Marathons on My Mind

Hey guys, guess what? I’m running 2 marathons in the next 11 weeks!  In 6 weeks, I’m running the Oakland Marathon and in 11 weeks, it’s the Big Sur International Marathon (BSIM).  I didn’t intentionally set out to run 2 marathons so close together, but this is how that happened:

Summer 2013: BSIM is one of the most raved about marathons in the world, so it was a no-brainer to me, as a resident of Northern California, to try to run it at some point.  And what better time than 2014?  Registration for the race opened in July and I was lucky to get a spot before the race sold out in a record 59 minutes.  I had a date with BSIM set for 4-27-2014.  Woot!
Fall 2013 (pre-Marine Corps Marathon): Thinking ahead to 2014 (like I do), I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to run the Oakland Half Marathon again.  As much as I loved running it in 2012 and 2013, I was beginning to feel a little burnt out from that course.
Fall 2013 (post-MCM): Running MCM and dealing with crazy race day logistics made me nostalgic for how easy everything is for the Oakland Half.  It almost seemed stupid *not* to run a race that starts and ends a mile away from my apartment.  Plus, I hella love Oakland – the community support is phenomenal for this race.  I considered running the Oakland Half for fun, rather than for time, since trying to PR was what has decreased my enjoyment of this race in previous years.
Winter 2013:  I worked with Corrigan Sports, the organizers of the Oakland Running Festival, to promote the Foster City 10-miler.  For every person who used my discount code, I received credit toward ORF.  With the financial burden eased, I started contemplating running the full marathon.  Sure it’s hard (I mean, have you seen the elevation chart??), but that would just make it an even better training run for BSIM 5 weeks later.  (BSIM elevation chart here, for comparison.)  The more I thought about running the Oakland Marathon, the more excited I got.  As a bonus, the full marathon course runs right past our apartment. I imagined how it would be so cool for the Gypsy Runner to be able to sleep in on race morning, and then as I got closer, he could walk out to the street, see me run, and then go back up to bed.  Easiest marathon spectating EVER.
A month ago: For various reasons, the GR and I started to seriously look into moving out of Oakland.  Disclaimer: I know what some of you are thinking, so I’ll just go ahead and say this: I am not pregnant! Now that that’s settled…  Anyway, I got bummed out about leaving Lake Merritt (a.k.a, my running home for the last 2+ years) and not being an Oakland resident on the day of the marathon… but I also know the move will be really good for us, so I think it will definitely be worth it.  Plus, it wasn’t clear when we would be moving, so maybe I was worrying for nothing.
1-2 weeks ago: A very promising place popped up, with a possible move-in date in 60-90 days.  Then, shortly after I officially registered for the Oakland Marathon, we received confirmation that we were definitely moving, though the date was still TBD.  This past week, the date was set — we’ll be moving during the first week of March, 2 weeks before the Oakland Marathon.  I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve come to terms with it.  It won’t be as I previously imagined — walking to and from the race from my apartment, running past the GR in his pajamas — but it will still be great.  In some ways, it will be my “swan song” to Oakland.  Plus, it’s not like we’re moving that far away, just about 20 minutes south to the Hayward/Castro Valley area.

So, not only will I be running 2 marathons in 11 weeks, but I’ll be moving during taper.  Fun!  Well, the brightside is that at least we’ll be carrying everything *down* 2 flights of stairs, and at least I won’t have run a half marathon the day before (like when we moved into our current apartment).  What’s the training plan?  Well, unlike for CIM and MCM, I’m not following any sort of plan.  Truth be told, Kaiser was my “A” race this spring, and that’s where I focused all of my efforts.  In terms of marathon training, my plan is more low-key, with 3 main points:

  • Increase weekly mileage: I averaged ~25 miles per week (mpw) training for Kaiser.  Before Oakland, I’d like to get up to 40-45 mpw, but that’s all depending on how my body feels.
  • Elevation, elevation, elevation!: Both Oakland and Big Sur have considerable elevation gain for road marathons, so getting some leg strength to handle the uphills AND the downhills will be key.  To this end, I’ve been jogging stairs and trying to increase my time on hilly trails.  On Feb. 22nd, I’ll be running a 30K at Lake Chabot with almost 3000′ elevation gain.
  • Keep up the tempo and interval workouts:  Even though I don’t have specific pacing goals for either marathon, I felt that these types of workouts during the Kaiser training cycle were very effective at helping me with increasing my endurance and with getting accustomed to discomfort.

Between Oakland and Kaiser, I might use Hal Higdon’s multiple marathon plan as a backbone so that I don’t overtrain or do too much too soon.

It’s weird… or maybe it’s not that weird, but since I’ve got 2 marathons under my belt, I know that if the Oakland Marathon was tomorrow, I’d be able to finish it.  It might not be very fun and I might be in quite a bit of pain during and after, but I know I can do it.  So, I feel like if I just follow my “plan”, things will be just fine.


This week’s training:

Tues:  Easy recovery run.  5 miles @ 10:30/mile + 6x Cleveland Cascade.

Wed:  Short yoga video + strengthening exercises (planks, bridges, clamshells).

Thurs:  Unusual (for me) afternoon run – easy.  6.25 miles @ 10:03/mile.

Fri: Long trail run with KP and PL along the Skyline Bay Trail.  My goal was to run for time (2-3 hours) and not mileage, which ended up being a good thing because we ran a very hilly route.  At the end of 2.5 hours, I only managed a little over 10 miles!  But I did climb about 2000-2400′, and got to see some beautiful trails to boot.  10.3 miles @ 14:33/mile

One of my new favorite trails

One of my new favorite trails in the Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve

Great views of the fog and rain.

Great views of the fog and rain.

Mud! Glorious mud!

Mud! Glorious mud!

Sun: Moderate run with the GR.  We were both wearing orange shorts, so we decided today’s run was the first meeting of the Orange Shorts Running Club.  Anyone want to join us?  All you need – you probably guessed it – is a pair of orange shorts.  3.7 miles @ 9:38/mile

Total: 25.25 miles.  I meant to run more this week, but with the combination of recovering from Kaiser, dealing with a niggle in my right hamstring, and the constant rain (thank goodness – we need it!), it was a struggle.  I have to admit that I really enjoyed doing my long run on Friday, so that I could sleep in both Saturday and Sunday and have relaxing mornings with the GR.  I also semi-purposely ran Thursday afternoon and Friday morning to make it a back-to-back/double workout.

This coming week will also be unusual, as we’re going away for the weekend starting Friday after lunch.  I might have my first ever run in the snow next weekend!


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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17 comments on “Marathons on My Mind
  1. Dominick S. says:

    Yes! You are most assuredly insane but I respect it. It sounds like a lot of hills and work but you are such a marathoner now. As for running in the snow, I may do the same this weekend!

  2. Kathryn says:

    What a schedule! I’m running in Oakland (the half) and BSIM as well. I’d say good luck but it appears you have everything under control. =)

    • Jen says:

      Thanks Kathryn! I’ll take all of the good luck I can get. 😉 Hopefully I’ll see you at one or both races?! Good luck with your training as well!

  3. Sounds like a great challenge! I had planned to run the Oakland Half this year, but won’t be able to. I’m definitely looking forward to doing it next year! Good luck on both runs!

  4. Angela says:

    Yeah!! This will be such a beastly feat. I think you will still have a fantastic ORF, even if you’re not living there anymore.

  5. Oh the mud…I can’t wait for the mud, is that weird? I’m just heading out for a run and it’s -13 right now. Not a typo! LOL

    Looks like you have some great training plans. I can’t believe some of those elevation changes, yikes!!

  6. Jen says:

    Yikes back at ya – minus 13??!!! I can’t even comprehend that! I’m cold when it’s 40 degrees here. :/

  7. Amy says:

    2 marathons in 3ish months is definitely crazy, but I can see why you went that route, and especially since they won’t be your “A” races, you should do just fine!

    Good luck with the move. Always fun/exhausting times. Hayward is one of those places that I knew was somewhere in the area, but I honestly have no clue where it is. (and love your “disclaimer” mostly because I add something similar on almost a daily basis anymore).

    • Jen says:

      Thanks, Amy – I’ll need the luck with the move. I absolutely hate moving!!! But I’m excited about the new place. We’ll have so much more room and we’ll have a washer and dryer in the house! And it won’t require quarters!!!

  8. Cathryn says:

    by the end of this period, you’re going to be really confident at marathoning. You’re going to be so much better prepared mentally. It’s such a good long-term investment and they’re both going to be brilliant, I know!!!!

    • Jen says:

      Thanks for the vote of confidence! I hope that by going in with reasonable expectations, I’ll have positive and memorable experiences at both marathons. And even if the Oakland Marathon goes south, at least there’s Big Sur 5 weeks after! 😉

  9. MILF Runner says:

    You’re heaping stuff on your plate! Nice 🙂

    Good luck with all of it!

  10. […] I wanted to run this race & Goals: Discussed in detail here and here, but the basic gist is that I decided to run the Oakland Marathon about 2 months ago […]

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