Marine Corps Marathon Week 3

Week 3 finished = 1/6 of marathon training is complete! I’m mostly still in the base-building phase of training… but it’s about to get REAL y’all (i.e., 13 mile long run next week) and even more real in 4 weeks when I jump up to 16 miles. I don’t know about most people, but the 16 mile long run is when it *really* hits home that I’m training for a marathon. But there’s no point in jumping ahead, let’s focus on the NOW.

This past week was technically a cut-back week because my long run was “only” 8 miles, down from last week’s 11. However, both my mid-week and Saturday runs increased to 6 miles from 5, which was a small, but noticeable change. Another change this week was the weather — East Bay summer is in full force, which means waking up to deliciously cool fog. I’m pretty sure I don’t have to tell you how much better that feels compared to the “heat wave” that we had for a few weeks (I know, I’m a wimpy Northern Californian now — it really wasn’t *that* bad relative to the rest of the country.) Anyway, without further ado, here’s a summary of my week (“planned” workout in green/“actual” in bold):

Monday: Rest or cross-training/rest.
Tues: 3/3.1
Wed: 6/6. 6 x 800 m. Average of 6 splits: 4:08. Still nowhere close to my MacMillan target paces (3:48-4:00), but 5 seconds faster than the 800’s I ran 3 months ago… yay progress!
Thurs: 3/3.1
Fri: Rest or cross-training/6 @ marathon pace (MP). I’ve never run 4 days in a row EVER, but I knew that I wouldn’t want to run on Saturday after my volunteer gig at Zoom Quarry Lakes. So, I decided to do the 6 MP miles Friday morning. I had no idea what “marathon pace” to shoot for, since it’s still so early on in the training cycle. I eventually decided to aim for something between 9:45-10:00/mile (4:15-4:22 marathon time). I checked in with my Garmin for the first mile, but mostly went by effort (moderate) and breathing to pace myself for the rest of the run. I finished the run averaging 9:42/mile (4:14 marathon time). I’d be STOKED to run a 4:14 at MCM, but I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch.

Sat: 6 @ MP/Volunteering at Zoom Quarry Lakes. I’m going to count this as cross training even though my heart rate didn’t go up, nor did I break a sweat. Waking up at 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday to work at an aid station for 4 hours was definitely tiring! Our aid station was probably the most important one of the event, for a variety of reasons. For the 5K runners, we were the only aid station they’d see the whole race. For the 10K runners, we had to direct them to a 1/2 mile loop, and then hand them a rubber band to verify that they had done the loop (and not cut the course). For the half marathoners, we had to make sure they stayed on the correct path depending if it was their 1st or 2nd time seeing us. My partner M covered the drinks while I gave directions. I quickly discovered that runners respond much better to arm motions than words. I gave up entirely on words like “left” or “right” because it just confused people. There was a small mishap with a group of half marathoners who got lost and approached our aid station from the wrong direction (not sure how that happened). With the exception of one runner, everyone seemed to take the mistake in stride. Much like the first time I volunteered at a race, it was a tiring but fun and rewarding experience.

Wood Duck Aid Station!

Wood Duck Aid Station and super volunteer M. (And no, I didn’t purposely take a photo of the shirtless dude)

The end of the Wood Duck loop that the 10K runners were required to run. I had to keep a lookout to hand out rubberbands.

The end of the Wood Duck loop that the 10K runners were required to run. I had to keep a lookout to hand out rubber bands to certify that they ran the loop.

Sun: 8/8.3 with 1100′ elevation gain. Group trail run with KP, AL, and AS at Redwood Regional Park. The 4 of us ran together for about 3 miles, then A + A turned back to the start. KP and I continued down to the valley, then trudged up the big hill that left us walking for most of it. It was great to have company for the tough run and I was thankful that we finished before it got too hot.

Wrap-Up: 26 miles/26.5 total. I’m happy with my runs this week, but my legs are beginning to feel it. My left hip, in particular, is starting to act up — I get a dull ache right in the center of my left gluteus maximus. Has anyone else had that before? If it doesn’t get better with stretching and rolling, I’m probably going to see KP’s chiropractor to sort it out.

***

Random thought of the week:

I had dinner last night with my friend SH, whom I haven’t seen in forever. She mentioned that she saw some of my racing posts on Facebook and was in awe of my half marathon times. She even went as far as saying that she wishes she could be as fast as me someday. Of course, it was very flattering, but my main response was, “What? Really? Me? Fast? Noooo…”

I feel like I’m a very average, middle-of-the-pack runner. In big races, I usually finish around the 35-50th percentile. And maybe I’m surrounded by a lot of fast people, but I certainly feel like I’m among the slowest of my running friends and acquaintances (including bloggers). So, it sort of catches me off guard when someone actually says that they want to be as fast as me. Well, if I’m finishing ahead of ~50% of the people on any given day, I guess there’s a decent chunk of people who may very well want to be as “fast” as me. It’s all relative, right?

I think the main thing is that it’s difficult for me to shed the feeling that I’m a “slow” runner. I was the kid who always finished dead last at every timed mile in school, from Presidential Fitness Tests in elementary school to soccer tryouts in high school. For almost 10 years, my average pace consistently hovered at 10:00/mile for every race distance. Even though I’ve run several 5K’s at 8:26-8:30/mile pace, I still think of myself as a 10:00/mile runner. It’s crazy, right? Even when there is evidence to the contrary, I’m still stuck in the same mindset. When I see faster runners, I think, “Wow, that person is amazing. I’ll never be able to run as fast as him/her…” Thankfully, the Gypsy Runner calls me out on self-defeating thoughts like that. It just doesn’t make sense to put random limitations on yourself. Sure, I’ll probably never qualify for the Olympics, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t strive to keep improving without self-imposed limits.

I hope this doesn’t embarrass her, but I recently started following Hillary, who in addition to being a humorous and thoughtful writer, has the kind of race progression I would love to emulate. With most runners, I usually only see their current paces and it’s hard for me to imagine that they were perhaps once in my shoes (or pace group, rather). So, it was pretty inspiring for me to see someone whom I consider to be a fast runner now start off with familiar paces.

Anyway, I’m not sure what my point is, except that the whole fast/slow thing is all relative and I’m trying my best to let the Stuart Smalley prevail over the Debbie Downer in me. “I’m smart enough, I’m fast enough, and doggone it, people like me!”

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About

Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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Posted in MCM, random, Training
13 comments on “Marine Corps Marathon Week 3
  1. Pace can be such a deflating concept, especially when it get’s warmer and your times inadvertently get slower. But we both know it’s not about how fast you can go at this point. At this point I give myself a 10 minute mile pace when estimating how long a run will take me. Anything faster is a bonus!

    • Jen says:

      Yeah, I kinda alternate between caring and not caring. I think that’s why I wanted to try heart rate training — it’s a different set of numbers for me to focus on besides pace.

  2. Dominick S. says:

    First, I agree, let’s not start thinking about 16 miles and the mind F it play on us. I will say this, on my 16 miler last year I remember thinking, I will only have to run this PLUS 10 MORE MILES on marathon day. At least this year, I am ready for 16-20 milers. Let’s enjoy where we are at ok J.

    As for speed, I am sure Gypsy has said everything that I want to say but I will add this…if you are progressing and happy with your returns then that is what is important. Keep up the good work and one of my favorite quotes will apply to your influence on you friend who wants to be as fast as you…

    A good day is when we get to run.
    A great day is when we inspire someone else to run.
    Saucony Manifesto

  3. Cathryn says:

    Everything is relative. I’m faster than I used to be but I’m slower than SO many people. One of my new-runner friends recently said ‘Please don’t run with me, you’re a machine’. I am clearly not fast nor am I a machine but everything is relative!!
    You are also super kind for volunteering! What a great thing to do – I need to do this soon.

  4. Like you, I consider myself a slow running and a 10-minute miler. My couch to 5k group talks about me being “fast” and it makes me laugh. I’m so not fast! However, I’m not really slow, either, I guess. It’s hard to adjust your mindset I suppose!

    As for the 16-miler, I think with any distance training plan it’s best not to look too far ahead. LOL

    • Jen says:

      Yes, very true! I try to take it one week at a time, though sometimes I have to look at the calendar when planning things. That’s when I’m like, uh oh! 😉

  5. […] quite adapted to more than 1 session of speedwork a week, so I knew I was tempting fate by doing 2 speedy-ish workouts in the middle of 4 straight running days last week. Then I went for a hilly trail run last Sunday, which probably didn’t help matters, but […]

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