Hartford Marathon Training: Week One

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Week One: Week of 7/3

About 8 weeks ago, I made a [relatively] scary decision. It was something I had been avoiding for months. But, I sucked it up and ignored the 99% of my brain that was telling me “this is a bad idea”.

I emailed the elite coordinator and asked to be included in the field for the Hartford Marathon. Then I waited. Part of me was hoping I wouldn’t get in, but a few days later I got an email back that I was accepted!

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My last attempt at a marathon was a disaster, and it took me a long time to get over that.

But, here we are, and this is happening. I’m determined to make this one count. So let’s catch up on how training has been going.

I took May and June pretty easy so I knew I needed a few base mileage weeks before diving into marathon training. My first week of base training started with a local 4th of July race. Besides the race, the rest of the week was fairly easy. I felt pretty accomplished for getting over 35 miles.

Base Week #1:

M REST 

T 6.5 miles with 4 mile race (Firecracker 4 23:23)

W 6.1 miles “easy” (8:27/mile… double stroller runs are never actually easy)

Th 6 miles on the treadmill (7:55/mile) + Pilates mat class

F 10 miles (7:02/mile)

Sat REST 

Sun 8.2 miles easy (8:05/mile)

(36.7 miles) 

I’m going to end each of these posts with an inspirational quote. Just kidding.

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But, I will give you an insight into my thoughts each week. I felt pretty defeated after my long run. Or, more like out of shape. I have to constantly remind myself not to make comparisons to my past workouts and races.

I spent most of this weekend at a USATF coaching clinic, and there were a few moments that stuck with me. I was reminded to take easy days easy. Like actually EASY. Logically I know this, but it’s something you have to like, actually do.

The other was a sports psych tip, something that initially made me laugh: the circle of allowed thoughts. If you have negative thoughts, you just have to tell yourself that those thoughts aren’t allowed in your circle. It’s so simple that it just works. Supposedly. I haven’t put that into practice yet, but it sounds good in theory.

Do you have any tips or tricks to help turn negative thoughts around? I really like counting because it helps me disassociate from the pain that I’m feeling. Sometimes I close my eyes in races, and it usually works, but that’s probably not great advice for normal people.

I have a few weeks of posts to get caught up with the present, so look for those in the next few days. Hey, I know it’s just putting one foot in front of the other, but with everything going on right now in our country I welcome a healthy amount of distraction in the form of reading, looking at pictures on Instagram and listening to/watching things that make me laugh.

My marathon history…

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(I haven’t finished my recap from this past weekend’s race yet but if you want to skip below I wrote a little blurb about it…)

One of the questions I was asked in the med tent in Boston was “how many marathons have you run?” and I had to think about it for a moment before I gave my answer. I was so dehydrated and exhausted that I couldn’t recall exactly, so I just said “six”, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how abnormal it was that I didn’t know. So today I parked myself in front of my laptop to look up my past race results.

Part of me wishes this fit into a perfect little progression that makes sense. Instead, there’s a story behind each of these races.

#1 Charlottesville Marathon (Charlottesville, VA) 2006 3:52:29

… I was in grad school at JMU and had recently “retired” from running when one of my friends asked if I would train with her for this race. We followed a Hal Higdon plan (her idea) and did our weekly long runs together. I was hung over the day before the race, and ate veggie pizza for dinner that night- both were terrible choices. I felt good early on but spent portions of the last 8-10 miles walking and swore I would never run a marathon again. Because I hadn’t fueled properly, this was my first experience with “hitting the wall”.

#2 Vermont City Marathon (Burlington, VT) 2008 4:33:09

… My sister and her boyfriend (now husband) decided to run this race so I ran it with them. They followed a Hal Higdon plan and I followed a no running plan. All I remember from this race was that it was hot and very hilly, but I thought it was a nice course.

#3 Shamrock Marathon (Virginia Beach, VA) 2009 3:43:45

… Pete and I had moved back to Virginia and I started coaching cross country in the fall of 2008, which is when I started getting interested in running again. After cross country season I didn’t run at all and I was in school to get my teaching license. Between that and planning my wedding, I didn’t have time to train, so I’m not sure why I signed up for this race. I did one random 3 hour run at the end of February and otherwise made it through this race on the fitness I had leftover from the fall. I was on pace to run 3:40 and qualify for Boston (the old qualifying time) but ended up slowing way down in the last few miles.

#4 Mohawk Hudson River Marathon (Albany, NY) 2011 3:05:22

… The death of one of my college teammates prompted me to get off my ass and actually train for a marathon, so I started a blog on blogspot and chronicled my training (actually “our” training because Pete and I trained together and he wrote some of the posts). We used a plan from the Pete Pfitzinger book “Advanced Marathoning”. I had run a 1:30 half that spring without training, so I figured I might be able to run close to 3 hrs with a solid training block. I ran into a few issues training through the intense summer heat, so I was pleasantly surprised to run this fast and feel good doing it (and I learned how to carbo load properly which was why I was able to hold my pace in those later miles).

Shamrock Marathon  2012 DNF (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

… Had some great training for this race but also a lot of personal health issues which affected my training, and dropped out around 14 miles. Boo.

#5 Three Bridges Marathon (Charlottesville, VA) 2012 3:12:42

… Took some time off from marathons for most of 2012, but after spectating at the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon I decided to give it a go and find a winter marathon nearby. I had 8 weeks to train for this, mostly done on the treadmill at 4 am before work. I also got really sick about 3 weeks beforehand with a virus and didn’t know if I’d make it to the start line, but my doctor cleared me to run that week and I somehow pulled it off.

Boston Marathon 2013 DNS

… Preggers with Emmaline. This was the year of the bombing. I had initially planned to run this race or at least part of it, but changed my mind a few weeks beforehand.

#6 Boston Marathon 2014 3:46:44

… An injury forced me into cross training for about 6 weeks. I ran alongside my sister for about 21 miles of this until we hit the top of Heartbreak. This was the year after the bombing. I’ll never forget running up Heartbreak and finding out that Meb had won. It still gives me chills.

#7 Mohawk Hudson River Marathon (Albany, NY) 2015 3:05:25

… I surprised myself with this race, almost running a PR with a pretty pathetic training cycle. I ran about 5 days per week pushing Emma in the running stroller for almost every run. My mileage averaged about 45 mpw. I lost motivation at the end of August and took 10 days completely off from running. We were also in the process of selling our house… and a few days after this race I found out I was pregnant with Natalie!

#8 Boston Marathon 2016 3:24:57

… I trained with a new coach and although it wasn’t the time I was hoping for, I was happy to make it through the post-baby comeback without a major injury. It was very warm for Boston this year, not hot, but enough to affect many of us who train in cooler climates. I wrote a recap of the race, and my splits are up on Strava. In general, it’s best to run evenly or negative split a marathon, although that’s difficult to do in Boston the way the course is laid out (with the significant hills in miles 16-21). I was attempting to run this race at an even pace, around 6:50s, but around mile 10 or so it became obvious that wasn’t going to happen. I was really sore (even four days later when I originally wrote this post) particularly in my right quad.

#9 Rhinebeck Hudson Valley Marathon (Rhinebeck, NY) 2016 3:10:39

… This was such a fun race, and I felt great for this one even though it was another very warm day (probably similar to Boston weather but we had a lot of shade too). I signed up for this one a few days before the race and went into it without a goal time, just planning to run how I felt and maybe try to get my marathon mojo back after a disappointing result in Boston.  I ended up having a good group of guys to run with for the first half and finished feeling pretty strong. I loved this course- it was two loops, with lots of hills and gorgeous scenery. My splits are here.

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So… maybe I’ll get it right by marathon number 10? I’m not planning to run one this fall, so I think number 10 might have to wait until Boston next year. Or maybe I’ll sign up for another one on a whim, who knows!

What are some of your favorite marathon courses? Big or small, flat or hilly, doesn’t matter, just looking for a good excuse to travel and run 26.2 miles (although a fast course wouldn’t hurt)!