Monday, November 14, 2011

Marathon Training: Week 16

The completion of Week 16 marks four whole months that I've been training for this marathon. That's one-third of this year!!

This was my peak of training — a 40-mile week, including a 20-mile long run — and from here, I scale back in mileage and intensity until race day. Looking back, I'm so thankful that:

  • I've stuck with my training plan.
  • I've loved it.
  • I haven't gotten injured (knock on wood).

I spent Saturday at the TEDxRainier conference at the University of Washington, where I heard 30 speakers discuss every topic you can think of — business, travel, religion, happiness, grief, sex, the environment, neuroscience and more.

Will Hewett spoke about the year he spent singing for 15 minutes every single day. At first he had to work to complete the 15 minutes, but eventually singing grew to be such a joyful activity that he sang for an hour at a time, oftentimes in public.

He said two things about this practice that stuck with me:

  • "It was like a fire that the rest of my day gathered around."
  • "Time bows to authentic commitment, and it stretches to accommodate it."

This is how I feel about running. It is the fire in my day, the light that draws me to lace up my running shoes even when it's dark outside. It is my authentic commitment, the one thing I refuse to wipe off my schedule when other activities come knocking.

Sure, I've missed a few miles along the way, but even through a breakup and a death in the family, through a funeral and a vacation, through scorching sun and freezing rain, I've kept running. It strengthens me when I feel weak and gives me purpose when I've lost aim.

All of this is about so much more than a finish line.


Monday: 5-mile run

I started thinking Monday about the finish time I could aim for. Many people say the only goal for your first marathon should simply be to finish, but I already have a 4:30 course time limit hanging over my head — and I think I can do better than that. There are so many things that can go wrong on race day no matter how well someone trains, but I'd love to shoot for 4:15!

With this goal in mind, I did a Yasso 800 workout on the treadmill. Runner’s World guru Bart Yasso says that the amount of time it takes a person to run 800 m can predict his marathon finish time; therefore, one can train for his desired finish time by running 800 m repeats at a certain pace.

If I want to run a 4:15 marathon, I need to run 800 m (half a mile) in 4 minutes and 15 seconds — that’s 8:30 pace. This was my workout:

* 1 mile warmup — 9:30 pace
* 4 x 800 — 8:27 pace, with 800 m recovery at 9:40 pace in between

Total: 5 miles, 45:45 (9:09 pace)

I usually plod along at a steady pace on the treadmill, but this run left me dripping with sweat! Even if I don't get my 4:15 finish time, this is the type of workout that'll help me become a faster runner overall.

Tuesday: Strength training

I hit the free weights once again after two-and-a-half weeks off from strength training. Lifting felt good, but, man, my arms burned Wednesday and Thursday! It was the good kind of burn, though. I'll have Michelle Obama arms in no time. : )

Wednesday: 10-mile run

I was really in the mood to crawl into bed as soon as I got home from work, but I had 10 miles on the schedule. I had to pull out all the mind tricks to head out into the darkness: "Running will help clear your head!" and "You never regret a run!" are favorites.

Lo and behold:

I negative-splitted the crap out of this one. The last four miles were super-fast for me — I just felt great and wanted to push it.

I remember the first time I ran 8 miles — back in January or February, maybe? — and how horrible my knees and hips felt toward the end. I'm pretty sure I finished the run by shuffling pitifully, and then I could barely walk for the rest of the day. Now I can run 10 with no problems and finish fast just for fun. Making huge progress is one of the greatest things about running!

Thursday: 5-mile run + core workout

Don't worry, I fully realize this is a ridiculous photo. I just wanted my roommate to help document The Crazy that is my nighttime running outfit.

I headed out for 5 recovery miles (recovery = slow), but found it difficult to rein in my pace after a fast warmup mile (9:01). Finally I fell in behind a slower runner and his dog and resisted the urge to pass them. Problem solved!

I also did a core workout from Runner's World in a vague nod to my complete lack of abdominal strength. I'll be honest: I half-assed it because I had pasta on the brain. I'm not the stereotypical runner who eats a lot of pasta — I hardly eat it at all, actually — but I had a really strong craving for angel hair pasta with meaty tomato sauce.

I zoomed through a few planks for the workout, then zoomed over to the grocery store for all the fixins'. Naturally, I made enough pasta with meat sauce to feed at least 20 people. Extremely good decision.

Friday: Rest

I kicked off of work to spend the day with my dad since I hadn't seen him since September. Unacceptable! We gorged on delicious food at The Maltby Cafe, hit up the George Nelson exhibition at the Bellevue Art Museum and gorged on even more tastiness at Cinnebon. Now you want a Cinnebon, right?

That night I went out with a bunch of friends to Pecado Bueno, a new Mexican place in Fremont that serves yummy food and $3 margaritas. That means I nursed my Cinnebon food-baby and a glass of water while watching all my friends eat yummy food and drink $3 margaritas. I then pulled duty as The Greatest Designated Driver Ever and drove them all to their next destination in my seven-seat minivan. Pro tip: Don't make fun of minivans if you have a sober friend who drives one.

Saturday: Rest

I became obsessed with TED talks a few months ago when I realized I could listen to them while working and learn all kinds of new, interesting and inspirational stuff. I love a good conference and was all like, "I want to go to there!"

Guess how much it costs to attend the main TED conference in Long Beach? $7,500! Wheeee!

Luckily, independently organized TED events crop up all over the place, and I was able to attend TEDxRainier on Saturday (admission: $50). I got to hang out with my friends Vivek and Mike and soak up knowledge and fascinating stories from 30 amazing people.

My favorite part of the day was when surprise speaker Rick Steves showed up to give a hilarious and eye-opening talk, complete with a slideshow of photos from his world travels. His best quote? "Fear is, to me, for people who don't get out very much."

Sunday: 20-mile run

I've appreciated fall more this year than ever before since I've spent so much time outside admiring the leaves! "So much time" means 3 hours and 15 minutes when it comes to running 20 miles, in case you were wondering.

This is the face of a girl who's super happy to be done running for the day!

This 20-miler was the longest run of this whole training cycle, and a personal distance record by two miles. It was by no means easy — my legs felt tired for the whole second half, and my feet hurt for the last few miles — but I'm very happy with how it went. Check out the full recap and mile splits over on my running blog.

Toward the end, some extra energy kicked in and I flew home for the last mile, thinking I could run 6.2 more (although it wouldn't be pretty). I'll definitely need some race-day adrenaline to get me through this marathon!

I can't believe I ran 20 miles and that my training tapers down from here. At this point, my next two weekend long runs — 12 miles and 8 miles — don't seem long at all. I've read about runners feeling antsy during the taper period because mileage scales back so dramatically, but I have a feeling I'll welcome the rest... particularly considering how my legs feel right now!

All R.I.C.E., all the time.


Miles run: 40
Strength-training sessions: 2 — free weights, core
Rest days: 2
Alcoholic beverages: 0
Nights I got great sleep: At least 4... directly correlated to the previous metric


Miles run: 367
Miles biked: 68
Swims: 7
Yoga sessions: 1
Strength-training sessions: 18 + 1 shower scrubbing


Weeks 1-4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Week 12
Week 13
Week 14
Week 15


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  1. Your beer will be waiting at the finish line ;)

  2. Yessss! I almost forgot about that bet. That's why I'm REALLY running this marathon anyway :)

  3. Awesome job! I already can't wait to read your marathon recap once you ROCK ITS FACE OFF.

  4. Thanks, Courtney! Yes, if all goes as planned, Vegas shall have no face by the time I'm done with it :)

  5. Hi Devon, what about your Bianchi bike? You are only running for now?

  6. Cycling has fallen by the wayside due to the intensity of marathon training and the crappy Seattle weather. I try to give my legs a break on rest days, and I'm not comfortable cycling in the dark, while it's raining or on wet leaves (my local trail is completely covered with them). There is more cycling in my future, but for now, the focus is getting through my training and finishing this marathon in one piece! :)

  7. I wish you all the luck of the world for your marathon! Surely your performance will rock!


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