I did an easy 5 mile recovery run on Monday pushing the kids in the double stroller with no watch. I'm sure it was slow, but a run like that is always slow. Since I didn't wear a watch (and almost never do when pushing the stroller--believe me, it would be scary to know how slow!) I don't know if it was slower than usual, but it didn't feel that bad.
Tuesday was track. I rolled down to the school and after the warm-up, drills and strides Coach told us the workout was 3 sets of 4 x 400 @ 1600 race pace. WHA?! I was hoping for something lighter on the post-race legs like 1000's at 10k or something like that. Oh well. I generally like 400's and I trust my coach so I rolled with it. Unfortunately I was on my own for the night as NC had her fall goal race over the weekend and none of the guys showed up for whatever reason. Much to my surprise, the workout was smooth and I rolled through all 400's in 79 or 80 with two outliers in 78 and 81 respectively. It didn't feel crazy, but rather strangely smooth and controlled. I must admit my butt was feeling it a little on the last set, but nothing too bad or even out of the ordinary.
Wednesday was a whole other story. Ouch. Yuck. My butt was sore, so I figured I'd do an easy warm-up outside, do dynamic stretches and then finish the miles on the treadmill. I wore the garmin for whatever reason and watched it as I struggled--yes struggled!--to run 9:30 pace! Oh my. Not good. I managed to get down to 8:20's after stretching and jumping on the mill, but it was ugly. Normally I start at 9:00 pace on the mill and am up to 8:30 by the end of the first mile and then down to about 8:00 by the end of the run. I don't care what the pace is, but because I know what my paces usually are for these kinds of runs I know that something was up!
So I did not have high hopes for Thursday's tempo. I decided to get in an a.m. shakeout run with the kiddos. Of course it was raining buckets, but thanks to the weather shield we were not deterred! This run wasn't too bad. Of course it was pouring and my attention was more focused on ensuring the kids weren't getting drenched than on how my legs felt. I just putzed along for about 3.5 miles and then we all went and dried off and played in the nature center. Other than my phone getting soaked and dying, it was fun.
That evening I hit the park for a solo tempo. Solo tempos for me sometimes go well and sometimes are a bust. I honestly thought I was in bust territory. NC came into the parking lot and ran with me for about .5 of my warm-up as she was finishing up one her last pre-race jaunts, so at least I had company for a few minutes. She reminded me to ride-out the slower sections of our tempo course and just relax. NC is 11 years younger than me and always offering up good advice for this old lady!
After my warm-up I was off for my 6 miles. The goal was 6:35 for 3, followed by 2 at 6:30 and the last one at 6:25. My garmin is notoriously mean in the park. It is almost always 1 - 7 seconds slower than everyone else's that I run with. When I'm along I try not to think about it, but there is usually a section of our tempo route or two that the pace on the garmin jumps up randomly. Of course during my first mile I was loping along at 6:34 pace last I checked only to hear the beep and look down to 6:42. ARGH. Sometimes this would bug me out--like a sign for the rest of the tempo, especially when I only need to run faster and faster throughout the whole thing. But not lately. I don't mind a slower first mile, even one that is surprisingly slow.
I just carried on and ran 6:34 and 6:35 for the next miles which are usually slower miles on the course. Then I picked it up in the neighborhood loop portion of the course. It starts of slightly down and then this mile finishes slightly up. I comfortably ran 6:26 here. Then I turned to head back to the park and was socked by a headwind for the next mile. I just focused and try to stay smooth and not forced and ran 6:3o on the nose. I got back into the park and was rolling under 6:20 and felt good for .5 miles and then the next time I looked at the garmin it said 6:37. Man! I hate that. So even though I know I was running faster than the previous two miles I had to run even faster than that just to see 6:24 on the garmin. Even though I 99% know the garmin hit a black hole I still have that 1% doubt so as long as it's within myself I make myself run the time on the garmin. Oh well. Done and pretty much hit the goal and surprisingly felt good doing it!
Ah yes. But then Friday was a repeat of Wednesday, only worse. The first 2 miles were over 9:00 pace and just felt awful and clumsy. Again I thought the writing was on the wall for Saturday. I had 12 @ 7:00 pace on the training schedule and 4 hours of farmers market and more hours of mommying to get through in the day before I could even head out to run. Lucky for me E-speed was awesome and picked me up in her new ride at 2:30 p.m. and we headed out to a nice smooth path out in the sticks. She biked 8 miles with me while I surprisingly ran on pace and then stowed the bike and headed out for 4 more and two-stepped me the whole way! I averaged 6:58 for those 12 miles thanks to her! And happily it felt good despite the up-and-down week and crazy first part of the day.
But yes. As is the theme of this post, what goes up must come down ... hard. I woke up at 5:15 and stumbled out the door to meet FD along the lakeshore for my 18 miles. It was dark and I knew hitting 7:25 pace for at least the early miles wasn't going to happen so I didn't bother to look at the watch until we stopped to view the sunrise around mile 4.5 The view was wonderful and the company was good. I was having fun, but the pace was ugly. After the break we headed back out and I figured I better start to try to get the overall pace at least within 30 seconds of the goal pace! A mile later I was suddenly famished. I normally don't take a gel until around 12 or more into a long run, but I was desperate so I sucked down a gross Powergel which was thankfully very liquidy since I had no water to wash it down. We were now running 7:45 pace, but I was huffing and puffing when normally 7:20's is easy for my long runs. Then my hips and butt were starting to hurt even after the gel hit my bloodstream and raised up my blood sugar enough to make me feel better in that regard. I was beginning to worry I wouldn't make it back from the 10 mile first loop of our run!
But I did. I decided I'd eat a little something, walk around and then head back out. Ha! Everything hurt and I realized that I'd have to do the 9:00n shuffle-slog to get through 8 more miles and that would be dumb. If I can't get within 30 seconds of the goal pace, I think that's a good place to draw the line between where pushing is making me stronger and where pushing is going to kill me! I moped to my car and drove home. I considered stopping at the park and running the rest on trails. I actually pulled into the parking lot, got out of my car and then realized I was insane. Got back in, went home and made pancakes for the family.
Just to be on the safe side, I'm taking today off too. I think I've arrived at the starting line of every marathon I've run since my first slightly overtrained. I'm not doing that again. I am learning to understand where the line between good-pushing and overtraining is for myself and no matter what the schedule says or how stubborn part of me is I am going to do my best to NEVER cross it again.