Marine Corps Marathon Week 15 (Peak Week!) + Mt. Diablo Mini-Recap

Before I start this week’s recap, I wanted to give a shout-out to Mike, who kicked butt at the Portland Marathon today. His finish time of 3:30:27 was just shy of his PR — impressive considering a mid-cycle injury that laid him out for 2 weeks as well as pace group shenanigans at the race. It was a strong, consistent performance from what I can tell from stalking looking up his race results and splits. Congrats Mike! Looking forward to reading the recap. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

This week marked the last of three 50-mile weeks. Since the first 2 went off without a hitch, I came into this week thinking of it as a victory lap. However, I think that the idea of “peak week” crept into my subconscious, so instead of taking it easy, this was probably my strongest week yet. Here’s how it went down (“planned” workout in green/“actual” in bold):

Monday: Rest or cross-training/rest.

Tues: 5/5. This was not a great run, even though I left the Garmin at home and took it easy. I felt very tired and ready for taper.

Wed: 10/10 miles including 10 x 800 m intervals(Yasso 800’s). I got myself to a real track early in the morning to bust out my last set of intervals. With the assumption that Yasso 800’s are a predictor of marathon time (*insert huge grain of salt here*), my goal was to average 4:10 for the set. My splits were: 4:15, 4:09, 4:07, 4:06, 4:04, 4:04, 4:13, 4:16, 4:12, 4:14. Average split: 4:10! I was very happy with this workout.

Thurs: 5/5. Took my new hydration vest (the UltrAspire Surge) for a spin. I liked it! Review coming soon.

Fri: Rest or cross-training/rest.

Sat: 10/10.44 trail miles with 2400′ elevation gain. I ran the Coastal Mt. Diablo 10-mile race as a training run. See below for a mini-race recap!

Sun: 20/20 (20.5?). I started this run with sore legs from Saturday’s race, so I wasn’t sure how it would go. I wanted to start easy and stay relaxed for the first 15 miles, then push a little harder in the last 5. This run was a mixed bag, so I’ll recap it by alternating between the good/bad parts.
Good: Fastest 20-miler to-date! Averaged 10:19/mile, about 20 seconds per mile faster (and 7 minutes faster overall) compared to my first two 20-milers. My last 5 miles hovered around the 10:00/mile pace.
Bad: Pushing the pace was hard — physically but also mentally. I wanted to stop and take walk breaks earlier and more often than I should have.
Good: I got to check out the new Bay Bridge – which just opened last month. Very cool!
Bad: Getting to the Bridge required lots of stopping and waiting at traffic lights, which broke up my rhythm considerably.

The spanking new running and cycling path on the Bay Bridge.

The spanking new running and cycling path on the Bay Bridge.

Where the old bridge meets the new bridge.

Where the old bridge meets the new bridge.

Good: The morning started off cool and there was a nice breeze.
Bad: It got sunny and hot pretty quickly. I felt like I couldn’t keep up with my thirst, despite having my hydration pack with me.
Good: No under-bra chafing for the first time this training cycle! Three cheers for my new Nike Pro sports bra!
Bad: I forgot to Body Glide my left underarm, which always gets chafed. There was also a special surprise waiting for me when I hit the shower — chafing on my back thanks to my sports bra/tank top rubbing together with my hydration vest. Boo.
Good: No GI issues!
Bad: (unrelated) I forgot to charge my Garmin, which caused it to auto-pause around 7.3 miles — or later. I have no idea when it stopped tracking my run. I spent about 7 minutes on the Bridge uploading the RunKeeper app so I could get an idea of my mileage and pace. I know — total first world problem, but annoying nonetheless.

Overall, I’m happy with how this run went. It was a good reminder that I need focus on mental fortitude during the race. I celebrated afterwards with Mexican food and a margarita, of course. 🙂

Wrap-Up: 50 miles/50.44 (51?) total. I’m very pleased with my key workouts this week – a great feeling as I head into taper.

Mini-race Recap: Coastal Mt. Diablo 10-Mile Race

Why I decided to run this race: DD suggested it a couple of weeks ago, and since I had 10 miles on my schedule anyway, I decided to go for it. Not to mention that I’ve never been to Mt. Diablo and have been meaning to explore the trails there for some time. The registration ($35 with tech shirt, $30 without) was also pretty reasonable. Finally, when KP and AL both signed on, and there were plans for brunch afterwards, it sealed the deal.

Race Day: KP and I met up in Rockridge, then I drove us to Concord and picked up DD and AL. DD had picked up our bibs the day before, so pre-race was pretty chill. All of us came with the intention to run for fun — DD and AL had just run a half marathon the week before, KP is tapering for her 50-miler, and I had 20 miles the next day. Oh, and did I mention the 2400′ elevation gain, 2000′ of which were over just 3 miles (~12.6% grade)? None of us intended to push ourselves on those miles, that was for sure.

Elevation profile. (Credit: Coastal Trail Runs)

Elevation profile. (Credit: Coastal Trail Runs)

The race started right on time. KP and DD ran on ahead while AL and I ran a bit more conservatively. The first 2 miles were relatively flat, but there was still 400′ of elevation gain. My legs felt pretty sluggish and I quickly began to feel GI trouble brewing. At about 1.6 miles, I decided to go off trail and take care of business. The problem was that in order to get good coverage, I had to go WAY off trail. My potty break took about 4 minutes, but it was time well spent and the lesser of two evils, IMHO.

After 2 miles, I hit the incline. Knowing that the climb was steep, I was prepared to hike at ~20:00/mile for that section. I ran/jogged the very few flat or downhill portions. At 3.5 miles, I miraculously caught up to AL, and then we caught up to DD at 4.5 miles. I had a great time chatting with them and taking photos — something I wouldn’t usually do during a race, but this was not a typical race. Plus the views were gorgeous!

A sampling of the views from Mt. Diablo

A sampling of the views from Mt. Diablo

Enjoying the view (photo credit: AL)

Taking a break from the climb to enjoy the view (photo credit: AL)

And here’s a video I took from near the top:

We saw KP running down the mountain as we approached the turnaround. Soon, it was our turn to cruise down the mountain — fun, but my quad and toes were pretty achy by the end. AL started having some issues, so she told us to run ahead. DD and I started pushing the pace in the final mile, but we were still able to converse easily.

As we approached the finish line, I decided to let DD finish first, since she waited for AL and I on the ascent. However, because the finish chute was hard to see, she veered off course while I stayed on the path to the finish. As she finished a split second after me, she joked, “You better not have come in 3rd (in our age group)!” We laughed and then saw that KP had finished first in our age group — not bad for a taper run! AL finished shortly after that. As we took advantage of the post-race spread (love that post-race watermelon!), they announced the age group winners. True to DD’s prediction, I came in 3rd in our age group! I thought it was hilarious given my pit stop, all of the pictures I took, and the issue with DD getting lost before the finish. Gotta love those small trail races!

Pretend fighting over the 3rd place medal.

Pretend fighting over the 3rd place medal. (Photo credit: KP)


All smiles at the finish!

We celebrated a successful outing with brunch at Min’s Kitchen in Concord. I had so much fun — if I could race and have brunch with friends every weekend, I would.

Garmin results:
time: 2:22:26 over 10.44 miles
average pace: 13:39
average moving pace: 13:07
elevation gain: 2390′

Official results:
time: 2:22:28 (13:58/mile)
3/9 AG, 7/19 F, 10/23 overall


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, Race Recap, Trail running, Training
16 comments on “Marine Corps Marathon Week 15 (Peak Week!) + Mt. Diablo Mini-Recap
  1. Sherry says:

    Congratulations on reaching your peak week safe and sound! And seem to be doing great getting a 3rd without really trying!
    I can’t wait for your review on the Surge – that is the pack I have practically decided on getting, so will be interesting to hear your thoughts too.

    • Jen says:

      Thanks Sherry!
      Re: the Surge — now that I know you’re waiting for the review, I’ll make sure to get on that! A short review: I’ve used it 3 times so far and I really like it, minus the chafing incident, which I’ll have to fix/figure out. It’s just the right size for me and hugs my back so that I don’t even notice it. I also feel really positive about it because I got it at a HUGE discount ($65 dollars off), and since I love bargain shopping, this is a big plus in my book. 🙂

  2. Awesome week! I am welcoming taper runs with open arms. Congrats on your big third place finish too! Also, thinking about MCM hydration options…you like the vest?

    • Jen says:

      Yay taper!! Can’t wait to hear about your last long run.
      I do like the vest a lot, but MCM just issued a statement saying they’re not allowing hydration packs. I wasn’t planning on wearing it anyway because it’s too heavy for a faster road race. I might carry my handheld water bottle though.

      • I was thinking of doing that…maybe a baby one just to avoid the crowds at the first few stations.

        • Jen says:

          I know some people like to carry (disposable) plastic bottles and then chuck them halfway through the course. For CIM, I carried my Amphipod handheld and then gave it to my bf when I saw him at mile 18. I personally hate the crowds and stopping at aid stations, so I like carrying my own water, even though it’s extra weight.

  3. Dominick S. says:

    Well, I think you are ready for the MCM. When you can hammer out a 10 mile trail run with 2400 feet of elevation climb and then run 20 miles the next day, I am going to say you will be just fine. I am also going to say you have 4:10 in the bag. 3 weeks!

    • Jen says:

      I know – 3 weeks! Actually, 20 days now. That means you’ve only got 27 days! Excited for both of us! (so many exclamation marks!!)

  4. Cathryn says:

    I feel like racing and brunch is pretty much the best type of weekend day! Congrats on an amazing weekend’s running – like Dominick said, you’re incredible being able to run long both days.

    • Jen says:

      I’ve been really spoiled by all of the race/fun run + brunches I’ve had this training cycle. It’s one of the best combinations ever. 🙂

  5. Mike says:

    Ha ha, shenanigans, great word. Thanks for the flattering shout-out… now learn from my mistake and don’t let the pacers at MCM lull you into a false sense of security! I’ve heard nothing but good things about MCM… the adrenaline alone should keep you upbeat and strong for at least 20 miles. The three words that most caught my attention in this post were “with sore legs”… running a 20-miler the day after an exhausting effort like Diablo is a smart way to train for a marathon. Combine that with your post-CIM awareness of what those last 10K will entail, and you’re well on your way to a memorable race. Just as long as you don’t fill your next three weeks with bonus margaritas…

    By the way, how far does the running path on the new Bay Bridge extend? Dave sent me a very similar picture this weekend, so apparently he was out there too.

    • Jen says:

      I originally had “snafu” in there, which is another great word, but I thought “shenanigans” was more fun and appropriate. Glad you liked it. You’re right re: the “sore legs” comment. It was a genius move in retrospect to climb Mt. Diablo the day before a 20-miler — I’ll have to remember that for future training cycles. Starting out with noticeable fatigue was definitely more challenging, not to mention a better simulation of marathon conditions than my other 20-milers.

      The Bay Bridge path is about 2 miles one-way from the “trailhead”, which is only accessible from either Emeryville or the West Oakland docks. From Emeryville (across from Ikea), I believe it’s about 8.5 miles round trip. I think my Garmin had elevation gain at 150′ between Berkeley and the Bridge, the most noticeable was a small ramp section leading up to the bridge itself. I’m going to write up this info in a blog post soon! (hopefully)

      • Mike says:

        Look forward to trying out the new BB path during a future visit… and then being chagrined when I have to turn around before reaching Treasure Island!

  6. Amy says:

    That is one snazzy looking bridge!

    Great job on the race and the subsequent long run! Definitely a smart move to put those legs through hell during the last peak week, and now you have 3 glorious weeks to recover! And great job on the 800’s! I’m not sold on the theories either, but I can say that I’ve never been able to average my marathon pace indicator thingy during those workouts (while still hitting those marathon times during the actual race), so I think you are really going to crush it! TAPER TIME!

  7. […] Miles: 1310 Races: 10 (5K: 2, 10K: 1, 10-miler: 1, half marathon: 4, 25K: 1, marathon: 1; 6 road vs. 4 trail races) Miles raced: 116.5 PRs: – 5K – 26:16 @ LMJS Couples Relay (Feb); 9 seconds faster than previous PR – 10K – 52:51 @ Summer Breeze (Aug); almost 4 minutes faster than previous PR Age Group Awards: 2 (3rd at Summer Breeze, 3rd at Mt. Diablo) […]

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4/28/19: London Marathon

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