Six weeks down. 10 weeks until taper. 12 weeks until race day! Week six started out rough, more mentally than physically. Because we were traveling Sunday I had taken Monday off from work. The post-trip blues hit me hard and I found myself really wishing I had another day with my cousins. My mind was elsewhere from marathon training. I slept in about an hour later than usual on Monday since I had off. I wanted to still get out early to beat the sun/heat, but when I took our one dog out before my run there was lightening out in the distance. I went back to bed as a thunderstorm hit and it continued to downpour for the next few hours. I headed to the gym to get my miles in on the treadmill. The irony is that if I had gotten up at my normal time I would’ve beaten the storm. The treadmill sucks, but I got it done. Luckily Monday is my easy pace minus 30 second day so it didn’t feel like such a slog.
By midweek the temperatures were heating up and Friday morning I was greeted with a heat advisory. Like most of the country, the temps and humidity were climbing and the head index was out of control. I went out Friday morning for an easy run not expecting much. My easy pace has been getting faster while maintaining the same heart rate, but I know the heat and humidity have an effect on my heart rate and excepted to be running around 30 seconds slower than usual. Much to my surprise, this ended up being one of my best runs (maybe the best run) of my training cycle so far. My splits were a very consistent 9:45 and averaging sub-10 in zone 2 in the heat has been unheard of for me since I began heart rate training. It was awesome to see such improvement in just 6 weeks of training. I can only hope I continue to go in this direction and don’t find myself slowing back down.
My training group meets at 7 during the summer, but due to the heat advisory the start time was pushed back to 6:30 this past weekend. I am consistently running more miles each Saturday so I have been arriving early to get some miles in on the trail before the group run. This week was no exception, my group had 12 scheduled and I had 17 on schedule. A 5:30 start meant hitting the road before the sunrise and I don’t feel comfortable going on the trail alone when it’s still dark out. Instead I parked at the meeting place and got 5 miles in through the surrounding neighborhoods. I tried to keep the route simple so I wouldn’t get lost and took advantage of the sprinklers that were out. I averaged slower than Friday, but faster than I expected for my solo miles so I wasn’t really sure what group to run with. The pace groups were all supposed to slow down about 15-30 seconds so I didn’t want to go too slowly, but I was afraid some of the faster groups wouldn’t actually slow down. Since the temperature was supposed to rise as we ran I decided to settle in with the pace group I’ve been running with. The majority of the miles were a bit too slow for me, but our pace coach commented that she was struggling to get her heart rate up in zone 2 with the slow down so that actually made me feel better. Once the temps rose and the sun was out for the last few miles I finally got back where I should be. Despite the heat and the constant pouring of sweat, I actually felt really good for my first longer run of this training cycle.
It was still hot hot hot on Sunday morning and I was glad to only have 4 short easy miles. I hit the local park trail again and couldn’t believe the amount of people out playing Pokemon Go at 7 in the morning. The nicest thing was seeing some parents out with their kids that early walking the trails and helping them play. I know there are some that are really negative about the game, but I was really happy to see so many people out and moving on the hottest weekend of the year. After my run I headed to my HIIT class where I got my butt handed to me. I am using heavier weights, finding my form for many of the exercises improving, and recovering from my runs really quickly so this has been a great addition to my training.
In all I hit 43 miles for the week. I’m tired, but feeling really good. This week I start speed work which will make things a bit more tough, but I feel ready. It starts simple and gradually gets harder as the weeks go on so I’m not jumping into too much.
I had a phone call with my coach on Saturday and we determined a goal time for my marathon. It’s slower than what he originally wanted for me and he sounded a little hesitant to slow it down a bit, but it’s a time I feel much more confident about going out and trying to hit. We agreed that if my speed work paces felt too easy then I will adjust to a little bit of a faster pace.
Aside from running, this week was our 4 year wedding anniversary! We celebrated by going out to dinner Friday night to a farm-to-table restaurant downtown. I had a refreshing cocktail and some great food. We finished off dinner with an amazing chocolate torte. Sometimes desserts like that tend to be too rich, but this was so light and delicious. We polished it off pretty quickly and really enjoyed ourselves.
Saturday night was also my company’s summer outting. We met at the minor league baseball game early for a catered meal (which was still ballpark food – hotdogs, grilled chicken, etc.) and the baseball game. Again, it was so hot and we were all sweating like crazy, but we managed to have a good time. A lot of families split after dinner, but we hung around for a good portion of the game. We never seem to make it down to any games, but we agreed we’d like to try to get to another one either this season or next.
So that’s a wrap on week 6. I’m hopeful things will continue to go smoothly as my weeks get a little harder. I am trying to make sure I am doing what I need to do in order to recover properly and get back out every morning for more successful miles.