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Days 43-Tempo-#middlesix and 45-Long Run-#13onfridaythe13th

Day 43-Workout-Wednesday, April 11; Day 45-Workout-Friday, April 13

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Watching the pack run, I am reminded once again how important it is to play when we run. We can get so serious about our pace, our plan, our blah blah blah that we lose the joy. Watching Mercy, tongue flying and meaty legs skidding around corners, I couldn’t help but smile.”
~ Kristin Armstrong, Mile Markers blog,

As I mentioned in yesterday/Tuesday’s posting, by the end of the speed workout, I was feeling much better about training for this marathonthing than I had been even a few days before.  The workout went surprisingly well.

However, I was not feeling so fortunate during Wednesday’s tempo run, and this lack of fortune started just a few steps into the run when I realized that since we were doing an 8-mile run, that our tempo pace would be for “the middle 6” miles.  Huh?!?!?  Our tempo runs have been so far 5-7 miles, which means we’re only running fast for 3-5 miles; and even though this tempo run would involve 6 miles, which is only 1 mile more than 5, it seemed sort of daunting as we headed east UP William Street.  And, by the way, why do we always run UP William?  It’s a steep, short hill at the beginning of the route that ALWAYS tires us out!  Anywho.

Due to running 8 miles instead of 7, Christy rerouted our route.  Instead of starting, running, and finishing near/on the University of Michigan’s North Campus, we started at my house, ran to and up through North Campus, and then ran back to my house—only saving grace: last mile was down hill.

It was an all-around-hilly route, which seemed odd to me because Christy had run such a hilly route the weekend before, which was a 20-mile run, and she talked and blogged about how hilly and hard it was.  And this brings me to one of my “A-ha Training Moments” this week with Christy—it’s all about the context, which I will discuss later.

As I said, the run was hilly and it was a struggle.  We ended up not meeting our tempo pace time—and I think this is one of the first times this has happened—which was a 9:14 pace.  You can see from the times below that we “hit” and “exceeded” (in the correct direction, i.e., running less) our pace times for 4 of the 6 miles, but miles 3 (hilly) and 7 (hillier), rounded out our average pace time for the tempo miles to 9:22.

Wednesday's Tempo Times

So here is the context part:

  • Normally, we would be doing this run on a Thursday, instead of a Wednesday.  Doing it on Wednesday meant it was a day closer to our long-run of the previous week.
  • Normally, we would have a day of non-impactful exercise, i.e., swimming, between our two SPEED workouts.
  • Normally, we are not sort of hitting the wall emotionally with our running/training.
  • Normally, I am not spending the week prior to a tempo run on vacation in Florida, which, as I thought about it, had a greater impact on my training that I initially thought it would.

So in the context of our training, there was NOTHING NORMAL about this run, which leads me to our long run, which just happened to be 13 miles on Friday the 13th.

I think it pretty much goes without saying, that if you are going to spend 112 days, or approximately 16 weeks, of your life—in a row, mind you—training for something like a marathon, you HAVE to be flexible because your life WILL get in the way and you will need to adjust your training schedule.  This was one of those weeks/days.

Due to an out-of-town trip for Christy this weekend, we moved our long run from Sunday to Friday, which meant we had to move our rest day from Saturday to Thursday, which meant we had to condense/rearrange our work out days in the early part of the week, and thus the two speed workouts back to back. Now, perhaps you are thinking that we could have put the swimming workout in between the two speed workouts—and in theory, this is correct; however, in practice, that would have meant that Christy would have done a speed workout (HIGH IMPACT ON THE LEGS) the day after her 20-mile run, which she dubbed, “The Long Run That Wasn’t Fun.”  This was not an option.

In addition, I had to be at work by 8:30 a.m. on Friday (in reality this ended up with me not arriving until 9:20 a.m.), which meant we had to be out the door at 5:15 a.m., which meant I had to wake up at 4:15 a.m.  NEVER IN MY LIFE, have I gotten up to run that early—not even a marathon—and I was going to do it for:

  • A training run
  • On a work day?!??!?

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep very well the night before, and it had nothing to do with being nervous about running 13 miles, and EVERYTHING to do with getting up at 4:15 am.  In addition, I was trying something new on the training run—I was going to switch from using Glide beneath my running bra to prevent chaffing and switch to Aquaphor instead.

This is a good time to talk, briefly, about my anxiety in terms of running routine. I had gone to my favorite running store on Thursday after work, Running Fit, to buy Aquaphor (which is basically a petroleum-based product like Vaseline), but they didn’t have it, so I sent Christy a text asking her if she could bring hers on Friday.  Although why I didn’t think to just use Vaseline I’m not sure, because for years they have been handing out wooden, tongue depressors slathered in Vaseline during long-distances races, to prevent this:

Yes, this really does happen to men’s nipples when they run long distances and don’t put any anti-chaffing product on their nipples. I know this first hand because it happened to Doug during our first marathon—2001 Detroit Free Press Marathon. Women tend to not experience this because their running bras protect their nipples from getting chaffed. So, yes, if men started to wear running bras, this would likely not happen to them either.

What is the point of this diversion?  The point is that I get anxious when I try something new and my routine gets out of whack, and in this instance, I would be applying the Aquaphor AFTER I was already dressed, and AFTER Christy got here.  I know, it doesn’t sound like a big thing; but oftentimes for me in terms of running, little things add up to big things.

So, let’s recap:

  • Terrible night’s sleep.
  • Anxiety about getting up at 4:15 a.m. AND about trying out the new product, because in addition to it taking me out of my routine—I really needed it to work because the chaffing is turning into a potentially serious problem for me when I run. (Side note:  It appeared to work.  Although I felt slight irritation around miles 9/10, I was able to take a pain-free shower after the run.  A big test will be this Friday’s upcoming 18-miler).
  • Knowing I had to go into work after this long run.

The 5:20 a.m. smiles were short-lived.

We made/exceeded our overall pace time goal by 5 seconds/mile.  As you can see from the paces below, we didn’t always meet the 9:59 pace; but in the end, and that is what counts, the average ended up being 9:54.  And I shall add, that this does include some walking.

13-on-13 pace times

Despite making/exceeding our time, things on this run were tough on both of us (I had aches and pains all over my legs and my hands were so cold I could barely move my fingers), but more so on Christy—she was tired for a lot of the run.  And the only reason why I bring this up is:

  • Context
  • Quotes at beginning of post from Ralph Waldo Emerson and Kristin Armstrong

Christy had had a very busy week at work, outside of work, and at home.  And while she knew what her week would be like, I don’t think she expected it to affect her as much as it did; and I think that is because when Christy and I, and others, run/train we don’t tend to always look at the big picture.  That is, we look at what is going on in our lives the day before and the day of a big run, but we don’t look at it in the context of the week before, or perhaps even the previous 72 hours. The realization of context is not an excuse, it is an explanation—and there’s a big difference.

So as Christy said things like, “I haven’t even gotten into a groove yet,” or “I can’t believe how tired I am,” I found myself saying things to her like, “Christy, we did two speed works back-to-back, and you were at work and doing other things yesterday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., all in the context of getting ready to head out-of-town for the weekend which meant there were more things happening at home this week than usual.  In that context, it would abnormal if you were weren’t tired.”

And as I was saying these words out loud in an attempt to make her feel better, I realized I was actually feeling better myself (refer back to Emerson quote).  I believe that so much of running advice is founded in common sense, but for some reason we let this common sense elude us at the time when we personally need it most.  But just saying the words out loud and hearing them myself made me realize that I could now officially stop beating myself up about struggling the past two weeks with the training (so over it) and blogging (so over it).

When I am struggling during a run, I am silent and often unable to find the words I need to comfort myself, and that’s where Christy comes in for me!  It’s almost as if we both know the answers for each other, but we can’t figure them out for ourselves.

When she made a comment this week about the training and how it had lost its luster and shine, I thought, “Thank God!  It’s not only me!”  Of course it’s not only me, lots of people feel that way during a long training program (refer back to Armstrong quote about losing the joy of running).  And I guarantee that every thought/feeling/pain I’ve ever had about running, someone else has thought or experienced it first.

As my former therapist used to tell me, “You’re not that special, Kristi.”  And it’s not as harsh as it sounds.  What she meant is that with 6 billion people on the planet, my feelings and experiences (about well….you name it) aren’t that unique—they’ve likely happened to others before me.  And I know that.  But for all we know, and for all we’ve felt; sometimes, we just need to hear it either out loud or from someone else to really believe it’s true.

Carry on, friends.  Carry on.


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