The Post-Race Void

It’s interesting that we spend all those months of training looking forward to THE Race (caps intended). Especially as the mileage ramps up and the event itself is so close, yet still not quite there, where we want it to happen only so we can spend less time training. Finally, the weekend arrives and all the excitement is focused on having a good time and a great race.

Then suddenly, it’s done. The training is over. No more rearranging our days to get all the miles in. No more planning weekends around long runs. No more intensive mental preparations to make this race the one we’ll always remember (though truthfully, we’ll remember every single one).

You take the few days after off. Instead of running, they’re spent recapping with friends, responding to posts of congratulations, putting up pictures of our triumph, and basking in the glow of achievement. Then it’s time to reverse taper back into a semi-regular schedule. Training no longer, simply running because it’s what we enjoy.

End_of_the_Road_Wallpaper_y3v85Yet even then, it feels like there’s a hole. A gap in our existence. Without another big race on the horizon, we lack the purpose of the past many months. An empty void in our lives. A beautiful void (we’ve been waiting for this moment, for the training and the race to be done), but a void nonetheless. And it feels weird. I think “shouldn’t I be training for something? and “shouldn’t my days be consumed with my workouts and the end goal of a race?” It’s hard to re-adjust to the mentality where my life isn’t all consumed by this event somewhere in the near future that’s steadily getting closer, while never being quite close enough.

It seems weird, but I especially feel bereft after completing the Marine Corps Marathon. I met my goal! Not only did I break the time I set for myself of 3:40 so long ago, I went a step further and ran a Boston Qualifier time. While I did not believe I would never run one, I also didn’t really expect it to happen so soon. I sort of expected more years building up my race experience and improving my training before it happened. Now, I simply have to wait until next fall when registration for 2015 opens.

Luckily, not all is an empty void in my future. I’ve plans for a half marathon just before Thanksgiving. There’s high hopes in my mind coming off this marathon that I can go on to PR my half marathon time as well. Plus, somewhere in the next 2 months I hope to run a 5K as well in the hopes of another PR. (All that success going to my head.)

While that void has been in my mind, it’s been good to get back out and just run. Plus having smaller events and goals to run towards is helping me keep from becoming completely distracted.

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MCM Training: Week 16/18

Annnnnd that’s it!!! 16/18 and officially in taper now. Very excited for that. There’s been a lot of attention in regards to the race getting cancelled due to the government shutdown. But I decided until the race tells me otherwise, it’s happening. That said, on to the workouts!

Total Miles: 57

Hills: 10.27 miles

9×1.0mi (sorta) – 8:32, 8:12, 8:09, 8:15, 8:16, 8:19, 8:15, 8:01, 7:57

Run made easier by having two of the guys (including my coach) along for most of it. I was a bit worried coming into this not only because I was late for my intended start, but I also hadn’t been hydrating as well through the afternoon as usual. Doesn’t seem to really have stopped me though. First one was sort of a warm-up and sort of me attempting to get on pace.

Intervals: 9.25 miles

10x800m – 3:22, 3:26, 3:26, 3:27, 3:25, 3:28, 3:28, 3:28, 3:15, 3:06

Success! That’s both my 10 repeat weeks done! Skipped the morning to sleep in (fatigue has been getting to me) and no one else was planning to be out at 5AM. Took it easy and just went out to start at 6PM with another of the guys in training. Lucked out after my first repeat that Steve showed up as we were in the same pace range. Ended up running 7 with me and we stayed pretty consistent. The last two went really well (as the times show). Legs were tired, but managed on my own. Hydrated well during the afternoon and had a small snack about 45 minutes before the workout. Yay.

Long Run: 18 miles @ 9:36 pace

Actually expected this to be closer to 10 pace. Early miles running with a slower paced group, then running more towards 8:30s than 9:00s with Donna and Justin. Pain really hit me in the knee and several of my leg muscles at about 12 miles in, so I had to slow it down. Ended up doing like 10+ pace the last 3 miles with Randy and Mandy ( lots of those two, plus an Andy in our running group haha). Never quite had it hit me like that, so I wasn’t prepared for it. But I got the miles in!

After ice and taking it easy Saturday, a shorter recovery on Sunday went well. Just had a little tightness around the knee joint. Didn’t think about it until after, but I was out and about most of Friday with a good amount of walking & the buildup from these last few high mileage weeks probably strained it a bit. I’ll be taking it extra easy over the next 2 weeks so I can keep the knees in good condition for the race. Ice and rest as needed!

Now in taper!!! My life is currently complete, now if the race could just get here without anything crazy going wrong.

MCM Training: Week 15/18

Yay! 15/18 and that means just one more week until taper. Plus we’re getting all kinds of emails and info about the race that has me excited. Now these politician people better get the government running again so all the museums and memorials can be open when I get there. On a totally different note, highest mileage week EVER!

Total Miles: 64

Hills: 10.26 miles

9×1.0mi – 8:21, 8:08, 8:20, 8:09, 8:00, 8:00, 8:08, 8:13, 8:11

Not super consistent but way better than the past few weeks. And I felt awesome doing it. Guess I managed to be well hydrated and timed my pre-workout snack well. Plus I got to mix up running a few on my own and then the rest with different people. It was still humid, but a degree or two cooler than it has been.

Intervals: 9.57 miles

10x800m – 3:29, 3:26, 3:25, 3:24, 3:23, 3:25, 3:24, 3:24, 3:22, 3:12

Was already feeling the fatigue from this week, so during the warm-up I was doubting if I’d be able to complete all 10. But Kathy as usual was her positive self and we just sort of took them in 2s. I was good about halfway through, then struggled with the last couple that Kathy ran with me (she did 8). After that, guess I was so close to the end that I was able to push through 2 more and finish. Legs were definitely tired, but all 10 managed.

Long Run: 23.1 miles @ 9:24 pace

Woohoo! Last really long run complete. The 18 miler next week will be nothing haha. Anyways, once again a bit surprised by what I was able to bring the pace down to. Early 11 with friends were in the 9:45-10:00 range. Which I was okay with because I just wanted people to run with. Then the later 12 with different friends ended up being largely sub-9. Getting back to the car at 20 and needing 3 more was a bit rough, but manageable. Tested out the shoes and socks I have planned for the race and they held up fine – now just waiting the top so I can test that out too.

So close to taper and therefore, race day! Actually managed this week of miles much better than I was expecting. Though I admit to taking naps to make up for early morning workouts. Made good use of stretching and compression socks – didn’t have to ice the knees this time. Managed to hit the workouts solidly, so I look forward to one more week before taper. 17 days and counting!

MCM Training: Week 12/18

And week 12/18. That’s what? 4/5ths done? (Not quite…)

Total Running Miles: 53

Biking Miles: 12

Hills: 9.33 mi

7×1.0mi – 8:23, 8:14, 8:02, 8:07, 8:13, 8:03, 8:09

Ugh, horribly inconsistent. This was a pretty miserable workout for me. My routine was off, I probably wasn’t hydrated enough, and that combined with fatigue from the 22 miler added up. Sure, I technically hit my pace goals – but it didn’t feel that great and there was no consistency.

Intervals: 7.37 mi

8×800 – 3:29, 3:23, 3:23, 3:23, 3:22, 3:24, 3:21, 3:18

So yeah, a bit speedy there. But I felt fine doing it! Could probably have even had one or two faster, but I think this is more than fast enough. I ran with one of the girls (Kathy), though it’s better to say that except for the last repeat I was chasing her. Another morning workout that was awesome.

Long Run: 18.07 @ 9:27 pace

So yeahh – don’t know what it was but Friday night I was dead tired by 9 and absolutely dreading getting up on Saturday. This was the first workout (this training cycle) that I believe I seriously just considered skipping or putting off to another day. Knew it wasn’t going to go too well the moment I woke up. Still, went out and did an early 8 super, super slow. Then tagged onto two others for the next 10 and was able to bring the pace down. I managed, but I just didn’t feel it.

4 more weeks of tough workouts and then it’s TAPER! A couple not so great runs this week, but considering what my mileage is I’m not surprised. I’m getting super excited for the race. Got my new shoes (posts to appear soon!), should be getting the race top anytime now, and I’ve picked out which shorts I plan to race in. All that’s left is to get through the training. Here’s a sneak peak of one of my new shoes!

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MCM Training: Week 11/18

A bit slow getting this recap out, but here it is. Yay, double digit week! Oh wait, that started last week. Fail. Moving on – highest mileage week EVER!!

Running Miles: 59

Hills: 9.26 miles

7x1mi – 8:08, 8:09, 8:06, 8:13, 8:14, 8:05, 7:37

Yeah, soooo, about that whole staying on pace thing. I was sort of consistent! Ran the first one with one of the girls and the last with one of the guys. Or it may be better to say they were nice and ran with me. I’ve realized that whatever pace I manage on the first repeat, that tends to be where my body settles for the rest of the workout. Maintained pretty well, though the heat and humidity was a bit killer. Stopped after 3 and 5 for water. Otherwise steady going. I realized I need to bring more water with me. Which also probably means I needed to hydrate a bit better too. Hmmm.

Intervals: 7.62 miles

8×800 – 3:32, 3:29, 3:31, 3:30, 3:34, 3:30, 3:32, 3:22

Decided to do these early AM with a couple of the girls. Actually felt kind of cool, though I imagine it was just because the temp was a couple degrees down from the usual afternoon. Except for the slowest one, I just kind of spaced myself back from one of the faster girls. At the end, I felt like I could have done the whole group a bit faster (and by faster, I mean just a couple seconds). Otherwise, that :22 wouldn’t have happened.

Long Run: 22.01 miles @ 8:56 pace

Group of 3 of us did the whole 22 together – though we had people join us for anywhere from 6-14 miles. Felt good, though the middle miles I slowed down behind the other 2 (by about 20 seconds per mile). A few of them were closer to 9:15, but that was probably good as otherwise the pace would have been lower. No issues and I made sure to have gels and e-caps. Last couple miles went well pace wise, but I could feel the tiredness. Only 4.2 more miles and I would have finished a marathon in sub-4! This run went way better than my marathon did, so it was definitely a confidence booster for me.

While the earlier parts of the week I was extra tired (I blame hills), I seemed to settle into the flow of the workouts. Calves have seemed to be the biggest issue areas, though I admit to icing my knees just a bit after the 22 miler. A bit of ice and I was good, so maybe just inflammation? Regardless, super happy with how this week went and I look forward to finishing up the rest of these high mileage weeks. Tappppeeeerrrr, wait for meeeee!!!

Taper!

Excitement!

This past Sunday I ran my last, “long” run of 18 miles. That closed out my highest mileage week yet at 56 total miles. I got in an awesome pace run, a great speed workout at the track and my best 18-miler yet (which really isn’t that hard considering how badly 18-milers seem to end for me). Ending that week starts the process of taper, a period of reduced activity that allows your body to recover and prepare for the upcoming race.

As of this post, it’s only 10 days to race day. I’m equally excited (it’s been so nice having relatively shorter workouts) and nervous (which never happens). I’d say I’m subconsciously nervous – I’ve had some¬†wacky¬†dreams of things gone wrong (like forgetting my race shoes), but I myself don’t feel more than anticipation. Though I’m sure that’ll change as the race gets even closer.

The biggest factor? It’s so unknown. It was so reasonable to go run a 14 miler before my first half just so I knew I could do it. The sheer amount of miles makes that unreasonable for a full marathon. So instead, I’m left to wonder if my body, and mind, will be able to handle those last 4 miles. The difference between my longest run and the race distance. Yet at the same time, 4 miles seems like nothing after 22, so why shouldn’t I be able to?

Oh well, the lucky fact of work and school will keep me from thinking on it too much. Plus, preparations and silliness with members of my running group. Car pool caravan! Likewise, I’ve learned that my sister-in-law is coming into town to visit family and to see me race. I’m excited, as so far she’s only heard about my craziness, but not witnessed it.

So fingers crossed with 10 days and counting…