MCM Training Week 9: Monster Month Commence

This week was the start of the really high mileage. As if my legs hadn’t already been feeling it. Fortunately for me, my Seattle high seems to have bled into this week. I already talked about my run on Monday – technically part of this training week – but  we can skip ahead. I got back from Seattle late Tuesday night, and optimistically set my alarm for 5:30.

Hit snooze until 6 a.m. Reset it for 7:30 and curled back up with my man. Then after a couple more snoozes, awoke with start at 8:13. Oops. Had to leave for work in 17 minutes! Here comes the wash-face-throw-hair-in-French-braid-lots-of-deodorant runner bath comes in. Oh well! But when I got home from work, I decided to take advantage of the 75* and sunny weather and run wherever I felt like. In a shirt that may or may not have actually been clean. Whatever – Oiselle fly style never stinks! So far.

I ended up running up to Highland Park and zig-zagging back for a quite random 4.75 mile run (on the nose, too), which left me with 2.75 easy miles to tack on later on the week. No biggie! My main concern was the fact that I had a tempo run the next day – 8 miles with 6 at tempo pace – and the run to Highland had been a little speedy at points for an easy run (though still felt easy).

And then I rewarded myself with a little post-run treat that was leftover from NF’s bachelor party. Chocolate chip bacon muffin/cupcake-thing? YES PLEASE.

My runger never judges me for my post-run cravings.

NF has been dealing with some feelings of burnout, I think mostly related to his stress outside of running, so he decided to stick with me on the tempo. My goal paces this season have been 7:30-7:45, but my overly competitive self has been demanding the faster end of things, even when I try to ignore the watch, so I told him that I was going to aim for 7:40s and ignore the watch as much as possible, and just try to enjoy it.

Then this happened:

mcm-week-9-tempo

NF’s Garmin clocked faster splits – probably due to both our watches going Haywire in Oakland with all the buildings. Mine usually clocks fast around there, like his, but this time it clocked slow, so we were pretty far off each other near the end. No big, just interesting. Either way, I nailed this. I felt really relaxed and in control throughout most of the run. I didn’t even want to hit lights, which I usually do when I’m suffering – the only exception was in Bloomfield after climbing Millvale, cause it gets a little gnarly, but other than that I just wanted to keep on cruising. NF was starting to flag near the end, but punched it back up to the point that I was struggling to keep up with him in the last 1/3 of a mile or so of tempo. I think it was a little mental break he needed, and having him there to pace me and distract me was a huge help in getting me a successful, confidence-boosting tempo run: one without any quitting.

Friday I did a little out-and-back to wrap up my easy miles for the week. We had a new problem, too: I was about to run four days in a row. Not a huge deal, but not something my body always responds well to. The travel had messed with my schedule, and on Saturday it turned out we had two sets of plans: a wine tasting in Saxonburg in the early afternoon, and a friend’s birthday party in the evening – all with plenty of alcohol and junk food. So we moved the long run to Saturday morning, treating ourselves to a Friday night sushi date night (our other pre-long run favorite. The light fish and rice seem to serve us well).

We got up at 5:30 and had our oatmeal and last minute fluids and then took forever to get out the door – it was probably 6:50 when we were finally ready to run and outside (had been aiming for 6:30). Oh well.

Can we talk about the fact that it was an absolutely perfect morning?

Hello, autumn!

I had to stop and take a few shots from the 40th Street Bridge – with the fog rolling in and the regatta stating their morning early as well. Wonder why anyone would get up so darn early to run? Look no further.

The first six miles flew by – we ran on North Side and crossed at Roberto Clemente, passing through Point State Park for a water fill-up (though we hadn’t been drinking a ton since it was so darn cool out). Then across Fort Pitt to Southside. Things got a little bleh for a while – it’s that point where you feel just how many more miles you have to go. And while still pleasantly cool, we were running into the sun for several miles. Soon enough, we were near REI where we picked up Devin and slowed down to get him through a 7.3ish mile long run. I spent the whole run chatting with the guys, and didn’t turn on my music until the last mile.

We headed across Hot Metal after an out-and-back to get the right distance, and got more water at the trailhead for Eliza Furnace, and crossed the tracks. This time I DIDN’T fall on my ass. VICTORY.

We slogged up the hill and I decided to stick with them until the very last mile. We had originally planned to do the last two at half-marathon goal pace, but since NF was still recovering (and doing awesome) and this was my first 18 of the cycle after the stubbed toe incident, I decided to hold out a bit longer. Just as we were heading down Morewood, I kicked in and played a couple power songs, clicking off a 7:39 mile that felt – not easy – but cruising until maybe the last quarter mile (the downhill at the beginning of it may have helped just a tad).

And what did I come home to after the long run? A delivery from Brooks Running! An awesome Hanson singlet signed by Desiree Davila!

Thanks, Brooks!

A great end to a great training week! And the fun is just beginning. Last week was the definitive start of Monster Month – which is both revered and feared by marathoners for its weeks of high mileage, long tempos and speedwork sessions, and near constant fatigue. So far I feel pretty good – my recovery run today felt decent, even if I could feel the 18-miler in my legs. This week we run our first 20 miler, then it’s a cutback week/mini-taper before our tune-up, the Air Force Half-marathon. Then two more weeks of build (and oh, how gnarly those two weeks are…) and then the taper hits! It’s flying by, but I know in a couple weeks my legs will be begging for mercy.

Until then, bring on the high mileage!

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