Marathon Training: Week Four

The Struggle Buster Trio are progressing well in these early weeks of marathon training. Week Four marks one fifth of the way through our training plan. The weekly mileage will now be steadily increasing. This week saw us running 12 miles, which is almost a half marathon distance. It amazes us that this will soon be our drop-down mileage on “rest” weeks.

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Running the 10 Mile Road Race boosted our spirits

Last week Stephanie, Anita and I, all raced in the Fire Fighters 10 Mile Road Race. We did well in that race.

I put our finishing times from this 10 mile race into a race prediction calculator. It said we should all be able to finish a marathon within 5 hours. This is very encouraging.

My mind has now shifted from “Can I really run a marathon?” to “I really can run a marathon!”. And from our conversations after the race, I know Stephanie and Anita have this mindset now too.

This week’s training long run was 12 miles

The 12 mile distance this weekend didn’t even phase me. I have finished 11 half marathons since I have started running 5 years ago. And, I have ran half marathon distances in training and for fun many more times than this. So, 12 miles didn’t really worry me at all.

Stephanie was asked to officiate a swim meet this weekend, so her time for running was limited. The only time she had for running was early on Saturday morning before she was expected at the pool. Anita couldn’t join us for this run and did her long run on Monday. But we had other friends interested in running the Saturday 12 miles with us. Stephanie and I welcomed the company.

We all woke up early to run at 7:30 AM

My alarm went off at 6:00 am and I quickly hit the snooze button. “What am I doing”, I thought. “I am not a morning person!” I was so tempted to roll over and go back to sleep. But these were great friends. I didn’t want to miss out running with them. So, when the alarm went off again 6 minutes later, I dragged myself out of bed and made a pot of coffee.

I wanted to test out my new hydration pack on this run

I was very excited to try out my new hydration pack today. My family bought me a hydration back pack for Mother’s Day this year to support me in my marathon training. It is a Nathan 7L Trail Mix pack with a 2L water bladder in sangria pink. It was the perfect gift. The pack, when empty, is super light weight. It has lots of pockets in the front for extra water, gels, chews, my phone, and tissues.

I opened up the packaging on my shiny new toy that morning.

Nathan hydration pack

I regretted not preparing for the run the night before

I should have opened the packaging the night before. At 6:30 am, with only a half cup of coffee on board, I struggled to figure out how to fill the water bladder. Now, I have two University degrees with several continuing education certificates to my name. But for the life of me, I could not figure out how to open the bladder to fill it. What twisted engineering trick was this?

No instructions for my new pack?

I went online to look for instructions, as no instructions came with the pack. I found a video on how to clean the water bladder. This was helpful, somewhat. At least now I knew that the thick grey plastic part slides off the top. The video then showed how you can turn the bladder inside out to wash it. But, it did not show how to actually open the top. There was a step missing. I slid the grey piece off, but how the heck do you open the top?

I unfolded the thick plastic and examined it. Where was the opening? It all seemed fused together. Then I tried to see if I could open it by separating the layers in the middle and working my way up to the top. Nope. That didn’t work.

I texted my friends. Surely someone else has a Nathan hydration pack? Nope….not this one.

I may have to test my new hydration backpack another day?

It was now just before 7:00 am. I hadn’t had breakfast. The hydration bladder still wasn’t filled. I wasn’t dressed to run. And I had to leave in about 15 minutes to meet my friends for 7:30 am. I was determined to give it one last effort and watched the cleaning video one more time, very closely.

I finally figured it out

Bingo! I saw it. It wasn’t described in the video, but I slowed it down to watch the person open the top. The thick plastic that folds over separates to open the mouth of the bladder. I tried it. It was so tight and sticky, it was hard to open. It did seem fused together. I managed to slowly and carefully pry the sides of the plastic open. I was worried I would tear it. But, it finally opened. Success!

I quickly washed the plastic bladder part and filled it with water. I only had 10 minutes to get ready now.

Now I was rushed to meet my friends

Throwing on my run clothes and watch, I headed out the door. I was still very excited to try out my new hydration toy.

I made it to our meeting location with about 4 minutes to spare. Stephanie, Lori, Linda and M.C. were all there, ready to run 12 miles.

Mother Nature wasn’t cooperating either

It was just after 7:30 am and we were just about to start our run. Suddenly the weather turned nasty. It had been raining on and off all night, with some thunder and lightening. But the prediction was for overcast skies and no more rain by the time we were going to run.

It wasn’t raining when I parked, so I thought we were good to go. But this storm cell that just came in was not looking good. We watched out the window as the lightening flashed and torrential rains came down. We listened to the booms of thunder as we just looked blankly at each other.

“Let’s give it a few minutes”, we said in unison.

But Mother Nature was just testing us

It cleared almost as quickly as it came in. Mother Nature just wanted to get one more good rainfall out of her system before our run. It was spitting a bit when we started, but we didn’t have another drop of rain after the first half mile for the entire run. I was now starting to think that this run mighty not be cursed after all.

5 women runners training for marathon
My Running Buddies and I happy to be starting the run.

We had not exactly planned the route

We hadn’t really talked about the route, but Stephanie and I have ran in this area many times. With only had a vague direction and idea of where to run, we set out. But, I was confident that we could come up with a 12 mile route on the fly. We already had a 10 mile route. All we had to do was tack on another 2 miles somewhere. And we set out running.

The prescribed pace was 7:20/km

The prescribed pace for this run was a 7:20 minute per kilometer. Previously, I had constructed a marathon training plan for us. I based it on a training plan I had done for my husband the year before. He was trying to better his marathon time and qualify for the Boston Marathon. So, to have him running faster over his longer distances without risking overuse injuries, I calculated out what I call “prescribed paces” for his long runs. It worked. He ran his marathon, paced himself well and achieved 6 minutes faster than his Boston Qualifying time. I used this same technique to calculate out prescribed paces for a 5 hour marathon training plan for the Struggle Busters Trio.

We didn’t really follow the prescribed pace

We didn’t run 7:20/km, though. I was running with people who usually run at a much faster than this pace. We started on a down hill grade. We were chatting and enjoying each others company. And we were running at a sub 7 minute pace. This is faster than race pace for a 5 hour marathon. I mentioned it and we slowed down for a while. Until we became lost in conversation again.

Three women runners
Stephanie, Lori and M.C. running by the river

I love my new hydration pack, except for one thing

My hydration pack is very comfortable. I didn’t really notice the weight with the water inside. I did have to keep tightening the first strap to prevent it from sliding down my shoulder. It didn’t bother me too much, as it was easy to adjust on the run. I made a mental note to fix that strap for the next run.

But there was one thing that did really bother me. The first sip of water from the tubing tasted toxic. That new water bottle plastic taste was strong. I only drank when I absolutely needed water. Having only time to quickly wash it once this morning, I would have to wash and rinse it multiple times before the next run.

Extending the run and extending it some more

About 4 miles into our run, Stephanie and I realized we would need to extend the route. We looped the group around through a residential area that was quite lovely.

At about 6 miles, we figured we needed to loop around the University to extend the mileage to make 12 miles.

Opps, I realized I forgot something at home

It was at this half-way point that I realized that I had forgotten something very important in my hast to meet up with my friends. I forgot to put on Body Glide. I had forgotten in the 10 mile road race too. And now, I had chaffing on top of chaffing. I was getting progressively more sore as we ran in the humid morning air.

And extending the route some more

At about 8 miles into the run, we knew we would need to add on more yet again. We looped back down and ran through the University parking lot.

My mood started to crumble

At about 10 miles in, we were already headed back to where we started. I was starting to get tried and cranky. I started this run with legs that were still sore from the 10 mile road race and my body was fighting a cold my daughter had brought home from school. All these extensions to get 12 miles in were starting to take a mental toll on me.

I could see the parking lot where my car was and I was so tempted to just stop at 10 miles. When we knew we needed to extend the run yet again, I let out a couple of swear words. And realizing that this extension would be taking us up hill at some point, no matter the direction we chose, I let out a few more swear words.

I kept running

I sucked it up and kept running. Running past the parking lot, I looked longingly over at my car. If I was going to do the extra mileage, I needed to keep the end in sight. So, my friends granted me this. And, we ran straight up the path and back down again.

My running buddies looked happy though

My running buddies were happily bounding along slightly ahead of me. Having never run more than 10 miles before, Linda was now running further than she had ever gone before. I was happy for her. I know what a joy this experience is. She didn’t look tired at all. Stephanie wasn’t even phased by the pace or the distance and continued chatting along with the group. A smile never left M.C.’s face for the entire 12 miles

Marathon Training Week 4
My Running Buddies running ahead in the humid mist.

I was slowing down

I started to slow my pace, dropping back from the group. Not wanting to spoil the run for them, I tried to keep my pain and misery to myself. They knew I was suffering, though.

Lori dropped back with me for a bit, but she ended up running with the group. After the intersection we stopped at, though, she left me to wallow alone in my miserableness. And that was perfectly acceptable to me.

While misery does indeed love company, I didn’t really want to ruin their run. I continued a 7:30/km pace and watched them pull ahead. I tried to keep most of my complaining to myself, although some of it did slip out on occasion.

And then it was done!

I finished the 12 miles. And I was so thankful when we were done this run! A deliciously perfect cup of coffee and a warm shower waited for me at home. My mood started to improve.

Join us by reading about our antics as we progress along in our journey to our first marathon in October 2019


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