Sunday, Rest or cross training
Monday, General aerobic + speed 8M w/ 10x100m strides
Tuesday, Recovery 5M
Wednesday, General aerobic 8M
Thursday, Rest or cross training
Friday, Recovery 4M
Saturday, Medium-long run 12M
Sunday - Rest day. Christmas. Food. Lots and lots of food.
Monday - The plan called for 8M with strides but I missed my Marathon Pace (MP) run the weekend before so I did that instead. 16 miles with the last 10 at marathon pace. I stressed over this run like crazy Friday night, I even woke up several times during the night thinking about it but then ended up having to cancel due to weather. This time around I managed to keep the stress under control enough to get a good night's sleep, but I was still worried about hitting my paces in the morning though.
I like to do long MP runs on the C&O Canal towpath. The trail is flat and soft which makes it really good for finding a pace and locking into it. I also enjoy the scenery very much as well. I decided to start/end this run at the Mouth of Monocacy Aqueduct. My plan was to run 3 miles upstream toward Point of Rocks and back. That way I could stop at my car and shed a layer and grab a quick drink before I started the MP portion of the workout.
Arriving at the parking lot, there was one other car in the lot already. Judging by the stickers and magnets on their car, there was another runner or cyclist out on the trail already. Whoever they were, they must have been on a long one because their car was still there when I left.
The temperature gauge in my car read 41 degrees when I parked. I opted to wear shorts, a long sleeve tech shirt and a light sweatshirt. I also got to break in a couple of Christmas gifts; a new Mizuno running hat and some gloves. I don't mind my legs feeling cold when I'm running or even my core but I hate to have a cold head or hands.
I headed out and up the trail a couple minutes after 8 with mostly negative thoughts about the workout. My back hurt and my Piriformis continued to nag at me. I jogged off anyway and tried to focus on having good running form and not starting out too fast. I sometimes struggle to keep my pace in check for the warm-up miles. I get so focused on the fact that I have to run fast that it's hard to keep is slow and conserve energy. About halfway into mile two I accidentally hit the "lap" button on my Garmin. I didn't want my auto-laps to be all screwy so I made sure to hit it again right at the mile mark.
I had the trail to myself and didn't notice much on the trip out. The three mile mark is about a half mile past Noland's Ferry, which is another frequent starting point for me. I hit the turn around, still dreading the MP portion to come. Three cyclists went past me on my way back. None of them tried to tun me off the path which is always appreciated. They were the only people I saw on the warm-up run.
I got back to my car feeling less than confident about the upcoming miles but told myself to STFU and run. I dropped off my gloves and switched the sweatshirt for a lighter jacket, took a quick drink and set off as quickly as I could. Now it was time to speed up and of course I was able to do it because I'm always able to do it. I don't know why I'm always convinced that I won't be able to do these runs but it's a constant battle.
Again I had the trail to myself. I headed downstream this time which is a more scenic route with some landmarks. I tried to focus on keeping my pace a little slower than I did on my last MP run. I mostly succeeded in that. For these miles, I use the "current mile" screen on my Garmin. The difference in the display is that it only shows me data for the current mile. Since my target pace is just under 8:00 per mile, I can keep a good check on my pacing by trying to check my time at the quarter miles. The math is easy enough, even for a dumb guy like me. 2:00, 4:00, 6:00, 8:00, repeat. So as long as my time is just under each of those, I know I'm on track.
I know most of the distances between landmark points in this section of the trail by heart which helps to break up the monotony of the trail. At .75 there is a lock house, at about 1.25 is the Dickerson power plant, 2.6 miles is Lock 37, 4 miles is a campground. Passing each of these, particularly on the way back, gives me a nice mental boost. I passed a couple out for a walk as I went past Dickerson Park. I saw them again on my return leg but didn't see anyone else at all on the run.
I don't think I was actually confident that I could finish the run at pace until about mile 7. There is only one more long MP run on my schedule and that isn't until February. 18 miles with 14 @ MP. I'm already dreading that! I'm pleased with the fact that I was able to reel my pace in a little better than the last time I did a MP run. I definitely felt like I had better control over pacing than last time, so that's a positive. After the run, I stopped by the little general store in Dickerson. The chocolate milk there is awesome and a big part of the reason I like to do towpath runs from Mouth of Monocacy.
Tuesday - Life got in the way of my recovery run, so I took an unscheduled day off.
Wednesday - Life again, reared it's ugly head and tried to prevent me from getting in my 8 miles. This time I kicked Life in the Johnson and got in my run. An uneventful jog through my neighborhood. I have discovered that if I run up and down every cul-de-sac in Windsor Knolls and Holbrook (except for that one short one that goes pretty much straight up, fuck that), it works out to be about 7.5 miles. I've done this run twice in less than a week and I'm ready for a chance of scenery.
Thursday - Another uneventful run in the neighborhood. 5 miles at easy pace to make up for the Tuesday run I missed.
Friday - Five miles on my lunch break at work. I jogged down to the CVS to pick up a few small things and jogged back.
Saturday - I met with a group of runners from my local running club for a 12 miler to finish out 2016. My schedule for the day didn't leave much free time so I considered staying in my neighborhood and running solo. I honestly wasn't feeling up for this run after a couple of nights with less than ideal sleep but I needed to get it done. I figured I would have an easier time running with the group so I decided that using the extra time was worth it.
The weather was cold but not windy so I knew I would warm up fine after the first mile and I did. The company was good and that lifted my spirits considerably. More than once, I thought that I was glad that I decided not to run it alone. At the 6.3 mile mark, we had a brief celebration (as much as you can while running) to acknowledge a member of the group hitting the 2000 mile mark for the year.
I didn't come close to 2000 miles, but I hit 1500 which is my third highest mileage year. I've only been running for about 8 years and didn't start tracking my mileage until 2010. My totals for the last 7 years have been all over the place.
2010 - 537
2012 - 1287
2013 - 1568
2014 - 1587
2015 - 789
2016 - 1500
But, back to the run on Saturday... I struggled a little to keep up because the group was moving a bit faster than I wanted to but it wasn't bad. The last two miles I could have done without but no one offered to carry me so I didn't have any choice but to slog it out. I finished and got home with enough time to take care of all my responsibilities but was feeling very lazy. As luck would have it, Cindi was feeling lazy too so we chose procrastination, coffee and the hot tub over chores. Later we had lunch with the kids and then rang in the new year at the Blue Sky Bar and Grill watching Logan and Big Jim's Pontoon Boat.