Today's Mighty Oak

It’s race week! Here’s what I did going into the week, I’ll have a separate post up with a race report.

Thursday, Brooke drove down from Syracuse, and most of the Pittsburgh crew came over for a team dinner. The next morning, we packed the car and headed to Canal Fulton!

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 4 miles. Was able to run with the Frontrunners, which was a great send off before my race!
  • Wednesday: 5K. Happy Global Running Day! Did a 5K (as opposed to just 3 miles in my plan) to get a badge on Strava.
  • Thursday: 2 miles. Was doing loops around my neighborhood and saw a friend walking her dog, so did a loop with the two of them before finishing out my miles.
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: Race day.

Race reports owed: Jackpot, Eagle Up.

Working through Decompression from my Burn was longer and rougher than I anticipated. Due to work and some family commitments, I didn’t have much time to myself, so I felt a bit rushed coming back to Default.

But, life continues on and here I am at the second to last week of my plan.

Taper crazies are real, and I feel like everything is broken and I’ll never be able to run again. I keep reminding myself that I’ve already run a 50K, so I’ll be good the day of. I just need to trust my training and hope the weather cooperates as much as it can.

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: Rest.
  • Wednesday: 7 miles, including 6 x 400.
  • Thursday: 5 miles.
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 12 miles.
  • Sunday: Rest.

Race reports owed: Jackpot.

This week included my yearly regional Burning Man event, but as I start my taper for the race. Being outside and on my feet, in the heat, for so long was actually good training for the Ultra, at least I think so.

Looking back at my Fitbit data, I was shocked by how much I was walking each day. The event itself isn’t on that big of a piece of land, so the fact that I was covering that much distance was a bit of a shock to me!

  • Monday: 7 miles, 8 x 400.
  • Tuesday: Rest. (was downtown to see “Dear Evan Hansen”)
  • Wednesday: Rest.
  • Thursday: 2K – 2019 Moose League: Moosefontaine Classic: 10:37
  • Friday: Rest/time on feet/heat
  • Saturday: Rest/time on feet/heat
  • Sunday: Rest/time on feet/heat
  • Core/strength: None this week, back at it next week.

The Moose League is a series of unannounced events, run as a virtual track meet. My ultra team, PRorER, decided to create a division, so I’ll be racing against the other members of my team (as well as us competing against the other divisions for points). It’s all in good fun, and a good way for me to get more involved with the ARTC crew.

The Moosefontaine Classic was a 2K, so just under a mile and a quarter. I had time to run it before I left for the Burn, and ran just a bit over the distance on the sidewalk loop in my neighborhood (my car was packed to the gills and I figured that was better than going to a school track for the circumstances and timing).

It was a blast to run that hard and that fast. I’ve never raced a mile, so I also had no idea how to approach this, but I’m happy with it and I’m looking forward to more crazy events this summer!

Setting up and Exodus from the Burn certainly did afford some strength work, albeit, moving heavy pieces of art and camp infrastructure, nothing like a structured workout.

Race reports owed: Jackpot.

My training plan, from Relentless Forward Progress, called for a 50K in training. The jail loop in Pittsburgh is 5.5 miles, so I figured I’d just do six of those and make it an even 33 (of course since I didn’t run tangents and what not, it came out to 33.9 miles, so I’m calling it 34 for simplicity’s sake).

To keep myself on point, I made a chart of things to do/examine after each loop, and that was really beneficial, kind of like being my own crew ahead of time for myself.

I had the new season of Zombies Run ready to go, hit the trail early, and started on my way. It was humid, but wasn’t too terrible yet since the sun was behind the clouds. First loop was good and after a few missteps at my car, got into a rhythym moving forward.

On the other side of the river on the second loop, I ran into Elizabeth and Steve, and we ran together for a while, which really helped. We chit chatted, admired the new chalk art done outside the jail and generally had a decent time.

They dropped off when they needed to for their mileage, and I was left alone for the last two and a half loops. Halfway through loop 5, the sun came out. I ended up adding extra walk breaks when I was in direct sunlight, otherwise I wasn’t going to make it, and that was the right decision.

For the final loop I threw on some sunscreen, which helped, although I still got more sun than I hoped.

I did discover, my patience runs out somewhere around mile 29. I shoulder-checked a woman who was walking in a group four across, taking up the sidewalk. I was as far over as I could be, and she didn’t move, and I just didn’t care.

I did also call two cyclists assholes. One, who swerved to look like he was aiming right at me before correcting himself, and another who was riding on the (very narrow at that point) sidewalk, even though there was a bike lane (which means in the city, what he was doing was illegal).

Overall, I’m really proud of myself. My pace was good, and pretty consistent (aside from the sun walking breaks), and I stuck to my run/walk strategy. I was able to run the next day, and walking around and packing the rest of the day after my run was a little sore, but nothing out of the ordinary; much better than after the marathon two weeks ago.

Did I do a 50K quickly? No. Was it even as fast as I could go? No. But I’m still super happy with what I accomplished. It was a great confidence boost for Eagle Up, and now I’m seriously ready for my taper!

Things I learned:

  • I’m good about not waiting around at the aid station/my car. I was pretty quick to get in and get back out onto the trail. My biggest hangup was when I was eating something sticky, I didn’t want to deal with sticky fingers or the wrapper, so I’d finish eating before I left. But even with that, I was surprised how efficient I was.
  • Having planned walk breaks helped me a lot mentally, and physically.
  • Direct sunlight is a killer. I knew this already, but it was really hit home for me. The extra walk breaks when the sun was hottest was key for me.
  • I had to work really hard to keep myself from going too fast, even on the last lap.

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 7 miles.
  • Wednesday: 5 miles. Was hoping the weather would be hotter to help better acclimate, but it was very pleasant. Ran the training mission for the new Lewis and Clark race from Zombies Run and learned a ton!
  • Thursday: 3 miles. Was finally a bit hotter outside, which while it sucked, I know helped.
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 34 miles. Will have a separate write up about this.
  • Sunday: 5 miles.
  • Core/strength: None this week, back at it next week.

Race reports owed: Jackpot.

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: Rest. Took an extra day of rest (added the miles in later in the week), which was needed. Raced the marathon harder than I planned, so I didn’t feel bad needing the extra day.
  • Wednesday: 6 miles.
  • Thursday: 6 miles with speedwork: 4 x 400. Finally ran on the Schenley Oval, which was pretty neat. It’s nice to see a public track get so much use!
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 9 miles.
  • Sunday: 14 miles.
  • Core/strength: None this week, back at it next week.

Race reports owed: Jackpot.

Race week! I love Marathon weekend in Pittsburgh, it’s always such a fun time. The atmosphere and energy in the air, from the athletes and all the spectators is just amazing!

It was a bit bittersweet, since I really do love the course and the city, but the marathon organizer has chosen to partner with Chick-fil-A for the next three years, so I’ll be bowing out of both running and volunteering (multiple events throughout the year) until that contract is up. They already had my money for this year, but next year I’m looking at either Cincinnati or Toledo.

After my impromptu Stupid Week the week before, I took this week a bit easier to ease into the marathon

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: Rest.
  • Wednesday: 3 miles. Was supposed to run more, but the heat and the pollen stopped me two miles early. Glad I did it though, was good acclimation.
  • Thursday: 7 miles with speedwork: 4 x hill repeat. A big showing from the Frontrunners, I think we all had a lot of nervous energy going into race weekend.
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: Marathon 5K (and pasta party).
  • Sunday: Marathon.
  • Core/strength: None this week, back at it next week.

Race reports owed: Jackpot.

What a crazy week! This week and next are shaping up to be almost as busy, so no rest for the wicked I suppose.

  • Monday: 7 miles. Tiny loops in my neighborhood, which made for a good start to heat and pollen acclimation.
  • Tuesday: 10 miles. Spent the day north of Pittsburgh at an off-site meeting, which always throws a monkey wrench into things.
  • Wednesday: 6 miles. Day two off off-site meetings.
  • Thursday: Rest day.
  • Friday: 14 miles. Tiny loops (with the occasional stop at my basement). Lots of rain and mist and wind, but overall, feeling pretty good.
  • Saturday: 5 miles. Ran with a friend on City Island in Harrisburg! Met Steve from my Ultra Team, PRorER and we got in some miles between the two 5K races that were going on that day. The wind was brutal and we both had to fight against it, but it was so wonderful to run with him!
  • Sunday: 18 miles. I wanted to get in some of the miles I missed, plus this gave me an impromptu Stupid Week!
  • Core/strength: None this week, back at it next week.

Reading last week’s post, I enjoyed that I just threw out the advice to not run big the week before the marathon. No one is better at moving goalposts than ultra runners I suppose.

This week ended up being my biggest week of running ever, at 60 miles for the week! Previously, I had gotten to 48 (I think, I’ll have to double check this). While it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do so close to the marathon, I have to remember that the race on Sunday, at least for me, is just a supported long run, my goal race is Eagle Up.

The knee still felt a bit twingey at times, but honestly, doing 60 miles in a week will do that. And the fact that I hit this new mileage distance without having to stop is a great sign. I still think I’m at about 90%, so I’m hoping another week of stretching helps even more.

Race week is always a fun and exciting time, although I have trips to Ohio for work both this week and the day after the marathon, so that’s putting a damper on things. I’ve been trying to balance my miles and speedwork with both hills and flats, to help with both the marathon and Eagle Up, and both have been very beneficial. I feel like so much of both days is going to come down to the weather, keeping my fingers crossed for cloud cover!

Race reports owed: Jackpot.

  • Monday: 5 miles. Ran to the original cast recording of “Hunchback of Notre Dame,” of course.
  • Tuesday: 7 miles. Tiny loops in my neighborhood. Also did the first training mission of the Zombies, Run! Spring Virtual Race, the Train to Oban!
  • Wednesday: 10 miles.
  • Thursday: Rest day.
  • Friday: Rest day.
  • Saturday: Rest day.
  • Sunday: 6 miles. Easter Sunday, so I got some running in before hosting the family for dinner. Notes below.
  • Core/strength: None this week, back at it next week.

Slowly ramping back up during the week was good, but my knee was still shot. But let’s take this story all the way back to middle school, when I was in physical therapy for chondromalacia patella. Basically, the knee cap in my left leg used to go sideways instead of up and down. Well, it seems that my right knee decided to get in the action as well, after all these years!

So while I probably did have (and continue) to have some IT band issues, I also needed to include specific stretches for my kneecap. So I dusted those off after my run on Sunday on a whim, and felt about 80% better within half an hour.

As I write this today, I’m walking without pain in my knee, and honestly, for the first time, feel really confident about the marathon again. I have two 20-milers and one 22 miler under my belt already, and while yes, I did miss my 24, I’m not going to do that the week before the marathon to make it up.

My goal right now is to nail both the marathon and my 50K training run, then I can glide into Eagle Up confident and ready to go. It’s been a huge roller coaster of emotion, and I’m sure it’s not done, my knees may still act up, who knows, but for now, I’m excited again and raring to go.

I think, so much of me is just ready to get back to long hours alone with my thoughts, running and processing. I look forward to that time, and I’m excited to get back to it. Part of me, even while knowing it was wrong, was stuck in a loop thinking these weeks of training had been for nothing. I’ve made big gains this cycle, and while I hope they pay off in a new marathon PR, even if they don’t, I can still look back and see how far I’ve come.

Race reports owed: Jackpot.

  • Monday: Rest day.
  • Tuesday: 7 miles plus speedwork: hill repeats. Went down to the Frontrunners early to grab some extra miles and get my speedwork before seeing them all at the end. Ended up seeing two harps as well as a race friend from the 20 miler!
  • Wednesday: 10 miles.
  • Thursday: 5 miles. Had a meeting right after work, skipped the meeting after the meeting to get in my miles.
  • Friday: Rest day.
  • Saturday: 5 miles. Saturday morning was the Harvey Milk Day of Service, so Gay4Good was out with Downtown Pittsburgh Partnership, this time, cleaning up the Mon Wharf. Hit the gym after before seeing a show that night.
  • Sunday: 12 miles. Oh god, all hail broke loose. It was supposed to drizzle a bit, then clear up, then pour all afternoon. I hit the trail just as it was drizzling a bit. Then it hailed. The temperature fell and it stayed nasty for the entire jail trail loop. The rain got worse on the second loop, and I ended up not being able to move my fingers. I stopped for the traffic crossing, and my knee screamed out when I started up again. I stretched and got back to the car, going slow for a while, but still running. Stopped again to assess, and my knee yelled at me as I took off down the trail. The rain got worse, and I decided to call it. Had 24 planned, but that didn’t happen.
  • Core/strength: None this week, back at it next week.

It was a great week of training until my long run. I’m really, really trying to not let that get me too down. I was prepared for what the weather was supposed to be, but the combination of cold and my knee made the decision the smart one, it took me longer than I care to admit to actually warm up, even after I got home.

I did spent more time with the TENS unit, and am planning to continue that, as well as to keep on stretching my legs and rolling my muscles. I’ll keep moving forward I suppose and see what happens. If I feel up to it, I’d like to take this long run and do it next weekend, that would still give me a two week taper to my marathon and help me get the mileage in for Eagle Up.

Race reports owed: Jackpot.

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