NYC Marathon Training Weeks #5 & #6 – Wednesday-Tuesday

It’s been a week since I last blogged, but I have a good reason: I went to Nova Scotia for my cousin’s wedding and I didn’t take my laptop! Let’s catch up on the training:

Week #5 Wednesday: My coach says I need to get more hardcore about the cross-training. I know she’s right. I headed to Underpass Park and did a 45 minute Nike bootcamp for the first time this training cycle. I had a good time with this workout.

Week #5 Thursday: And I paid for it. I somehow threw my back out last week. It wasn’t one particular motion, but it felt gingerly all week long and on Thursday, it was the worst. I was supposed to do a hill workout in the morning (and then fly to NS in the afternoon), but it seemed like a bad idea, so I opted out.

Week #5 Friday: The back was still iffy this day, but after spending all morning walking around Halifax, it felt a lot better. Gentle motion seemed to help pain more than just rest. I decided to do an easy lap around Citadel Hill and see where my back was at. I felt strong enough to do the hill workouts, so I did 4 repeats of the walking path up Citadel Hill, and then felt relieved I could still get my training in.

Week #5 Saturday: Since the wedding was Saturday night, I wanted to get my long run in on Saturday morning. I took my time, but I enjoyed this 2 hour run through all my old haunts and also along a lot of the course from the Bluenose Marathon last year – my first.

Week #5 Sunday: This was rest or cross-training. It was also fly home from NS day and I wanted to see how my back handled being on a plane for 3 hours before I committed to a workout. It survived, but it’s still sensitive, so I took Sunday as a rest day.

Week #6 Monday: Back to work. Back still sore. Went for a bike ride during lunch, but kept it simple and short. 30 minutes all in. Hardly cross-training.

Week #6 Tuesday: In the morning, it was speedwork time. 4x800s at Riverdale Park. My splits were:


Which aren’t too bad. They are consistent, for sure. I think they could have been faster. But that’s what next time is for, right?

Then in the evening, I played softball. We lost. Our season is over.

Okay, back to real life and being on top of things like blogging and laundry and crosstraining.

I still haven’t unpacked, my house is a mess and it’s my birthday this week. But a long weekend is coming.

NYC Marathon Training Week #5 – Tuesday

Tuesday was one of those days were nothing went right and nothing felt right. I came home, headachy, tired and having screwed up my evening plans thanks to a last-minute work thing. But I forced myself out the door to get my run in. Then I forced myself to go be social as soon as my run was over.

I am glad I did both these things. Sometimes I need to take a step back and not think big picture or dwell on stress. If my run was bad, I could have stopped. If socializing was exhausting, I could just leave early. I forget these things sometimes. But the run was good. And the book club was engaging and satisfying, topped off with delicious food.

Usually, doing stuff ends up being the right decision. It was on Tuesday.

NYC Marathon Training Week #5 – Monday

How is it week #5 already?

I overslept on Monday, and had plans after work. I spent most of the morning convincing myself that I could do my cross-training after my plans. Then my co-worker went to the gym and I decided to say ‘screw it’ and go for a bike ride at lunch. Because I am almost always wearing gym shorts, a tank top and a sports bra on under my dress, preparing was easy. I had a pair of canvas shoes at work, too and boom: impromptu fitness outfit.

I biked to the Humber bridge and back, it was about 60 minutes all in. I pushed myself harder than I did on my bike ride on Sunday, I wanted to get my heart rate up. I’m still trying to master this cross-training thing, sometimes I feel like yoga/biking/swimming isn’t the right combination of stuff.

The bike ride was good. I liked breaking up my work day like that and didn’t mind making up the time at the end of the day. I need to do this more often.

NYC Marathon Training Week #4 – Sunday

Ah, Sunday. Because I did my long run Saturday night, this was a free day. Well, I had to do some cross-training. I biked Leslie Spit in the morning – almost the same path we took for Midsummer Night’s Run race the night before. The Spit is amazing, so pretty and peaceful. All in, I covered about 15km in an hour. I pushed enough to break a sweat but not enough to feel pained. I need to take my Garmin on my bike rides.

In the evening, I went to Kula live music flow with JK. It’s been good getting back into regular classes instead of self-practice. I push myself more. I focus more. I still hate all the church-like elements of it, but I like committing an hour to do something good for me.

NYC Marathon Training Week #4 – Saturday, A Midsummer Night’s Run

photo (13)
The TL;DR read recap: I crushed it.

The longer recap:

A Midsummer Night’s Run was back on the Spit this year, but with a few changes: we ran to Cherry, along the Martin Goodman trail, and then out on the Spit.

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I picked up my race kit around 10am and then went out for breakfast. My stomach wasn’t in love with this idea for the first few hours post-brunch, but it settled down eventually. I spent the rest of the day relaxing and freaking out. I ate again at 2pm (granola, fruit and yogurt) and again at 4:30 (bread, peanut butter and banana).

All day Saturday, it threatened to rain. And for the hour before the race, it did indeed rain. It eventually stopped, though – and then it didn’t rain again for the rest of the night, making it pretty excellent racing conditions. Because of the rain, I didn’t leave the house until 5:15, wanting to stay dry for as long as possible. I arrived at 5:30, stretched, walked around and used the bathroom one final time. Then I headed to the start – where I ran into my pal Ron. The start was CROWDED. Neither of us heard the starting horn. All of a sudden we were off!


I had a hard time jostling for position and getting my pace down, there were so many people and the course was so crowded. It got a little better on Commissioners, but there were a few road dividers that has us squeezed together. I ran as far outside as a I could in order to get closer to the 1:30 bunny, to get ahead of her. I had a race plan, but it all came down to beating the 1:30 bunny. Cherry was the same way – we only had one lane of traffic and it was barely enough. By kilometre 3, I had settled into a pace. There wasn’t any room to move, really, but I felt comfortable and there was enough space to breathe. I checked my watched every few minutes and as long as I saw 5:3X or 5:4X I wasn’t going to worry. 5:2X meant slow down. 5:5X meant speed up. Easy. I took water at the first station, but didn’t stop running. It was too early on the route, and a walking break wasn’t really safe, with the crowds.

Running along the Martin Goodman Trail had its pros and cons. It was so green and lush that it truly felt like running through a forest (“Through the forest I have gone..”) But it was, again, crowded. It was hard to dodge puddles or people taking walking breaks without bumping into another runner. The crowd opened up once we got out of the forest and on Unwin.


I ended up being paced by a woman from about kilometres 3-6. Or I paced her, I couldn’t tell. We ran side by side, silently, for about 15 minutes. I finally lost her at the second water station. I did stop this time, and spent an extra minute taking off my long-sleeved shirt. From here on out, the water stations were 3km apart, so I decided that I’d take my walk breaks then. I still felt good at the turn around, I could feel myself getting tired, but I could sustain the current place.

I like out and backs, because I like looking at all the runners, trying to find people I know and drawing strength from other runners.


At kilometre 10, I got a stitch in my side and my knee started to bug. It wasn’t quite pain, just a twinge cautioning me to slow down. Since this is the knee that gave me grief during the Ottawa marathon, I started to worry. I did slow down a bit. In fact, I took a wee walking break at the 11km mark, just before the final water station. But then the 30km winner was about to pass me, and I was asked to move to the side. He ran by me and I felt like a giant chump. I picked it up – and then saw the 1:25 bunny right ahead of me. She was within reach if I kept my pace. I took water at the last station, walked for a bit to drink it properly, and then decided I was going to pass the 1:25 bunny.

I passed her with 2k left.

I felt like I had it in me to pick it up, but there weren’t any road markers after the 13k marker, so I wasn’t entirely sure where I was. I decided to stick to my current pace and then just sprint to the finish line once we turned the corner. That last stretch lasted forever – it felt so much longer than I ever remember. We finally made it, I sprinted as hard as I could to the mat. My watch said 1:25:01. It felt possible I broke 1:25 with my official time – which was much faster than I expected.

Official time: 1:24:41.

This was my most consistent race, pacing wise, ever. And I PRed by 6 minutes, the last time I ran this race my time was 1:30 and change.

My splits:
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This race was excellent positive reinforcement, reminding me the importance of having realistic goals, a solid racing plan and how important it is to not go out too fast. I’ve really struggled with the mental game during this training cycle, trying to find purpose and positivity in running another marathon. This race was a step in the right direction.

NYC Marathon Week #4 – Friday

Today is the day before race day, so I had 4-5 easy kms on my schedule.

The satellite on my Garmin wouldn’t get going in the morning – I think the insanely cloudy weather we’ve been having was affected it. I needed to get going so I could get to work early enough to shower (having showers at the office is a life-changer), so I said ‘screw it’ and ran with just the timer. It felt good to be moving, but not pushing myself. My quads are a wreck these days, I’m a quad dominant runner and, oh boy, can I ever tell. My calves and hamstrings are fine, always are, probably always will be. (Masseuses are always perplexed by this.) The quads want a break. I’m nervous about Midsummer’s tomorrow, because I don’t feel race-ready. I feel tired. I’ve run this race twice before, 1:48 in 2011 and 1:30 in 2012. I’m hoping for sub-1:30, but my coach just wants to use this race to see where I am at.

I really hope I’m at sub-1:30. A 5:45 pace all the way through would be the best-case scenario.

NYC Marathon Training Week #4 – Thursday

The corner where the run began.

In an effort to be efficient, I decided that I would run home from work on Thursday and then run back to work on Friday morning, so I could bring everything I needed in one go and not have to walk to work – I could leave my bike at work overnight.

So that’s what I did. Since I was running home from work, that meant taking a route through the city, and not on a trail without stops. I was secretly glad for this, because I was supposed to do a 6k tempo run and get the last few kms under 5:00. I ended up stopping almost every kilmetre for red lights. I know this isn’t the best thing to be doing, but I was so dead by the end of this run, I don’t think I could have sustained that kind of pace without the breaks.

My splits were:

4:01 –>> DO NOT believe this. I think the downtown towers messed up my Garmin. I’d say this km and the km after it were both closed to 4:30s.
5:42 –>> I was SO DEAD by this km that even thinking about running fast overwhelmed me.

My training has been so speed-based that I’ve actually had very few runs where I just got to run. I miss that. I hate speed work so much.

NYC Marathon Training Week #4 – Wednesday

Everyone loves a cat photo.

Slept in until 7:45, it felt blissful. Got home from work and it had the “it’s going to rain any second” vibe going on. (It never rained.) I felt exhausted, so I opted to take a rest day and catch up on all the household chores I’ve been ignoring. Considering how much action I got during softball, I feel justified in calling that cross-training for the week. Plus I have plans to do yoga on Sunday. It’ll all work out. It always does.

NYC Marathon Training Week #4 – Tuesday

The forecast on Tuesday called for rain, rain, rain, thunderstorms and more rain. When I got up in the morning, that’s exactly what it looked like, so I opted to head to the gym instead and do my scheduled 3×1000 on a treadmill. I always feel like I’m cheating a bit when I use a treadmill, but it’s better than nothing, right?

My coach told me to not go all-out, but instead to practice race pace. My repeats were:


These felt tougher than race pace should feel. I also pushed myself more than I needed to because BUTTONS! I played games with myself and increased the pace every minute or so. I think I could sustain 5:15s for a 5k race, but no more than that.

Midsummer’s Night Run is Sunday. My goal is to keep my pace between 5:35 and 5:45 and see where I’m at. That’s what I did for Around the Bay last year, and it worked for the first 20k. Then I got tired.

I’m starting to think that 6 minute kms for NYC is a reasonable goal, and would bring me in around 4:15. I’d take that.

Last night, we had softball. We lost, again. They had FIVE lefthanders on their team, so I got a lot of action in right field. I went fly out, walk, strikeout, ground-out. Then the ump after the game told me that I have a good swing (YES!) but I’m standing too close to the plate and should use a lighter bat (NO!) and need to watch the pitches more closely (obviously). We only have one game left, so I need to remember that for next season.

The rain never came, by the way.



NYC Marathon Training Week #4 – Monday

Reusing photos. I’m getting lazy.

On Monday, I headed to the pool in the morning. I got there early enough that I decided to push myself to do a 45 minute swim instead of my usual 30 minute swim. For the first 35 minutes, I alternated between free and using a kickboard, and for the last 10 alternated between breaststroke and a kickboard. I still need to get more comfortable with breathing when doing free, and I still crane my neck forward too much. But it’s been a loooong time since I swam laps as a workout, so I’ll figure it out. I just need to be patient.