room and everything. It would only cost me my registration fee. This would give me an extra two months to focus on getting faster after having already primed my body for the distance. Of course, I’m seriously risking burning myself out here, but it would take some pressure off for a while and give me a better chance of getting a BQ…it just wouldn’t be a BQ for 2015 anymore. This also means doing a hard marathon seven weeks before the Goofy Challenge in January. This isn’t ideal, but  it would be a repeat of 2011/2012 when I raced the Philly Marathon (first marathon) and then six weeks later did Goofy for the first time. I know it’s more than doable.
  • Drop from Erie and refocus for later in fall. I could just call it a wash and refocus entirely on a different race, again, probably Philly. The realist in me knows this is the smartest decision, the one that limits my injury risk and maximizes my chance of getting a BQ, even if it’s not for the year I want. At this point, my commitment to Erie is mostly just my time, emotion, and effort. I would only be out my registration fee. Of course, I would be wasting a bib for a sold-out race which I’d feel guilty about. While Erie does a wait list, it looks like, according to their website, they may not draw more names so me dropping may not allow someone else into the race.

Right now, I’m leaning towards option two. I think it’s a good compromise between the other two options and I’m way too stubborn for the third one. I can use the time between now and Erie to just work on distance and not have the pressure on myself anymore. Then, after Erie, I can take a couple days off and then hit pavement focusing on maintaining mileage and getting faster.

Is this the right choice? I have no idea. But I need to do be honest with myself. The good thing is, I don’t have to choose right now. I’ve got time for that.

Have you ever been in a running rut that lasted three months? How did you get out of it?

1

Erie Marathon training: week 6

Another week down! For the most part, week six was really a really solid week of training. I’m finally starting to feel like I’m making some progress.

Tuesday’s seven miler included a “feels like” temperature of 98°. It was a hot and sweaty run, but my body seems to finally be adjusting to the summer weather because I kicked some serious butt. My paces are still a little slower than I need them to be, but with ten more weeks of training and things feeling like they’re coming together, I can be really happy about an 8:26 in that kind of heat!

Hanging at the vet with Hattie

Hanging at the vet with Hattie

Wednesday was slated to be even worse in the heat department. I was too tired to get myself out of bed early enough to run before work even though all I had to do to fit in a run was wake up normal time since I was working from home. In the afternoon, I had to take Hattie to the vet for her final round of distemper shots and it was hot has heck out. I was not looking forward to ten miles in a “feels like” of 105°, but I knew it had to be done. I waited until around six to get ready to run, but it hadn’t cooled down any. Then, I got super lucky while I was doing my warm-up routine inside and a big thunderstorm moved in. The temps started to drop a little, but there was a lot of thunder off in the distance. I knew running in that wasn’t exactly the smartest thing, but I wasn’t going to miss my run because of it. I said “screw it” and went for it. Things started off alright, but it was still a bit steamy through the first mile. The thunder was picking up so I started counting the time between lightning strikes and the thunder. I figured if it got too close, I’d head home. Around mile two, it started to pour. Heavily! I spent the next four miles running in a torrential downpour. The sidewalks were flooding and there were puddles calf-deep. I could only see one or two sidewalk cracks ahead of me, but it was incredibly awesome and refreshing! I love running in the rain in the summer so I was really enjoying it! And the rain cut the temperature a ton so I was really able to pick it up and feel great. Unfortunately, the lightning and thunder kept increasing until the time between them was less than a second. Since I was miles from home already, there wasn’t much I could do about it at this point so I just continued on. Though, I’m not going to say I wasn’t at least a little scared when the sky was lighting up as bright as day and I could see bolts very nearby. All-in-all, though, it was a solid run with the last few miles kicked at close to marathon pace.

Enjoying a quick nap with my favorite buddy before Wednesdays run

Enjoying a quick nap with my favorite buddy before Wednesday’s run

I took Thursday easy with just a slow three miles since I had a four mile race on the Fourth. The race was great and I nailed my goal. Afterwards, we spent the evening with some friends at a party. I brought my “death burgers,” as I call them and there were a hit. I’ve never had anyone else try them before so I wasn’t sure what people would think, but the batch came out really good and there weren’t quite as spicy as normal…which is good for regular people.

The wife getting her 4th of July sparkler on

The wife getting her 4th of July sparkler on

I took Saturday easy and rested instead of running so I could have a good long run on Sunday. We were a little slow getting out of bed on Sunday, but we knew we were going to head down to the towpath so we’d have some extra shade from the heat. We each had 15 miles on the schedule and decided to run together the whole time. The first eight miles of the run were pretty solid. We were mostly on pace for where I wanted to be with the last couple being a tad on the fast side, but I was feeling reasonably good. Then, we swung back to the car to rehydrate and take our goos. This is where it all started to go wrong. I think we took too long and cooled down too much. When we started back up again, we both felt awful. My legs felt tired and tight and we both kept getting cramps. One of us would get a cramp so we’d stop for a second and then, as soon as we started back up again, the other would get a cramp and we’d have to stop again. It was brutal. I ended up cutting the run when we got back to the park at mile 14, which felt like a minor miracle itself. I wasn’t feeling well and knew the last mile wasn’t a good idea. I promised myself I’d go back out for another three in the evening to make up for it, but by mid-afternoon I was really regretting making that promise to myself! Still, I kept it and did the three at what my goal pace for the end of my long run was. So instead of doing 15 on Sunday, I totaled 17. I’ll take it.

Overall, I’m happy with the way the week went. Sunday’s long run being a disaster was sort of to be expected after a whole week of running hard so I’m not too upset about it. I’m looking at things as a whole and I feel like I’m making progress and going in the right direction.