Bellingham Bay Marathon Training: Week 7 – Nailing The Progression Run

Last week was a big week for me. On Monday morning, I woke up at 5am at The Westin hotel to get ready for a day of moving to a new apartment. So on Tuesday morning, with nothing unpacked except only the items I needed for my run, I set off to do my second ever progression run.

My first progression run was a bit of a failure, and I was looking forward to the chance to do a better job this time around. I was also nervous – my plan called for 10:00, 9:30, 9:00, 8:30, 8:00, 8:00. With something like 90% humidity when I woke up, I knew this would be tough but after last week’s awesome 2×2 miles I figured it would be doable.

Once I started running and felt how thick the air was, I adjusted my expectations. My new plan became to stick to the first four miles, and then do as well as I could for the last two, without being upset if I can’t get to 8:00.

I surprised myself with this run! After a slower-than-planned first mile, I was able to stick to my pace exactly right through mile 4. As I speed up with each mile, I felt strong, despite the weather. And even though I pushed as hard as I could those last two miles and didn’t get down to 8:00, I was close enough that I feel really great about it. Especially since I still maintained a progression! I feel like I really nailed this run:

1 – 10:35
2 –  9:32
3 –  9:01
4 –  8:35
5  - 8:17
6  - 8:08

Seriously, it was SO hot and so humid and I felt incredibly badass after this. It was a serious confidence booster and made me feel great about my marathon goal.

The rest of my week’s training:

Week 7: June 30 – July 6

  • Monday – Maintenance Legs OFF
  • Tuesday – 6 mile progression run
  • Wednesday – Refine
  • Thursday - OFF
  • Friday – 1 mile warm up, 10K time trial
  • Saturday - 11 miles (1:57:17)
  • Sunday – OFF

Total (running) miles: 23.20

Summary of Week 7 running:

In addition to the progression run, I had a really great Refine class. Instructor Laura told me I had great form during my jumping lunges – which made me REALLY happy because I must have done hundreds of these since working with Coach Abby. They’re a big part of the plyos she has me do. Good to know my form is right – and I loved feeling awesome at them at Refine. We had the option to jump back to center between each lunge but I jumped into each one since that’s what I do in my plyos. I felt pretty great about it all.

I was supposed to do my maintenance legs on Thursday since I didn’t have the chance on Monday’s moving day, but I actually didn’t feel well and spent the day resting. On Friday – the 4th of July – I woke up to another humid, rainy, gross day for my 10K time trial.

patriotic pup

I was dreading this run, so nervous for it. A time trial is like a race – mapped course, etc. I gave myself a pace plan that I wanted to stick to (assuming a less humid day). I wanted to run the first 3 miles at 8:30, the next at 8:20, then the last two as close to 8:00 as possible. I think that’s a doable strategy and one I’d like to try during an actual 10K race!

But the weather was not on my side. I just want one nice day! Just one! I don’t remember it being this bad every single day the last few years?

After a warm-up at 11:50 (THAT is how humid it was), I surprised myself by speeding up to 8:35 for the first 10K mile. It didn’t feel too bad! But after three miles like this, I was not able to speed up any more for the fourth. In fact, I slowed down.

And after that, running the same pace as the first three (8:35ish) felt like I was putting in double the amount of work.

1 – 8:36
2 – 8:35
3 – 8:35
4 – 8:44
5 – 8:37
6 – 8:31
.2 – 8:30

10K Time: 53.31

Miles 5 and 6 weren’t much different time wise from 1, 2 or 3, but they took SO MUCH more effort. By that last .2, I felt like I was sprinting even though I clearly wasn’t.

I gave myself permission to alter this run as much as needed. I know that an 8:35 in humidity equates to a faster pace on a drier day, and I tried to allow myself to account for that and slow down. But I’m tough on myself, and I wanted to try as hard as I could to stick to where I wanted to be.

When I finally finished, I felt nauseous and totally beat – but also pretty proud of myself for holding such a hard pace on such a miserably thick day. In fact, it poured not long after I finished my run. So, not the time I wanted, but I was very pleased. And it made me really want to find a 10K to race!

4th of July puppyLarry and Dori on 4th of July - Dori's Shiny Blog

And lastly, the long run. 11 miles is the shortest long run I have until the weekend before the marathon. I couldn’t find anyone to run with, and my Team DetermiNation group wasn’t meeting because of the 4th of July holiday weekend. I was on my own.

While it was finally a beautiful day and not very humid, I didn’t feel great during this run. In fact, I felt miserable. I had to stop at Duane Reade for Naproxen about 2 miles in, the sun was beating down on me, I forgot to wear my compression sleeves (I have no idea if they actually do anything, but as soon as I felt a calf pain I was like OMG IT IS MY FAULT – and for the record, that calf pain disappeared after I did a quick stretch later on in the run), I forgot fuel (which I don’t even usually want or need for 11 miles, but once I realized I didn’t have it that was all I could think about), and I was slow. Really slow. Well, for some of it. In the end, I averaged a 10:39 pace which isn’t bad at all. But I struggled mentally with the 11:00 miles, and it definitely fucked with my confidence from earlier in the week.

I basically slogged through to 5.5 miles on the waterfront, turned around, and got through another 5.5 until I could finally reach my ultimate destination: Sam A.M. The thought of my favorite breakfast got me through the run. And I thought about it a LOT.

And that’s the week! It was a stepback week, and my lowest mileage week for a long time. Despite the crappy long run, I feel really good about how I did. I’m already feeling like a stronger runner, and even though my “easy” pace isn’t as fast as other people with similar goals, I think I can hold my own on the tougher runs when I have to quite nicely.

Do you adjust your goals for the humidity? 


Bellingham Bay Marathon Training: Week 6 – Ode to The Running System

In this post: I had a great running system from my old apartment before I moved. Also, I nailed 2×2 miles, did OK at 10×200 and my 14-miler sucked.

Ode to a Perfect Warm Up/Cool Down System
I moved to a new apartment on June 30, but before that I had my running plan all worked out. There were two routes I could take to get to Liberty State Park from my old place – a one mile route and a two mile route. This turned out to be absolutely perfect based on how my runs were usually set up.

Most of the time, I’d have a two mile warm up and a one mile cool down. That meant I could take the two mile route to the park, begin the “meat” of the workout, turn around halfway through, and then when I was done take the one mile route home for my cool down.

No thinking, no brainwork, no calculations involved. And no extra walking at the end. It was perfect.

Now, I’m in a MUCH better apartment in a much better location (and closer to the park!), but without my perfect little system. I will miss the system, but I won’t miss anything else about the old place. Not even the pool.

On that note, here were last week’s workouts:

Week 6: June 23 – June 29

  • Monday – Maintenance legs + easy 4 miles (42:00)
  • Tuesday – 2 mile warm up, 2×2 miles at 8:00-8:10 with 5 min active recovery, 1 mile cool down
  • Wednesday – Refine
  • Thursday - OFF
  • Friday – 2 mile warm up, 10×200, 1 mile cool down
  • Saturday - 14 miles (1:26:37)
  • Sunday – OFF

Total (running) miles: 29.87

Summary of Week 6 running:

This week was actually a milestone – June 28 marked three months until the Bellingham Bay Marathon! I can’t believe how fast it’s approaching. And after a tough week before involving a total failure of a tempo run, I needed a confidence boosting run. Badly.

And that is just what I got on Tuesday! Even though I was nervous for this run - 2 mile warm up, 2×2 miles at 8:00-8:10 with 5 min active recovery, 1 mile cool down – I also knew this was my kind of workout. I have a whole other post drafted about this topic, and I mentioned it a little two weeks ago, but basically it comes down to this: I struggle with shorter track workouts but I tend to do well on extremely-challenging-but-attainable paces for somewhat longer intervals. I think I’m good at mentally pushing through discomfort (which is why I like marathons) but not as great as physically pushing through discomfort (which is why I don’t like shorter, faster races as much).

Since we went directly from winter to summer this year, the humidity has been rough throughout most of my training. But I was sick of making excuses and hoped I could get through this despite the weather. I took my perfect 2 mile warm up to the park and got going. I kept reminding myself it was just 16 minutes of pain. 16 minutes isn’t that long, I could do it.

The first 2 miles were hard, but I had a lovely reward of 5 minutes of rest waiting for me. I fought through the pain, tried not to look at my watch too much (and succeeded! I barely looked) and I was so thrilled to hit that recovery.

(1) 2 miles: 8:13

A success! Sure, it’s 3 seconds off what my plan said but what’s 3 seconds on a humid day? MUCH MORE THAN THREE SECONDS IN REAL LIFE. Trust me. And I’m running a marathon in a place that doesn’t even get humid.

I walked through the five minute active recovery; I was way too spent to try and jog it. I also like walking recoveries because I can stretch my neck while I walk. I also guzzled quite a bit of Ultima. It was hot and it was humid! At the end of the five minutes I felt refreshed and ready to tackle the next two miles, knowing that it was just another 16 minutes of pain before I could jog home.

As soon as I started running again, I felt faster and lighter on my feet. That recovery did wonders! I did have to stop for a few seconds in the middle of this set to massage/stretch out a side stitch, but once I did that I was good to go for the rest. Despite starting out feeling so great, this set was much more difficult than the first. I was tired, I was hot, I was out of breath and I wanted to be done. I was looking at my watch way more often than the first set. I pushed through because, really, what’s another 16 minutes? And…

(2) 2 miles: 8:00

NAILED IT!!! The feeling at the end, when I looked down and saw my pace and know I gave this run everything I had and ran exactly how my plan said – AMAZING.

I jogged (hobbled?) home feeling accomplished and strong, and more ready for my sub-4 marathon goal than I have been in awhile.

That brings me to my next run – 10×200. Eek! Well, 200 meters are by far my favorite of the track workouts because the pain is over quicker. But it’s still really hard for me. I don’t enjoy it. The pain, the gasping for air between intervals, the nausea. I do these workouts because they will make me a stronger runner, but I have never hit a pace I’d like to see. No matter how hard I push, I can never seem to get there.

All that said, this workout wasn’t too bad! Again, I ran my two mile route to the park and then got going. Even with the pain, I felt better during this workout than during my previous track workouts this training cycle. Again, it was VERY humid but I can’t escape that. I would try to tell myself “by the time you get to that tree you’ll be done” or “that bench will be about halfway” to make these intervals seem less daunting. Does everyone do that? Do you?

During my very last 200 I ran past a woman, and when I finished she came up to me and said, “Nice job. Next time, try swinging your arms more.” How nice is that? Free coaching! I will definitely try her suggestion next time. So, even though I didn’t hit the paces I would like, I did do MUCH better than my last attempt at 200s.

1 – 0:50
2 – 0:51
3 – 0:49
4 – 0:48
5 – 0:50
6 – 0:50
7 – 0:46
8 – 0:46
9 – 0:51
10 – 0:47

And lastly, I had my longest long run to date – 14 miles. Every second of this run sucked.  It was SO HOT at 6:40 am when I left with the sun beating down on me. I couldn’t get enough water and kept draining my handheld bottle (I usually don’t need to drink that much or refill very often during training runs, I must have been dehydrated). My stomach hurt a lot, and after mile 7 I couldn’t run faster than 10:30 without my stomach cramping up. My neck ached at times. It just sucked. The good part was that I ran miles 8-13 with my friend Miranda and chatting with her helped take my mind off the misery.

But by the time I got to the end I felt more miserable than ever and couldn’t wait to stop. The only upside of this run (aside from finishing it, which is always a good thing) was ending at my favorite breakfast place in Jersey City, Sam A.M.

Even Larry loved it!

Larry the ratcha eating breakfast

Mmmm grease

And jus like that, I finished another week of marathon training!

In other running news, Olympic runner Louis Zamperini, the subject of Unbroken (one of the BEST books I’ve ever read, and the movie comes out later this year) died at age 97. His story is absolutely incredible – for being a record-breaking runner who succeeded against all odds and competed in the 1936 Olympics, but especially for his experience as a World War II POW in Japan who survived against SO MANY ODDS. Including being on a boat for 47 days and being treated in ways you can’t imagine at the POW camp – and having his future Olympic dreams crushed in the process. It’s an amazing, inspiring book that anyone would love, but runners might appreciate even more. As a runner myself, I know I did.

And finally, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone who helped me reach my goal to run the NYC Marathon for the American Cancer Society Team DetermiNation in memory of my Aunt Dale. I am so grateful and amazed by how generous people are. I’m excited to get a second chance at this race and honored to have had the opportunity to raise some serious $$$ for ACS in the process.

What kinds of runs are you the best at nailing? Do you have any interesting running “systems” like I had for my warm up and cool down? Have you read Unbroken?


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