Last week was a 67-mile training week featuring 6 runs spread over 5 run days including 4 quality workouts.
Two 8.5 mile runs on Tuesday with 10 of the 17 miles at Marathon Goal Pace (MGP) or better. Thursday’s hill repeat session and 10 miles on Saturday morning with the middle 5 at or below Marathon Goal Pace (6:52).
Those four workouts were really the bread and butter of the week accounting for 37 of the 67 total miles.
On Wednesday we ran an easy 10 at recovery pace and then on Sunday we had our second 20-miler of the training cycle. Only 4 long runs over 20 miles remain before we strap on our race flats and go toe to toe with the marathon down in Houston for the 10th time.
Training all week went according to plan, I crushed my quality days and as I hit the driveway on Saturday morning all that remained was a nice long run to wrap up the week. I then made a rookie mistake, my first one of the training cycle.
I took something for granted.
I underestimated how challenging a 20-mile training run can be at the end of a hard week of training. Throughout the day on Saturday I didn’t really pay attention to how much I hydrated, what I ate or how much time I spent on my feet. I went about my business as usual, played with Landry and Saturday evening Dawn and I went out to eat.
Instead of making sure I fueled properly, we went to a new Seafood restaurant, where I had some salmon, steamed white rice and asparagus. I did not bother to pick up a bagel to eat on Sunday morning before I left for my run knowing we did not have any at the house. I didn’t pack any gels with me for my run and I decided I would drink at the water fountains along the way, no reason to bring my hydra-belt with me. I’ve done a ton of these runs I thought …
The temperature at 5:00 a.m. on Sunday was already 68 degrees with 88% humidity. 18 mile an hour winds were blowing from the South as a cold front would be arriving late Sunday night dropping temperatures on Monday morning all the way down to 44.
I thought about pushing my run to Monday as I will be off from work the next three weeks, but instead, I again decided that the run was really no big deal. Just 2 hours and 40 minutes or so of running relaxed.
As I settled into the first mile I knew it was going to be a long morning. My legs were still sore from the mileage earlier in the week and took until the middle of mile two before they loosened up. I had to push hard into the wind to keep pace under 8:00 min./mile and on the miles where the wind was at my back the heat and humidity was stifling.
I ran the standard 8-mile out and back loop that I run on Tuesdays, then ran on to the trail and headed due south into the wind to the furthest point of my route from home which would take me out to mile 14. Then I would just have 6 miles home.
The miles ticked by slowly and by mile 13 I really felt out of gas. My pace was holding steady, but my shorts were soaked through, sweat squished in my shoes with every stride and I was working much, much harder than I felt like I needed to in order to tick off 7:50’s.
The last 5 miles felt much like the final 5 miles of the marathon. Heavy legs, depleted energy stores and all you want to do is get to the end.
As I popped out of the trail I hit the 20-mile mark 1/2 mile from home. Instead of tacking on another 1/2 mile I decided to walk through the back of the property and up through the green belt to the house. Put a fork in me, I was done.
As I went through the back gate and out to the driveway to retrieve my water bottle I had left for me to get a drink from at mile 8 Dawn and Landry were in the driveway watching for me to come down the street at the end of my run.
I still brought the run in on my target time. 2 hours 38 minutes and 23 seconds vs. my planned 2 hours and 40 minutes – but it was a humbling run. It was probably the best thing that could have happened to me as it served as a great reminder that none of this is easy. Certainly race day down in Houston is not going to be.
I need to remember that “training” is just part of this. It is also important for me over these next 9 weeks to dial-in my nutrition. Make sure I fuel properly and I treat every workout seriously. There are no layups when it comes to a 20-mile run at the end of close to a 70-mile training week spread over only 5 run days.
This week we stretch things out just a little bit further to 70 miles and a 21-miler on Sunday. We won’t be making the same mistake we made this week as we are going to get our rest, run easy on our easy days, hard on our hard days and treat Sunday like a dress rehearsal for race day.
Fueling strategy, hydration, electrolyte replacement – all things we need to dial in for Houston. We have 4 more runs like this to get it right. The marathon sent us a message on Sunday. It is going to be waiting for us on race day with no sympathy, no special treatment and no mercy.