A Great Week to Have No Goals

This was a tough week at work. There’s a big project I’m leading that needs to be finished early next week in order to make a deadline that other projects depend on…yada, yada, yada…I stayed up really late every night and woke up too early because I was stressed out.

In other words, it was a great week to not have a goal race on the horizon!

Week two of trying to eat better and do more cross training was not as focused as week one, that’s for sure. Other than one short arm workout as part of a flywheel class, I did not do any strength training. Also, I stopped actually tracking my food like I did last week because I hate tracking my food.

I did keep up with generally choosing more healthy versions of things for meals and snacks, and I avoided the candy jar at work (mostly). I’m down 3 pounds this week from last week. That seems nuts and I’m guessing some of it might be dehydration, but together with last week’s .8 pounds it does establish a trend. Food choices make a difference, I guess.

Weekly mileage: 28.9

Monday – Flywheel

I met up with my friends Jen and Christy for an evening flywheel class. Christy has the loudest, most contagious laugh you’ve ever heard in your life. Jen is super high energy and loves to dance whenever possible. I was in between them and we were rocking out the whole 45 minutes. The theme of the ride was 80s and 90s music so we were singing along to Bon Jovi and Backstreet Boys and Whitney Houston and basically having the time of our lives.

Afterwards, the instructor came up to us to see if we were celebrating something or what our deal was and also to thank us for helping make the class so fun. Then she offered us a free class for next week! That doesn’t happen every day!

Tuesday – 7 miles with tempos for 2mile, 1.25 mile, .75 mile at 8min pace

It sometimes bugs me that I still don’t feel fully recovered from the marathon. I mean, this felt harder than it would have 4 weeks ago. On the other hand, it’s great that it doesn’t matter.

Wednesday – Rest day

I was signed up for a noon yoga class but had to skip for a work emergency. Bummer.

Thursday – 6.75 miles: 10 min warm up/cool down with 2x intervals (1,2,3,2,1 minutes) and 2 minutes recovery in between

I did my intervals at 6:58 pace. The 3 minute intervals were really tough, but the others were fine.

Friday – Rest day

I was signed up for another body pump class and really looking forward to it, but my boss offered to take me to lunch about 15 minutes before I was planning to leave for the gym. It seemed like a better idea to do the lunch. The pad thai was delicious.

Saturday – 5 miles running + 13 mile bike ride

It’s so nice outside finally. Even though I was planning on meeting friends to ride bikes in the afternoon I wanted to get in a quick jog. In the past the bike rides with these people have been really fun, but flat and slow. I didn’t think it would be much of a workout.

I really should’ve known better because I picked the bike route this time and I’ve run this route before and I know that it’s hilly. I think your perspective and hilliness and distance changes a lot based on whether you’re in a car, on foot, or on a bike. It was a great ride and I was grinning from ear to ear almost the entire time. It felt so good to go fast and be outside.

Sunday – 10.15 miles

This morning I was thinking I’d go 13, but then I decided I’m tired of all the routes I’ve been running for the last 2 years and I decided to head down to the beach via a trail that’s a few miles away. The reason I don’t normally do this is because the trail is super steep. As in, it has stairs cut into it because the descent is so extreme.

Today I decided that the pleasure of running on a trail to a beach was more important to me than the pleasure of running continuously or hitting any mileage goal. I treated myself to this lovely trail and then I treated myself to sitting on the beach for a while and then I treated myself to walking back up it. It was grand!

I’m linking up with Wendy and HoHo for the weekly wrap.

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Looking Back and Looking Forward

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Back on my home turf for the Sunday long run

I have to recommend a podcast I discovered recently called I’ll Have Another with Lindsey Hein, specifically an episode from last December where she interviewed Desi Linden. It’s an amazing trip to hear Desi talk about her running career so far, her thoughts about training, and her feelings about the upcoming Boston Marathon which she went on to win. Very cool!

Ok, but now about me.

This is definitely still a recovery week for me so I’ve had time to reflect on my last training cycle – what went great and what I want to do differently next time. I followed the Pfitzinger 18/55 plan from the book Advanced Marathoning, which calls for 18 weeks of workouts with a few weeks at 55 miles.

What I feel good about:

  • I crushed the mileage: My total mileage for this training cycle was 783.5. I completed almost all the workouts, only missing a few due to what we think was ecoli in February.
  • I became an early morning treadmill warrior. The most challenging runs were the 12+ mile early morning treadmill runs mid-week. I got myself to bed early and up early and I got them done.
  • Race pace practice: The most rewarding were probably the long runs with race pace miles in the middle. I hadn’t really practiced race pace before during long runs and I really think this helped.
  • My favorite run: definitely the 20-miler with my sister in St. George where another sister met us for the last 4 miles.

What I’ll do differently next time:

  • Definitely nutrition. I pretty much gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted for the last year and often that was donuts or jelly beans. I stepped on the scale last week for the first time in probably a year and it was 7-8 pounds over what I feel good at. Some of it might be muscle, but I know that not all of it is because I feel fluffier than normal.
  • Strength training. I went to yoga about half of the weeks on this program and I do think it makes a difference. But I did nothing else. My back started hurting during the last 10 miles of the marathon and I think core work especially could help me out.

So with that in mind as my mileage is lower over the next few months, I’m going to try to form better habits and routines around nutrition and strength training.

For nutrition, I’m using the principles in Matt Fitzgerald’s book Racing Weight. I really like the philosophy of the book because it focuses on adding a variety of high quality foods to your diet instead of on taking things away. One week down and I’m sort of down .8 pounds. I say ‘sort of’ because I don’t believe things on the scale until I see a trend.

For weights, I tried out a new class at the gym that I’m hoping to put in my regular weekly rotation. This week I’m still in recovery mode so I’m easing in to this goal.

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Fish en Papillote adapted from ‘Eat Fast, Run Slow’: aka the best cookbook.

Total Miles this week: 24

Monday – 3 Miles

This was my first run post-marathon. I was happy to be running, but it was definitely a struggle.

Tuesday – 5 miles

Still taking it easy, but it felt a little better than Monday.

Wednesday – Yoga

Not sure what happened, but today I felt energetic. Whereas last Friday’s yoga session was all about the super-modified version, today I went for it more aggressively.

Thursday – 6 miles total w/ 3x.65 miles at 7:30 and .35 recovery in between

Trying out some speedwork. This was tough but it felt great to feel my heart pumping like that again.

Friday – Body Pump

As part of my grand plan to add some strength training, I decided to try out a new class at my gym. This is basically a guided barbell workout with high repetitions of squats, lunges, pushups, clean and jerk, curls, etc.

I am definitely going back. The class is only 45 minutes long and I didn’t  really sweat that much but my booty is still kicked today (Sunday). I clearly needed this in my life. I’m having trouble walking.

Saturday – Rest day

Sunday – 10 miles

It took me nearly 5 miles to feel warmed up this morning, but by that time I was ready to rock and roll. My legs were sore, but running on them felt more like stretching them out in a good way. The weather was overcast and high-40s. Perfect for running. My first miles were in the 9:4x range and I finished up with an 8:08.

Linking up with HoHo and Wendy this week for the Weekly Wrap.

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Boston Marathon Training: Weeks 18 and -1!!

Skip over to my Boston Marathon race recap here.

It’s been almost a week since the Boston marathon and I feel pretty good.

Week 18 – Total Miles: 23.85

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I started writing up a day-by-day of my last week training, but it’s pretty boring. Basically I had mostly easy runs and one “dress rehearsal” run with 2 miles at race pace.

I flew out Wednesday with my husband, two kids, mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law. Mother-in-law booked us an apartment at mile 22 of the race which ended up being perfect because it was a block from the T and about 1/4 mile from a reservoir where I did my final two runs – one with my husband and one with my kids.

We struck a great balance between sight-seeing and relaxing. We did a Duck Tour, part of the Freedom Trail, the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, the Expo (obviously), the Tea Party museum (our favorite), and saw some friends who live close by.

On Sunday I stayed in the apartment and watched Netflix all day except for a quick walk to the CVS for extra socks, handwarmers and a scarf. Even though the weather had been pretty nice for the first couple of days we were there, by Sunday it was clear that the forecasters weren’t exaggerating and I was in for something severe on Monday.

The Marathon – 3:36:11 PR!!!

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I wrote my race recap last Wednesday so I’ve had a few more days to overthink how I feel about how it went. Mostly I feel awesome. That was really hard and I did it.

I PR’d at Boston in the coldest, rainiest, windiest conditions. I ran a pretty even race…I had a positive split, but not by much, and considering the hills and extra wind on the second half I think I did really well. I absolutely had nothing left to give at the end. The conditions were miserable, but I was not miserable until I stopped and the cold caught up with me.

A week later, though, I can’t help but wonder what I could’ve done under better weather conditions. I mean, I trained my brains out and it got me 3 1/2 minutes faster? I know it’s a good outcome, but there’s a big part of me that thinks I could get closer to 3:30 next time.

Will I do it again? Yes, but I don’t want to do it by myself next time. It was incredible, but the whole time I was wishing my sister was there with me.

Recovery Week

My kids had to go to school on Tuesday so we flew home right after the marathon on Monday night. When we got home at 2am we were met by this amazing decorating job that my friends did while I was away. Too sweet.

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This has been Treat Myself week. I got a manicure on Wednesday, went to an easy stretchy yoga class on Friday, and got a massage on Saturday. Today I went for a walk for a couple of miles around the neighborhood. No running.

I feel pretty physically good at this point and will try to jog a couple of miles tomorrow. I’m still a little tight in the hamstrings and quads, but I kind of always am.

Emotionally I do feel a little adrift though. I’ve had a major goal for a year and a half and now I feel like I need to get my bearings by attaching myself to something else. I have time to figure that out though.

Linking up this week with HoHo and Wendy.

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Boston Marathon 2018 Race Recap

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I flew into Boston the Wednesday night before race day with my husband, kids, mother-in-law, and grandmother-in-law. We spent Thursday through Saturday doing some slow-paced sightseeing and then I spent Sunday sitting around watching movies and resting up.

On Monday morning, my husband took the T with me to the start line and stayed with me while I got oriented, checked my gear, and found the busses.

We said goodbye and then I was on my own with 30,000 other excited Boston runners. We were all already drenched, but the mood was positive. The most common expression was “this will be a great one to look back on.” The forecast called for rain all day and a constant headwind of 25 mph.

My original time goal was to finish under 3:35, my secondary, to set a PR (under 3:39:55) but with the weather I decided to focus on my third goal: to run a smart and grateful race. I wanted to pace as evenly as possible (not too fast on the downhill and not too slow on the uphill) so that I had enough energy to soak up this amazing experience and be constantly aware of what a privilege I had to be here.

Athlete’s village looked like the apocalypse. Everyone was huddled in tents, sitting on cardboard and trying to keep as warm as possible. I had time to go to the porta potty, eat the pb&j sandwich I’d brought, and down a complimentary cup of coffee before my wave was called and it was time to head up to the start line.

The walk to the start line is surprisingly long and I wished I’d dropped my extra sweatshirt and garbage bag later than I did. My teeth were chattering and I was shaking from the cold as I waited. I started my music playlist and jogged in place to try to warm up.

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START

Then we’re off! I’m grinning like an idiot. I feel like I could start crying at any minute. I am running the actual Boston Marathon!

I’ve never run a marathon this big and my first impression is that I have no idea how anyone goes out too fast. It’s so crowded! I try to run my own pace without swerving too much around other people, but also staying as much in the middle of the road as possible to let other’s take the brunt of the wind. It’s a struggle I’ll deal with the entire race.

5k split – 25:26, pace 8:11/mile

My headphones quit on me around mile 6 so I take them off and tucked them in my bra strap. I spent he rest of the race listening to the crowds of hero spectators cheering us on.

10k split – 25:05, pace 8:05 min/mile

My mantra for the first 16 miles of the race is”cruise.” I made a deal with myself that I was going run comfortably fast until the Newton hills and that’s when I’d start working. I had no expectation that I’d actually be comfortable, but that’s what I’m going to tell myself.

15k split – 25:11, pace 8:06 min/mile

A wardrobe malfunction that I know is going to cause serious chaffing if left unchecked has me veering off to the porta potties, but I fix it without actually going inside one and head back out on the course.

20k split – 25:28, pace 8:12 min/mile

The Wellesley girls! Those champions are out and screaming their heads off. Even in these conditions I can hear them at least a quarter mile in the distance. The runner next to me says “here they come” and I agree. “So it’s true!”

I don’t stop to kiss one, but I do kiss the sock on my hand and give a few high fives.

Right before the halfway point I see a sign saying DESI WON! I’m freaking out. I’m so happy for her!!

HALF – 1:46:41 – average pace so far 8:09

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I spend the next couple of miles psyching myself up. The infamous Newton hills are coming and this is where I really get to put my training to the test.

25k split – 25:22, pace 8:10 min/mile

Somewhere in these hills I’m going to see my husband and kids. I’m not sure where, but I’ve been looking forward to this the whole time. I need to see them. I focus on the crowd and I’m surprised when the first hill passes by pretty easily.

At least, I think that’s the first hill. I’m trying to count the hills but it’s hard to tell where one stops and the next one starts.

Finally, right before 30k, I see them! I yell out “That’s my family!” to warn the other runners and swerve over to the side of the road. I give my husband a kiss and high five the kids. Later, Russell will comment that I could’ve finished faster if I hadn’t slowed down here, but I tell him I was here to have the best race possible, and seeing them is a big part of what makes it the best.

30k split – 25:38, pace 8:15 min/mile

Here comes Heartbreak Hill. There really is a guy offering beer at the bottom of it. I’m in a lot of pain by now, but I know if I can power up this one I’ll be in the homestretch. My split from mile 20-21 is 9:10, and this ends up being the slowest 5k of the race overall.

35k split – 26:40, pace 8:34 min/mile

I stop for a few seconds to fish my last gu out of my flip belt which I’m having trouble finding the opening to. I figure stopping for a bit is smarter than being distracted and tripping on another runner.

My mother-in-law and her mom are waiting for me around mile 22 because it’s right outside where we rented an apartment for our stay in Boston. They wave and cheer for me from the far side of the street. Gloria (grandmother-in-law) once jumped into the Boston marathon in the 50s and made it about 3 blocks before being pulled off the course by police. This is her first trip back to Boston since then. Seeing them at this point gives me extra motivation to keep pushing.

40k split – 25:46, pace 8:18 min/mile

The last few miles are a mental game as well as a physical one. The headwinds going into Boston are worse than they’ve been the entire race and I’m so tired. Three more miles is close, but it’s still 25-ish minutes away. I struggle so much at the end of marathons but I’m determined to finish as strong as I can.

Then the Citgo sign appears.

Then there’s a mark on the road saying one mile to go.

Right on Hereford. Left on Boyleston.

The finish line is ahead and I think I’m going to cry. I’m so happy and proud of myself. I’ve run the freaking Boston Marathon!

FINISH – 3:36:11, overall pace 8:15 min/mile

It feels like it takes forever to get my checked gear, find my family, and then finally take the T all the way back to our Boston College apartment, but the shower is the best I’ve ever had.

This was a truly incredible experience and I feel really lucky to have had it. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for the volunteers and spectators that came out to support all of the runners and even more so for my family members who came with me and my family and friends who supported me from wherever they were.

The most amazing thing about this experience is the feeling of being part of something historic and big and truly wholesome. Maybe it’s still the runner’s high, but days later I still just feel so positive about the strength of large groups of people rooting for each other to succeed.

I don’t know if I’ll be back next year, but this is a race I’ll definitely try to get to again.

 

Boston Marathon Training: Week 17

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I didn’t take any pictures this week (bad blogger) so here’s another one from the 5 mile race I did a week ago! This might be the first race picture I’ve ever had where it looks like I’m actually running.

Weekly Mileage: 31.25

Taper week 2! One more week until the Boston Marathon. I loved having 3 rest days this week. It turned out to be especially helpful as my team at work is coming up to a deadline and the hours are getting more unpredictable and longer. Despite work stress, I feel pretty relaxed about the race. Probably because it still doesn’t totally feel real.

When I was training to BQ I was constantly freaked out about my plan and my performance. I had nightmares about the race where the course had been changed or now it was an obstacle course, or something totally out of my control was going on.

This cycle, I’ve thought of as two phases. Phase 1 has been the training. I was curious to see if I could take on an aggressive (for me) training plan. Turns out I could. The marathon itself was always present as the end goal, but a big part of my daily workouts was just seeing if I could accomplish that workout.

The marathon itself is Phase 2. I’d really like to PR at Boston, but there’s a lot out of my control (weather, gut issues, nerves, being in a new place) so it’s hard to say what will happen. I don’t know if I’ll ever run the Boston Marathon again so my biggest goal is to soak it in and be grateful that I get to be part of something so special. And to finish strong. That would be nice. I tend to pace really poorly and struggle at the end  of races.

Monday: Rest Day

Tuesday: 7 miles with 5×100 sprints

This run felt hard even though the pace was really conservative. I should’ve known better because my Tuesday runs often feel difficult, but I had it in my head that now that I’m in taper these things should be easy. Hahaha. Running is hard.

Wednesday: Rest Day

Thursday: 8 miles with 3×1 mile at 5k race pace

I crushed this run. I did my miles at a 7:08 pace (8.4 on the treadmill). I tried to play mind games on myself by telling myself it wouldn’t feel hard until .75 mile and then when I got there I just had .25 to go so may as well finish it.

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: 4 miles easy

I was supposed to do this run Friday and it was supposed to be 5 miles with sprints, but things didn’t work out on Friday. Saturday we were in a hotel 250 miles away from home for one of my kids’ band performances so I didn’t feel like running outside by myself in a strange place.

The hotel treadmill was ancient and bad. It started counting up from the end of the workout of the person before me which was super annoying and the buttons were really hard to push and the ledge where you rest your phone was super low. These are all dumb excuses, but I wasn’t enjoying this and didn’t feel like it was necessary to torture myself so I hopped off at 4 miles.

Sunday: 12.25 miles easy

We drove home this morning and I started running about 30 minutes after we parked in the driveway. The actual forecast on the radio for today was “starts with showers and then moves on to rain for the rest of the day.” Uh….that’s just rain all day.

Fortunately I got out of the house for a dry patch. I did a couple of loops around my usual route. It felt ok, but my legs definitely feel heavy and I’m glad I didn’t have to run a marathon today.

Next week I’ll be writing to you from the actual city of Boston the day before the race. Traveling will present some unique challenges this week, and I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to get in sightseeing without walking too much, but I’ll figure it out. I’m so close!

Linking up with HoHo and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap.

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Boston Marathon Training – Week 16

Miles this week: 41.75

First week of taper and my first race of 2018! Let me tell you, it was fantastic to not have any double digit treadmill runs this week. I’ve started obsessing about the race and watching YouTube videos about racing strategies, so I’d say everything is about normal.

Monday: Rest Day

Feeling sore from Sunday’s 20 miler. I’d hoped to make it to yoga in the middle of the work day, but got busy and couldn’t leave my desk all day. My band performed at a new venue Monday night which got a good turnout and was a ton of fun. Plus, we were done by 8 which I love for a weeknight gig.

Tuesday: 8 miles with 5×600 at 5k pace

Treadmill run felt challenging but fine. I did my 5k intervals at a 7:03 pace for .4 miles and then jogged .3 miles in between

Wednesday: Rest Day

I’d planned on a 6 mile recovery run during my lunch break, but once again, work got cray. I’d been really looking forward to this week as the week I wouldn’t have to get up extra early to get my runs in, but this day I realized that dream was dead.

Thursday: Recovery 6 miles

Got up early. Got on the treadmill. Got these miles in.

Friday: 4 miles with 6×100 springs

Got up early for this one too and I’m glad I did. I’ve decided to just hang on for the next couple of weeks and keep getting up early. I’m almost there.

Saturday: Spring Run for Fun 5 mile race +2.5 mile jogging cool down

39:07 and 2nd place overall female! It was a gorgeous day for running around in the woods. I even won a pretty sweet mug!

My training plan calls for 3 tune-up races. For the last two I’ve just done tempo runs on the treadmill because I can’t find anything close by that’s long enough and fits my schedule and also races are expensive. I felt like I should do at least one though and I’m glad I did.

Sunday: 16.25 miles

For my last outdoor long run I thought it would be fun to try a new route. Then I thought it would be fun to kind of make it up as I went. At about 6 miles I was at a dead end that looked like it had a trail at the end of it. Since Saturday’s trail run was so fun I figured why not?

When is a trail not a trail? When it looks like this.

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Shortly after I took this picture the trail completely disappeared. I thought I could see the road ahead of me so I decided to forge through and ended up tromping through a field of stinging nettle which I can still feel right now as I type this. If only I’d worn tights instead of capris. 😦

About 20 minutes after I got back on the road, the rain started coming down really hard. It was freezing and I was only about halfway done!

The podcasts on my playlist today both interviewed Alex Hutchinson who recently wrote a book about Endurance and how your mind affects your ability to perform. Great timing! This run today was definitely all about accepting the discomfort and unpredictability of the day and finding a way to enjoy it anyway.

It also inspired me to spend some time thinking about how I talk to myself about my running. I’ve got runner imposter syndrome, big time. Part of me honestly feels like my BQ is a fluke. But when I look back on the past year and a half that I’ve been training, I have to admit that I’ve worked really hard and run some fast times. I have goals for the Boston Marathon, but as far as my goals for training…I’ve pretty much nailed them. That’s not a fluke. That’s a result of deciding every day to put in the miles.

So over the next couple of weeks I’m going to work on my positivity about my running. I have a lot to be proud of even before I get to the start line on April 16th. Running really is about the journey.

Linking up with HoHo and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap.

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Boston Marathon Training: Week 15

Total Miles this week: 52.35

Today is the last day of my the “Race Preparation” phase of my training plan, which means I’m officially tapering! This last phase has done a lot to increase my confidence. I feel pretty comfortable with mileage in the low 50s. The 5k paced intervals have been (dare I say) fun.

This week I got my Boston participant packet in the mail. You guys, this is so unreal. I think I say this all the time, but I NEVER thought I’d be running the Boston Marathon. I’m an extremely medium runner. This whole thing is amazing.

Monday – Cross Training

I got bold on Monday and joined two friends for Flywheel after work. I told myself I was going to be moderate because I’d only have about 13 hours to recover from this before my morning run and I’d just run 17 miles the day before. However, this is one of those places where you can opt to have your score projected on the tvs in the front of the room and I tend to get competitive. It was fun. No regrets.

Tuesday – 7 miles recover + 6x100m strides

Treadmill before work. Now I’m onto Better Call Saul on Netflix. This is the sequel to Breaking Bad and I absolutely love it. Highly recommend. There are so many great characters in this and it’s so absurd but also realistic.

During my lunch break I went and got a haircut (see above). I told the guy I wanted a basic trim, not too many layers, and don’t style it too much because I had to go back to work. I got the opposite of what I asked for but I really like it so I guess I got the haircut I needed, not the haircut I wanted.

Wednesday – VO2 Max 10 miles with 4x1200m@5k pace, jog 50-09% in between

This was hard. Treadmill before work again. I did my intervals at 7:13 pace for .75 miles and jogged .5 miles in between. I felt like I had to dig deep to finish this workout.

Thursday – Rest Day

Hallelujah!

Friday – 11 miles

Treadmill and you know what? This was pleasant. I kind of liked it. I started off at about a 9:13 pace and progressed every few miles until I did the last mile at 8:30. This officially marks the very last double digit treadmill run I’ll have to do for this training cycle.

Saturday – Recovery 4.1 miles

My legs were feeling heavy from Friday’s run and I did this outside by my house which means hills, so I had no problems keeping the pace moderate.

This was my first run in the shoes I’ll wear in Boston. My last pair reached 414 miles and I try to be conscientious about replacing them because I got injured on a super old pair of shoes about a decade ago.

New shoes are the best.

Sunday – 20.25 miles

My husband and two of our friends went out to a paved trail about 20 minutes from our house and I knocked this one out like it was no big deal. The two guys rode bikes and the girl roller-skated while I ran. It was so nice having company and a change of scenery for my final 20-miler.

This is the absolute best I’ve felt at the end of a 20 mile run ever. I even tacked on a fast .25 at the end. Don’t get me wrong, this was definitely hard, but it was a manageable hard and didn’t knock me out for the rest of the day.

The next time I tackle 20 miles it will be on the way to 26.2! Three weeks to go!

Linking up with Hoho and Wendy for the weekly wrap.

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