I can’t believe I’m at Week 20, the last official week of my training plan. I look at my color-coded spreadsheet (and see much more red than I wanted), but all in all it was a solid plan. Now that Week 20 is here it’s amazing to remember all those stifling hot runs this past summer. I’m hoping they do me well in Saturday’s race.
MON: Run – 4.41 mi, Yoga (20:00) – Despite my best efforts to pimp myself out, no one wanted to run with me this morning. My dog, Nevada, kept me company instead, and it was my first solo run since early summer. I definitely enjoy running with my friends more than running solo. My legs were still a little sore from Saturday’s run (what was it about that run that made me so sore???), but I kept the pace slow and easy and enjoyed the cool morning temps. Did some easy yoga afterwards (twists) to stay loose for the race.
Rock star Hari waving to his adoring fans
TUE: Run – 5 mi, Yoga (40:00) – Our last official run before the race this weekend! Met Hari and Todd for an easy run at the lake at 6am. We started and finished the run in the dark, with the sky just beginning to change colors when we finished. It was cool but humid, and I dragged a little from asthma and allergies. Walked the dogs, then did some very relaxing yoga to wind out the morning. Starting tomorrow, my favorite part of tapering: carbo-loading!
WED: Rest Day, Yoga (20:00) – Walked the dogs and did some yoga (back bends). Definitely feeling nervous today about the race. I have watched the predicted high temp rise from 73, to 75, 77, 79, 82, and now 85. It’s still nothing approaching what we trained through this summer, so we should be prepared. Even worse, now they’re predicting my old nemesis, strong winds, torturer from marathons #1 and #2. Got my running clothes and gear together and made a list of food to buy tomorrow for the race. Ate lots of carbs.
THU: Rest Day, Yoga (20:00) – Went to the store and bought dolmas, hummus, pita bread, bagels and shmear, and got all my energy gels and waffles together for the race. Packed and thought through everything that I may need. Checked the weather for the hundredth time, hoping a cold front would blow through (it’s not). At least the wind has been taken out of the forecast. Spent some time visualizing the race and seeing myself running strong on the canyon trails and enjoying myself. Ate even more carbs.
Tomorrow I’ll pick up Michael at 10:00 at work and hit the highway for Canyon, TX! We’ll check in to the motel, pick up our packets and enjoy the prerace pasta dinner with the other runners, and hopefully get to bed early.
My primary goals for my first 50K and first trail race are: to finish within the cut-off and to enjoy the experience. That’s it. It took me 20 weeks and a hot Texas summer to get here, and I’ll be ready.
Susan, who hurt her knee in the 20K Rugged and Raw trail race (and nabbed 2nd place overall female), but was then afraid she might not be able to run for a few months, has decided to run the 20K. Heather, who started training with us at the beginning of summer, will also be running the 20K. My dear friend, Hari, who has run with me more than anyone else in my life, is more than ready to be a trail running beast.
Time to show everyone what we can do.
It was my last full training week before the race next weekend. After losing seven consecutive training runs over a two week period while I was sick and recovering, I had my doubts about being able to run the race. Even though everyone told me I would be ready, I’m stubborn enough to know I have to convince myself first.
MON: Rest Day, Yoga (20:00)- After a two week layoff, I ran 9 miles on Saturday and 8.6 on Sunday on the trails. Today I am as sore as if I ran a marathon. I’m having serious doubts about being able to run 31 miles when 9 miles hurt as much as it did on Saturday. Yoga helped (forward bends) to loosen up the legs.
TUE: Rest Day – Couldn’t find anyone to run with this morning so I decided to give the legs another day of rest. It’s sad that I didn’t have the mental resolve to run alone. But my legs are still sore (whine whine).
WED: Run – 6 mi, Yoga (1:20:00) – Met Liz and Hari at 6am for a run at the lake. We kept it nice and slow, then I came home and did a long segment of yoga to try and get my conditioning back up to par for the race.
Photo of White Rock Lake courtesy of Tamara Beltz Adamson, Dallas runner, cyclist, and early morning lake photographer extraordinaire
THU: Run – 6 mi, Yoga (25:00) – Met Liz, Bill, and Todd at the lake again at 6am. Liz and I ran ahead of the men and decided to make it a tempo run. My legs felt great and the pace got progressively faster each mile. Came home and did a new yoga workout with lots of sun salutations. The tempo run was so great I feel hopeful about running the 50K–and making it to the end. It’s also nice to know there’s a 12 hour cut off. God help me if I’m still out on the course that long!
FRI: Rest Day, Yoga (35:00) – Definitely feeling the effects of yesterday’s tempo run, so I did 35 minutes of easy yoga to stretch out.
SAT: Run – 15 mi – A very humid, warm run this morning. I think everyone struggled on this one, whether they ran 10, 15, or 18 miles. I know I did. My legs felt strong, but I felt incredibly fatigued the last three miles. Part of it was the humidity and running back up out of Turtle Creek, and some of it may be the remnants of being sick for two weeks. It’s good to know it was a tough day for everyone. If it doesn’t rain tonight Hari and I will do our last trail run tomorrow morning before next weekend’s race.
SUN: Rest Day, Yoga – (20:00)- It stormed in the middle of the night, just like predicted, and our trail run got rained out. Normally I would probably have gone ahead and ran (the storm was short), but I didn’t want to risk slipping and sliding in the mud and doing more damage to the ribs. I was sore from yesterday’s run anyway, so I did yoga instead (forward bends) and took an extra rest day. Since I am officially tapering, and want to have fresh legs, I’m trying not to be too hard on myself for not going ahead and running in the mud.
All in all it was a good week of running, and I did a lot of yoga to both work my core and stretch out my legs after the runs. I’m not happy that I feel sore after Saturday’s 15 miler, and it tells me that running 31 miles in a week is going to be tougher than I trained for, but it is what it is. Time to start mentally preparing for the race.
STATS for WEEK 19: Run – 27 miles, Yoga – 3:20:00
We think we are in control. We schedule, make a plan, eat healthy, and put in the time. We pound hours of our weeks on pavement and trail, preparing for a race that will prove to ourselves that we’re almost invincible. Almost.
After 17 weeks of training and a second 26 mile trail run, the taper begins. You look forward to running only a short trail distance of 10 or 12 miles the last few Sundays before the race, and you have your first 20K trail race to look forward to as a precursor to “the real thing.” It’s all coming together.
Only sometimes your body betrays you. Your legs and mind are strong, your heart is ready for the upcoming challenge, but something goes wrong. What you thought was invincible gives in only too easily.
It has no other choice.
What starts out as asthma turns into a incessant dry cough, the kind that keeps you up at night and you find yourself running at 5:30am on two hours of sleep. You cough so much and so hard that you crack a couple of ribs, and the pain stops you in your tracks at mile 3 of an easy run. You realize you have a fever, your body is fighting back, and you forget your body’s only doing what it was made to do: protect itself.
For someone who spends the greater part of each day working their body and getting stronger, you realize how quickly everything can change. Even when the mind may be willing, you can’t always talk yourself into doing something your body can’t. If the body isn’t on board, all your plans come to a complete standstill.
It doesn’t have to be anything life threatening. It just has to be something bad enough to knock you off your feet and land you on the couch for a few weeks.
It’s not the end of the world. But it might be the end of what you’ve trained for.
MON: Rest Day – Ouch. Feeling very sore from yesterday’s 26 mile trail run, but not half as sore as I’ve felt after running a marathon. I feel such a sense of accomplishment today. Yesterday’s run was really good, and though I’m still nervous about running a 50K, for the first time my brain knows that I can do this. More than anything, I’m amazed at how much I enjoyed the run. I was very tired, and it was hard to keep running towards the end, but I did it, and I did it well. (It doesn’t mean I’m not still looking forward to the taper!)
TUE: Run – 4 mi- This was a very tough run today. Yesterday was nothing but a huge cough fest, which continued through the night until 3:30am. Since I had to get up at 4:30 to meet Bill, I essentially got no sleep. When the alarm went off I prepared a text for Bill telling him I wasn’t going to make it for the run, but decided I’d rather be running than sitting home beating myself up for missing my first run of the week. Even more alarming, all the coughing yesterday caused either a muscle pull in my abdomen or some cracked ribs! I know this is possible, I’ve cracked ribs before, and the pain made the second half of the run very painful. I will try to put some ice on the area, take Advil, try a cough suppressant, and see if anything helps.
STATS for WEEK 17 and 18: Run – 4 miles, Broken Ribs – 2, Discouragement – a lot
MON: Rest Day – It’s a good thing today is a rest day because I’m feeling under the weather. Looks like I’ve caught the same crud that’s been going around my running circle, and it may be the same thing Michael was battling last week. It was nice to have my son and his girlfriend in town, too, which gave me another excuse to relax and rest up.
TUE: Sick – Even though I hate missing a run, I cancelled my morning run with Bill because I just wasn’t feel well. I thought I might be well enough to run with Michael and the dogs in the evening, but my head was still stuffy and achy, so I decided to rest some more. Feeling blah.
WED: Run – 12 mi, Yoga (power: stamina) – Despite still feeling less than recovered, had a great, fast run with Hari this morning. My legs always feel good after an extra day of rest, but the 58 degree temp also kept the pace fast, though comfortable. I love how I’m able to run negative splits, keep between an 8:30-8:45 pace the last few miles of a 12 miler, and feel strong and never out of my comfort zone. Followed the run with some yoga.
THU: Run – 6 mi, Yoga (21:00) – Met Liz at 5:45 at the lake for a run in the cool darkness. We kept a good pace and I was glad to get in a run, even though I woke up at 1:00am coughing from asthma. Had to use the inhaler to get back to sleep, and again this morning before the run. I need to stay on top of this so it doesn’t turn into some type of upper respiratory ailment so close to the race. Did some yoga afterwards, and felt great!
FRI: Rest Day – The allergies and asthma are really getting old. Another night of coughing and wheezing and having to use the asthma inhaler to get back to sleep. Thankfully, if this turn into something worse than just asthma, it’s happening now rather than in four weeks just before the race. Going to rest up today for tomorrow’s 10 miler.
SAT: Run 12 mi – Nice, easy run with the group. Kept a 9:37 average pace, and it felt very slow for most of the run. The weather was gorgeous, without a cloud in the sky, and the temperature was in the upper 60’s. I’m ready to get tomorrow’s 26 miler done, but I’m also kind of excited about it. Funny how I can look forward to something like that!
SUN: Trail Run – 26.25 mi – Despite waking up at 1:30am and coughing until falling back asleep at 3:30am, which meant less than five hours of sleep, my last really long run of the training plan, and my second 26 miler, was a great run and definitely a confidence booster.
Hari, Susan, and I headed over to Grapevine and started in the dark at 6:30am. It was cool, but warmer than it has been for the past few weeks. We decided to run three 8.75 mile loops from Murrell Park to Rockledge, which included breaks after every 4 miles for water and food. This was the first time we’d ever run three consecutive loops and knew we needed to practice running through the monotony of the same trail three times. It wasn’t an issue at all. I ran more and walked the uphills less than any other run to date, and we kept a great pace, sometimes averaging 11:00 minute miles. I practiced running with the hydration vest, then running with only a handheld bottle (which I prefer), in anticipation of the race.
The last 4 miles were the toughest, which was to be expected. For the last few weeks I’ve been running only in the predawn hours with the temperature between 58 and 68 degrees. By the time we got to those last 4 miles the temperature was in the upper 80’s, and Susan’s car, parked in the shade, said it was 90 when we finished. It was certainly warmer than we’ve been used to, and I stayed with Hari the last few miles because he was struggling to the point that it worried me. We ran/walked the last few miles, then Hari took the lead and we finished strong back to the car. Susan the Beast, who had turbo charged it back long before us, had the camp chairs waiting in the shade. Sitting down, drinking a beer, and eating half a tuna fish sandwich, never felt so good.
Next weekend I’ll be running my first trail race, The Rugged and Raw 20K trail race. After that, let the taper begin!
STATS for WEEK 16: Run – 56.4 miles, Yoga – 62:00
Oh, how I love my easy weeks! And I love how 37.5 miles of running is now an “easy” week for me. The most amazing thing about this week, other than the fantastic trail run I had on Sunday at Cedar Ridge Preserve, is the fact that I was able to run again only two days after running 26.4 trail miles. Another great thing about this week: cooler temps. I know we’ll still have some random days in the 90’s, but it looks like fall is slowly making its way into the Metroplex.
View from the trail, Cedar Ridge Preserve
MON: Rest Day – Ouch. Lots of soreness, aches, and general fatigue after yesterday’s tough 26 mile trail run. My calves are a little sore, but I think most of the aches are from the fall and hitting my chin on the rock. Hitting my head on a run is always my worst fear, and with good reason. Hopefully I won’t be too sore to slog through 4 slow miles tomorrow morning. I love easy weeks.
TUE: Run – 4 mi, Strength (upper body) – Despite the soreness, met Bill for a 4 mile run on the Katy Trail. Of course I kept the pace very slow, despite the fact that my messed-up Garmin said we ran 5 miles (not 4) and kept a 6:50 average pace (in my dreams). I’ve certainly never run two days after a marathon, and 4 miles at that, so I’m somewhat impressed with just getting up and running this morning. After another tough finish on the long run, I’ll take any sign of improvement I can get.
WED: Run – 10 mi, Yoga (power: stamina) – Met Hari and Liz at 5:30am for a jaunt around the lake. It was nice and cool (I could really get used to these morning temps) though terribly buggy. Hari nearly lost his breakfast after swallowing a few bugs, and I had several stuck to my face when I got home. Liz had to turn around early to get back home and take her daughter to school, and Hari and I saw a strange, hissing raccoon that had to have been sick or rabid. I’m pretty amazed that my legs feel as good as they do so soon after running 26 miles. My Garmin is still messed up and won’t download my workouts onto the computer so I can check my splits, but I did notice the last few miles Hari and I kept between a 9:05 and 9:15 pace–which is not bad three days after running my longest distance ever.
THU: Run – 5 mi (hills), Strength (upper body) – Met Liz at 5:45am for a muggy, buggy hill run. Temp was 78 degrees with humidity close to 80%. Had a tough time getting up, but I was glad to get it done. I’m feeling very bored with my weights workout, but did it anyway, then did five minutes of yoga and realized I just wasn’t into it and stopped. It seems counterproductive to do yoga (or anything, for that matter) if you’d really rather be doing something else. Cool front and rain on the way!
FRI: Rest Day
SAT: Run 10 mi – Great, easy run with the group. It was cool but humid, and the overcast skies were a bonus. My legs felt good, and it’s so nice to run on Saturday knowing the next day I only have 8 miles to run on the trail. Even though the trail runs are my favorites, it’s still nice to have an easy trail run week. Had to rush home afterwards and skip breakfast with the group because my son and his girlfriend were arriving for a short visit.
Just seeing the sign at the entrance to the trails was enough to put Hari on edge for the entire run
SUN: Trail Run – 8 mi – Had an amazing, rainy, magical trail run on my new favorite trail. Hari, Susan, and I ran at Cedar Ridge Preserve in Cedar Hill, just south of Dallas, on some very well maintained, sometimes challenging trails. It really was a beautiful place to run. No bikes are allowed on the trails, and it was great not having to worry about fast bikes around every corner. The only thing we did have to worry about, apparently, was poisonous snakes. Happily, we saw none. A light, refreshing rain fell the entire run, and it made the trails seem somehow quiet and peaceful. Of course, the rain meant the trails turned somewhat muddy, and it was my first time to run with a heavy accumulation of mud on the bottom of my shoes. There were quite a few very steep hills, with wooden logs as steps, so it was great training. As usual, Susan took the hills like a mountain goat and kept a brisk pace, followed by Hari. I loved our run this morning, and can’t wait to go back later in the fall when the leaves change colors. I’m always amazed when I run in Cedar Hill. It feels like being in the Texas Hill Country.
The Dynamic Duo, Susan and Hari
STATS for WEEK 15: Run – 37.5 miles, 1 strength/core workout, Yoga – 40:00