Every training cycle has its ups and downs. This week pretty much epitomized that.
I came into Tuesday feeling still a bit worn out by Sunday’s pickups workout. So when I learned that The Dojo was heading to Iwo Jima for hill repeats, I was excited. Short reps up a hill beats grinding around Hains Point, if only because you can physically see where the effort will end. Unfortunately, my plan to join them was foiled when I witnessed a young man almost get run over by a bus. He escaped unscathed, but his bike was essentially flattened. I had to stick around to be a good citizen, thus missing the group and my window to jog another two miles to the hill.
So I instead found myself griding around Hains Point, the only runner out there on a bleak, rainy morning. And whether it was those conditions or my own condition, I could not seem to get any real pace together. For 4 × 1 mile, I expected to keep about a 6:45 pace. Instead, I could barely get below 7:00, despite plenty of huffing and puffing. If Sunday was confidence inspiring, this was the opposite. But I reminded myself that not every workout can be a winner and resolved to move on from it.
One of the best parts of my job is the lack of a fixed schedule: I decide when I work and when I don’t. So I decided mid-Wednesday that I would take Thursday and Friday off, suddenly granting myself a five-day weekend. But despite not needing to work, I headed into the office early Thursday because I couldn’t bear the idea of doing a seven-mile tempo effort alone. I would run with the Dojo, suffering in solidarity. Unfortunately, most of the crew was absent, and those in attendance were much faster than me. So I found myself running said unbearable seven-mile tempo effort alone. Twice in a week!
Only it wasn’t unbearable. It actually went really well. True to my philosophy this training cycle, I set off at a comfortably hard effort and tried to maintain or go faster as the workout progressed. Unlike the previous week, I succeeded. From 7:25 at the start to 6:46 at the end, I averaged 7:16 for the full seven miles and didn’t feel like dying. Ups and downs, right?
But my time for being active wasn’t over. I don’t (usually) take a day off from work to sit on the sofa, especially not with glorious weather. So after I showered up and ate, it was off to Shenandoah National Park to hike Old Rag. Ultimately, a later-than-intended start and warmer-than-expected temperatures kept me from doing the whole circuit, but it was a ton of fun climbing
I generally prefer to do my long runs on Sundays. This week, however, that was not feasible. The Missus and I were attending the Made In America Festival, a two-day music extravaganza held annually along the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. With a day full of standing and walking on Saturday and early-ish brunch plans Sunday, that meant a Saturday long run for me.
When I still lived in PA, I would often do long runs along Kelly Drive and West River Drive in Philadelphia. Each loop is 8.5 miles of generally flat, uninterrupted trail and closed road, ideal conditions for a
steady effort. Unfortunately, the same festival that forced me to run Saturday blocked off one end of the loop, so I instead diverted to the Schuykill River Trail.
As its name suggests, the Schuykill River Train runs along the Schuykill River from Philadelphia to Phoenixville and (eventually, in theory) up to the Poconos. The section I chose (from Spring Mill through Norristown) is, shall we say, less than scenic. Where later sections of the trail offer views of the river and fancy homes that overlook it, this stretch is lined mostly with old industrial properties, a SEPTA railway, and not one but TWO sewage treatment facilities! Thankfully, I wasn’t there for the scenery.
No, I was there with the intention of running 18-20 miles at a steady effort. And a did just that. Mostly. The lack of water sources along the trail had me aggressively rationing water, and so I was feeling seriously dehydrated by about 12 miles. Had I stuck to my original plan of doing two five-mile out-and-backs, I would have avoided this by refilling at my car, but then I would have had to deal with sewage stink four times instead of two. I’ll take the dehydration.
Ultimately, though I neither kept the pace nor the effort I would have liked, I came away feeling good about things. I had packed seven days of training into six and still managed to perform reasonably well. In that light, it was a down but still a win. And with that, it was time for some music!
My Meathead Marathon Misadventure
Week Four (8/28–9/3)
1:30 | 43,350 lbs
|Tue||Intervals: 4 × 1 mi
1:20 | 9.85 mi
1:10 | 7.89 mi
|Thu||Tempo: 7 mi @ PMP (7:16)
1:25 | 10.90 mi
| Shenandoah Hike
2:23 | 6.37 mi
2:21 | 43.9 mi
1:30 | 40,280 lbs
2:28 | 18.00 mi
1:15 | 42,640 lbs